It is an especially easy place to retire for nature-lovers and birders! 🙂
Costa Rica is rated as “The Easiest Place for Retirement” by a recent report based on “fitting in,” “adapting” to the new culture, and a “happy lifestyle” which of course might relate to an earlier report that Costa Rica has the Happiest People on earth! 🙂
Now that I’ve been here more than a year, I agree that it is an easy place to retire. Like everywhere, there are some things that seem difficult at first or slow, like getting my residency (government bureacracy), but not as difficult or slow as it is for people moving to the states! It is the people of Costa Rica who make it easier with their friendliness and desire to help any way they can. And unlike most countries I have traveled in, the people of Costa Rica like Americans! Amazing!🙂 Well, click the link above and read the article. It is good and explains the cultural acceptance.
Jubilado is the most common word used here to name or describe a retired person (Jubilada for feminine). Even though there is a Spanish word that sounds more like our English “Retired” (retirarse), no one uses it here – always jubilado(a)! It comes from the root noun jubilo, “jubilation or joy,” and the corresponding adjective jubiloso(a), “jubilant, joyful.” And in the land of Pura Vida, what a great way to describe retirement! And it is becoming pure joy for me!
One view of our apartments while walking back from town. Far from a retirement home!
Though the government talked in 2010 about creating “Jubilado Communities” like Retirement Communities in the states, it never materialized with most Ticos preferring to retire in place, stay a part of the total community and their extended family, says an article in La Nacion, the primary Spanish language newspaper here.
Of course there are North Americans who bought up property to create many gated communities of retired North Americans here, even in Atenas. I’m trying to avoid that. My apartments are gated for security, but we are not all gringo, not all retired, and not all old. I love the mix of peoples, ages, incomes, nationalities and the 300 meter walk to a real town! It is better than a retirement community! At least for me. We have two young couples who go to work daily, a couple of older working people, an unwed young mother with a 2-year old, a community of teenagers next door (New Summit Academy), and all ages of snowbirds. Who knows who will move in when the snowbirds go home in April and May for their summer? We are surrounded by Tico houses plus a church and shopping within walking distance! It is a good balance.
Some believe in destiny, and some believe in fate
I believe that happiness is something we create Line from Sugarland’s song “Something More”
A branch of the Savegre River, Costa Rica, 9/2014 Photo by Charlie Doggett – Click photo to View
Pura Vida! Here’s a summary of things I’m working on now for the move and at least one sorta funny story in it. This could especially be helpful to those of you considering a move as you see what I actually did on some of the steps I outlined earlier. Pura Vida explained at end of this post. FIRST, THE CORRECT APARTMENT LINK The email version of last night’s post had the wrong link for the apartment I’ve settled on, let’s try again because it is a good website with lots of photos I can’t copy: Hacienda La Jacarandaand I just tested it and it worked, but just in case, here is the address: http://www.atenasapartment.com/ And yes, I have a two bedroom, so a guest room for you! Knowing I can get off the plane and go to my new home is the first big relief! Pura Vida!
MY “TRAVELING” BIRTH CERTIFICATE(Arkansas Bureaucracy)
My one certified copy is old and I need to keep it, so I ordered a new copy that will be sent to Costa Rica. I finally got a real person to talk with and told her I needed my birth certificate with an Apostille (An international seal of certification) on it. “Oh, I’m sorry sir, we don’t do that in this office, but I will transfer you to the person who does.” Riiiiinnnng. “Secretary of State Office.” I again explained what I wanted. “Oh yes sir, just send your Birth Certificate to us and we will place an Apostille on it.” I then explained that I needed a new one and asked if the two offices could work together to place the seal before mailing it to me. “Oh no sir, I’m sorry, you will have to personally mail it to us with a cover letter and $10.” So I ordered the birth certificate online (fairly easy) and got it Express UPS in 2 days! Then I added my letter and check for $10 which is better than the $40 for the certificate! It has now been sent back to Little Rock in another Express UPS envelope ($20). When it is returned my birth certificate will have made three trips between Little Rock and Nashville before I send it to San Jose. I remember complaining how bureaucratic the Gambian government was (and have been warned to expect with Costa Rica), but I think we are just as bad in the states! Pura Vida!
SOCIAL SECURITY, TALKING COMPUTERS (and one real person)
Yesterday I spent more than an hour trying to get a certified, signed letter proving I make at least $1,000 or more per month. The SS Website is confusing and after talking computers, the recording for live customer service says “an hour or more wait, so press 1 for a call back.” They never called back. I did find a “statement of SS Income form online and printed it, but it’s not a letter and I’m afraid not official looking enough to satisfy the Costa Rica government.
So this morning I talked with a real person quickly at our local Madison SS Office and after one minute of data collecting, he very business-like said “I’ll get that out to you today sir.” No discussion, excuses or wasted time, just done! Hey! I like that! So the second document needed for my residency application is on its way. (I hope!) Police report on me is next job to tackle. Pura Vida!
BIG JOB OF SELLING STUFF, DOWNSIZING
I started with some videos on eBay and plan to add some books and other items there as I go along. McKendree Village is starting a “Village Treasures” Shop on October 11, in one of the unused cottages up front, which is just what I need since we are not allowed to have yard sales. It will more often be used for older people who move to nursing home or die and need to dispose of furniture and household goods. I’m already boxing up household goods for them and will pick some art or some of my many framed photos. I’ll have Jane & Scott come over and assess my stuff soon. This is in many ways the biggest job, because I want to limit what I put in storage and maybe later ship to Costa Rica. But life is not stuff! Pura Vida!
NEW REVELATIONS ON INTERIM MEDICAL INSURANCE
I plan to go on the more affordable government health plan called CAJA after I gain residency, which will take 6 months to a year. The most affordable interim option presented to us in the seminar (though not real cheap) was a PRICOSE private INS Health Insurance. I’ll do it for a year until I can get the CAJA. I wrote the PRICOSE representative who talked at our seminar, telling him I wanted to enroll before January 1 to be covered as I arrive. “Sorry,” he says. I will have to be in country and apply in person with a local attorney’s affidavit, a full physical by one of their doctors including a $130 EKG. The whole process will take about 5 weeks after I arrive. Brick wall I thought! Okay, so now I have to arrange for about two months of overseas or travel coverage until I can get their coverage. I’ll call “One Exchange” today.
“One Exchange” is the proxy for health coverage plans for LifeWay Retirees. They mainly help you pick out a policy that they sell you for their percentage. I talked to two people, the last of whom kept putting me on hold while she talked to her supervisor. They are all ignorant of what to do and even though I told them what my research indicated was possible through a Medigap Plan for 60 days, they knew nothing about it and said they would have to research it and get back with me. A big waste of 45 minutes!
Then I call my Medigap Insurer, Mutual of Omaha, and told them what my research showed and asked if my Medigap was one with the overseas coverage. They were the opposite of One Exchange. Misha was knowledgeable, polite and helpful. In just a few minutes she confirmed my research and told me that my Mutual of Omaha Medigap will cover me overseas at 80% for the first 60 days for all medical expenses that Medicare would cover in the states with a $250 deductible and $50,000 maximum. That will give me 60 days to get the Costa Rica policy I was told would take 5 weeks (35 days). I will not cancel my Mutual of Omaha Medigap Insurance until AFTER I have the local policy in hand as recommended by Mutual of Omaha and common sense, in case something doesn’t work out. (If INS took longer than 5 weeks and I have an emergency, I can fly home and be covered as I am now.) I am so relieved about something that was beginning to be a concern. There is now a plan in place to keep me with medical insurance at all times during the transition. I believe I will make it through this move just fine! Due diligence, planning and proper timing pays off! Pura Vida! (A Costa Rica slogan, literally meaning “Pure Life” but used to express the joy of life, happiness, greetings, etc. The above efforts are part of my cost to soon gain Pura Vida!)
We would have seen something like this on our south beach tour had it not been raining each evening. And I’m also including the Caribbean (Atlantic) sunrise photo also made on that trip. Both beaches are quite appealing to me, but I will probably start out in the Central Valley while I check out the whole country then decide on a more permanent place to settle.
Pacific Sunset in 2010
Caribbean Sunrise in 2010
Wherever I live, I will get to see both of the above as I travel about the country. TODAY Alex Palma is showing me rentals in smaller towns 30 minutes + from San Jose. His favorite he has already told me is Santo Domingo de Heredia which looks good online and is home of the INBio Park. We are also going to Atenas and some other places and will eat lunch in a Soda. (If you don’t know, “Soda” is the Costa Rican name for a little Mom & Pop Cafe where you can eat lunch for $3 to $5 and is on my radar as my dining out choice.) Well, time to go. I’ll report back tonight!
First thing after breakfast this morning was walking the 5 blocks to the ARCR office and meeting with my new Costa Rican lawyer, Jose Pablo Carter. He helped me put together the important items from the seminar and create a checklist of what I need to do to gain residency and get moved to Costa Rica. I will include it below. I walked back to my hotel (above) where they know me by name now and the waiters are trying to teach me Spanish. Fun! I did a review of it on TripAdvisor last night. Worked on list and had a sandwich.
In the afternoon I walked down the street again to two banks and only one of them had English as a choice on their ATM for the cash withdrawal I needed to make. Got to learn Spanish! Then at 3:00 my two-day driver came to show me the city and learn of my housing interests for our all day trip tomorrow to look at apartments and rental houses. I’m not renting now, but I want to see what they look like in different areas and get a feel for what I will try to nail down in 4-6 months maybe. Howard’s tour only showed expensive houses and tourist condos which was my biggest disappointment with his tour. We stopped for afternoon tea at a little neighborhood Soda, a small Tico cafe. Before and after this I typed up my checklist of things to do and had a bowl of mushroom soup and Tres Leches for dinner. Here is timeline:
Step by Step Timeline for Costa Rica Residency
As I understand it from ARCR Seminar and personal conference with Jose Pablo Carter, Lawyer
At Association of Residents of Costa Rica, September 1, 2014
COLLECT NEEDED DOCUMENTS
Send to Jose. I must then arrive within 6 months of earliest date on any of the following documents.
1. Authenticated Birth Certificate with Apostille from State of Arkansas
2. Apostille letter from Social Security proving lifetime pension over $1,000 a month
3. Police Report on me with Apostille and if possible fingerprints
4. U.S. Embassy/State Department Online: Do a Consular Registration for Costa Rica, then save as a PDF file. Print one for this packet of documents & email the file to Jose.
JOSE & ARCR WILL DO ALL THIS WORK IN COSTA RICA FOR ME:
1. Provide Spanish translations of all the above documents as required
2. File my application with the Caja Office
JOSE/ARCR WILL DO AFTER I MOVE:
1. Review my rental contract
2. Get my fingerprints and physical exam that can be turned in after the Caja application is filed
3. Help me open a local bank account
4. Prepare a Costa Rica Will and powers of attorney from copy of my U.S. Wills, etc.
OTHER THINGS I CAN DO BEFORE MOVING
1. Contact Juan C. Calero of Pricose to start INS insurance policy by day I arrive
2. Contact the young doctor from Metropolitano about my sleep apnea and meds
3. Get budget worked out
4. Contact mover, Charlie Zeller
5. Learn more Spanish
6. Get online business settled before the move and ask lots of questions about doing it from Costa Rica
7. See if X or X will let me establish a U.S. physical address with them for my TN Driver License, maybe mail forwarding, and maybe something else.
8. Renew TN Driver License which now expires in 2015
9. Rent PO Boxes from ARCR in San Jose & Miami before I move.
NOTE: I ended up not getting an address with ARCR but signed up for Aeropost.com and got a Miami address directly with them and use it now for all shipping and internet orders. I use postal service for most letters but new credit cards can be sent to the Miami address.