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Living La Pura Vida in Costa Rica

Straddling Central America's land bridge between the Pacific and the Caribbean, Costa Rica is a small, stable, and beautiful country that has been drawing second homeowners and retirees for years. According to the U.S. Department of State, over 20,000 U.S. citizens currently live in Costa Rica – and for good reason.

First-World Feel

This little country of just over 4 million people boasts a strikingly high level of development. Its literacy rate of 94% is among the highest in the world, as the nation constitutionally abolished its army in 1949 and pledged to create "an army of teachers." It consistently ranks highest among Latin American countries in indexes for human development and environmental protection, and its stable government is one of the world's older existing democracies. As one might expect, then, expatriates have often said that they feel safe and well taken care of in Costa Rica. They can usually count on many of the same amenities and conveniences they had at home.

One such amenity is healthcare. Costa Rica's medical system is excellent and inexpensive. In fact, for U.S. residents, it's a prime destination for "medical tourism," or visits specifically for the purposes of medical or surgical care. This means that Costa Rica is especially appealing to retirees, who know that in Costa Rica, they are unlikely to be hit with a crippling bill as a result of surgery or hospitalization.

Culturally, Costa Rica also has much to offer: performing arts, galleries, and English-language newspapers all appeal to residents and visitors.

Natural Beauty

Costa Rica pairs the conveniences of "home" with tremendous natural beauty. Golfing and fishing are both excellent in Costa Rica, and gardeners enjoy the year-round tropical climate. Since the country borders both the Caribbean and the Pacific, beach lovers have two coasts to choose from. Although Costa Rica only has 0.25% of the world's landmass, it has 5% of its biodiversity, including big cats, tapirs, monkeys, and numerous species of birds and orchids. The country protects its biodiversity by designating a quarter of its land area as national park. Those who invest in Costa Rica realestate can anticipate some fantastic bird-watching and lovely views from their balcony or patio.

Living in Costa Rica

70% of Costa Ricans (colloquially referred to as "Ticos") live in the country's interior central valley, which is near the capital of San Jose. While Costa Rica has the highest cost of living among Latin American countries, Costa Rica real estate is still a very good deal for North Americans and Europeans. Real estate in Costa Rica ranges from $100,000 to $300,000 for a contemporary home in a desirable, upper middle-class neighborhood.

One of the most common phrases in Costa Rica is "pura vida," which roughly translates to "the good life." This isn't just an expression, but it's also become an everyday greeting. When someone asks "how are you?" people often reply with, "pura vida." Perhaps this is fitting, since in Costa Rica, "the good life" isn't just some vague concept – it's a way of being.