When a prospective expat is looking seriously at moving to a foreign country, a lot of research is done from home. But then comes the scouting trip to see the places they’ve read about. And many choose to hire professionals to guide them. And if you’re living in an up-and-coming area for expats—that doesn’t have such a service—you could be the one to provide the tour.
When Carla Willoughby, 40, decided to move from Asheville, North Carolina, to the mountainous Monteverde region of Costa Rica, she needed an income. And she knew that life would be much more comfortable if she were making U.S.-level wages in her new home, where the dollar can stretch further.
When Bruce and Shelagh Duncan, 67 and 65, respectively, came down to Costa Rica’s southern Pacific Coast 13 years ago, they felt an immediate affinity. “It was the weather…and the people we met,” says Shelagh. “It is mostly unspoiled and offers many breathtaking views of the mountains and the ocean. We can walk along deserted beaches and explore caves and secret beaches that are only accessible at low tide."
For many prospective expats, the quality of medical care in the country they plan to move to is a very important factor. Of course, most hope to never find out how good the health care system is. But things happen.
Prospective expats often ask me about the opportunity to do community work in Costa Rica as a way to give back to their adopted home.
I visited the Lake Arenal region a few weeks back with family from out of town. When people visit us here in Costa Rica, we usually end up there at some point. Just three hours by car from our home in the Central Valley (and the international airport), it's an easy drive—very picturesque as you pass through the rain forest, farmland, and small villages of the countryside.
You’ve just weighed anchor on another night of bliss, lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of your sailboat in the calm sea. Before you is a small cove lined by craggy cliffs. Clear blue waters end at a white-sand beach. You’ve had it all to yourself for the last week. It was supposed to be just an overnight stop. But it was so beautiful, you decided to stick around. After a quick dip, you’re enjoying a cup of coffee and a light breakfast on deck as you contemplate which island paradise you’ll go to next.
When I'm back visiting the U.S. and tell people I live in Costa Rica...I already know the picture they have in their mind. It's a shoreline. First, the brilliant blue water...a strip of sand unmarred by footprints...a fringe of palm trees...then a rain forest with towering trees and lush vegetation alive with toucans and capuchin monkeys...and finally jagged green-covered mountains looming behind it all.
Thanks to a climate that features warm weather year-round, a stable democratic government, excellent health care, low cost of living, and a laid-back lifestyle, Costa Rica has been welcoming expats looking for a pleasant place to live and retire for more than 30 years—and is still going strong.
In many ways, Costa Rica is the “veteran” among Central-American retirement destinations. North Americans and Europeans have been flocking to this little country for more than 30 years, attracted by the tropical climate; low cost of living; top-notch, affordable medical care; bargain real estate; and natural beauty.