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The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica
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The Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica $24.95
By Christopher Howard - 300 pages

  • "We highly recommend this guidebook to ALL of our members and to anyone else thinking of living in Costa Rica.  It is by far the BEST book on the subject.  We have observed that people who read the book before coming here actually know MORE about the country than many long-term residents". -- Debiem Gómez, Resident's Association of Costa Rica.
  • "This is THE FIRST guide about living in Costa Rica and has been often imitated but never equaled by a slew of copycat books.  It is by far the most REALISTIC and INFORMATIVE work on the subject by an author who actually lives in the country". -- Jay Trettien, Central America Weekly
  • "You'll get all the insider's lowdown for living and investing in Costa Rica, from this great book." -- The Wall Street Journal
  • "This down-to-earth guidebook is filled with valuable information and paints a clear picture of life in Costa Rica" -- USA Today.

This comprehensive guide covers all aspects of living, retiring and investing in Costa Rica. It should be read by anyone, regardless of age, thinking of living full or part-time in one of the world's most beautiful and affordable tropical paradises.

The Golden Door offers thousands of tips and insider information plus the ins and outs and dos and don'ts, guiding the reader step-by-step on how to live for less than $25 a day; where to live; how to find companionship and make friends; activities to keep busy; the best investments; how to learn Spanish the easy way; starting a business; finding work; inexpensive medical care; how to locate and purchase a home and much more.



A few months ago I led a group of prospective residents on a trip around Costa Rica.  After a week of travelling and attending a series of informative seminars, the majority had decided they would like to live here for at least part of the year.  Costa Rica has more Americans per capita than any other country outside the United States. Why do so many people want to live here?

The most obvious reason is the climate.   People are tired of freezing winters, scorching summers and the high utility bills that go with them. In Costa Rica they can enjoy one of the best year-round climates in the world (72 degrees average in the Central Valley.) We have only two seasons here, dry and rainy, both with an abundance of sunshine. We rarely need air conditioning and never need heat.  Costa Rica has more winter sunshine than Hawaii or Florida and fewer people.

Costa Rica is called by many "the Switzerland of the Americas" due to its neutral political status and spectacular mountains.  From the huge, curling waves of the Pacific coast, to the sight of molten rock tumbling down the sides of a volcano, Costa Rica's natural beauty has something for everyone.  This unique little country offers  a real paradise for the nature lover, the fishing enthusiast and water sports fanatic as well as the retiree.

Many come here for the lifestyle. Costa Rica fits the bill for anyone sick of the hustle and bustle, seeking a more laid-back way of life. One of the tour participants remarked, "Costa Rica reminds me of the U.S. about 40 years ago when everything was unspoiled, unhurried and uncrowded." It will also appeal to people of all ages seeking to move to a new and exotic land outside of the States and Canada and the energetic entrepreneur, the burned-out baby boomer, those sick of long rush-hour commutes and  anyone seeking an alternative way of life.

This beautiful country is so appealing because it has the warmth and flavor of Mexico, without anti-Americanism and fear of government expropriations; the physical beauty of Guatemala without a large military presence; and the sophistication of  Brazil without the abject poverty or serious violent crime.

But Isn't It Expensive?

Although much has been written about the high cost of living here, what you spend depends on your lifestyle. If you must have a luxurious home, drive a late model car and buy imported goods, you will spend as much or more than you would in the States.  But if you live more like the locals and watch your spending, you will spend considerably less.

Many Americans living below the poverty line in the United States can live in moderate luxury on a modest retirement or investment income in Costa Rica. The favorable exchange rate and low rate of inflation let you stretch your dollars here.  The cost of food, utilities and entertainment are all substantially lower than in the United States. Costa Rica's affordable medical care is among the best anywhere. The quality of health care is comparable to North America but the prices are one half or less! Considered by many to be the healthiest country south of Canada, Costa Rica has a higher life-expectancy rate-rumored to be the
third longest in the world (76.3 for men)-than the United States (76).

Housing is a fraction of what you are accustomed to paying.  My wife and I just purchased a new three-bedroom home in Lagunilla de Heredia, about five miles from downtown San José, for $62,000.  It has a cathedral ceiling, sits on a 250 square meter lot and is very comfortable for three people and a dog.  We have a 15-year mortgage and pay $452 monthly including insurance, with a 9% loan from a Costa Rican state bank.

Besides our home we have a car and a full-time maid.  Household help makes life easier. (You can hire a full-time maid for as little as $200 per month or $1 per hour.)   My son goes to one of the best private schools in the country. We eat out a few times a week and enjoy various types of entertainment. We spend a week at the beach during Easter and go to the United States every Christmas.  Our monthly expenses are about $2500.

The country's inexpensive medical care, affordable housing, excellent transportation and communication networks, every imaginable activity to stay busy and happy, a government which goes to great lengths to make retirement and living as easy as possible,  contribute to Costa Rica's appeal and make it tops on the list of retirement and expat havens.

According to a survey of potential foreign retirement areas in the Robb Report, Costa Rica surpasses all countries including Mexico, Puerto Rico, Spain, Portugal, Australia, the Caribbean Islands and Greece.

What Sets Costa Rica Apart from Its Neighbors?  Countries such as Nicaragua, Belize, Honduras and Guatemala have lower living costs, but I believe you get what you pay for.  The quality of life and lack of infrastructure in those countries leave a lot to be desired. Safety is a concern, especially where paramilitary police have power or where police are corrupt, as in Mexico. Costa Rica is politically stable and is unique in having no army. Although theft occurs, violent crime is minimal.

A Place to Invest

Costa Rica has a myriad of business opportunities awaiting creative, hard-working individuals. You can run a global business from here by using Internet access, fax machines and cell phones. It is also relatively easy to start a small business on a shoestring.  Furthermore, tax incentives and a government that encourages investments and affords investors the same rights as citizens contribute to a propitious business climate.  Many countries do not permit non-citizens to own property or place restrictions on foreign-owned real estate, but this is not the case in Costa Rica. Anyone may buy real estate with all the legal rights of citizens.

Passive investors will find CD's, second mortgages or other investments that pay 25% to 30% in dollars annually. With the new millennium upon us,  a shrinking world due to better communication, a burgeoning global economy-possibilities are unlimited for doing business in Central and South America.  Trade pacts between Costa Rica,  U.S., Mexico and South America be reality by 2005. They promise to link all of the nations in the hemisphere in to one trading block.

The Adventure of Starting Over

Some move here to start over and seek adventure in an exotic land. They are tired of dead-end jobs or the rat race and want new challenges, a chance to pursue their dreams and achieve greater personal growth.  As an expat, you have the challenge of immersing yourself in a new culture and, if you choose, the rewards of learning a foreign langauge. Newcomers can make friends easily because foreigners gravitate towards one another.

Adjusting and Keeping Busy

Adjustment to a new way of life can take many months. However, an open mind, a positive attitude and a willingness to seek out new experiences can make the transition relatively painless. Costa Rica has come a long way in the last decade.  Satellite and Direct TV, private mail service and the Internet make it easier to stay in touch with family and friends in the United States and keep up with what is going on all over the world.  If you don't own a computer, you can go to an Internet café. A friend of ours, a 20-year resident of Costa Rica, said, " My days are so filled with exciting activities and interesting experiences that each day seems like a whole lifetime.  I really feel that I have discovered the fountain of youth."

Another plus is that Costa Rica has the reputation of having the most beautiful, flirtatious and accessible women in Latin America.  It comes as no surprise that Costa Rican women are highly sought as companions by foreign men of all ages.  Single men will have no problem finding love, romance and a second chance in life with a devoted Costa Rican woman.

You will never be bored here unless you choose to be. Costa Rica has something for everyone. In the Tico Times, the weekly English-language newspaper, you can find hundreds of interesting activities: movies in English, support groups, computer and bridge clubs. You name it, and Costa Rica has it.

Living in Costa Rica can open the door to a new and exciting life. Who knows? You may never want to return home.

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