Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1. Are there any restrictions on property ownership in Costa Rica?

Ans. No, there aren’t any restrictions. You can buy with the passport of your home country.

Question 2. What are residency requirements in Costa Rica?

Ans. Residency status is available in different formats, depending on the applicant’s qualifications and requirements.

The “permanent” residency status means that you can both reside and work in Costa Rica, since it is usually granted without limitations.

Temporary residency may be granted to individual under different categories.  The 3 most common temporary residency categories are :  Pensionado (retiree),  Rentista (income recipient) and Investor (inversionista).

“Pensionado” and “Rentista” residency may be granted to individuals who can demonstrate an offshore fixed income from recognized sources. In the case of “pensionado” status, the individual must show a fixed monthly pension income of US$ 1,000.00 or more. With respect to “rentista” status, the individual must show a fixed monthly income of US$ 2,500 or more. Working is usually not permitted with either the “pensionado” or “rentista” status.

“Investor” residency status was created to attract investment capital to Costa Rica. This status may be granted to individuals who invest US$ 200,000.00 or more.

Question 3. How is the weather and seasons in Costa Rica?

Ans. Costa Rica is a tropical country situated between 8 and 11 degrees above the equator. It has only two seasons: summer and winter also known as the dry and green/rainy season.  The dry season with very little rain is generally between late December and April and the green or rainy season is between May through November.

Like the Southern Hemisphere, Costa Rica’s seasons are reversed relative to the U.S. and while the U.S. and Canada are going through a cold and snowy winter in December through April Costa Rica is enjoying summer.

Temperatures vary little between seasons. The main influence on temperature is altitude.  San José at 3,772 ft has a very nice climate all year around. Average temperature ranges in San Jose are from 57 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit in December to 63 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit in May.  National Geographic rates it some of the best weather in the world. Similar situation is in other popular destinations, such as Lake Arenal, Atenas etc.

The weather at the lower level, along the coast is much warmer, with the Caribbean averaging between 70°F at night and over 86°F.  The Pacific side is a few degrees warmer but less humid.

Question 4. What is the Health care like in Costa Rica?

Ans. Costa Rica provides universal health care to its citizens and legal residents. Costa Rica offers some of the best health care in Central America. Both the private and public health care systems are always being upgraded. New hospitals, new clinics, new machines, and improvement in staff and training. Statistics from the World Health Organization frequently place Costa Rica in the top country rankings in the world for long life expectancy. In addition, the UN (United Nations) has ranked Costa Rica’s public health system within the top 20 worldwide and the number 1 in Latin America.

Costs tend to be much less than doctor, hospital, and prescription costs in the U.S

Public sector. Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CAJA) is in charge of most of the nation’s public health sector. Its role in public health (as the administrator of health institutions) is key in Costa Rica, playing an important part in the state’s national health policy making. Its services are available (and mandatory) to all citizens and legal residents. This governmental entity’s functions encompass both the administrative and functional aspects. It has the obligation (as a public institution) to formulate and execute health programs that are both preventive (such as: vaccination, informational, fumigation, etc.) and healing (such as: surgery, radiation therapy,pharmacy, clinical, etc.) in nature.

Private sector. Costa Rica is a popular destination for medical tourism because of the beautiful surroundings, low costs, and medical reputation. Private insurance plans are available through the government-owned insurance company (INS). Private plans include dental work, optometry, well-visits and annual check-ups. 80% of the costs are covered for prescription drugs, certain medical exams, sick visits and hospitalization. Surgeon and aesthetician costs are covered at full cost. Currently, private medical insurance costs about $60–$250/month per person, depending on gender, age, other factors. Costa Rica has three internationally accredited private hospitals.The four largest private hospitals in Costa Rica are CIMA, Clínica Biblica, Clínica Católica – all in or around San Jose and CIMA Liberia located on Liberia, Guanacaste.

Question 5. I will be moving to Costa Rica soon and need to know what to do about my cell phone. Should I keep it and pay for international service or get service there?

Ans. You should definitely get a phone plan in Costa Rica if you’re moving because it will be cheaper. It’s easy to do by getting a chip for your phone from Kolbi or one of the other cell phone providers (Claro, Movistar, etc.- research which one has best service for where you’ll be living). You need an unlocked quad band phone for it to work in CR.

Question 6. How far from the Lake Arenal is the nearest international Airport.

Ans. Liberia airport is about two hours drive away, in the Pacific beach zone.

Question 7. Is there any medical facility in Arenal?

Ans. Yes, there is a small state owned clinic right in Arenal town. Regular hospital in located in Canas, which is about one hour drive from Arenal. The state-of-the-art private hospital located in Liberia is called CIMA and is about two hours drive away.

Question 8. How many expats live around Lake Arenal? Is it possible to get along with English only?

Ans. There are many expats scattered all around the lake, many of them also owning businesses. Besides that many Tico speak English as well, so it is perfectly possible to get along without much Spanish knowledge. Most importantly, people are generally very friendly and willing to help.

Question 9. Is airport pick up possible?

Ans. Yes, we can arrange pick up either from Daniel Oduber Quiros (Liberia) International Airport, or Juan Santamaria (San Jose) International airport, costing $200 and $260 respectively, to any destination around the Lake Arenal.

Question 10. What’s the climate like at Lake Arenal?

Ans. Arenal does get some hot days, but for majority of time the weather can be described as “perpetual spring”. Comfortable daytime temperatures in the 80s, cooling off at night. Most people here do not use air conditioning. Instead they keep their doors and windows open to achieve natural ventilation and bring in cooling breezes. Great weather also means most of the living and entertaining is done outdoors, enjoying tropically landscaped gardens or verandas. Meals are usually eaten outside, in the morning enjoying that first cup of locally grown coffee, overlooking the lake and watching sunset over a glass of wine or cocktail.

There can be heavy rains at time, this is tropics. But most expats welcome the water because it cools things down and nourishes the vegetation which is abundant and provides many different nuances of green in all the trees and other plants.

Question 11. Which side of the lake to choose?

Ans. Both sides provide equally beautiful scenery, yet there are differences. Climate-wise “Arenal” receives more rain, while “Tronadora” side get more winds. Both can get strong at time. There is also difference in shopping. As Tronadora has “big city” of Tilaran nearby, there is nothing much in the village itself. From Arenal it takes longer to get either to Tilaran or La Fortuna, there is however great selection of smaller store or restaurants right in charming Arenal town. The choice is yours, but we personally prefer Arenal side, where is also our office located.

Question 12. Are there any business opportunities around the lake?

Ans. Absolutely. As the Lake Arenal/La Fortuna/Arenal volcano/Monteverde is Costa Rican premier outdoor/adventure activities hub, there is no shortage of tourists. Based on this fact there is a good chance to establish many tourist related businesses, such as hotels, restaurants, tour operators etc. Many existing businesses are also available for sale.

Question 13. What kind of recreation activities are available on or around Lake Arenal?

Ans. Sail boating, motor boating, fishing, windsurfing, kite boarding, wake boarding, jet skiing, kayaking, paddle boarding, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, bird watching. Also martial arts, music and language lessons etc.