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Chapter 1 - An Overview of Costa Rica

The purpose of this chapter is to help you decide whether Costa Rica is a country where you might want to live or invest; even those who don’t plan on living in Costa Rica—but who simply want to buy property here as an investment—need to learn about the country and its prospects for the future. If you have already been living in Costa Rica for some time, or if you have read the best-selling The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica, Living Abroad in Costa Rica, or Choose Costa Rica, then you might want to move directly to chapter 2.

You have probably already heard of some of the reasons that Costa Rica has attracted so much positive international press coverage. The country has a history of peaceful coexistence with its neighbors; one of few countries with no army, Costa Rica has enjoyed years of political stability; the cost of living is low relative to North America and Europe; the country offers good private health care; its people have a high rate of literacy, and poverty is less prevalent than in many other countries in Latin America; in a country roughly the size of West Virginia, you will encounter nearly 6% of the world’s animal species; the Central Valley has lovely temperate weather; and Costa Ricans are friendly, welcoming people with few negative stereotypes of expatriates or visiting tourists. Partially as a result of these factors—and also because property laws allow for foreign ownership—Costa Rica, along with Panama, is now one of the most popular choices for North American and European retirees.

What follows is more detailed information that attempts to go beyond these positive generalities to give you a more complete understanding of the country, including a picture of some of the problems that all modern nations face. Toward the end of this chapter you will find a thorough treatment of ways in which foreigners can establish legal residency in the country.