Costa Rica’s ‘Pura Vida’ takes the sting out of politics
On the first Wednesday in November, many Americans might be calling in sick to stay in bed with symptoms ranging from nausea to outright exhaustion. While cold and flu season will be in full force, their symptoms will more likely be tied to a two-year virus that has turned the U.S. political process on its head.
According to polls, as many as 28% of Americans have considered leaving the United States if Donald Trump is elected President, with 14% saying that the probability is very high. On the other side of the aisle, some Texans have started rumblings about succession under a Clinton administration, while a Facebook page called “If Hillary Clinton becomes President, I’m moving to Costa Rica” requires very little imagination to decipher. One thing that is certain however is that, no matter which side of the political landscape you stand on, that Wednesday in November will be the first day of the rest of your life.
The good news is that the great escape doesn’t necessarily mean trekking across the globe to places like Singapore or Svalbard. In fact, less than three hours from Miami, Costa Rica offers a lifestyle where ‘elections’ refer to choices about whether to dig your toes into the sand, or to hike through the rainforest to a majestic waterfall. Oh yeah…don’t forget to pick up a loaf of bread on the way home. Welcome to a day in the life of ‘Pura Vida’, a lifestyle increasingly embraced by expats from around the globe who have left the rat race behind in lieu of lower blood pressure.
“It’s kind of like stepping out of a rock concert and walking into a symphony recital,” explains Kelvin Dueck, a Canadian citizen who packed his bags and moved to Costa Rica to take a job as a sales executive with Axiom Development Group. “Internet searches for ‘Move to Canada’ rose by more than 1,000% during the primaries, but I am more than happy to vacate my spot.”
For those of you still patiently waiting for a debate on the real issues, here is a ‘third party’ look at some parallel issues from a ‘Pura Vida’ perspective:
Costa Rica has one of the best healthcare systems in Latin America, with modern hospitals, state-of-the-art technologies and excellent doctors. For a very reasonable monthly fee, expats residents can opt into a government-run universal healthcare system known as the Caja, while private healthcare insurance is also available at a fraction of U.S. costs.
After forgoing military spending in lieu of health and education, Costa Rica boasts the highest literacy rate in Central America, reported at 97.8% in 2015. There are many schools that cater to the children of expat residents, with a mix of both English and Spanish curriculum.
Ooops…Costa Rica doesn’t have an army! Those darn schools and hospitals ruin everything.
Legal residency in Costa Rica is a relatively quick and easy process, but expats can reside in the country as non-residents for up to 90 days at a time. Temporary three-year residency is also available for those with a passport and a bank account.
Costa Rica has one of the strongest economies in all of Latin America and has demonstrated consistent advances in infrastructure, technology and economic stability. While the country’s unemployment rate hovers at approximately 10%, there are increasing opportunities for skilled workers and English-speaking expats.
Real Estate Market
Contemporary coastal living in Costa Rica comes at about 10% of a California price tag, while real estate values in the Costa Ballena region, along the southwestern Pacific coast, are projected to generate annual gains of 5-10% for the foreseeable future. Costa Rica also offers high returns on rental income, low property tax rates and no capital gains tax on property sold.
Security and Safety
Costa Rica is a very safe place to live. Costa Rican shores are far removed from the residual effects of extremism and the political process is very democratic, with no violent government opposition. Although petty theft does exist, violent crime against tourists and foreigners is extremely low.
Despite a land mass accounting for just 0.03% of the earth’s surface, Costa Rica is home to nearly 6% of the world’s biodiversity. The country has implemented strict development regulations and numerous environmental protection programs with the goal of being the first nation in the world to be carbon-neutral by 2023. National Geographic has called the Corcovado National Park “the most biologically intense place on Earth in terms of biodiversity”.
Costa Ricans, fondly referred to as ‘Ticos’, are a very warm and welcoming people. Foreigners blend easily into Costa Rican communities and are typically respected and embraced as neighbors.
“While ‘Pura Vida’ may feel like a million miles from the hustle and bustle of stateside life, there are more than 200 weekly flights departing for the continental United States,” notes Joshua Kanter, an alumnus of the University of Florida and Crummer Graduate School of Business who left the U.S. in 2005 and now works as a sales executive for Axiom Development Group in Costa Rica. “We are all proud of where we hail from, but globalization is a new reality that has already seen many Americans settling on foreign soil in pursuit of their lifestyle choices.”