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The Basics of Taking up Residency in Your Costa Rica Real Estate

According to the latest census, there are 3.5 million residents living in Costa Rica. A majority of those residents (two-thirds) live in the capital city of San Jose. So, the question is: Do you want to live where most others live? Or do you want to live farther from the grind of the big city? Then you have to ask yourself what kind of Costa Rica real estate do you want? …A condo, beach house, or single-family home? It’s a coin toss, I know. But no matter which side the coin lands on, you’ll win. Here are some things to keep in mind as you’re preparing for your move to Costa Rica:

1. Hire a real estate agent, real estate lawyer or Costa Rica land specialist to assist you with the purchase of your Costa Rica land. The laws in Costa Rica are very different than those in the North America and other countries.

2. Hire a relocation company that specializes in international moves. Your consultant will become your best friend as you navigate all the little “must-do” tasks so that you can relocate in Costa Rica without interrupting your lifestyle.

3. Unless you’re planning on starting with all brand new things, you will need to hire a specialized moving company that deals with international relocation.

4. You must apply for residency status in your home country. You cannot personally do it once you’re in Costa Rica. The residency statuses available for foreigners include “pensionado” or rentista. Pensionado is for foreigners who have a guaranteed income of $600 / mo or more. Meanwhile, the rentista is a residency classification for foreigners who have a guaranteed income of $1000 or more each month. You’ll be given a residency card that must be renewed biannually once you’re granted one of those forms of residency. At the time of this renewal, you can also apply for permanent resident status, which will give you all the rights of a citizen except the right to vote. Note: Unless you’re a permanent resident, you cannot work as an employee with just your residency status. You can, however, own a business.

5. You can drive on your U.S driver’s license for a maximum of 3 months (90 days.) To be able to legally drive in Costa Rica after that 3 months, you’ll need have a medical exam and then go to the MOP (equivalent to the U.S.A’s DMV) to apply for your license. Take your current driver’s license, your passport, and cash with you!

6. You will need proper documentation to bring your pets with you. Again, this is an area in which relocation specialists can really help to make sure you have all the required licensing and permits. The good news is that there isn’t a quarantine period required for your pet.

7. If you’re a foreigner moving with children (non-Costa Rican citizens), you will need a copy of each child’s birth certificate. It’s ideal for both parents to be present when traveling in and out of Costa Rica with children. If only one parent will be traveling, that traveling parent will need a notarized letter that confirms that both parents have knowledge of the child’s trip to / from Costa Rica.

8. Even though the cost of living is cheaper in Costa Rica compared to countries in Europe and North America, you will still need to budget carefully. Remember: You cannot be employed by anyone unless you become a permanent resident or have been granted temporary residency due to providing specialized services such as teaching at a school or working for the government.

There are, of course, more details to consider when moving to Costa Rica but the above are the biggest hurdles you’ll have to overcome. After that, it will be smooth sailing and plenty of time for you to enjoy your beautiful Costa Rica real estate and all the perks of living in exotic Costa Rica.

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