In the first chapter Fred explains their move in 2005, and the reasons why retirement in Dallas, Texas would have been beyond their means.
Fred and his wife qualified for residency through social security income and spent $2,500 on legal fees when they applied in 2004. The book recommends residency as the workable option for those on a budget, because the cost of 90 day border runs will eat away at any savings.
After living in the country for three years they deal with the question of converting residency to permanent status, weighing the $350 fee against the trouble of keeping records to maintain the pensionado status.
Apart from the practicalities the book covers the finer things in life, such as food and entertainment, of course explained from the point of view of $1500 per month. Fred also offers a brief history of Costa Rica and explains some of the cultural differences of living in Costa Rica. He confesses that his wife Mary is better with the communication skills, despite his attempts to learn Spanish.
Practical topics include monthly expenses, banking, housing, transportation, medical and dental care, utilities and taxes. For example, Fred explains the basics on social security deposits to local accounts and how to buy and keep a used car on the road. He breaks down monthly expenses in terms of rent, food, electricity, health care, utilities, transportation and entertainment. The chapter on housing covers the basics and makes comparisons between renting and building.
If you can speak fluent Spanish, are on site every day and are very knowledgeable about building you may want to do it yourself. If not, hire a reputable engineer, architect and builder.
Holmes, Fred (2012-09-10). How to Live in Costa Rica on $1500 a Month (Kindle Locations 330-331). Fred H. Holmes. Kindle Edition.
Published in 2011, and based on six years of experience in Costa Rica, the book is a relatively up to date account of life in Costa Rica. However, on some topics a refresh may be in order. For example, the practice of gradually devaluing colones to the dollar is long gone. Those with dollar denominated fixed incomes are no longer getting a break on inflation. Changes have also taken place for newcomers who enroll in the national healthcare system (Caja) after receiving approval for residency.
Most of the information in How to Live in Costa Rica On $ 1500.00 a Month will be useful for years to come because it’s really a highlights book. It’s lengthy and an outstanding value as a low cost e-book. The is a perfect introduction for those who plan to relocate, live on a fixed income and do not have a couple million stashed away in an IRA or trust fund.