Written by a Canadian author, who is an expert in escaping the cold weather for half the year, So, You Want to Move to Costa Rica? is an excellent introduction to the concept of living in Costa Rica on a part time basis.
This isn’t a book on how to relocate, pack all your earthly possessions into a cargo container and start calling yourself a Tico.
Instead, the author Frederic makes the assertion that even with the new immigration laws, you can be a perpetual tourist, provided you really leave for half the year.
Since staying for six months is longer than the normal 90 day tourist visa, you have two options, either make a visa run to Nicaragua or just overstay the visa, and on the way out, deal with the 300 fine or 3 month exclusion from returning. Frederic doesn’t explain this option in detail, but it’s implied.
Living in Costa Rica part time is not an entirely novel idea. So-called, snow birds or retired Americans sometimes fly further south than Florida, and return home when their trip is over. They comeback with photos and stories, then save up for the next year.
Frederic offers some practical advice on how to cut costs while you are away. For example, six months is long enough to save money by turning off the cable television, and taking your car off the road. Also, since you are not actually becoming a foreign resident, then you can get great deals on insurance for medical evacuation and travel accidents. Expats usually can not qualify for these things because they become residents of foreign countries.
Even if you want to eventually relocate to Costa Rica, living here part time is a great way introduce yourself to the country and decide if you like it. Those who plan to apply for residency should seriously consider the part time option, given the new, revised immigration law. For example, expect to wait at least a year after filing the application for residency. If you just live in Costa Rica, part time during this period then you don’t have any hassle with drivers licenses and tourist visas.
Fredreic also devotes a couple sections to comparisons to other countries, such as Hawaii, Colombia and Panama. Clearly he is motivated by the desire to get out of the ice and snow, and is willing to do his homework.
I will say, however that the advice offered by Frederic on setting up bank accounts and opening a corporation is something you may choose to skip, especially if you just live here full time. Frederic, who is a Canadian national isn’t subject to the same complex IRS rules, applicable to United States citizens who bank and do business abroad. Also, for most the accounts are not worth the cost of legal fees and taxes.
His advice, however on Fresco de Tamarindo and Pejibaye Soup are top notch.