Residency Check List

Below is a list of questions often asked by people who are considering moving to Costa Rica. The answers can be found in Criteria Information.

  1. What is required to obtain legal residency? Can I meet these requirements? What is the cost? How often does residency have to be renewed, what are the conditions of renewal and what is the cost?
  2. What is required to visit, or while you are waiting for residency? (Visas, length of stay permitted, restrictions on residents on visa or in tourist or temporary resident categories)
  3. What is the political situation? (Dictatorship, democracy, monarchy, etc.)
  4. How stable is the country? (History of coups, potential for future unrest)
  5. Weather (Do you like 4 seasons? Hot weather? Temperate all year? Snow?)
  6. Income taxes (Are you taxed on income brought into the country? Are you allowed to earn income in the country? If yes, how is it taxed?)
  7. Other taxes (Sales taxes, import duties, exit taxes, vehicle taxes, property taxes, etc.)
  8. How much will it cost you in fees, duties and taxes to bring into the country your personal possessions? (Cars, boats, appliances, electronic equipment, personal effects, artwork, etc.)
  9. Rental Property – rental rates, laws protecting tenants, lease laws, rental taxes.
  10. Purchase of Property – Property value, taxes, restrictions on foreign ownership, purchase taxes, legal and registration fees, laws about foreign property owners, history of government respect for these laws, expropriation laws, squatters rights. If you are going to build, building regulations, how are local construction companies, is there any guarantee on construction once finished, what are construction costs?
  11. Communications – Are there reliable phone and fax lines, cellular phones, connections to Internet and other computer communication services, are there local newspapers – radio – TV in a language you understand? Is there cable vision or is satellite TV available?
  12. Transportation – How are the roads? Are flights available to places you wish to go? How are the bus, train, ferry services? How costly is it to travel to and from your chosen country to frequent destinations? (To bring in or visit family, business interests, etc.)
  13. What time zone is your proposed country of residence in compared to areas in which you may want to be in frequent telephone communication, such as where there are family or business interests.
  14. Shopping – Would you have a choice of items which you wished to purchase to compare prices? In case of malfunction, are parts and service available locally? (Appliances, electronics, photographic equipment, computers, vehicles, furniture and fixtures, etc.) Is computer software support and repair service available?
  15. Are the types of food to which you are accustomed readily available, both in restaurants and markets?
  16. If you have hobbies, are clubs, supplies and assistance available?
  17. What cultural activities are available? (Art, music, theater, etc.)
  18. What entertainment is available? (Sports, cinemas, night clubs, dancing, fiestas, etc.)
  19. What recreational facilities are available? (Golf courses, tennis, health clubs, recreation centers, other participatory sports)
  20. Will your appliances, electronics and electrical equipment work on the available power supply?
  21. If you like the beach are good beaches available? What is the water temperature?
  22. What is the situation with poisonous growth, insects, snakes, dangerous animals?
  23. What is the violent crime rate? Sneaky crime (theft, car and house break ins)? What support can be expected from the police department? How helpful are the police to local residents and foreign residents?
  24. How do the local residents treat foreign visitors and residents?
  25. What are the local investment opportunities? Is there any consumer or investment protection legislation for investors? What return can you expect on investments?
  26. Is the banking system safe and reliable? Can they transfer funds and convert foreign currency cheques, drafts and transfers? Are chequing, savings and other accounts you may need available to foreigners? Is there banking confidentiality? Exchange controls? Can money brought into the country be taken back out again?
  27. Are good lawyers, accountants, investment advisors and other professionals available?
  28. How is the health care system? Are there diseases which are dangerous to foreigners, and if so does the local health care system address the problem? What is the quality of hospitals, doctors, dentists? What is the availability of specialists? How is the ambulance service? Is dentistry up to the standards you are used to?
  29. How is sanitation? Can you drink the water? Do restaurants have good sanitation standards? Are pasteurized milk and dairy products available? Do meat, fish and vegetable markets have satisfactory sanitary standards?
  30. How is the education system? If you have children, are good private schools available in the language in which you would like them educated? What is the school year?
  31. If you are interested in having domestic staff, what is the cost of cooks, housekeepers, gardeners, etc.?
  32. What legislation is there to protect foreign residents? What rights do foreign residents have in comparison to citizens? What is the government’s past record in respecting the rights of foreign citizens?
  33. What natural dangers are there? (Hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, volcanoes, earthquakes, droughts, floods)
  34. Where does the country stand environmentally? What are the environmental issues? What is the history in dealing with environmental concerns?
  35. Is there controlled growth and well managed development?
  36. Can pets be brought to the country?