Would you like to retire in Costa Rica? Find out about how to move to this tropical retirement destination in Central America.

How to Retire in Costa Rica – The Ultimate Guide

If you’re envisioning a retirement lifestyle that’s as active and adventurous as it is relaxing and peaceful, the Central American country of Costa Rica could be for you. We’ve put together this handy guide for readers wondering how to retire in Costa Rica, giving you all the information you need.

This guide covers all aspects of retiring on the so-called “Rich Coast,” which blends Caribbean charm, historic Latin culture and cool Pacific vibes with dense rainforests, golden sand beaches, and vibrant cityscapes. We walk you through everything, right through from applying for “retiree” status to finding homes for sale in Costa Rica or condos for sale in Costa Rica that could make the perfect base for enjoying everything that makes this country such a fantastic retirement destination.

Discover how to retire in Costa Rica in our guide

Discover how to retire in Costa Rica in our guide


What are Costa Rica’s Pensionado & Rentista Programs?
Can I Retire in Costa Rica? Requirements of Costa Rica’s Residency Programs
Application Process
Costa Rica Retirement Program Benefits
Buying Real Estate for Your Retirement in Costa Rica
Where are the Best Places to Retire in Costa Rica?
Find Out More About Retiring in Costa Rica

What are Costa Rica’s Pensionado & Rentista Programs?

Costa Rica’s offers several programs which provide a very simple and straightforward way for retirees to make Central America their new home.

With a “Pensionado,” “Rentista” or “Inversionista” visa, anyone who meets the eligibility criteria can legally enjoy residency in any of the country’s vibrant cities, laidback beach towns or quiet, rural areas.

Can I Retire in Costa Rica? Requirements of Costa Rica’s Residency Programs

The eligibility criteria for each of Costa Rica’s retirement programs differs.

Pensionado Program

To meet the eligibility criteria for Costa Rica’s retirement programs, you must be able to demonstrate that you have a permanent, lifetime pension of at least US $1,000 per month – which can be a workplace pension, private savings, military pension, or any other type of retirement fund.

However, for those who don’t meet the criteria, it may still be possible to retire in Costa Rica.

Rentista Program

The Rentista Program provides a pathway to temporary residency for those who can provide proof of a monthly income of at least US $2,500 for at least 2 years.

Inversionista Program

In the case of those purchasing real estate in Costa Rica, the Inversionista Program provides the opportunity to obtain a residency visa to those investing a minimum of US $200,000+ in property, land, or a business.

Application Process

Applications for the above residency programs fall under the ‘Temporary Residency’ category, and must be processed by the Costa Rica Immigration Office (DGME).

Applicants may enter the country as a tourist and subsequently apply for temporary residency.

In each case, applicants must be able to provide documentary evidence that they meet the financial (and other requirements), which must be legalized and authenticated or apostilled.

Alongside this, applicants will need to supply the following documents:

Required Documents

  • Application form from the Costa Rica Immigration Office (DGME).
  • Request letter detailing the reasons for applying for temporary residency.
  • Proof of fingerprint registration issued by the Ministry of Public Safety.
  • Certified copy of your full passport.
  • Proof of consular registration in Costa Rica.
  • Certified criminal background check from your country of origin or the place where you have been legally resident for the past 3 years (e.g. a Federal Criminal Background certificate in the case of residents of the USA).
  • 2 passport-sized photographs.
  • Birth certificate, legalized and annotated within the past 6 months.
  • Supportive documentation for any dependents applying for temporary residency.
  • Application fees, plus a nominal fee for each page included with the application.

If documents are not written in Spanish, they must be translated by a translator or notary.


The Costa Rican Government charges $373 to issue a Pensionado visa.

This includes a $50 application fee, $200 to change the applicant’s status from ‘tourist’ to ‘temporary resident’, and $123 for a DIMEX residency card.

There may be additional costs to obtain, certify and/or translate documents.

It is also necessary to pay a refundable fee to the Costa Rica Immigration Office (DGME) once an application has been approved, which covers travel costs should a person be returned to their home country by the Government.

Costa Rica Retirement Program Benefits

There are many benefits to living and retiring in Costa Rica under the country’s retirement programs.


Applicants for the Pensionado, Rentista and Inversionista Visa Programs may include dependents in their application – including a spouse, children under 25, or children over 25 with disabilities to enjoy the Costa Rica lifestyle.

Option to Work

While applicants may not work as an employee under temporary resident status in Costa Rica, they are able to work for themselves or build their own business to generate additional income.

Permanent Residency

Although permanent residency status is not immediate, anyone on a Pensionado, Rentista or Inversionista visa can apply for permanent residency status after living in Costa Rica for 3 years or more, providing greater security and more flexibility to travel.


Costa Rica allows dual citizenship, which means temporary and permanent residents of Costa Rica can apply for Costa Rican citizenship after 7 years in the country without losing their existing citizenship.

Buying Real Estate for Your Retirement in Costa Rica

Those living in the country as part of these retirement programs are not required to invest in Costa Rica and can choose to rent a home. However, property prices in Costa Rica are very affordable, and many retirees do recognize the advantages of buying a home or buying a condo in Costa Rica for both comfort, stability, lifestyle and the potential financial benefits.

Under local law, temporary and permanent residents have the same legal rights to purchase property in Costa Rica as citizens, so there are no obstacles standing in the way of purchasing a home.

An extensive selection of property types – from cozy condos to luxurious, sprawling villas – are available across Costa Rica, from bustling San Jose to the serene beaches along the long Pacific coast.

To discover property for sale, browse Costa Rica real estate on our website.

For more detail on the purchase process, please see our guide to buying property in Costa Rica.

Where are the Best Places to Retire in Costa Rica?

Where are the best places to retire in Costa Rica? It’s important to remember that Costa Rica is a tremendously diverse country, with everything from cosmopolitan cities to tiny villages nestled in the foothills of the country’s lush mountains. And so, what’s best for you really depends on what you’re looking for.

For those wanting to retire in a true sunshine paradise, with easy access to picturesque white sand beaches and blue waters, the Province of Guanacaste and the Central Pacific Coastal region of Puntarenas are perfect.

For wild tropical landscapes, and to enjoy the best of Costa Rica’s incredible natural beauty, destinations such as Dominical and Manuel Antonio offer amazing views and easy access to some of the the country’s most celebrated sites.

Wanting to retire in a setting with a more communal feel? The beach town of Las Catalinas and the suburbs of Costa Rica’s capital San Jose, such as Santa Ana and Escazu, could be ideal. Nestled in the Central Valley, homes here offer easy access to all the city’s main attractions and amenities.

Find out more: Best places to buy property in Costa Rica

Find out More About Retiring in Costa Rica

Interested in finding out more? If you want to learn more about retiring in Costa Rica, or you want to check out property for sale that suits your retirement dream, we would be happy to help.

You can explore beautiful houses, villas and condos, as well as other types of Costa Rica real estate on our website.

Or, if you want to see what else the region has to offer you in terms of retirement homes, take a look here to browse a wide selection of other Central America real estate investment opportunities.

Need help finding your dream retirement property? Contact 7th Heaven Properties and let us help you find a retirement property in Costa Rica that ticks all your boxes.