Updated: Apr 16
Costa Rica is one of my favorite countries in the world. I have visited 16 countries over the past 5 years and Costa Rica is a prized destination for me. I consider it a second home with its hundreds of miles of expansive beaches, incredible jungle, and warm climate. Thousands of expats all over the world have left their home countries for Costa Rica. You may be wondering why and I’m happy to tell you. Costa Rica is BETTER than your home country and here’s why.
“If you don’t know by now, I am absolutely in love with Costa Rica. It’s natural landscape, amazing food, economy, peaceful atmosphere and lifestyle are extremely attractive to me. If I could live in Costa Rica forever, I just might!”
Costa Rica’s mantra "Pura Vida" is a lifestyle not a saying
When you visit Costa Rica, you will likely come across someone who says “pura vida” to you with a smile, nod or warm greeting. Translated as “pure life”, Pura Vida is a very popular mantra in Costa Rica. It was adopted from the Mexican movie, “Pura Vida", made in 1956. It was inspired by a character in the film who was endlessly positive despite his circumstances. Since the movie debuted in Costa Rica in the 1980's, the mantra has been widely used as a friendly greeting and positive statement. These days, Pura Vida is commonly used to say hello, goodbye, things are well and everything in between.
Pura Vida is a lifestyle for most Ticos (Costa Rican people). It’s a symbol of simple living, appreciation for nature and valuing the important things in life. Some of my favorite Ticos live a truly Pura Vida lifestyle. They wake up, grab a coconut water, spend time at the beach or in nature, go to work, spend time with their families, eat delicious healthy food and do it all over again. It’s a way of life that values quality over quantity. Happiness over “stuff”.
It’s no surprise that Costa Rica is ranked #1 on the Happiness Index and is said to have a higher wellbeing for its citizens than many rich countries like the US & UK. People all over the world could really learn something from the Pura Vida way of life.
Costa Rica has delicious, non-GMO food
Costa Rica has an incredible climate and natural environment that is just perfect for growing delicious foods. The food grown on this incredibly rich soil is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. In the United States, if I wanted a papaya or pineapple, I would go to my local grocery store and pick up a kind of ripe tropical fruit that traveled thousands of miles to get to my plate. Most of the time, the fruit looked unhealthy, unripe, and unnatural in size, color or composition. That is not a problem in Costa Rica. Most of the tropical fruit, vegetables, bread, etc. are grown locally in the country.
Another interesting aspect is Costa Rica's stance on GMO’s. The agricultural standards here are much stricter on GMO agricultural products. A few years ago, anti-GMO activist fought a campaign that was brought on by Monsanto to build several GMO farms in the country. Today, about 2/3rds of the country have banned GMO crops. This means a lot of the food eaten in Costa Rica is non-GMO and coming from small, local farms.
Some of the best pineapples I have ever eaten were in Guapiles, about 70 km (about 40 miles) northeast of the capital, San Jose. The pineapples there are grown on family-owned farms not too far from volcanoes. The volcanoes in the area erupt from time to time and infuse the soil with nutrients that make for incredibly healthy and vibrant crops. Pineapples are just one example of some of the amazing foods that Costa Rica can produce.
Costa Rica is a Peaceful Country
One of my favorite facts about Costa Rica is that it does not have a national army. Yep, Costa Rica hasn’t had it’s own army since 1948 when then President Jose Figueres Ferrer abolished the national army after winning a civil war that same year.
When Costa Rica needs an army, they typically call the USA to lend a hand. However, the small nation hasn’t needed to make that phone call to the States in a while. Costa Rica is a very peaceful country with a relatively stable economy and political atmosphere.
Compared to other places, Costa Rica is incredibly peaceful. There are wars being waged all over the world. From Syria to Yemen and countries in between, many countries are at war or have been in war for centuries. Some of us are from countries that have experienced war more recently than others. As far as Costa Rica goes, I feel safe in its current political climate. I think others who don't live in very peaceful countries would benefit from visiting or living in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica's has an amazing natural landscape and it's working to preserve it
Costa Rica takes up about 0.3% of the world’s land but it is home to 6% of the world’s biodiversity. Here you will find incredible forest, jungles, beaches and animals that probably don’t exist in your home country. There are hundreds of species of mammals, amphibians insects, reptiles, birds and so many other creatures that live here. You won’t need to travel far to be completely immersed in Costa Rica’s incredible biodiversity. Almost every day, I see a howler monkey, sloths, tree frogs, butterflies, and more! Some people travel thousands of miles to see these animals. But if you lived here, they would be in your backyard.
One of my favorite places to visit for its natural landscape is Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. Puerto Viejo is located in the southeast corner of Costa Rica on the Caribbean coast near the border with Panama. This small town has a big town feel with endless things that a city would offer as well as the jungle and beach within walking distance. I absolutely adore that the ocean is right outside of my apartment and I can walk to it anytime, any day.
Another place I enjoy is Monteverde. In Monteverde, you can find the cloud forests which have by far the cleanest air I’ve ever breathed. The cloud forest is a short shuttle ride from Monteverde but within minutes, you can be surrounded by waterfalls and hiking in a steamy and aromatic forest setting.
I truly love that 25% of Costa Rica’s land is a national park or nature reserve. The country makes great efforts to preserve their natural landscape. They do this with nature preserves but they are also doing their part to combat climate change. Costa Rica has hydroelectric, solar, and wind energy to power most of the country but they are going a step further. This small but mighty country aims to be carbon-neutral by 2021.
Costa Rica is a great place to start a business
If you’re like me and you’re always looking for places to sustain your life abroad and work while you do it, then Costa Rica is the place! The economy is very stable compared to its neighbors. Costa Rica is the 11th most influential country in the Americas and the 9th Best Country in the World for Expats. Considering its size, that’s impressive! I once worked for a woman who said, “You can manifest anything in Costa Rica” and she’s so right. This country is ripe for business owners who want to setup shop in a relatively stable country with a strong tourism economy.
Nearly 75% of Costa Rica’s GDP comes from services and much of those are catered towards tourists. Land is fairly affordable to buy and hiring local people to serve in your business is accessible and easy to find. Although Costa Rica has a low unemployment rate of 8%, about 1 in 4 Costa Ricans live on or below the poverty line. So, if you start a business here, do hire a local and work towards lowering these astonishing statistics.
I cannot reiterate this enough: if you’re a business-minded person and want to setup shop in Costa Rica, do it! Costa Rica was named #48 Best Countries for Business by Forbes. The country is ripe for starting a business and there are plenty of hands that want to help you achieve your vision for your business.
If you don’t know by now, I am absolutely in love with Costa Rica. It’s natural landscape, amazing food, economy, peaceful atmosphere and lifestyle are extremely attractive to me. If I could live in Costa Rica forever, I just might! For now, I’m traveling through and will definitely return to this beautiful, small and powerful nation.