San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Retirement Living

Costa Rica ranks among healthiest, most comfortable retirement destinations

Costa Rica is a top option for a healthy, comfortable retirement, according to two recent surveys. The country ranked fourth overall in International Living’s 2016 list of Best Countries to Retire.

It also ranked fourth in the magazine’s Healthy Lifestyle list, a newest category for the publication’s annual Global Retirement Index.

Finding a healthy retirement abroad is a major factor for deciding where to relocate, according to a survey conducted by the magazine. Foreigners currently living in Costa Rica say they have a healthier lifestyle here thanks mostly to being more active and having an improved diet.

The publication said retirees in top ranked countries “will find not only a more relaxed and less-stressful lifestyle, but abundant fresh air, produce, and many opportunities for exercise and adventure.”

For Costa Rica, results highlight the country’s year-round warm weather that allows exercise outside almost any day of the year, as well as multiple options for outdoor activities. The publication noted that many Costa Rican towns have a weekly feria del agricultor, or farmers market, “where a couple can fill their fridge for about $30 every week.”

The wide options for fresh produce prompt expats to lower their consumption of processed foods and focus on a diet of homemade food, which is healthier and less expensive, the publication noted.

“Many expats report losing 30 to 40 pounds in their first year in Costa Rica. It’s a great perk of expat life,” the magazine states.

Visiting farmers markets also adds health benefits of socializing with locals and other expats, which are often listed among the top lifestyle benefits of moving abroad, the report added.

Results came from questions in 10 categories posed to readers, correspondents, contributors and editors. Questions included: “Can you catch a movie in English?” “What is the average humidity?” “How much to rent?” “Can you get direct flights to and from the U.S.?” “How much does a doctor’s visit cost?” and “Do they speak English?”

Panama took first place in International Living’s 2016 list, followed by Ecuador and Mexico. In Panama, according to International Living, fresh fruit is more accessible than fast food, while fish and seafood are very affordable. For that reason many expats say their health improved after moving there.

Ecuador ranked second thanks mostly to its geographic location that gives it “an extraordinary climate and a year-round growing cycle for a huge variety of healthy fruits and vegetables.” Climate also helps expats spend a lot of time outdoors enjoying beautiful scenery, the publication noted.

Nicaragua ranked eighth. The report noted that since few locals own cars, most Nicaraguan cities are a walker’s paradise with efficient public bus systems, shuttles and taxi services.

Costa Rica’s ranking by the publication this year represents an improvement over results from last year, when it ranked fifth, just below Malaysia.

International Living Best countries to retire 2016

Comfortable retirement

International Living’s results came soon after Costa Rica took the No. 1 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Countries for a Comfortable Retirement. The rankings were assigned based on feedback from wealthy, retirement age or soon-to-be retirement age individuals in seven areas: affordability, tax environment, friendliness, whether the country is a place where one would want to live, climate, respect for property rights and the country’s public health system.

The publication noted Costa Rica’s “comparatively progressive environmental policies,” its “year-round tropical climate” and wide variety of lifestyle options. It also noted the country’s pensionado benefits package for foreign retirees.

The model used to score and rank countries was developed by brand strategy firm BAV Consulting and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Surveyors asked more than 16,000 people from across the globe to associate countries with specific attributes.

Contact L. Arias at

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International Living is a for-profit tourism company that constantly portrays Costa Rica as paradise in the Huffington Post and refuses to inform its clients of the pitfalls and problems. This is NOT any kind of professional survey conducted by academics or by anyone who has a degree in anything but marketing and advertising. Shame on the Tico Times for being an accomplice to this kind of propaganda which results in unsuspecting gringos moving to Costa Rica and then being disillusioned about it not being paradise.

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Glad that this reader replied, making these points about Int’l Living. I learned this the hard way after spending money on a trial subscription to their NL some years ago. Then I when contacted them asking some QQs, they were all ‘rose-colored-glasses’ about CR and immediately started pushing real estate offers at me.

But then when I let them know that I had been visiting CR for about 20 years and refuted one or two things they were saying they immediately quit responding to me.

So I would advise anyone interested in coming to CR not to rely on Int’l Living but to come to CR and see for yourself what it is like and make your own decisions. There is no substitute for doing that.

And just FWIW, I also would never recommend that anyone buy property or a home in CR. There are far to many pitfalls and horror stories abounding, plus if you needed to sell your place later for any of many reasons it could take forever since CR is not a great seller’s market. Or you might have to take a significant loss if you absolutely had to unload your property quickly.

Instead if you were to put the money that you would have paid for a nice home there into CDs, etc., you could rent a very nice place in CR just using the interest and still have your principal sitting in the bank. And if for any reason you became tired of the place you were renting you could easily look for somewhere else that you liked better.

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Thanks…. I get so tired of these kinds of articles. No mention of The BIG Green Lie, heart clutching sticker shock at the cash register and the overbloated underperforming civil service (Recope LOST money in 2015 – a gas/oil/energy distribution monopoly lost money) in Costa Rica.

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the above comments appear to be the feelings, and concerns of victims, of sh_t shoveling organizations such as International Living, & the Tico Times.
Hamme your comment only reinforces the predatory behavior of the above mentioned party’s. As for you Hamme, you say trade with your neighbors, you offer me and my neighbors sh_t, if and when you become a victim I will offer you a reminder of the wisdom you bestowed upon us today (caca mono). As for L. Arias, and the Tico Times I’ve copied the page, if you remove I will post in every paper in Costa Rica, Panama, & Nicaragua. So I ask, please let this stand as a reminder the next time you sling sh_t, someone may sling it back in your face.

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A Tico nieghbour asked me last night if I was happy here and I said I love this country.

It’s not perfect and never has been.
It is a 3rd world country.
You want North American or EU standards best stay there.

Yes prices have gone up at the supermarket.
The great american super market, Walmart owes all the food and most of the supermarkets now.
They have price fixed everything.
Lots of articles wriiten about this over the years.

Many Farmers markets just follow the prices Walmart has set.
Others are less than half the cost of a supermarket.

Food is a monopoly.
Fuel is a monopoly.
So is power.
There are alternatives to these monopolies

Try Panama were you can worry about kidnapping and extortion.
Nicaragua you have Ortega to worry about.
Colombia has more than its fair share of problems to deal with.
There is always Mexico though.
Cuba might open up to the Americans again.

Ya there are pitfalls to living here but we only complain about the rising price of food as do most of the Ticos.

A small garden has fixed this and a nice hobby that puts salad on table.
Small local butchers seem to be very competitive in pricing.
Fruit rots in the streets there is so much of it.
trade with nieghbours.
Lime for bananas.
Carrots for mangos
Just offer and they will return with something you don’t have.

We know lots of expats that have intigrated into the costa Rican lifestyle and doing well and happily accept the problems that come with this country.

We also know lots of expats who didn’t last 6 months and bitter that it didn’t work out the way they expected.

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Ken Morris

Good to see other readers taking the Tico Times to task for promoting International Living’s self-interested drivel.

Here is what International Living says about the methods it used to compile these rankings: “Our rankings are subjective.” Need we say more? There it is folks, a confession from the outfit publishing the rankings that they have no empirical basis at all.

But of course, International Living proceeds to spin its subjective rankings by writing that its subjectivity “is by design. We purposely rely on the informed judgment and real-world experience of in-country expats.”

Oh baloney. International Living recruits its in-country expat informants in part on the basis of their willingness to emphasize the appeal of the countries and minimize their drawbacks. This is an intentional distortion of the “subjective” method International Living uses.

The question is why International Living would intentionally dispense misleadingly optimistic information. The answer would seem to lie in its quest for profits. It makes its money by enticing people to its publication and seminars, and then by the ad revenues it earns, mostly from the sellers of real estate in the countries it promotes.

Well, everybody is entitled to try to make a buck however they choose, and International Living can do that too. But it’s not a responsible journalistic source and if the Tico Times wants to practice responsible journalism, it shouldn’t report what International Living publishes uncritically.

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