3 Reasons Expats Fail When Moving to Costa Rica…and the Secret to Success

Coldwell Banker Pacific Realty | 27th March 2023 | Share
3 Reasons Expats Fail When Moving to Costa Rica…and the Secret to Success

For many, moving to Costa Rica is the realization of a long-held dream—leaving the day-to-day grind for that pura vida lifestyle in one of the world’s most beautiful countries. Yet, a surprising number of expats make the move then wind up returning to the familiar.

Why is that?

As one of Costa Rica’s most trusted real estate companies, we’ve seen hundreds of expats come and go, and we’ve realized there are a few things that most often fuel their leaving. That’s why we’re sharing the 3 most common reasons we see expats fail to thrive in Costa Rica…and offering you the secret to ensure your success.

So, what are the reasons some expats fail to thrive in this tropical paradise?


  • They struggle to find fulfillment.

Some fall victim to the notion that the act of moving to Costa Rica will create some sort of dramatic change for the better in their lifestyle and emotions. It’s as if they think a change of scenery is all they need to feel more fulfilled with life.

Oftentimes, people make the move to Costa Rica without having a support structure in place—they are without a job, they are lacking the social network they had (but perhaps didn’t appreciate) in their hometown, and they find themselves feeling bored and unfulfilled in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

  • They build bad relationships in-country.

Some expats arrive in Costa Rica and immediately place their trust in the wrong people. They wind up paying too much for a home in a bad location, are duped by an unscrupulous builder, or make a bad deal when purchasing their car. As a result, they develop a distrust for the country in general that sends them packing for home.

  • They try out bad business plans.

We see many expats arrive in Costa Rica with plans to put their new business idea into action. But it’s important to remember that the failure rate for any new business is high…even in developed countries where the business owners speak the language and are afforded support from the infrastructure that makes starting a business easier. Many expats who try to start a new business in Costa Rica find themselves struggling to succeed.


So, what is the secret to succeeding at life in Costa Rica?

The answer is singular…and surprisingly simple. The best way to set yourself up for success is to prepare properly.

Spend time researching both the country in general and the area where you plan to live. If you’re able, rent a property in that location for a few months before you make the move and immerse yourself in the community.

Decide how you’ll find fulfillment once you move. Build a solid social network of trustworthy people who can help you as you relocate. And, if you’re considering opening a business, gain a clear understanding of how the local economy operates and the cultural nuances of the country.

By taking the time to lay the necessary groundwork and understand what it means to live well in Costa Rica before you take the plunge, you’ll set yourself up for success and enjoy the pura vida lifestyle for years to come.

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