Plan Your Family's Move to Costa Rica

Whether you’re just beginning to consider relocating your family abroad or are already well down the path to moving to Costa Rica with kids, you likely have a lot of thoughts, questions, ideas, and concerns bouncing around in your head.

The mere logistics, let alone the planning and implementation, can be daunting. 

That’s because moving to Costa Rica as a family is a category all its own. With children in the mix, you add a whole new layer of challenges: In addition to your standard considerations on where to live, whether to get residency, and how to plan your healthcare, you’ll have to factor in decisions on private school, future goals (including college/university), friendships, and your children’s overall adjustment.

 You’ve found the right starting point.

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How We Can Help

Hi, I’m Rebecca Clower. My friends call me Becky and I hope you will, too.

You and I probably have a lot in common. Years ago, I did what you’re about to do: I decided to upend my life and move to Costa Rica. I remember having so many questions about the minutiae of moving, residency, healthcare, schools, and everything else about life in Costa Rica. I understand how you feel right now. 

More than 15 years later, I’ve made a wonderful life here. Along the way, I’ve given birth to and raised two boys. I founded Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica. I’ve embraced the pura vida. And I’ve helped so many individuals, couples, and families relocate their lives, fulfill their dreams, and realize their goals in paradise. Now, it’s your turn.

Moving Checklist

Whether you’re a meticulous planner or the kind to wing it, relocating your family abroad requires at least some (and usually, a lot of) thinking ahead.

Because there are considerations. Not the least of which include, where will you live? Where will your kids go to school? How will you support yourself? What will your cost of living look like? These are practicalities of life in Costa Rica – and they’re something that you must think about, plan, and decide on, before you pick up and move your entire family and life. Even if you are moving to paradise.

5 Paths to Costa Rican Residency

If you’re thinking about relocating your family abroad, then you’re also considering your legal residency options. Costa Rica offers several residency categories, five of which are common for expats and four of which are most popular for families. 

From “rentistas” and giving birth in Costa Rica to “inversionistas” and digital nomads, what kind of residency is right for your family? Which category best fits your life and lifestyle?

Frequently Asked Questions

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, so we’ll say probably. Many families begin with a short bout of perpetual tourism, which is a kind of try-before-you-buy status for families who are just testing the waters OR who are in the residency process OR who won’t be in Costa Rica for long enough to reap the benefits of residency. 


That said, if you’re relocating your family abroad, you’ll likely crave the security and permanence of legal residency.


  •     Legal Right to Reside: As a resident, you can stay in Costa Rica for as long as your residency is valid. No forced exits. And no worries about changing tourist requirements.
  •     Costa Rican Driver’s License: Your home country’s driver’s license is only valid for as long as your passport stamp (max: 90 days). As a resident, you can transfer (homologar) your home license to a Costa Rican license.
  •     CCSS Healthcare: As a resident, you’ll pay into Costa Rica’s public healthcare system, known as the Caja or CCSS. This grants you access to all public healthcare services, with no copays, deductibles, or additional fees, ever.
  •     Permanent Residence: While the residency categories below begin as temporary residency, most allow you to upgrade to permanent residency after three years. Not only does permanent residency grant you longer residence periods and the right to work in Costa Rica but it’s also a path to citizenship, were you to so desire it.
  •     Tax Exemptions: Coming soon! A recent law (still in process) will grant certain residency categories significant import tax exemptions on household goods and vehicles.
  •     Ease of Daily Life: Life is just easier as a resident. You can easily open bank accounts, connect utilities, get a cell phone, request a firma digital (digital signature hardware, widely used in Costa Rica), and more. 

·      Resident Discounts: Did you know that Costa Ricans and residents have access to discounts throughout Costa Rica, from ¢1,000 entrance to national parks to hotel discounts?

There are four main residency categories that fit most families: 


  •     Rentista: This two-year temporary residency category requires a $60,000 deposit, usually via a trust in your home country or a funded bank account in Costa Rica. The primary applicant can cover a spouse and dependents
  •     Investor: This two-year temporary residency category requires a $200,000 investment (note: slated for reduction to $150,000) in real estate or a business. The primary applicant can cover a spouse and dependents.
  •     Digital Nomad: This one-year estancia (essentially, a right to reside) grants short-term residency to families earning a minimum of $4,000/month from foreign sources.
  •     First-Degree Relationship with a Costa Rican: For most families, first-degree relationship status is achieved through marriage to a Costa Rican or giving birth in Costa Rica (all children born here, regardless of parentage, are granted immediate Costa Rican citizenship). 


Additionally, depending on your family circumstances, you may also qualify for Pensionado residency, which is a two-year temporary residency extended to pensioners earning a pension or lifetime annuity for a minimum of $1,000/month. The primary applicant can cover a spouse and dependents.

Like back home, there’s no sole descriptor for schools in Costa Rica. We have a little bit of everything – public and private, Waldorf and Montessori, Costa Rican and international and IB. It’s really across the board but the bottom line is that there is a school in Costa Rica for every type of learner. 

That said, schooling is a major consideration for families. Our best advice is to structure your move around your school choice: Search first for schools that meet your family’s needs, then begin to look to the surrounding towns and communities for a home that fulfills your other needs. 

Yes, foreigners can own property in Costa Rica and have the same ownership rights as Costa Rican citizens. Ownership rights are guaranteed by the Costa Rican Constitution and apply to all, regardless of whether the property is placed in the name of a corporation or in the name of an individual.


Finding Housing

Housing is a complex topic anywhere, but even more so when relocating your family abroad. With such a major transition on the horizon, you’ll want to have this key piece in place. You’ll want to know that a welcoming family home is waiting for you on the other side of the plane ride. 

As you begin your housing search – whether you’re looking for a long-term rental or a home to purchase – there are some important factors to consider. These include the general location and the specific location, traffic, distance to certain points of interest (ex. schools), microclimates, availability of utilities, roads, and the current real estate panorama in your chosen town, city, or community.

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Cost of Living in Costa Rica

The cost of living in Costa Rica (as anywhere) is dependent on the life you lead: Your personal cost of living will be different as a family of five, with three kids in international schools, in an ocean-view 4-bedroom home, than it would be for a family of three, with one kid in a local private school, living in a 2-bedroom mountain home.

All that said, there are a few very general rules to the cost of living in Costa Rica. Here are the major points to consider.

Helpful Resources

7 Tips to Help Your Kids Adapt to Life Abroad

There’s no “secret sauce” to relocating your family abroad. But there are a few practices, priorities, and provisions that make for an easier, less fraught, more joyful, and better organized move.

Tips on Moving to Costa Rica with Kids

From giving birth in Costa Rica and picking private schools to settling into the healthcare system and finding extracurriculars, learn a little more about the big basics of family life in Costa Rica.

International & Private Schools in Tamarindo

Tamarindo, on Guanacaste’s north Pacific coast, is a popular destination for families. Preview the area’s private, international, and IB schools, including school calendars, accreditation, and tuition.

Book Your Family Relocation Package

What We Do

  •     One-on-One Conversations: My relocation assistance begins and concludes with one-on-one conversations – just you and me (Becky Clower). This gives you a chance to get personal and answer all those nitty-gritty, detailed questions that matter most to you. Go ahead – ask me anything!
  •     Relocation E-Course: We’ll set you up for our Costa Rica relocation e-course, delivered via email. Explore, learn, and discover at your own pace, in your own time.
  •     Our “Little Black Book”For nearly two decades, my team and I have compiled a list of our most trusted contacts: best-in-class professionals, service providers, and other resources throughout Costa Rica. Now, that list is yours.
  •     Exclusive Relocation Resources: Everyone has access to my free eBook but only my consulting clients receive the whole library of resources, PDFs, eBooks, and other digital resources. This includes a Relocation eBook, Guanacaste Community eBook and Moving Checklist!

Schedule a Consultation

Reserve your one-on-one relocation consult! Our basic package is $500 and includes everything at left, including two one-on-one phone conversations (one hour each).