Why Canadians Love Costa Rica

Why Canadians Love Costa Rica

Half of my family is from Canada, eh. My mother grew up in Newfoundland until the age of 13 when my grandfather found work in California. The extended family that stayed behind, some later moving to Ottawa, would frequently visit us in the San Francisco Bay Area, especially during the cold, winter months.

A few years ago, when I moved down to Costa Rica full time, I realized there are a lot of Canadians visiting (102,471 in 2009*) and living the area. One of the main reason Canadians (virtually all nationalities for that matter) visit, buy land, and in some cases, relocate to Costa Rica is the weather. As one client put it, “Shoveling snow sucks.” I have only experienced it a couple of times in Lake Tahoe, California, and I’d have to agree.

Shorts, No Shoes

The Costa Ballena (Whale Coast) is the tropics. Those living near the beach are rarely (if ever) cold here, and most people walk around in shorts 365 days out of the year. For those who “melt in the heat”, the Costa Ballena’s unique geography offers many cooler locations up in the mountains, most offering spectacular views, waterfalls, and close proximity to the beaches and/or San Isidro, one of the fastest growing cities in Central America. It rains 6 months out of the year, but even in September most mornings begin with blue skies and sunshine.

Active Adult Communities

The landscape and its wildlife are spectacular. In fact, I’ve seen it written that the Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula is “home to more plant & animal species than all of North America combined.” Add in the many outdoor activities available in the area— world class sport fishing, whale watching, bird watching, hiking, golf, tennis, and surfing to name a few — and retirement in Costa Rica is actually when many expat residents really start living.

Another reason Canadians love Costa Rica is the cultural adventure. It starts with the Costa Ricans, also known as Ticos. On the whole, the polite locals are family and community-focused, and even the toughest-looking hombre will break into a smile if you smile. Yes, there are a few cultural nuances to adapt to—“yes” doesn’t always mean “yes”, “tico time” means being late, strange driving habits— but ultimately these are all opportunities to take a deep breath and grow a little. The Costa Ballena has a safe, laid back feel to it, add a hammock and a good book into the mix, and it is relaxation-defined.

A “Lot” For A Little

Foreign investors continue to visit and invest in the Costa Ballena. Add in the fact that annual property tax in Costa Rica is .25% and there is no Capital Gains Tax, and the investment picture is even more appealing. Canadian citizens who claim non-resident status and have residency in Costa Rica are not double taxed by the Canadian government on their Costa Rica income. If you’ve always wanted to make Costa Rica your home, please consult your tax attorney for more details. But, in summary, to be a non-resident Canadian you must—

  1. live in Canada for less than 183 days in the tax year

  2. not have any residential ties (e.g. cars, houses, a spouse or dependents) in Canada.

We see a lot of people visiting, buying and relocating to the Costa Ballena. There is so much room for growth here; success only requires imagination, a little research, and a few good connections.

Our office is made up of foreigners who have now made the Costa Ballena their permanent home. The communities each have a varying group of expatriates, for instance the town of Ojochal has become known for its community of French Canadians, mainly because of the popular fine dining restaurants run by such individuals.

Beautiful weather, abundant wildlife, friendly people, and good investment opportunities… no wonder so many Canadians are buying real estate in the Southern Pacific Zone of Costa Rica!

*Written by Rod Martin