Many people live in Costa Rica on a tourist visa and have to leave every 90 days. Some will hop the border to Nicaragua or Panama, while others will go for the likes of Cuba or Columbia and some will even head back home. People not wanting to leave every 90 days (for at least 72 hours), will need to apply for their Residency. The only sure way to get residency is to have a baby in Costa Rica. While effective, that way has an 18 year commitment attached to it, not to mention dirty diapers and piano lessons. Most people obtain legal residency one of these three ways:
- Pensionado (Having proof of permanent income of at least $1000/month from pension or retirement source)
- Rentista (which can be obtained by having $60,000 in a Costa Rica Bank or $2500/month income guaranteed for at least two years)
- Inversionista ($200,000 investment into a business or real estate)
The immigration laws in Costa Rica change in some way almost annually, so it is recommended that you find a good immigration attorney.
Cost: The cost of obtaining residency can vary and you can expect to pay $1200-$2000, depending on the type of residency you are applying for. There is usually a discount for families.
Getting Ready: For those who are planning to apply for Costa Rica residency, it is recommended that you start the process before you move to Costa Rica. You will need certain documents validated in your home country (like your birth certificate for example) and police report from the city where you currently reside. It is much easier to obtain these things while you are there.
Time: The residency process generally takes 6-12 months once all the required paperwork has been submitted.