Retiring in Tamarindo? Start Here: Amenities, Major Medical, Housing & Other Considerations

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Choosing to retire abroad – anywhere abroad – is both a major decision and an exhilarating adventure. So many exciting decisions await! But before you take the plunge, I know you’re doing copious research. And because you’re considering retiring in Tamarindo, that research has brought you here. 

Welcome! You’re in the right place. I’m Rebecca Clower (my friends call me Becky) and I’ve both lived in the area for 16+ years and have helped many relocate here, too. Consider this post as a preliminary way to pick my brain while evaluating whether Tamarindo might make your shortlist for retirement destinations. 

Retiring in Tamarindo: The Basics

Retiring in Tamarindo The Basics

As I mentioned, Tamarindo is a town I know well and love dearly. It’s such a difficult place to describe: At once wonderfully cosmopolitan (as Costa Rica goes!) and welcomingly small. Both convenient to everything and just a little bit removed. It’s a town of delightful contradictions in all the best ways, and I am grateful to call this region home.

Sometimes referred to as Playa Tamarindo or Tamarindo Beach – both, the eponymous stretch of sand along the town’s coast – Tamarindo (GPS coordinates) is located on Costa Rica’s North Pacific coast, about 78 kilometers (48.5 miles) southwest of Liberia, the capital of our province (Guanacaste) province and home to the international Guanacaste Airport (LIR). 

As one of the coast’s most well-appointed oceanside cities – notably, this “city” measures about 1 square mile! – Tamarindo offers some of the region’s best amenities, including 50+ restaurants, a variety of grocery stores, basic medical care, shopping, and other everyday amenities.

All this makes retiring in Tamarindo quite an appealing option: Oceanfront. Gorgeous beaches. A tropical lifestyle. Close to major medical. An easy drive to an international airport. And yet, there’s an even bigger draw that pulls retirees to our little coastal city: community. Tamarindo’s warm, welcoming, and international community is the kind of place that not only makes you want to call it home, but welcomes you warmly, as soon as you choose to set down roots. 

And if all that sounds like somewhere you’d like to consider, then let’s dig a little deeper.

Consideration #1: Cost of Living

Consideration #1 Cost of Living

Cost of living isn’t an easy topic to cover because it varies so widely. Just as people have different needs and varying budgets in your home country (and hometown, for that matter), so, too, do people in Costa Rica. Bottom line: Wherever you live, your cost of living is a function of your lifestyle. The question is, what will your lifestyle cost in Costa Rica?

After living along the coast for almost two decades – and after having helped hundreds of clients make their homes here – I’ve found that there are a few general rules and considerations that can help you determine your cost of living in Costa Rica. When we boil it down to the basics, living and/or retiring in Tamarindo falls into four basic budget categories: 

  • $1,000/Month: This represents the bare minimum, both for residency and modest lifestyle purposes. 
  • $1,500-$2,500/Month: Firmly middle class by Costa Rican standards, this budget is comfortable and affords some extras and small indulgences. 
  • $2,500-$4,000/Month: If you’re retiring in Tamarindo, this is what I’d consider a happily comfortable budget. You won’t have to pinch pennies but you’ll still have to make wise decisions. 
  • $5,000-$7,500+/Month: Considered a luxury budget, this buys you a very nice lifestyle with plenty of luxuries, like frequent meals out, plenty of private healthcare, and more.

Consideration #2: Amenities (including Major Medical)

Consideration #2 Amenities (including Major Medical)

Retiring in Tamarindo grants you access to some of the coast’s best amenities but as with all things coastal, everything is relative.

Right here in town, you’ll have easy access – often, within walking distance – to dozens of restaurants, several grocery stores (including ones that carry a wide selection of familiar imported goods), and stores that carry everything from swimsuits to home goods. For everything else or for greater selection, it’s a 90-minute drive to Liberia, the province’s capital city. 

Regarding medical care, Tamarindo offers both public and private healthcare options by means of a CCSS/Caja clinic and private doctor’s offices. There are ample pharmacies, as well. For major medical needs, the private Hospital Metropolitano operates a Huacas branch (16 kms / 10 miles) that covers everything from medical emergencies to specialist care. Further afield, the private Hospital San Rafael Arcangel, one of the premier hospitals in Costa Rica, is located in Liberia (77 kms / 48 miles).

Consideration #3: Housing

Consideration #3 Housing

As a highly walkable town, Tamarindo celebrates a somewhat urban, active lifestyle. This, paired with the town’s popularity, gorgeous beaches, and famed surf, creates a city feel, despite Tamarindo’s small geographic area. 

All this to say, Tamarindo’s real estate is centered around many lifestyle and luxury condominiums that offer an excellent option when retiring in Tamarindo. Not only do these communities have security and included maintenance, but many add on upscale amenities including resort pools and outdoor kitchens

You’ll also notice an emerging trend of more single-family housing (and lots zoned for residential use), including in the town’s gated communities. Once a rare commodity, these communities are growing in popularity and number, thanks to their convenience and lifestyle amenities, which often incorporate master-planned elements. Two of my top recommendations for retirees are Senderos Tamarindo and the brand-new Tamarindo Park.

Consideration #4: Costa Rican Residency for Retirees

Consideration #4 Costa Rican Residency for Retirees

When it comes to retiring in Costa Rica, there are two main options for legal residency. (Learn about the benefits of temporary and permanent residency.) They are:

Pensionado Residency

If you’re old enough to draw retirement funds and/or a pension, then you may qualify for pensionado, or pensioner/retiree, residency. 

The main requirement to qualify is a guaranteed, lifetime pension of $1,000/month. This can be drawn on Social Security, private company pensions, independent retirement programs, annuities, and other permanent pension sources.

Here’s the caveat: For pensionado residency, that minimum $1,000 per month must come from a single pension source. Because, while pensioner residency extends to a spouse or dependents, two spouses cannot combine <$1,000/month pensions to reach the minimum. It must come from a single source, no exceptions. 

At a Glance:

  • Temporary residency
  • 2-year residency, renewable for additional 2-year periods
  • Apply for permanent residency after 3 years
  • spouse and dependents can be included in the primary applicant’s residency
  • You cannot work, neither remotely or here in Costa Rica, until you have permanent residency or a work permit.

Rentista Residency

If proving a single, permanent pension or annuity source is a challenge, many retirees opt instead for rentista, or fixed income, residency.

To qualify as a rentista, you must only prove a temporary guaranteed income source that does not include a salaried job, freelance income, or any other type of income that could be stopped or canceled. I know this sounds like an ambiguous, hard-to-prove requirement but history is on your side: the easiest, most straightforward, and time-tested (and Immigration-approved) way to qualify for this type of residency is simply to deposit a lump sum, via a Costa Rican bank account or trust back home, to cover the required andpart or all of your living expenses.

Bottom line: Rentista residency requires a monthly income source of $2,500 per month, for the duration of your residency period. In this case, it’s two years, which equates to a total $60,000 ($2,500 x 24 months). And that just happens to be a fairly standard monthly budget for retirees…

At a Glance:

  • Temporary residency
  • 2-year residency, renewable for additional 2-year periods
  • Apply for permanent residency after 3 years
  • spouse and dependents can be included in the primary applicant’s residency
  • You cannot work, neither remotely or here in Costa Rica, until you have permanent residency or a work permit.

Questions? Get in touch for more information on retirement relocation, residency, and related topics

Planning on Retiring in Tamarindo? I’m Here to Help!

help Retiring in Tamarindo

Hi, I’m Rebecca Clower. (My friends call me Becky.) In 2006, I did what you’re either preparing to do or have already done: I followed my heart and moved home to Costa Rica. 

Over the years, I’ve strengthened my roots here. I’ve given birth to my two boys and raised them here in Costa Rica. I’ve founded a wildly successful business. I’ve been on TV. I’ve given back to my community. I’ve taken on major positions of responsibility and authority. I am a dual citizen and have completely integrated into Costa Rica and my community. 

Along the way, I’ve become an expert on Costa Rica relocation, including for retirees. And so, for years, I’ve made it my job to help other people make their own successful transitions to Costa Rica life and living. I offer real, honest advice and expertise to my clients. 

I promise not to sugarcoat the hard truths or gloss over the tough parts. I will tell you the whole truth, the full truth, and even the hard truths. I hope that you’ll find the beautiful truths to outweigh them all. So, sign up for updates, download my free eBook, check out my relocation services, and feel free to get in touch. Let’s get started!

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