“This is the year to chase the dream: quit your job and move to one of the cheapest (and best) places to live in the world,” states a newly published Forbes Magazine article by columnist Laura Begley, who since 2017 offers its top 10 destinations with these characteristics. In this 2023, Costa Rica appears in fifth place but, as the author explains, in addition to the low cost of living, there are additional arguments that place this country as a place for good living.
“For the last 6 years, I have been examining the cheapest countries to live in around the world (you can see the reports for 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2017). For 2023, I once again turned to the experts at International Living, which publishes an annual global retirement index of the best places to retire. And here is the thing: this list is not just for retirees. It is for anyone looking for a better life, a more affordable life, or just a way escape from it all: the hectic pace of life, violence, politics, division, etc”.
No doubt, Begley’s eloquence is likely to raise the eyebrows of thousands of his readers as he writes: “This list is also for people who are tired of the 9 to 5 grind and want to find the cheapest places to live in the world, countries where the cost of living is considerably cheaper than in the US, so cheap that you may not have to work”,she says.
Is it too good to be true? Or is it too easy to even dream about? Well, at least it is not too good, according to Jennifer Stevens, executive editor of International Living, one of Begley’s sources: “Consider your options abroad and things will start to look up. You can actually get off the hamster wheel. When you can cut your cost of living in half, or even more in some places, it opens up many possibilities for better living. If you do not have to work as much or for as long, you can have the luxury of spending your days the way you want with people whose company you enjoy. You can say goodbye to travel, work, cold, politics, and settle in a place where every day brings an adventure”, she asserts.
According to Forbes, International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index is designed to help point people to specific places that would be best for them, given their budget and priorities. According to Stevens, this year’s list is shorter and tighter than in previous years. “We are always trying to make this index as useful as possible”, she says. “So for 2023, we have combined a few categories to better focus people’s attention on the factors that are most important for them to consider: cost of living, weather, visas, housing, health care, for example”.
While International Living uses numbers and statistics, such as cost of living and home prices, it does not claim to be a scientific survey. “The value of the index comes from the fact that the rankings are generated by taking into account a real-world context, with input from people who live and spend time in these places”,Steves told Forbes. “While we rate countries, our recommendations are actually for specific communities within them”.
Some countries fell off the list this year because the visa situation has made it problematic or very expensive for expats to live there full time. “Malaysia and Vietnam fall into this category”, says Stevens. “We still like those countries –they are beautiful, the weather is warm, the people are welcoming, the costs are very low– but the current visa situation makes a full-time stay difficult, both logistically and effectively”.
Costa Rica and the other elect
Portugal, Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Spain, Greece, France, Italy, and Thailand. These are the 10 chosen by the aforementioned expert voices. Costa Rica, located in fifth place, should be chosen, according to Forbes, for these reasons:
“With a lower cost of living, ease of commuting to and from North America, and affordable healthcare, it is no surprise that Costa Rica remains firmly near or at the top of international retirement charts”, says Kathleen Evans. She argues that another compelling reason is the “political stability” that exists in the country. “It is so stable that it has been nicknamed the ‘Switzerland’ of Central America”.
On the subject of where to live, he assures that “Costa Rica has something for everyone, with a dozen climatic zones and hundreds of microclimates (…) If you like warm weather, the dry tropical beaches of Guanacaste or the green jungles of the southern zone and the Caribbean will not disappoint”, says Evans. “Do they prefer something forever warm? The higher elevations of San Jose and the Central Valley would be the location of choice”.
And she adds: “A couple can live comfortably, but not necessarily extravagantly, for about US$2,500 to US$3,000 a month. This includes renting a 2-bedroom house/condo with American-style amenities, air conditioning, plus groceries, entertainment, transportation, and medical care”.
As is logical, everyone can make their guesses and make a drastic decision like completely changing their lives. And, although the Forbes publication does not pretend to be a manual, as hundreds of netizens well believe, it is worth dreaming and, at least, making a first approximation to what could constitute a lifestyle diametrically opposed to “9 to 5”.
It is a matter of people and their circumstances. And many insist, nothing is lost by dreaming and, at most, a general culture and a more global vision of the rest of the planet are acquired. In other words, it is a matter of winning-winning, according to some say.