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Will Moving to Costa Rica Make You Happier? Probably. Here’s Why.

For many expats, the decision to go south comes down to a simple question: Will moving to Costa Rica make you happier? The answer, as those who have chosen the “pure life” would tell you, is YES! It probably will.

The reason, in a nutshell, is that Costa Rica is one of those places where a number of factors come together to make a happier, healthier style of life. There have even been a number of studies that have actually examined what makes living in this tropical paradise a more positive experience than other locations.

Moving To Costa Rica

Vytautas Serys

What Makes Moving to Costa Rica the Happier Choice?

There are several reasons that moving to Costa Rica can foster a happier and healthier life. Several of the major factors are listed below:

Pura Vida Is More Than Just a Catchphrase

As anyone who has ever visited Costa Rica will tell you, the phrase “pura vida” is an almost universal greeting – both among locals as well as expats. This greeting, which translates as “pure life,” is more than just words. It’s a whole philosophy.

This idea that choosing the path of happiness regardless of your current circumstances is apparent everywhere in the country. It has come to symbolize the idea of simply enjoying life and all the potential that tomorrow may bring.

This attitude certainly seems to contribute to the health and longevity of both “ticos” (native Costa Ricans) and expats. Embracing pura vida is a major reason for the overall feeling of happiness of living in this tropical paradise.

Moving To Costa Rica

Kurt Bauschardt

Being Closer to Nature

Costa Rica’s commitment towards the environment also impacts how happy people are. Being closer to nature on a daily basis certainly provides a less stressful, more serene state of mind than confronting the controlled chaos of all that is modern living in most major metropolitan areas.

In the World But Not of It

Costa Rica has not had a standing army since 1949. By not being bombarded by the 24/7/365 news cycle involving world conflicts, Costa Rica has become, literally, a tropical refuge in a very increasingly uncertain world.

The Science of Happiness Supports the Costa Rican Choice

A number of recent studies have actually been able to quantify the observation that moving to Costa Rica can make for a happier life.  Below are two examples of the findings of these studies:

Happy Planet Index

The Happy Planet Index (HPI), computed by the New Economics Foundation, a UK think tank, is widely regarded as the leading source in measuring well-being on a global scale. For the third time since 2009, Costa Rica has risen to the number one spot out of the 151 countries evaluated.

HPI not only tracks happiness, but also how efficiently this is produced when measured against impact on the environment. Though having a GDP (gross domestic product) only a third of the size of the U.S., Costa Rica’s average life expectancy (79.1 years) and sense of well-being among residents showed that happiness does not have to be equated with wealth.

Moving To Costa Rica


The Science of Happiness

As part of a recent online course entitled The Science of Happiness, sponsored by UC Berkeley, 40,000 students from around the globe took part in a survey where they answered questions about their happiness levels based on a number of factors. The results of this project found that Costa Rica ranked as the number one happiest nation on earth.

Based on global subjective beliefs, separate from individual life-specific events, a list of 25 countries were ranked on a scale. Some of the elements included in the study were “satisfaction with life,” “flourishing” (life with a purpose), “loneliness,” and “stress.”

Costa Rica finished at the top in two categories and was number two in the least stressed countries on the list. While not the wealthiest country in the study, the land of Pura Vida clearly has some aesthetic qualities that quantitatively demonstrate that money can’t buy happiness.

Moving To Costa Rica


Living in Paradise Is Still Possible

One of the major concerns for many potential expats is the availability (and cost) of housing. Fortunately, Costa Rica has a wide variety of options that range from rustic fincas (farms) to high-end condominiums and much in between.

As the country continues to develop its Southern Pacific and Caribbean zones, both in terms of infrastructure and accessibility, new housing options will continue to appear. Perhaps the best way to begin your search for your place in paradise is to visit the Land of Pura Vida, explore the various regions, and discover which area resonates with you.

Ultimately, finding a location that you want to call your forever home, nestled in a tropical paradise, is an important first step in embracing the happiness of moving to Costa Rica.

For example, a rustic 1 bdrm, 1.5 bath home on an acre of land in the highly desirable Nosara area is only $137, 000. Being able to live in one of the country’s Blue Zones would be a tremendous step towards a happier life.

So Is Moving to Costa Rica a Guarantee of Happiness?

Moving to Costa Rica can be the opportunity to transform your existence. However, life is not filled with absolutes or guarantees. No place on earth is perfect for everyone. Not to mention, what you get out of relocating to paradise largely depends on what you put into it in terms of outlook and openness.

If you think moving to Costa Rica could be the key to your happiness, it’s certainly worth a second look.

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