Costa Rica is a country the size of West Virginia or twice the size of Maryland, and it has a population of 4.5 million. If you are thinking about retiring in Costa Rica, in doing your “due diligence,” one area of great concern should be crime. Although we don’t have current data on all crimes committed here, we do have reliable data on homicides, assaults, burglaries, and home invasions. This information was in an article in A.M. Costa Rica on January 27, 2012 which you can read in its entirety at this link: Judicial stats show fewer persons murdered in 2011. It shows a comparison between 2009, 2010, and 2011.
The benchmark for safe vs. unsafe countries is 10 homicides per 100,000; higher than 10 is considered unsafe. To put this number in perspective, the U.S. is approximately 5 per 100,000, while some major U.S. cities like Baltimore, Washington D.C., New Orleans, and Miami exceed 30 per 100,000. Yet if you live in the suburbs in any of these cities, the incidence of violent crime drops markedly. Interestingly, although my home town of Baltimore has a homicide rate of over 30 per 100,000, if you are white, over 50, and not involved in the drug trade, your risk is negligible.
Costa Rica is similar in this respect. If you are a foreigner, not throwing money around, and not involved in the drug trade, the risk for you is much lower than the Costa Rican average of 10 per 100,000.