It is my suggestion that, if you intent to move to Costa Rica, you should become a legal resident. It’s the right thing to do. And doing so has its advantages. As of October 1, 2012, to open a bank account or invest in Certificates of Deposits at any Costa Rican bank, one must be a legal resident.
Coopenae, our bank, has great customer service and English-speaking staff. But if I had to pick one reason why we chose to bank at Coopenae, it would have to be their extremely low default rate (LINK), the lowest of any of the 56 financial institutions regulated by SUGEF. So, in order to take advantage of these great CD rates (currently 12.5% for a 12 month colones CD), one must become a legal resident of Costa Rica. I think being able to invest should be a great incentive to obtaining your residency.