Jun 05 2014

Questions and Answers: Healthcare and Banking

QuestionsandAnswersIf you are thinking about moving to Costa Rica (or anywhere unfamiliar, for that matter), you have lots of questions and are searching for the answers. We get a lot of questions here at Retire for Less in Costa Rica, and often, we get the same questions more than once. Here are this month’s questions:


Greg writes, “Hi Paul & Gloria. I could not help but notice the healthcare domination in your newsletter. Is this garnering added interest from your readers? If so, it is rather sad evidence that the marketing bombardment of the elderly in US is being as effective as ever at causing worry. Good luck with your project in any event. Cheers Greg”


Hi Greg. There are three questions that we get the most from people who read our website:

  • What’s does it cost to live in Costa Rica?
  • What’s the healthcare like?
  • What do you do all day?

Since most of our readers are, or will soon be, retirees, I think that they are natural questions. We try to hit on topics that are of concern to our readers — they are usually the same issues we deal with as expats living in Costa Rica. That issue had more on healthcare because we are starting our Healthcare Tour. And we are starting the healthcare tour because most expats living here or thinking about living here, are mystified about the public health system and how to use it. As legal residents, we are obligated to join and pay for the Caja. So why not learn to use it? Hope that explains things. And thanks so much for writing.


Bonnie writes, “We sure enjoy receiving your monthly newsletter. It is always interesting and informative. My husband, myself and another couple have made one visit to Costa Rica and plan to return soon.

The four of us are very uncomfortable with the U.S. Government and are seriously considering leaving here. However, we have no idea how we would be able to transfer our life savings to Costa Rica. Do you have any information on this? Can you just wire transfer money to a bank there? If you can’t answer this personally, just include it in one of your monthly newsletters. Sure would be a big help to us.

If we moved to Costa Rica, we would all like to be involved with both Ticos and Ex-pats. Seems like you two have done a good job of this. I also think we would rent houses and stay a while before considering purchasing a place. Thank you for your help. Clarence and Bonnie”


Hi Clarence and Bonnie, When we brought savings down several years ago, we deposited the money in our U.S. saving account and wrote a check to our Costa Rica bank (actually, it’s a credit union). The check took one month to clear, but Coopenae, where we invested in Certificates of Deposit, gave us interest from the day we filled out the paperwork, even though they didn’t get the cash for 30 days. Incredible!

Two months ago, we sold our house in Baltimore after five years of renting it out. After paying off the mortgage, we deposited the proceeds into our U.S. saving account and then wrote a check for that amount to our account at Coopenae and invested it in a CD. And just like before, they gave us interest from the day we took out the CD.

piggybank-money_croppedThere were two differences, however, from the previous time we brought money down. The first thing that was different was that we had to show proof of where the money came from. This is a result of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and anti-money-laundering legislation in both the United States and Costa Rica. We simply gave them a copy of our settlement document which showed our net proceeds.

The second thing that was different was that we chose to take out a CD in US dollars instead of another CD in colones. The reason is that the dollar is strengthening which affects the exchange rate between dollars and colones. We felt that a 12 month CD in dollars at 3% interest would protect our investment better at this time than a 9.5% CD in colones for the same time frame. But remember, this is what we chose to do; we are not financial consultants so please don’t take this as advice about what you should do. You can read more about Coopenae and view their corporate presentation here.

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