Yes, you can own nice houses in nice neighborhoods in Costa Rica without getting a residency.

If you are a winter bird and like to get to know once a year a bit more about Latin-America for a few days like for example Panama, Colombia or any other country not too far away from Costa Rica, and live in your property 6 months per year, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going through the hassle of applying for a residency.

With your passport, you get a 90-day entry visa and you can renew it for another 90 days when going on the before-mentioned travels (visa runs) to get to know other countries.

But if you don’t like traveling too much or think you want to stay in your property for more than 6 months per year, applying for one of the different residency options might be the better way to go.

To apply for residency, you have two options: you can either hire a lawyer to do most of the paperwork for you or you do it on your own.

With regards to the first option, there are many different law firms and lawyers offering this service, supposedly speeding up the process.

For example, this firm helps you with that.

In other people’s opinion, like this nice young family here who did it on their own, a lawyer doesn’t necessarily speed up the process.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any data or statistics to compare the two approaches and reach a solid conclusion in whether a lawyer really speeds up the process or not.

On websites, forums, and blogs, the opinions of applicants differ quite a lot, with some of them saying that the process was faster when they did it on their own while others claiming that it was faster using a lawyer’s services.

This would be the case where an A/B test with an applicant’s clone would come in handy, so you could really test the two application approaches at the same time.

But since we don’t have this technology just yet, you might consider the approach that feels best for you.

Just keep in mind when you use a lawyer in Costa Rica that you will need to get on your own a lot of the documents to start the application (e.g. birth certificate, fingerprints etc.).

Therefore, I would estimate that the part you can delegate to an attorney represents about 20% of the whole process.

So, if your time is very valuable, your patience is low and your Spanish is not the best, you might want to use a lawyer to outsource even just the 20%.

And if you don’t mind to also do the 20% by yourself, are confident enough, patient and have some above average Spanish skills, go for it on your own.

The before-mentioned family laid the whole application process out quite well, so I will spare you the part of describing all the steps for you again.

Now, in the following section, I will provide you with the 7 different residency types and their requirements at a glance.

The 7 Residency Types at One Glance


  • An investment of $200,000 in a local business or real estate
  • Has to reside in Costa Rica for at least 6 months of the year
  • Valid for 2 years and extended easily (costs $300)
  • Exchange in local currency is not necessary
  • Spouse is included, children are not
  • The holder is allowed to receive a salary and therefore is eligible for Costa Rican social security benefits
    Rentista (foreigners with guaranteed income).
  • Proof of monthly revenues of $2500 per person (children* and spouse are included)
  • The new migration law has not yet indicated for how long these revenues have to be proved (formerly: 5 years).
  • Renewal after 2 years (proof of currency exchange)
  • Has to reside in Costa Rica for at least 6 months per year
  • Application for permanent residency after 3 years

Pensionado (Retiree)

  • Proof of lifelong, monthly revenues from a foreign source of at least $1000
  • The total amount can be received from different sources (pension, insurances etc.).
  • Exchange of currency necessary ($1000 per month)
  • Applies to a whole family (children up to 18 years old)
  • Renewal after 2 years
  • Has to reside in Costa Rica for at least 4 months per year
  • Application for permanent residency after 3 years

Permanent Residency (related to a Costa Rican citizen)

  • Parents, spouses, siblings, and children of a Costa Rican citizen
  • A child born in Costa Rica receives citizenship by birth. Parents and siblings may apply for a permanent residency.
  • By holding one of the residency types mentioned before, you may apply for permanent residency after 3 years.

Representative (representative of a company)

  • Has to prove himself as a representative of a domestic or foreign company
  • The company has to prove financial benefits for Costa Rica and has to employ 90% Costa Rican employees (proved by an accountant).
  • Some other requirements (quite intricate)

Tourist Visa

  • A tourist visa is good for 30 to 90 days, depending on nationality. According to a new law, you can extend it again by 30 to 90 days for a fee of $100.
  • After the second period, you can extend it again by leaving and re-entering the country (72 hours for customs). It does not entitle you to any kind of work or employment.
  • Monetary fines are imposed for infringement. A second infringement is punished by sending you back to your home county.

Miscellaneous (Special types)

  • Scientists, specialists, which are employed by a Costa Rican company
  • Students: Tuition fee from $300 per year and is not limited by age
  • Clerical or members of a religious community with missionary tasks or teaching positions in a church institution.

There you have all the available residency types. I hope you find the right approach for you. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Kai’s Homes.