Costa Rica is where you go to live the lush life. It is lush with nature—misty rain forests, extraordinary wildlife, active volcanoes, and fabulous beaches—as well as such comforting amenities as malls, supermarkets, restaurants, museums, and social clubs. U.S. retirees have flocked here for years, drawn by its mild climate, its prosperity (relative to other Central American republics), its literacy rate, its health care, and, significantly, its stable government—with no army. Another plus: Costa Rica’s commitment to a thriving natural park system that is second to none in Latin America. This is as biodiverse a country as you’ll find anywhere.
Whereas many beach-loving expats have settled in the resort towns and villages along the Guanacaste "Gold Coast" on the Pacific, the majority opt for the Central Valley, which is home to the capital, San Jose, and 70 percent of the Costa Rican (or"Tico") population.