Home / Immigration  / Temporary Residency as a “Pensionado” vs Investor

Temporary Residency as a “Pensionado” vs Investor

If you are considering to be more than a tourist in this little paradise on Earth, you should research all the options that will allow you to stay in the country and avoid the border


If you are considering to be more than a tourist in this little paradise on Earth, you should research all the options that will allow you to stay in the country and avoid the border runs (ninety days or less).


Since there are many aspects to consider, it is best to review them one at a time. As you can assume from the title, in this particular case we are going to be discussing two types of temporary residences that share some elements but, at the same time, are different in other aspects. So if you are trying to decide between the temporary residency as “pensionado” (retired) or investor, this article is meant to help you decide which category is a better fit for you.



The Retired or “Pensionado” Category offers you the possibility of getting temporary residency with a lower income than the Investor category. You have the option to apply for this residency as long as you are receiving a lifetime monthly pension of at least $1000. Additionally, under this category, as the principal applicant, you are allowed to obtain residency for your spouse and children who are under 25 years or adult children that have a disability as  dependents.  However, it is important to consider that you can not combine applicants’ pensions to reach the amount of money required. This means that the principal applicant has to be the owner of a minimum pension of $1000. Please note that if the  principal applicant has a “Pensión” of $800 and another of $200 those can, indeed, be combined as long as they are granted to the same person


On the other hand, the Investor category is an option for those who have invested or are planing to invest[1] $200 000 in qualifying projects or $100 000 in forestry project. Under this category you are also allowed to obtain residency for your spouse and children under 25 years of age or adult children that have a disability. Unlike the Retired People Category, the Investor category has four subcategories that will allow you to choose according to the characteristics of the investment you may have.


The first subcategory is for new businesses. So if you are thinking of investing in a company, a hotel, restaurant, etc., you qualify  as long as you invest $200 000. However, it is important for you to have in mind that this category requires setting up a strong business plan, meaning that you will need extra documents, certifications, permissions, to apply for this category. That’s the main reason why many applicants choose the second subcategory, available for people who have the particular interest of investing $200 000 in an existing business (no matter if it is the whole business or only a portion).


The third subcategory is Real Estate or Vehicles; this means that you will qualify if those assets reach an amount of $200 000, regardless if it is a condo, a home or a boat. You can add up several investments to reach the minimum amount required by Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería. If these assets are purchased through some corporation the principal applicant must own shares worth the required amount. If this is the case, please bear in mind that additional documentation will be required.


The last subcategory is forestry projects that involve preservation or regeneration. This subcategory will require some permits from the environmental national agency and the local government as well. In this subcategory it’s important to have in mind that your investment will have to be $100 000 in total. In this case the investment limit is lower because our government is always promoting activities that have a positive impact both on the economy and the environment.



Beyond these main differences that each category has, there are also some aspects that are similar between the “Pensionado” and the Investor Category.

The first and previously mentioned similarity is that you have the option to provide residency to your first degree relatives, and they do not have to do all the process on their own.

Something else that these two categories share is how long the application process takes. Both categories usually take between twelve and fifteen months, depending on the time spent collecting your documentation and the processing time for Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería, and it’s Immigration Department to approve. Concerning your documentation, it’s important that you keep in mind that we can assist you in the process of procuring these documents. Moreover, we will assist you through the whole process, including obtaining your Costa Rican Social Security and your Costa Rican ID for residents.

In summary, these two categories include a variety of characteristics that have the main purpose to adapt to each circumstance you may have. Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful places to live, our goal is to handle the bureaucracy and processes, and you only need to enjoy your new life in Costa Rica.



The new law  would changed that to 150 000, however, we are still waiting for it to be published.



She serves as an Senior Immigration Client Services Coordinator at Outlier Legal and has a degree in Political Science and is currently a Law student. María José Chavarría worked in the Visa Unit and the Immigration Management at DGME, as a consultant at the International Organization for Migration and as an observer for the TSE in the municipal elections. Dedicated and helpful are some adjectives that fit her perfectly.

Review overview
  • Doris Schlumpp October 28, 2021

    I am in Costa Rica Pérez Zeledon and need recidencia.
    I want to invest 100.000 en prevention and regeneration of foresters projects.
    What do I have to do

  • David Krueger November 3, 2021

    What are the monthly social security payments required once residency is approved in order to be covered by the health care systems?