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Live Longer in Costa Rica

The facts are in: if you are middle-aged and live in Costa Rica, you are more apt to reach a healthy 90 years of age than your counterparts in other countries. In 2005, Costa Rican demographer Dr. Luis Rosero-Bixby claimed that Costa Ricans who reach age 60 have the longest life expectancy in the world. At first, the international academic community responded with skepticism, but when further research backed up Rosero-Bixby’s discovery, interest was piqued. What is it about Costa Rica that enables residents to live longer? 

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Most scientists agree that life expectancy is a function of both genetics and lifestyle, although the latter is much more important. Experts believe that 75% of the equation is determined by how we live, not who our ancestors are. The conclusion, therefore, is that Costa Rica offers a healthy lifestyle that promotes longevity. 

Costa Rica’s public health system, known as the Caja, is a strong contributing factor. Medical services begin before birth, with excellent prenatal care, and continue throughout a Costa Rican’s life. For a small monthly fee, calculated proportionally based on income, citizens and residents are entitled to all services offered by the Caja: well visits, a full battery of annual tests, preventative care, emergency services, and more. 

Experts believe that Costa Ricans’ longevity is also due to diet. Traditional dishes rely on the “Mesoamerican Trifecta,” a healthy combination of tortillas (corn & flour), beans and squash. Fresh produce, from leafy greens and legumes to colorful fruits, are widely available year-round and are very inexpensive, making them a staple in all Costa Rican homes. Furthermore, the local water supply tests high in minerals that promote bone strength, and the sunny weather provides with plenty of vitamin D. 

Further research unearthed a “Blue Zone” – an area where people live longer (90-100 years old), and enjoy better health than in other regions – on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula. In addition to the typical Costa Rican diet, Nicoyans lead very active lifestyles. Agriculture and cattle farming are a way of life here, and most residents are physically active on a daily basis, helping keep their bodies in tip-top shape. 

Foreigners who relocate to Costa Rica also benefit from the nation’s healthful lifestyle. Your weekly visit to the local farmers’ market will tempt you with fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as fish just delivered from the coast, and you’ll rely less heavily on processed foods. Spring and summertime temperatures will encourage you to get outside and be more active. And as you adjust to the Costa Rican way of doing things, you’ll find yourself slowing down to savor the moment. A less stressful and healthier lifestyle awaits you in Costa Rica! 

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