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Is moving to Costa Rica with a dietary problem or a disability a good idea?

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Moving to Costa Rica as a disabled person or with a nutritional problem

Do you have a dietary problem or a disability? Are you afraid to move to Costa Rica because you have a dietary disease or because you are disabled?

I’ve tried to cover this important topic in this blog. I’m sure you’d like to cover this before you take the important step of moving to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica can be a perfectly delightful retirement destination for everyone but it depends a lot on the location you choose to move to.

Especially If you have a disability or a need for special food requirements. There are quite a few places in Costa Rica with few shopping and dining options for you. Therefore, it is important you find out where you can accommodate your needs.

In other words, you need to find out if Costa Rica fits or doesn’t fit your picture. If you have any special needs or a dietary problem, you need to definitely check on what is available.

Like most tropical destinations, Costa Rica is a little behind on everything. In some cases more than a little, except for sunshine. We have plenty of that. Those who have a shortage of vitamin C can get sunshine and eat oranges all day long. You only have to be careful not to acquire skin cancer. So use plenty of sunblock when going out.

Moving to Costa Rica with a handicap or nutritional problem

Dietary problem

I recently found out that I have a dietary problem. Actually, I have two: celiac disease and lactose intolerance. I thought I might not be able to find as many products in the grocery store here as I would in a Florida store. But I was amazed at all the options that I have.

Grocery stores like Automercado and Walmart have a great inventory of dry and frozen gluten-free products. These products are expensive but available. There are quite a few homemade options too. I have also found quite a few restaurants that are able to serve a no-gluten diet. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you also have a lot of choices.

If you are diabetic, Costa Rica offers you all the options you need. Many nutritionists are very well up to date and have studied in the US and Europe and can help you find the products and care that you need.

For gluten-free restaurants in Costa Rica, use this Facebook group, or use this Celiac Facebook group. There is also a no-lactose Facebook group. I’ve also learned that good restaurants in Costa Rica will take well care of your dietary problems. For example, I love Indian food and they take really good care of my gluten and lactose intolerance when we visit India506.

Many health problems you might have are probably not an issue when moving to Costa Rica. But if you have any, I recommend you ask your real estate agent for recommendations.

Moving to Costa Rica with a handicap or nutritional problem

Grocery Stores

In the beach areas, you’ll be most restricted in your allergy-free purchases.  It is very important to crosscheck if all the products that you need are available there. Maybe you’ll also need a nutritionist in that particular location?

If you plan to live in the Central Valley, you will find many more options for grocery stores in cities like Escazu, Santa Ana, Heredia, and Curridabat. Smaller towns such as Atenas, San Ramon, and Orosi give you fewer options for dietary shopping.

Look for the large chain stores like Automercado and Wallmart (Mas x Menos), they offer the best dietary choices. Both carry a large inventory of dairy-free, gluten-free, and other allergy-free products, though they’re quite expensive. You’ll also find some products in the Macrobiotica – health food and natural product stores. There are many all over the country, use Google maps to find one near you.

Moving to Costa Rica with a handicap or nutritional problem

Law for disabled

Thanks to a great job in the Legislative Assembly, Law 8661 was created in 2008.  Law 8661 promotes, protects, and secures full and equal rights of all human enjoyment and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities in Costa Rica. It also promotes respect for their inherent dignity.

Unfortunately, like many laws created in the past, law 8661 is mostly forgotten by the government. Institutions in charge do not have the funds to oblige anybody to follow the rules. 5.35% Of the population in Costa Rica has some disability.

Disabled persons’ License Plate

If you are a disabled person, you can acquire a special license plate at Consejo Nacional de Rehabilitación y Educación Especial. This is located in La Valencia, Heredia, Costa Rica. 200 metros norte del cruce de Jardines de Recuerdo. If you have trouble reading Spanish, use this Chrome extension of Google Translate to instantly translate the whole website.

Disabled drivers with a special license plate are also allowed to request driving on restriction day.

Moving to Costa Rica with a handicap or food issues

Disabled persons’ parking

There is disabled parking at every grocery store, strip mall, and shopping mall. I can’t find any formal information about a disabled or handicapped placard or parking permit to put in your windshield anywhere. I’ve found some online comments from transit police, saying that if it’s clear that you’re handicapped, you should not have to worry. In case you have a heart or lung disease, get a written doctor’s statement.

But, you will find disabled persons’ parking used by non-disabled everywhere in Costa Rica. There is no control of non-disabled using handicapped parking.

Disabled persons’ parking can also be used by seniors. You DO often see non-disabled using the handicapped parking spot because they’re too lazy to walk.


If you have a disability, you’re usually better off in a rural location than in a city. Most cities in Costa Rica are not very wheelchair accessible, for a good reason.

During the rainy season, it rains a lot, and rain needs big gutters. You can hide a car in some of those gutters. Some sidewalks do have ramps, but you might not always be lucky.  Getting from one sidewalk to the other is usually quite impossible, especially in a wheelchair. That’s because the municipalities and property owners don’t build ramps over those gutters. Or there are no sidewalks at all.

Also, quite often, people block handicap ramps for lack of understanding of the need for the ramp.

There are quite some busses in San Jose that have a ramp installed on the bus. But most don’t function or bus drivers do not cooperate. Very few taxis have a wheelchair ramp installed. If you are dependent on public transport, and you need wheelchair accessibility, Costa Rica might not be the right retirement destination for you.

If you are able to drive your own car or have a driver, you will need to take a few hurdles here and there.

Moving to Costa Rica as a disabled person or with a nutritional problem

The blind & visually impaired

Being blind or have a visual disability person in Costa Rica must not be an easy feat. Walking the streets with all those large gutters and crossing a street when you’re blind must be difficult. Often, those gutters are obstructed with garbage and full of water.

You will find that most pedestrian traffic lights have the beep-beep for blind pedestrians.  Sidewalks though, are mostly very uneven and difficult to walk on even for those who are not visually impaired.

There are many cities though, that do have nice, wide sidewalks and ramps. Do your homework before you make the decision of moving.

Most elevators in buildings have braille on their control buttons.

Money in Costa Rica doesn’t have braille in its bills. But every denomination was designed in a different size. M.A. Erick Hidalgo Valverde then designed a simple-to-use device so the visually impaired knows which bill they’re dealing with.

Moving to Costa Rica as a person with disability or with a nutritional problem

Moving successfully

Maybe you are not sure if your disability, dietary problem, or other special requirements will allow you to move successfully to Costa Rica? I have tried to cover some medical problems you might have without getting too specific. In another blog, I also covered the chiropractic problems you can solve.

Our agents will do all they can to connect you with the right medical specialists and get your questions answered.

When you purchase your new home through a GoDutch agent, we can also help you find the right contractor to adjust your home in Costa Rica to your disability or dietary problems, contact us now.

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I DO want to remind our readers that we appreciate any referrals you can send us. Also, please remember the GoDutch Realty agents when you talk about your home in Costa Rica, we appreciate it.

We Love your Referrals at GoDutch Realty

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Ivo Henfling

If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the central Valley, or looking for any property for sale in Escazu, you need to call me. I have been selling real estate in Escazu for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and other areas. To me, a deal is not a good deal unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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