I was a former resident of Costa Rica, lived there for seven years and still have business interests and many friends. I now live in Thailand and we (expats) enjoy a very easy and efficient immigration system.
As a U.S. citizen, I can obtain a certified letter from the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok stating that I have annual income of $24,000 or have same amount in a Thai bank 90 days prior to applying. We must have a lease on a residence or a letter stating that we have a permanent place to live.
We have to report to immigration every 90 days, which only takes 5 minutes. This total process takes only 1 day and costs less than $150. No lawyer or outside agency is required. I suspect our criminal record is checked through INTERPOL. We have the best hospitals anywhere and compared to the U.S. is very cheap, maybe 80 percent less.
Thais are very smart. By requiring us to have a good income, we add greatly to the economy. Crime is very low. We have an excellent police department, and they enforce the law. Cost of living is much less than Costa Rica, and for golfers, its paradise. I have 26 excellent golf courses within 1 hour of my condo which is in a highrise 200 meters from the ocean.
Costa Rica could make it easier for people to obtain legal residence there by following the Thai system.