Want to wake up and watch the sunrise over the ocean? To spend your days surfing, doing yoga, drinking out of coconuts, and taking long naps in a hammock? Want to have the jungle for your backyard?
Want to watch the sunset every night with live music? To have potlucks on the beach with your neighbors? To buy your food from farmers on the side of the road? Want to snuggle inside and watch a rainstorm?
Want to wait days for your clothes to dry? Or clean gecko poop off of your counters? Sweep cockroaches off of your floor? Watch mice eat holes in everything?
Want to wake up before dawn from the sound of crowing roosters? Want to wake up at midnight from the sound of screeching bats? Want to come home to a tarantula, a snake, or a scorpion in your bed?
Want to lock everything that you own in a safe? To watch your possessions rust, mold, and fade? Want to work for $2 an hour and spend ten of it on a bag of quinoa? Want to work online when all of the electrical lines break?
Do you want to live in Costa Rica?
Of anywhere I’ve traveled to in the world, Costa Rica is the only place that really feels like home. It’s the place where it’s easiest for me to relax, the place where I feel the strongest sense of community, the place where I feel the happiest and healthiest, and the place where I feel completely fed by nature.
But even after coming here fifteen times, I’ve never decided to settle down and live here. And time will tell if I ever do. Because living here, actually LIVING here, isn’t all sloths and sunsets.
Whether you plan to come for a month, a year, or perhaps forever, I’ve written this post to help you understand what living in Costa Rica is really like.
Getting a Visa
Oh, right, that whole inconvenient thing. Yes, you do need a visa to be in Costa Rica. And technically, you cannot LEGALLY live here without applying for legal resident status (more on that later.)
North Americans and many other passport holders will receive a free, automatic three month tourist visa at customs. That means you don’t need to apply for it, you just need to show up. However, they will want to see “proof” that you are leaving the country within ninety days.
Except maybe you don’t want to buy a return ticket. And maybe you want to stay longer than three months. In this case, you will need to either purchase a fully refundable ticket home (these are usually expensive, but you can cancel within 24 hours) or purchase a bus or shuttle ticket to a neighboring country. Regardless of whether you’ve decided to “live” in Costa Rica, you MUST leave the country within 90 days.
Tourists without residency are legally allowed to own vehicles, property, businesses, and generate income from self-employment.
“Living” in Costa Rica on a Tourist Visa
Admittedly, there are plenty of people living in Costa Rica on tourist visas. It’s become a common practice for foreigners to leave once their 90 day visa is up, cross the border into Panama or Nicaragua, spend a few days there, and then return and receive another 90 day stamp. I know people who have somehow been doing this for years. That said, if they decide to investigate and crack down, the penalties can be severe. You may not even be allowed back into the country for TWELVE years.
If you don’t want to take that risk, I recommend going on longer trips between visa runs. I.e not “living” in Costa Rica. I have a million Costa Rica stamps in my passport, but it has never been an issue in Immigration, because I always leave before my visa ends, and I travel all over the world for long periods of time. (Note: this is totally legal.) I imagine a passport with only Costa Rica and Panama stamps might look suspicious, and constantly going in and out may not be legal.
Becoming a Legal Resident
If you legitimately want to live and work in Costa Rica, you will need to apply for residence status, which I hear is a long and difficult process. Most qualified candidates include business owners investing a significant amount of money, retirees with a consistent pension of at least $1,000 per month, parents or siblings of a child born in Costa Rica (some people choose to have their baby in Costa Rica for this reason), and those legitimately married to Costa Rican nationals (it’s strict). I’m not an expert on residency since I’ve never applied, so I recommend you consult this article: Costa Rica Residency.
Renting a House
Finding a place to live in Costa Rica is often the bane of my existence. Most expats own their own houses, and it’s far more profitable for people to rent their places as vacation rentals than as long term residences. As a tourist, you typically have to book something months in advance, there’s little selection, and rates skyrocket during holidays.
If you have the money and you know you love Costa Rica, buy a place. It’s a great investment, you can have a property management company make sure it’s rented when you’re not around, and you’ll never have to worry about renting a place. For everyone else, I recommend joining a community Facebook group for the specific location in Costa Rica where you want to live.
In Puerto Viejo we have a page where people post the houses they have for rent, usually much lower prices than you’ll find with property management companies. I have (and currently am) renting with a property management company, but it is definitely more expensive this way. For a two bedroom house close to the beach, expect to pay anywhere from $350 per month to $1,000 per month.
Most people get around by bicycle in the flat beach towns of Costa Rica. I find it to be a healthy, fun, environmentally friendly, and efficient way to get around. You can usually find used bicycles for sale from $30 to $100 in local Facebook groups, or you can buy new bicycles for $150 to $250. If you’re planning to stay just for a few months, you can usually sell your used bicycle for the same price or a little less than you bought it for.
Local buses are limited, running infrequently and rarely on time, but they’re a good option for going further distances.
Some expats and locals do own cars, quads, or scooters. You don’t have to be a resident to purchase a car, but even the crappiest cars are expensive because of import tax. The weather is very unkind to vehicles, so expect to make constant repairs.
Speaking the Language
What’s that, you don’t speak Spanish? The good news is, most of the Americans I know who live in Costa Rica don’t either. It sounds absurd, but it’s actually challenging to learn Spanish in many of the beach towns in Costa Rica, because English is spoken so readily. This is particularly true in Puerto Viejo where most locals have Afro-Caribbean English speaking roots.
I do recommend that you take some basic lessons so that you can interact with taxi drivers, bus drivers, house cleaners, gardeners, and the other people who don’t speak English. Besides, it’s a beautiful and enjoyable language to speak, and speaking the local language will greatly deepen your experiences and connections with locals.
You can get private lessons in Costa Rica for around $10/hr or enroll in a Spanish Language school. I also like the podcast Coffee Break Spanish.
Bringing Your Kids
If you have young kids, Costa Rica has some excellent Montessori and Waldorf schools. I recommend researching the international schools in the specific towns that you’re interested in relocating to. For more information on moving to Costa Rica with kids, I recommend this article: Moving to Costa Rica With Children.
Bringing Your Pets
Friends of mine have brought dogs down with them to Costa Rica, and as you can imagine, the dogs love it. However, you do have to consider the many wild animals, tropical diseases, and aggressive dogs that live here. For more info, check out Moving Pets to Costa Rica.
The first time I came to Costa Rica, I asked someone how the mail system works here. “From the USA?” she asked, “DON’T DO IT!! IT NEVER COMES!”
Since then I have had things sent from the USA, but they take a very, very, very long time. It may stop in customs, and you’ll have to go to the capitol to pick it up. Theft is also common, so sending anything valuable is pretty much out of the question. What people typically do, is have friends coming down from the USA carry things for them in their luggage. You can also use FedEx, UPS, and DHL but it will also be slow.
In the past I have had things sent to San Jose and then shipped them down to Puerto Viejo through a service called “encomienda” where the goods are dropped at the bus station in San Jose, taken via bus, and you can then pick them up at the bus station where you are.
There’s also no address system in Costa Rica, so everything is described in proximity to landmarks, like 200 meters from that restaurant that has the best ceviche. Zip codes are not used widely either. Most people use post office boxes, but these can have long wait lists.
You can get cell phones anywhere (but the phones themselves are crappy and expensive) with inexpensive pay as you go SIM cards. Grocery stores, pharmacies, tourist shops, and electronic stores carry them. I recommend bringing down your own unlocked smart phone and putting in a local SIM. You can get unlimited data coverage for as low as $20 a month!
Many vacation rentals, most hostels/hotels, and many restaurants have wifi. However, it’s not reliable so if you need consistent wifi, I recommend purchasing an internet hotspot that you can use with a local SIM card.
Be prepared for lots of dead zones and loss of service during storms.
Paying the Bills
One of the most surprising things about Costa Rica, is that it’s extremely expensive compared to other Central American countries. Especially if you want Western luxuries. Thanks to the hefty import tax, cars cost double what they would in the USA, alcohol can be very expensive, and a small block of goat cheese costs $10. Keep in mind, this is still a country where the general wage is $2 an hour. While it’s not an excuse, this has made me understand why theft is so common here.
If you want to live “comfortably” by Western standards, expect to spend $1,000 to $2000 per month living in Costa Rica, and be willing to sacrifice many luxuries. This is still very low compared to living in the USA, but not as cheap as many people imagine.
Save money by using a bicycle instead of a car, eating less imported food and more local food, and spending your time in nature, which offers totally free entertainment.
Making a Living
Working in Costa Rica is hard. There aren’t many well paying jobs and most places require legal residency (enforced by law to protect Costa Rican citizens). Even if you are a legal resident, the wages will be significantly lower than they are in Western countries. This is why I even know Costa Ricans who leave and work seasonally in the USA or Europe. Personally, I’ve never tried to find work here, because (aside from the fact that it’s not legal) I make more money in two hours of writing online than I would make working an entire week in Costa Rica.
In my opinion you have more or less two options: create a business for yourself or work online. If you want to earn money online (which also gives you the freedom to travel anywhere in the world) check out my article How to Travel and Work From Anywhere. I’ll discuss how to open a profitable business later on.
I do have some friends who work in Costa Rica without legal residency. Some simply do work trade, which doesn’t pay but usually offers free lodging and food, a good option for long term travelers with money saved. The ones who earn the best wages do some sort of Marketing or business service, working for a tour agency or big hotel.
I also recommend reading my articles How I Afford a Life of Constant Travel, and You Can Too and How to Travel the World When You’ve Got Absolutely No Money.
Paying Your Taxes
If you’re not a legal resident and you’re working in Costa Rica, you’re either working online and earning wages outside of the country or you’re earning money under the table. In either case, don’t worry about paying taxes in Costa Rica. Woo hoo.
Sales tax is 13% and import duties are 50-90%! Now you understand why cars are so expensive here. License plate fees are paid annually but are low, and property tax is also much lower than it is in the USA.
Tourists need to pay a tax whenever they leave the country of around $25.
Opening a Business
Many friends of mine who live full time in Costa Rica own and operate businesses, and while it’s certainly not easy, it can be very rewarding. I see people making their dreams come true every day whether they’re building yoga studios, opening cafes, or renting out vacation homes. Many of whom started with tiny investments but were willing to put in the elbow grease. You can start as small as setting up a stand at the farmer’s market.
For practical details on how to make it happen, read these articles:
Opening a Business in Costa Rica
Costa Rica Business FAQ
Getting Shit Done
Here comes the hard part, actually getting anything done. The sunshine, the ocean, the dance parties, the community gatherings, the waves, are all HUGE distractions. Wonderful, beautiful distractions, but distractions nonetheless.
Most people living in Costa Rica operate on “Pura Vida Time” which means you can’t expect a quick response, people are rarely on time, and you’ll probably get stood up a lot. Quickly you may begin operating on Costa Rica time yourself. You’ll become more relaxed and less motivated to “hustle.” It’s difficult to balance but the key is to remember your dreams and your goals while also allowing yourself to live the pura vida lifestyle.
One of my favorite things about Costa Rica, is that you can’t really buy anything. Nothing that you would want anyway. It’s nice, materialism doesn’t matter so much. But when you do actually need something, it’s not so great. Even in the capitol city of San Jose, it’s nearly impossible to find nice clothes, housewares, or electronics. What you will find will be expensive as well. I recommend bringing what you need down with you.
Surviving the Environment
I’m pretty sure that I was born to live in Costa Rica. I’ve always loved humidity, I don’t mind being dirty, and never in my life have I been afraid of snakes or bugs. I know that this is not the case for most people.
The heat can be intense, and you may find yourself sweating… constantly. If heat really gets to you, consider living away from the ocean at a higher elevation. In towns like La Fortuna and Monteverde, you will actually need a sweater in the evening because it’s so cool.
For the insects, try to keep your home environment meticulously clean. Don’t leave fruit on the counter even for 10 minutes. Wash your dishes immediately, keep your bed made, and make sure to always have everything picked up off the floor.
Insect bites can be particularly frustrating. Slather your skin in coconut oil when going to the beach to keep away sand fleas and wear long, loose pants in the evening to avoid getting mosquito bites. I also recommend you read my article, How I Cured Myself of Mosquito Bites Forever.
The tropics are not always kind to the Western body. Strange fungal infections, stomach bugs, and parasites are not uncommon. I recommend traveling with or making your own high quality probiotics (read my post How to Travel the World and Never Get Food Poisoning). Drinking fresh young coconut water daily will help with all viruses and infections and eating fresh papaya seeds will help kill parasites. I also recommend using coconut oil on your skin to keep infection away.
I travel with an essential oils kit as well, which has made a huge difference in my health routine. Learn more about that here.
The same way it’s hard to buy quality “stuff” in Costa Rica, it takes quite a bit of effort to buy quality food. Forget about nice supermarkets, it’s more like corner stores and road stands. Fortunately most towns have a weekly farmer’s market with organic produce and other goodies. Some even have organic delivery services, and Nosara, Costa Rica has a lovely little organic grocery store open daily.
I usually stock up on veggies, greens, tortillas, coconut oil, and eggs at the Farmer’s Market, then supplement throughout the week with organic fruit stands and the local fish counter. In most touristic towns you’ll also find delicious and some healthy restaurants too.
…is easier than you might think, and harder than you might think. In Costa Rica people tend to be less busy, more relaxed, more community oriented, and more spontaneous. Whether organizing a full moon ceremony, attending a beach BBQ, or simply having conversation, its easy to find people to connect with. However, it can be very difficult to really… get in. In Costa Rica, people come and go constantly, which has made many locals and expats hesitant about giving new visitors a chance.
I recommend regularly attending community events and getting involved in different community Facebook groups if you really want to become part of the community.
…happens much more easily than you might think. Most towns in Costa Rica are very small, which means gossip and drama occur regularly. My advice is to be patient and respectful of local culture, be very mindful of the words you speak, and learn to respond to all manners of drama with humility, peace and love.
Falling in Love
…also happens more easily than you might think. People are half naked most of the time, unbelievably fit and beautiful, and sex is always in the air. However I’ve found it very challenging to cultivate a healthy relationship here. As a woman, I’ve struggled with the local culture where fidelity is practically nonexistent. Many friends of mine have suffered in these relationships, some with children, with an unfaithful partner who they also support financially. (Read more in my post There Are Many Shades of Black.) Most men I meet in Costa Rica who do have the qualities I’m looking for, leave and move on to the next destination before there’s time for a romance to even develop.
All that said, I do know some happy couples living here, some who even met in Costa Rica. One in particular told me, “Keep following the path that makes you happy, and the right people will come into your life.” And so, so, very many beautiful friends, whom I love with all of my heart, have come into my life because of this place.
So that’s what I keep doing. Trusting that my heart will lead me where I need to go.
Will you do the same?
Want more information on Costa Rica like safety tips, what to pack, the best beach towns, and an entire healthy eating guide? Get my 150 page eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Costa Rica.
This seems like a silly question, but…what’s the low down on spiders? I’ve largely avoided tropical countries so far because of an annoying, irrational but still present phobia – even though southern India and Australia all went by without incident!
There are lots of spiders here, but I have never encountered poisonous ones. Usually you’ll just see them in big webs in the trees. I did once have a tarantula in my house, but that was the only time I’ve ever seen a spider inside…
Haha, me too man. although as I get older, less so. I find all beings are generally curious and also wary. In many idigneous cultures spiders are symbolic of protection. Hence Spider earnings. The fear may be part of this, a warning not so much of them but of own selves.
Love it! Thanks for the wisdom <3 xx
Camille, I love that you love my country so! As with any country you would’ve traveled, you’ve had your highs and your lows…and it’s part of the experience. It is, however, thrilling to hear your raw stories and how you’ve learned to cope through organic and spiritual tools instead of just running away. That being said, I do have a recommendation. I think most of your articles really refer on living in Puerto Viejo- not Costa Rica, which to us Costa Ricans we think of almost as a different country: it has a different weather, the environment is completely opposite to the Pacific, the people as you said even have their own language (Patoi, or “Patuá” as we call it). It would be best to clarify that in Costa Rica we do have amazing stores were to buy designer clothes and accessories (which we have a large list of incredible Costa Rican designers and we have the biggest Central American fashion show once a year). Growing up here, we’ve learned where to buy quality electronics for the best price without having to import them (we actually have the same lines as in the USA at exactly the same price), etc. I could go on but I think the point is made 🙂 Maybe as to not confuse fellow readers, you could consider changing “Costa Rica” for “Puerto Viejo” or “The Caribbean”- which by the way I think your advice is to the point! Keep up the good vibes xx
I agree with Pia. I love your writing Camille, but it think this one might confuse some readers. I am Costa Rican and know my country well. Even though you make some references to other towns in Costa Rica, I feel this article mostly refers to your experience in Puerto Viejo, which doesn’t mean most of it is accurate. About shopping, yes everything is more expensive than in the US, but you can find anything you want. There are all kinds of shopping malls and stores downtown. I think many travelers don’t see this for a simple reason, CR is not a shopping destination. People come here for other reasons. The food, well, having been in the US I have to say that I find the food in Costa Rica much fresher and healthier and it’s everywhere, it might not be from a fancy store with air conditioning but it’s quality food. Thank you so much. ..love reading your blog 😉
Thanks Lily! Of course I’ve spent the most time in Puerto Viejo, but I wrote this based on what I’ve experienced in Nosara, Santa Teresa, Montezuma, La Fortuna, San Jose, Dominical, Uvita, Pavones, the Osa, Tortuguero, etc etc. Friends of mine building houses have expressed frustration about not being able to find good tile or other equipment even in San Jose, I’ve had trouble finding decent kitchen equipment, shoes, etc. in San Jose. Of course there are tons of stores downtown, and in Escazu I have been to the shopping mall, but I don’t think that people who want Western products will find what they’re looking for with the exception of maybe H&M or Forever 21, which really just came recently. Many Costa Rican friends of mine ask me to bring them things from the states whenever I come to visit. And of course that’s part of what I LOVE about Costa Rica. It’s not the USA and it’s not all about consumerism. But I do think it’s something worth noting. As far as the food, I do find it very very challenging to find organic produce except on farmer’s market days, and Costa Rica is a huge offender when it comes to using pesticides. I also find it hard to get quality organic eggs and meat, unless you specifically know someone. In this regard, I’d argue that it’s easier to find these things in Puerto Viejo than in many other parts of the country. I went to a huge farmer’s market in San Isidro, and almost nothing was organic at all. But all that said, I eat much healthier than your typical American, and I would say your typical Costa Rica is eating more fresh food than your typical American. Personally I try to eat 100% organic and it’s definitely a challenge here in Costa Rica when you don’t have your own farm or livestock. But yes, all of that aside, I love Costa Rica and I feel my best here. It’s an amazing place, without many of the conveniences of the Western world, but I wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing the Tica perspective Pia 🙂 I had no idea you could get good electronics locally in San Jose, can you tell me where?? I’ve gone crazy with this in the past. Also, what are the stores where you can get good clothes and accessories? Anytime I’ve gone in San Jose I’ve not been able to find things. Of course I know that many of the beach towns have cute little designer shops with really cool stuff, but not necessarily practical things if you need them. I feel that most of this article is pretty general on the logistics of Costa Rica as a whole. Of course I have more experience in Puerto Viejo, but I’ve traveled all over Costa Rica and spent a month living in Pavones too, so I try to be as general about the country as a whole as possible. Let me know other areas that I can clarify in my post, and I will def update the electronics and shopping info if you can give me some suggestions of places to include 🙂 xo
Hi Pia, we are thinking of moving from California and would love some of your advice on where to buy electronics and clothes at usa prices and quality..thanks so much!
Always look forward to your ezines, as they are refreshing, honest, balanced and from the heart. Thank you for living the life of your dreams, as it inspires me to do the same.
Thank you sweetie that means a lot !! xoxo
Your link to the essential oils page is not working 🙂
It is working, try again.
Oops!! Thank you, I just updated it! 🙂
Nice summary of living in Costa Rica. I’m glad you pointed out downsides of living in paradise 🙂 I might actually consider visiting CR during our Central+South America trip next year.It’s not in the plan as for now because of the cost (as you and many others pointed out). Your posts sound like it’s worth it!
Awesome! Yes, it is a really really beautiful place with the most abundant nature I’ve seen anywhere!
This bit really resonated with me: “remember your dreams and your goals while also allowing yourself to live the pura vida lifestyle”. I think this is a really good motto to live by wherever you are. I definitely need to address the work/leisure balance in my life – at the moment I’m too much in the mindset of stressing myself out so that I can be freer and happier in the future. Need to keep reading blogs like yours and absorbing the relaxed travel vibes so I can get back into that much healthier mentality!
I also really enjoyed the raw honesty of this post. It’s making me think carefully about where I want to be next, and how comfortable/uncomfortable I can deal with, in exchange for the endless gifts of beautiful nature! Pura vida to you!
Thank you sweetie and I totally understand, I find striking the balance challenging as well. In sanskrit they have a word for it, “satvic” meaning, not overly firey and not sluggish either, working, purposeful, moving forward, but in a constant state of peace.
Ah yes I remember reading about those sanskrit terms. I think I fluctuate between them all a lot! More posts about the pura vida lifestyle now you’re back in the home of it would be very inspiring 🙂
Yes, fluctuations are totally normal and I experience them as well, calming the mind helps 😉 Pura vida noted xx Anything specific you’d like to know?
Nothing specific I can think of right now, just keep beaming out those pura vida vibes!
Great piece, very thorough! I’m SO glad you mentioned that you have to have proof of leaving the country in 90 days. I was contemplating just going down and buying my ticket back once I felt like leaving.
Snakes don’t bother me, but I have a really dumb fear of spiders. I would probably pee my pants if I found a tarantula inside. How did you get him out?
Ohhh yes glad I helped you on that one!! Technically most countries require an onward ticket, but most places aren’t strict like Costa Rica. Hmmm I don’t remember with the tarantula…. maybe my Mom did it? It just so happened when she was visiting, haha, full immersion vacation!
Thanks. Very informative. I always got an intuitive “no” to Costa Rica, and now I see why. I lived in Mexico for 3 years and it is cheaper, closer, cooler and easier, and with more amenities
Glad the article helped you 🙂
Hi American Girl
Your blog was a real eye opener. The thought that one can really make their dreams come true sounds so real after reading your escape to Costa Rica. The tips you have given right from getting a tourist visa to permanent visa here rocks!
Thank you I’m so glad you liked it!!
I absolutely loved the information. My husband and I along with our four small children have been trying to live the American dream. We have desperately been trying to find a affordable location in paradise and have found ourselves leaning towards CR on several occasions. Your article was full of tons of information thank you for your input and honesty! !!
Wonderful I am so happy to hear it!! 🙂 xoxo
Your website is a blessing. 12 1/2 years ago I married a Tica (Anabelle). She came to the US with her 3 children to live with me. They are all grown up. My wife wants to move back and we have decided that in or near Punta Uva looks like a fit. She and her sister Gioconda (Yocko) were in Punta Uva last week. My wife found property she is interested in. I have worked in the real estate industry here for more than half my life (I will be 66 shortly).
The site she chose is undeveloped. I am concerned about water, sewer, electricity, phone and internet. Anything you can tell me will be a help.
Gracias mi amiga.
Thanks Felipe! Unfortunately I don’t know anything about developing or buying property here since I haven’t done it myself… But google your questions and I’m sure there are some great resources! xoxo
Thank you so much for sharing your blog and your experiences! I recently traveled to Costa Rica and fell in love with the people, a boy, the nature (even the rain and bugs), and the Pura Vida lifestyle. I have spent everyday that I have been back in the US heartbroken and planning my escape to return there but haven’t quite figured out my next move. Finding true happiness has become my main priority since my trip there, and so far the only thing I have figured out is that I need to travel more and get away from the city. I appreciate the honesty and candid nature of this post; I have learned so much from you and it was amazing to read your words keeping my own experience in mind.
I applaud you for your bravery and for staying true to yourself. Your story is truly an inspiration to me and I hope one day soon I can follow similar footsteps!
Best of luck with your travels and thank you again for sharing! Pura Vida!
Aw thanks so much sweetie!!! I wish you all of the best and a lifetime of Pura Vida 🙂 xo
Love your article.
I was born in Nicaragua and been living in Canada for over 32 yrs. My wife and I who are in our early 40’s just got back from a trip to CR. We rented a car and drove to La Fortuna, Monteverde and Jaco beach. We did rafting, horseback riding, hiking and more… LOVED IT. Although I feel like i left my heart in CR, we always have to remember that people see the grass greener on the other side. I have family in Heredia who’d do anything to live in Canada. They complain about cost of living, theft and immigration problems in CR. Yes I know all about north american living which is work work work…so I can see why I fell in love with the “pura vida” lifestyle but like you said, its not all sunsets and waves. Its a hard life living in any 3rd world country unless you got mucho dinero and don’t mind leaving some luxuries behind. Its takes real determination to make such a move. I was thinking about what it’d be like to live in CR so I googled it and found your blog which was very informative. I noticed you didn’t mention anything about the quality of healthcare in CR but then again you must be young and in great shape! Hasta luego and wish you all the best! 🙂
Thank you so much!! I appreciate your insights. And yes, my healthcare plan includes yoga, essential oils, ginger tea, and a beautiful life that feeds me. xo
Hello, it’s a great post. I am planning to move to CR in Jan. I have been offered a job in CR. I am a foreign citizen. Does that mean that if I have been given a job in CR, the company has filed for my residency ? And secondly, how faithful are the girls in CR? Do they tend to have multiple relationships as well ?
I assume that the company has worked it out so that you have a visa that makes it legal for you to be in the country. You could always confirm with the company about specifically what kind of visa you will have. I really can’t say how the women are in relationships, and I’m sure it depends what part of the country you’re in. Blessings to you for your move!
I really like your blog. I was the last 2 weeks the second time in Puerto Viejo and I really really love it! I’m thinking about safe enough Money and just go and life there for some months. I never come away from Puerto Viejo <3
Beautiful, may all of your dreams come true.
Thinking of coming down to Puerto Viejo in either February or March for a month. You mention a page where people list their homes for rent. Could you please provide me with info on how to access that page. Thanks!
Hey Tom check out VRBO or Air BnB or Habitat Puerto Viejo
I’m thinking moving Costa Rica with my girl friend in a retire baseball player in looking for safest place to live there the area .can u please guide me the
I can recommend Atenas, it is one of the most popolar retirees places in Costa Rica, about 20 minutes from the airport and sorrounded by mountains. Also only about 1 hour from the pacific coast. I got a two houses available there in case you are interested send me an email email@example.com
I realy like to visit costa rica but i want visit a place with knowledge of travel like you i live in santa fe new mexico & im single & never traveled much but i really like costa rica & panama city can you please help me out with anythings i need to know good & bad i want to be well informed thank you victor garcia
Hi, I like your blog a lot and overall I agree with most of your philosophy, especially about health and “going for it” as opposed to letting people or your own worries stop you from going for it.
However there are a couple things you state on this page that I think will give people the wrong idea about Costa Rica.
Let me say that I too have a blog and I have lived here on year full time but in the past I also lived here over a year, and have visited here months at a time over 20 years, so I know quite a bit about living in Costa Rica. I also have had friends for 20 years who live here so I know their challenges.
You wrote: “Want to wake up before dawn from the sound of crowing roosters? Want to wake up at midnight from the sound of screeching bats? Want to come home to a tarantula, a snake, or a scorpion in your bed? Want to wait days for your clothes to dry? Or clean gecko poop off of your counters? Sweep cockroaches off of your floor? Watch mice eat holes in everything? Want to lock everything that you own in a safe? To watch your possessions rust, mold, and fade? Want to work for $2 an hour and spend ten of it on a bag of quinoa? Want to work online when all of the electrical lines break?”
While these things are true in some parts of Costa Rica, they are not true everywhere. I have experienced a terrible bug problem in some areas, and one time I had one mouse eat a few holes in some clothes we left on the clothesline to dry. Yes, there are mold problems at times…
But let me answer these issues one by one:
Crowing roosters. This is common yes but they’re not everywhere. I have none here where I live and many “developments” do not allow them and so this depends on where you live.
Screeching bats. I’ve lived in about 12 different places and homes in Costa Rica over the years and never once heard a screeching bat.
A tarantula, a snake, or a scorpion in your bed: I have had ONE scorpion in my bed – luckily I saw it and killed it, and now I check before getting into bed but have yet to see another one during the past year! I have seen a few in the house but little by little we are sealing the cracks and crevices to keep them and other insects from getting in and nowadays we have very very few insects of any kind inside the house.
Never had a snake or tarantula in my bed and since we moved in here over one year ago we have yet to see a tarantula or snake in the house. We did see a snake behind the house and a couple down in the forested area below us.
Waiting for days for your clothes to dry: There are dryers or “secadoras” in Costa Rica. Enough said. Yes if you rely on the sun to dry your clothes there are times when there may not be enough sun to dry them for some days.
Gecko poop. None. We try to keep the geckos out of the house. I know they say they are good, they eat insects etc. But my Tico friend says to keep them out is best so we do. I guess if you let them in they can overpopulate so that’s why we keep them out.
Cockroaches. Knock on wood 3 times – knock knock knock! – but in over a year we have had only 10-15 cockroaches in our house. We do use some dimetaceous earth in cracks and crevices and put out bay leaves – they don’t like those – and occasionally put poison if we see a few within a week. By taking these precautions, plus keeping food in tight lidded plastic boxes and keeping the counters clean and dishes clean, we have had almost NO cockroaches in our year here. I know other people who live around here who also don’t have cockroaches. Nor tarantulas. Again, sealing the crevices and cracks where they get in is essential.
Lock all your possessions up? When we leave for the day we hide a few of our most valuable items, but we’ve yet to have anything stolen or any attempt at it. Again, “knock knock knock” on wood!
Yes some things will rust but you can protect them with oil and rustoff, stuff like that, or keep them in a dryer area. Mold – we have had a problem with mold yes but we are learning to use the dry days to put stuff out in the sun and wash things that are stored every so often. Also never put stuff in cardboard boxes, put them in plastic boxes with tight lids. Move them into the sun once in a while. You live at the beach I take it, where it is much worse than in the mountains where we live. Keep stuff dry and let light get to them – those are 2 keys to minimize mold!
Work for $2/hour? Even the farm workers make closer to $3. It’s illegal to work here unless you’re a permanent resident which takes about 3-4 years. As I think you say somewhere, working online is a good option, that’s what I do.
The electricity goes out here very rarely and usually comes back on within an hour. Not a big problem.
So again, I think some of these things you talk about are not GENERALLY true; they are YOUR experience based on where you live. Many of my friends live in the mountainous regions like we do here at Rancho Silencio near San Ramon. It’s cooler, less humidity, and apparently we have less bugs and bats and such as well – at least here on our properties.
So as some of your other commenters have said, a lot of your observations about life in Costa Rica seem to be based on your life in Puerto Viejo or other places you’ve lived, and that’s totally cool! My opinions are based on where I live too! But let’s just remember that Costa Rica has many micro-climates and micro-ecological systems! It can be windy here and not windy a half mile away. I’ve seen it rain on one side of our house and not on the other! It can be cold and foggy on the north side of San Ramon in the mountains but sunny and warm here on the west side! For real!
So here’s what I want people to know, who are interested in moving to Costa Rica:
1) Don’t let people tell you that you can’t. If it’s your dream, figure out a way. People told me we couldn’t afford it on $1300 a month but here we are a year later, and we’re doing great!
2) Live exactly in the area where you want to move to before you move there and especially before you buy there!
3) Ask your neighbors about how things are where you want to live! Find out before going there how the internet service is, how the mold is, how the insects are, and etc. But as I say, as to insects a lot of it can be whether your house is built “tight” or not and if you can seal it up well, or not. As to mold, you can use light and dehumidifiers to control it. So even your neighbors may not have all the answers, they may not be able to afford a dehumidifier. You can also use 60 watt light bulbs to keep down the mold!
One other note: you say you can’t meet the right guys! You must be looking in the wrong places, you are beautiful on the outside and inside from what I can see so keep the faith, you’re going to meet a great guy sooner or later!
My blog is at movingtocostarica.info, to get more of a “mountain” area take on moving to Costa Rica! [Camille, feel free to delete the url, if you wish, I’m happy just to share the info if you’ll let the rest of my post live! Thanks!]
Thanks so much for clarifying this! Your points are EXCELLENT and I appreciate another viewpoint 🙂 You’re right, my impressions are DEFINITELY based on living in Puerto Viejo and Costa Rica is such a diverse country. Also, for entertainment sake, reading this again I certainly sound dramatic 😉 Thanks for offering such rich and valuable info here!
Great, Camille! I like the advice you give re people taking responsibility for their lives. Above all one should decide for oneself how and where to live and not pay too much attention to people who tell you not to follow your dreams!
Just go in with eyes wide open. Don’t dive before checking the hole you’re diving into first. But once you feel sure enough, dive in and enjoy!
Thanks Miguel 🙂
Hi Camille, enjoyed reading your CR blog. I also appreciated some of the more subtle hints you provided – careful to not offend any Tico readers (although why a Tico would be reading this blog about visiting/living in CR escapes me). But as a gringo, I’d like to offer my alternative, real-world views on life in CR.
I married my wonderful Tica wife several years ago. The ceremony was actually in Costa Rica. Unfortunately, it took one whole year for the USCIS to finally grant my legal wife entry into the U.S. (worst year of our lives). We now both reside in the U.S. But Ticos traditionally have very close-knit family ties, which I – being an only child – have learned to appreciate. So we visit our Tico family in CR quite frequently (I married into a great family!). We also routinely host 3 or more rotating Tico family houseguests throughout the year.
Concerning shopping in the greater San Jose area (including Escazu), I guess it might seem quite affluent for a Tico. But the variety, quality and availability of Western merchandise that Americans/Canadians might prefer is generally a challenge in CR. The CR ladies in my family (including my 2 daughters and 3 sisters-in-law) prefer the classically conservative, ‘Ivy League’ fashion (which some refer to as ‘preppy’). Their preferred designers are, for example: Ralph Lauren, J. Crew, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Dooney & Burke, Coach, Talbots, Lacoste, and Brooks Brothers. Many of the items they prefer are NOT that available in many of the high-end CR shopping plazas. So it’s off to the U.S. to shop.
More practically, the Ticas in my family have hour-glass figures. There is a particular style of bra in the U.S. that my wife introduced to them – that they love – but that is simply unavailable anywhere in CR.
Shopping aside, once my Tico relatives visit us in the U.S., within a few days, weeks or months – they NEVER want to return to CR. Because of this, I have retained 3 different immigration law firms to try to strategize how we can legally get our family out of CR.
Most of my Tico family lives in and around the greater San Jose area from San Pedro to San Miguel to Zapote to Escazu to Alajuela to Heredia and towns in between. With the exception of Escazu, the quality of life in those towns is definitely NOT ‘pura vida’.
Currently in CR there’s a Labor Union strike (began on September 9, 2018). People are refusing to go to work. One sad consequence is 50% of the schools are closed.
Crime-wise, one of my step-daughters attending university in CR was recently robbed at gunpoint – for the second time – just walking down the street. The thieves stole her headphones, cellphone, watch, earrings, laptop, backpack, tablet, and her engineering homework. And no, she wasn’t sporting a pink Kate Spade purse, or Lacoste sneakers, or a Ralph Lauren backpack. My girls only get to wear their nice stuff when they’re here with us in the U.S.
The disgusting fact is, ALL of my female relatives in CR have experienced some degree of aggravated assault in recent years, for example:
– We bought our 9 year-old niece a monogrammed religious bracelet (with a simple cross on it). She was walking down a public street during the day with her mom holding her hand – when a Tico suddenly attacked them from behind and painfully ripped the bracelet from my niece’s wrist.
– My wife was robbed at gunpoint in broad daylight upon exiting Latina University. The thief stole her money, laptop and cellphone.
– My wife was riding a bus escorting her 92 year-old mom when a Tico stole her cellphone and jumped off the bus.
Family gifts must be transported via luggage of returning family visitors – otherwise they’ll be intercepted and stolen by CR Customs agents. How do I know? I had the USPS launch a formal audit of my package of a very high-end cellphone for a relative (whose previous cellphone was violently stolen). The USPS tracked the shipment and isolated the loss in CR Customs.
But now (November 2018), CR Customs response is to inspect all luggage content of returning Ticos. If a Tica has any newly purchased items from the U.S. in their luggage, the CR Customs agent will then automatically charge them with smuggling. This happened to each of my Tica sisters-in-law after visiting us in November 2018 for a month of shopping.
The Customs agents took them to an Interrogation Room and threatened them with prosecution – despite the fact that outfits matched their unique sizes. This is a real problem now. Our CR relatives are educated, but are still economically disadvantaged. The merchandise that is available in Costa Rica is far too expensive for their income level. So we always tell them to bring only one small bag to the U.S., because we take them shopping and buy them many nice outfits. Of course, this requires us to buy 2 additional large suitcases to fit them all. This is what we have done for our poorer Tico family members for years.
That is all changed now. From now on Ticos can only re-enter CR with used items…nothing new. How disgusting a CR Customs Policy is that???
Meanwhile, my sisters-in-law were not allowed to make any calls, and they say they were treated like international terrorists, and of course were in tears.
Eventually, after several hours of intimidation they let them exit the airport.
Crime in Costa Rica. Sadly, the cool stuff we buy our CR family members must sit in their closets or jewelry boxes upon their return to CR – for fear they might draw some Tico thief’s attention. Almost everyone of my Tico family members has been victimized (beaten, punched, or accosted at gunpoint) by a fellow Tico in pursuit of their wallet, purse, cellphone, jewelry, sunglasses, watch, clothing – or even unbranded sneakers.
– My other sister-in-law, 60 years old, was beaten up by 2 thieves on a motorbike at an ATM as she retrieved money we sent her. They must have been monitoring people using that ATM – from a distance.
– We have replaced so many stolen cellphones, laptops, and tablets for our Tico family members – we often joke at how we are subsidizing electronics manufacturers.
– There are jail bars on every window of every house and business.
The Economy in Costa Rica.
– A Burger King Whopper (sandwich only) costs $9 – twice the price in the U.S. Burger King has recently left CR.
– When I go to a local WalMart in CR to buy a full shopping cart of food for the family, my bill is always nearly $700. Those same items at a WalMart in the U.S. would be around $250-$300.
The CR economy targets affluent Western tourists with prices that Ticos can’t afford (which is probably why they dislike foreigners…who can blame them?) Most of the movie theaters show movies only in English…totally absurd).
My job requires that I travel nearly 40 weeks each year. Been doing this for over 10 years. As a Hertz Diamond member I rented a car online for Heredia at $28 per day. But upon arrival, the Hertz agent informed me of the CR Government add-on fee of an additional $58 per day – which was NOT included in my CONFIRMED reservation quote. Even the rental agent confided that this undisclosed fee was a dirty CR Governmental trick (i.e., not disclosing this fee until you are in-Country).
Cuisine. As constant travelers, my wife and I are high-level members of Trip Advisor, Yelp and other travel forums. Over the years I have eaten at many Tico restaurants. Other than gallo pinto, I have never had a memorable eating experience in Costa Rica worth writing about (and the restaurants I’ve frequented are my CR family’s favorite spots).
My wife and I are both scratch cooks – and foodies. So, conversely, when our visiting Tico relatives eat at our house in the U.S. (buffalo wings, roast beef, grilled steak, traditional turkey dinner, poached salmon with béarnaise sauce, beef bourguignon, BBQ, elegant Sunday brunch, crepes, etc.) – they go nuts. They even crave the various dishes at Cheesecake Factory and Outback. They are especially blown away by the American/Canadian version of beef – particularly our steaks (i.e. ‘carne’), which taste very different from steaks in CR (perhaps it’s the brand/type of cows, or the type grasses they consume?). Dunno.
They also become quickly addicted to our standard whole milk (lactose-free) which we have to buy by the gallons!). I guess cows are completely different in CR? But on the positive side, average CR eggs are much better (darker yolks and yummy) as compared to our (U.S.) supermarket eggs. And everybody knows that Pepsi in CR actually tastes better than Coca Cola bottled/canned in the U.S.
But Internet service (which was an ICE monopoly until recent times) is totally flaky, and frustrating – even on a business line. Yes, CR beaches are nice, but when we take our Tico relatives on our annually trip to the Emerald Coast, 100 miles of Florida coast lining the Gulf of Mexico – complete with uncrowded, white sandy beaches, and turquoise waters, they quickly forget Tamarindo and Guanacaste.
Our visiting Tico family members become mildly ecstatic when they see their favorite CR fruits (e.g., rambutan…i.e. ‘mamones chinos’) available in our local supermarkets.
What angers me is how all the CR travel sites describe how happy and friendly Ticos are. This just fries my butt. I have worked around the planet, including Europe (London, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart Germany – have driven 188 mph on the autobahn); worked in both Sydney and Melbourne AU; worked all across Canada including Alberta, Montreal, and Toronto; lived in Mexico; lived in an unnamed Middle Eastern country where they still do public beheadings; and collaborated on a start-up business working day-to-day with North Koreans.
But I have never met such hostile, anti-social people as Ticos. Why are they so mean?
Ticos have the highest literacy rate in the Western hemisphere. Yet, retail clerks at a market or in the malls look at you with disgust – as if your patronage of their business (that pays their salary!) – annoys them. Stupid. And Ticos on the street are even unfriendly towards each other. They walk around with an expression on their faces as if they have a grudge with you – or anybody.
Ticos are the meanest people I have ever encountered – with precious few exceptions (which will be conspicuous to you). You have to get out of the cities to the rural areas where Ticos begin to mellow out.
My visiting Tico relatives are always AMAZED at how civil and friendly people are in the U.S. They like it, but don’t quite get it…it’s a values-thing…we learn politeness etiquette in school and at home. (However, Canadians are even more civil). My Tico relatives are wowed at how a person in a supermarket will pause with their shopping cart – and motion for them to go first. This type of courtesy doesn’t happen in CR retail stores. And in my relatives’ obligatory DAILY Whatsapp or Skype calls with the family (yes, fact is – Ticas are the most chronically addicted users of social media in the world), they tell the whole family about these apparently *super-civil* experiences (*you’ll only understand this if you’ve ever been to CR).
So unless you intend to live far away from CR city life in some remote forest with the monkeys and snakes (yes – CR is host to the highest number of snakes in the world), I would never recommend that an American consider relocating to CR (Panama is ‘way’ cheaper).
And it’s also super expensive. For our honeymoon we stayed at the 4-star, Hotel Cariari (Heredia). The prices at the time were sky-high. But if you looked closely at your hotel room floor you notice swarms of tiny bugs constantly crawling about (yech!). They obviously don’t do pest control – I asked – and was told by hotel management that I simply needed to ‘get used to many different types of bugs in Costa Rica’. I learned to keep my feet off the floor.
I met a gringo (American) businessman who was forced to abandon his 15-year Chevrolet dealership in CR – for no apparent reason. His annual license/permit was abruptly denied renewal – with no explanation. Apparently, the CR Government just didn’t want an American operating a car dealership in CR anymore.
And for a gringo to start a business in CR (which I once contemplated), you first have to pony up a $20K ‘application fee’ to the CR Government. Once approved it will include the additional stipulation that you will not be permitted to work in YOUR OWN business! Yes, I know of an American who opened a successful restaurant in CR. One day his dishwasher suddenly left work – sick. The owner was later spied on that day drying off a dish. He was reported on – and was subsequently processed for deportation.
Driving in Costa Rica. Driving in CR is a completely 3rd-world (crazy) proposition. Make certain your life insurance premiums are paid up.
– First, there are no street signs (apparently Ticos have developed an uncanny sixth sense for Cartesian geometry…they have photographic memory for landmarks, houses and buildings for navigating cryptic unnamed streets and alleyways.
– Google Maps is useless – unless you already know the city’s landmarks – which, driving at night won’t help at all! And asking for directions is worthless… “3 blocks past the house with the green balcony…”.
Unless your rental car insurance has double the liability coverages – and you’re prepared to drive with complete abandon, I’d recommend Uber.
– An impatient driver once tailgated me so closely (inches) that he actually hit my rear bumper at a roundabout – and then had the audacity to honk incessantly at ME as if it was my fault! He even followed me around San Pedro for a few blocks, honking. I guess he thought he could intimidate me (wrong). So – annoyed, I stopped abruptly and got out of the rental. When the Tico saw my 6’4″ frame and my determined, ‘I’m-gonna-kick-your-butt-all-over-Costa Rica-look’ on my face, he backed up in a panic – and quickly and sped around me (sissy).
Which brings up another observation. IMHO, many Ticos ‘way’ overplay the macho-thing. For example, on the streets they walk directly toward you – totally invading your personal space – as if you’re supposed to meekly step aside. Is this a testosterone test…seriously? I’m a fairly physical guy. I never step aside for these idiots. Instead, I give them a stare that psychically conveys extreme personal injury if they intend to push me out of their way.
But why do they exhibit such hostile behavior? It’s everywhere…it appears to be the culture. My company’s office is on Times Square (NYC) where there are literally millions of international visitors wading through the busy streets 24/7, yet I never encounter such brutish tactics.
My assumption is these macho Ticos are just a bunch of uncivilized sissies who prey mostly on females. IMHO, what they need is a few Clint Eastwood-types to relocate to CR to teach them some manners – and lessons in how to be a real gentleman towards the Ticas. Yes, many of the men in CR are pretty terrible toward women…I hear the complaints and experiences from my many female relatives there including my 2 step-daughters and 3 step-sisters who I adore.
Random Observations. Surprisingly, the 15 or so times I’ve had elongated stays in the greater San Jose area – I rarely encounter other gringos (Americans) on the streets. Apparently, non-Ticos with any affluence at all live on small gated compounds throughout the cities – yet are surrounded by the impoverished – and worse – the thieves.
– Car alarms go off randomly throughout the night – the car thieves are tireless. After a few days you get used to it.
– Forget about getting mail. A FedEx Envelope (e.g., a 1-page document) to CR will cost a cool $75 – and that’s NOT door-to-door. You’ll still have to go pick it up somewhere.
Overall, my summary of CR is:
– Tico women are the most beautiful women in the world.
– Nature-wise the country is beautiful.
– CR ranks SECOND highest in crime in the Western Hemisphere.
– CR abandoned its military (years ago), and is currently vulnerable to the onslaught of drug cartels – as they have no way of protecting their citizenry – or their borders. The cartels are closing-in from both directions – east (Columbia through Panama), and from the north (Mexico). Drug-related violence and murders are now out-of-control. My relatives are often afraid to leave their homes.
– Nicas (i.e., Nicaraguans) pour across the border into CR daily – paying no taxes, but putting a heavy burden on Public Services (which Ticos hate!).
– The Government has secretly negotiated a disgusting Pact with big business which discriminates economically against its own native population that makes an average $2/hour.
– Beautiful, smart people trapped in a societal framework of bad politics and bad economics. No wonder why the people feel bitter and disenfranchised.
IMHO, all these factors make CR the worst place in the world I have ever l visited or lived. My tip is, when you arrive in San Jose for sightseeing – go straight to your beach destination…do not hang out in San Jose…there’s nothing there worth getting robbed for.
Regarding the Ticos that follow this blog, a certain degree of pride in your Homeland is expected. Likewise, you may feel somewhat insulted by my candor. However, it is not my purpose to offend, but to counter the effusive, over-the-top published endorsements of Costa Rica as an ideal paradise for emigrants and retirees.
So please don’t bother flaming me for what you may defensively consider as an untruthful slant on your Country. Please realize that I have many, many relatives still residing in Costa Rica, and discuss these toxic cultural, political, and economic issues with them almost daily – who are now desperate to escape their beloved Homeland. However, my experiences – as I prefaced earlier – are limited to Greater San Jose and surrounding area. Be advised that I have actual hospital invoices (which costs I have paid) for my relatives who have suffered aggravated assault by Ticos. I also have the Police records.
Perhaps the most successful thing about CR is its tourism industry PR Agency in devising such an untruthful spin on CR culture, values and its people. Pura vida…only Ticos know how sardonic that slogan is.
Hi Camie, Im so fed up with living in Chicago with the violence the cold winters and ludicrous taxes I want out. I looked into an eary retirementand I just want to be somewhere in the Caribbean. Any other choices that might be better than Costa Rica?
Hey Tom, I recommend traveling around and discovering where you feel best. There’s no easy place on Earth to escape to, but there are places that remind you what it means to really live. <3 Wishing you what you seek xox
I Have been to costa rica a few times. In my view if you are from the United States unless you do not have much money I would not choose coasta Rica. No matter what people say it is 3rd world in many ways. People are friendly however there is petty crime everywhere. you can’t leave your home unattended or somebody will break-in you cannot leave anything on your dashboard or somebody will break-in The food is just OK. The traditional breakfast is good but you get sick of the same food over and over. in contrast I would look at New Zealand it is nothing short of amazing in so many ways The food the culture much less crime incredible nature people are very nice And it is much nearer to a first world country Without the bugs and cockroaches.
I’d love to check out New Zealand sometime! I hear it is incredible, so clean, so pure, stunning nature. I love the rawness of a developing country and the vibrance of Latin culture, so it’s also a preference 😉
This is some of the best writing and blogging I have ever read I’ve been wanting to start my own blog for some time now I have been to Costa Rica and loved it considered living there and have an addiction to traveling so would def love to read more and get your advise working online and traveling. Thanks so much
All my best ,Penny Mauk
Beautiful! So glad you enjoy it! Check my blog archives I’ve written a lot on sustaining a life of travel 🙂
This is not the first time I have commented on your blog. As usual it is full of incorrect information and, as before, it has been written by someone who is, at best, a part-time “tourist” resident. I am a legitimate legal immigrant to Costa Rica – 20 years and a citizen- and it really is troublesome when people who really know so little about the country sell themselves as experts. Spend more time, get to know the country as someone other than a tourist. What you are doing is actually, in my opinion, bad for the country and reeks of a”know it all” “gringa”.
Thanks for your perspective. Do you have any resources you can share with us that have more accurate and supportive information for my readers? You’re right, my perspective is limited to my experience, and there’s tonnnss of other opinions that would be helpful. Feel free to share any advice or articles you know of.
Thank you for your wonderful insight and links to other articles. We love your honest and spot-
Thanks so much 🙂
Thank you for such a useful blog with amazing energy. Really cool. My family is looking for a move out to Costa Rica, we are teachers, with no belief in the education system. Very much into and qualified in holistic health, fitness and performance. Do you think Costa Rica is a place to take a little risk trying to make something happen in that industry?
Hey Stoby there is a lot of interest but doing business in Costa Rica is not easy and I’m not an expert. I recommend doing more research among those who do own similar businesses down there.
Stoby, Ticos will not pay good money for holistic stuff. If you lived in a very gringo area like Grecia or Atenas maybe you could make some money in the holistic field but personally I am skeptical, and there are many problems starting a business here not the least of which is finding honest people to work for you.
I’ve lived here for a year and a half, am a legal resident – see my blog. I love it here but there are challenges and everyone I know has said starting a business is a major challenge, and making money at it even more so.
But then again, ANYthing is possible if your will is strong enough and you have a good idea for a business etc. Just do your due diligence in investigating about starting a business here.
How much monez do I need to move to costa rica
A very helpful introduction for someone thinking of moving to Costa Rica.
Thanks Neil glad you enjoyed.
Anyway to find a roommate/guest house for 2/3 months to see how you like Costa Rica?
I’m a massage therapist and want to move how hard is it can you email me thanks
I’m in my early 40s and been married 27 years i live in montana and I would like to find myself maybe volunteer with kids or old folks maybe get bike learn culture never done anything like this but have a little money and have a few months ur site was very helpful in appreciate it
Thank you so much, your dream sounds beautiful and I’m happy to have helped 🙂
I have read many blogs and articles on the subject of life in Costa Rica both before and after I moved here a year ago, and I have to say this writer really captured the gist of what it is all about. In both her descriptions and her open minded approach to handling this vastly different way of life.
In my observations, there are 2 basic types of CR Gringo expats; those that come here to live and those that come here to die. Those that come here to live run their businesses and/or their lives by the rules, treat people with respect, learn a passable version of the language, are involved in social groups and community oriented. Those that come here to die, well….they are another breed entirely.
You see them falling off their stools in the bars, drunk out of their minds, or eyes wide as saucers all wired up on the cheap and potent cocaine easily obtainable here. You see the pathetic older men living on fixed incomes buying sex from young Tica girls who are too poor to feed their families any other way. You hear bitter complaints about the hardships and quirks of living here, usually from those who refuse to assimilate in any other capacity than what they consider to be their rightful place in the ‘Master-Slave’ paradigm. You catch vibes of a slow grinding frustration morphing into a not so subtle outright contempt for the country and people that abides them at least esthetic refuge from a happiness they seem unable to create under any circumstances.
I love this place. Has it been easy? HELL no. Are there hardships? HELL YES. Is it worth it? That is a question that can only be answered by the individual, but if you go by statistics, 40% of those who move here say it isn’t within the first two years of living here and move back to where they came or elsewhere.
I came here from what I perceive to be is a dying civilization. A hopelessly corrupt and evil bully of the entire world whose Karma is so far down the pan it would take generations of penance to right it. Meeting the hardships CR has to offer contrasts against that backdrop in my personal perspective, so they are easier for me to swallow. I am here for the sake of principal, and….I am here to live.
Well said 🙂 Thank you.
Wow, Hello has written a stunning piece of literature! I am awed by your writing and respect your truth. Thank you!
Awesomeness!…You and I will be neighbors in a new world.
Your writing (your thoughts) are incredible. Do you write? I find more intelligence, skill and grammatical romance in your few words than most current authors. Anyways, just wanted to let you know which is silly but you seem very well-rounded band intelligent and despite your extensive life experiences (more rough than on a silver platter) you haven’t let it shake you but strengthen you w wisdom which is rare and refreshing and shows a lot of substance to your core character because it isn’t easy by any means and most steer in a different direction due to this. Where are you from if you don’t mind me asking? I have traveled all over the US unfortunately but haven’t gotten further than Hawaii aka no other countries yet. Seems like the way to go for many years now for me personally because Americans repulse me on average as a whole and as personal individuals. I am not a fully cultured individual as of now,but what few I have experienced I’ve experienced fully.i am a social butterfly,intelligent and observant,easily susceptible to energy pulls and shifts (dk why or how but just feel and know-i think at this point in my life especially,I feel vs listen… humans tend to use language as a mask or disguise,creating whatever illusion that best convenience them, causing the innocent bi-stander to succumb to their sociopathic consequences whether it’s strictly emotional or extends further) and honestly most Americans live in a selfish ignorant priviledged but not justly used privilege,in vain and wastefully like the world owes them something it’s built on hate and inequality and that still remains today. Yes, as a woman it has so many rights, privileges, resources and safety precautions or education than a lot of other countries but only because many before me, every women before me that had a brain in their head and a heart in their chest fought for because they weren’t there or ever going to be there if not. The prestine selfish pedestal way of thinking that men in power have developed since the “beginning” of the US we know today,helped pave the way for others to be able to fight foe their rights because their rights were so blantant in existence. These rights, reproductive Rights,safe houses,right to vote,etc are something I am fully grateful for but to the women and men who risked their lives and fought for the but not to anyone else do I owe gratitude. I find my struggles so miniscule to the ones of those of minority ethnicities, immigrants, especially female of each and any of those of the LBGTQ community, and those of transgenders which have the LEAST rights and the most hate crimes performed and targeted towards them and their friends and families. The cops and many “Republican white collared” (pieces of shit-not sorry) men I have realized are gay and don’t have the capability of fully even realizing themselves who they are,what makes them happy, and what is right vs strategically made up and set up societally in man-created social norms.the us stresses so much on these facades that their ancestors and original founders have created and in the process have withheld ACTUAL truths and wisdom that the human beings metaphysical make up is capable of and what our souls journey has come from,came to already know,now w recent (as opposed to the beginning of our universe as we know it when thea collided w Gaia and formed pangea on Earth) withholding of this knowledge,history,truth, understanding from the fear-based and very underdeveloped human soul-young young immature soul w little to no knowledge or understanding of their souls roots or journey or purpose; we have sadly de-evolved our entire lives as we know it and many more lives we don’t remember. When they decided “this land was theirs” setting foot in America,and at the point of them violently killing, enslaving,or sectioning off w no rights the native Americans which resided here before,they destroyed any knowledge that wasn’t approved by their limited selfish ignorant and unintelligent close minded narrow minded opinions.they destroyed all history of traces of gay people bi people transgender people people who felt the roles of their “gender” (which gender roles were non-existent) did not fit who they were.they created gender roles and consumed themselves and any future American be the stressed importance of them.if you did not fit perfectly in their made up gender roles you were and are to this day persecuted fully and it goes so deep and is so powerful in their control that it eats the core of the person.we are preconditioned to be so weak and scared and insecure and the need to fit the carbon copied status quo Americans especially male Americans if this is what they feel personally about their gender they are driven to hate themselves hate their feelings but this doesn’t stifle them it is still acted upon but because of the hate the weak intense fear the illusional guilt and the shame induced it is acted upon violently and deemed incorrectly never as what it is.this leaves most people as victims to these miserable humans who are hurting their existence as well as the universes existence it is adding pure delusion and lies deceit and hate into the world this is what they have replaced w knowledge understanding and truth. And most Americans what to know the answer the reason the point and secrets of life ant to be happy and want a “dream” as their existence but they are preconditioned drones w no thoughts of their own free will what they really fully stand and live by is feeding into a blatant evil lie,and an entire culture,history,country of lies and cover up of truth.they happily throw away the secret to their life happiness and of the universe every day.they turn so far away from anything close to they can’t even figure it out or feel their own inner hear inner voice intuition whatever term you coin to it they fully are consumed by the illusion of what truly makes one happy and therefore miss it entirely.they believe what they are told which is all lies making me know they have given their free will in trade for their souless empires and brand name corporate demons.they use lies that induce shame and fear from birth as a crutch to look and feel decent in their delusion and a tool to manipulate others around them,despite their lack of belief in anything they preach (aka Christianity) they mindlessly allow politics to divide them so they fight w others over their beliefs instead of fighting the correct perpetrator.they fuel the corporate consumerism w what they believe through brainwashed ploys is the sole necessity of their life.they think they need things (of every make shape and color,which switch every day) to live.to have worth and value to be of enough worth to exist and be accepted and to be happy.these things don’t make you happy.they make you shallow unintelligent insecure anxiety filled depressed suicidal unsure detached from the universe around you clouded and blind to the metaphysical net that connects us to all else it steers them so far away they are either living w the pain of wanting to end their own life or acting on the feelings. No one is truly happy here.i can’t speak for every person in the country but it is set up so strategically so that either ones rights never existed they are stripped from them or they are so succseptible to the inner workings of the small percentage of powerful people greed that they are zombies what are slaves to the evil families behind the curtain and make up the very paradigm that exists that gives them these negative reverses. It makes them miserable it makes 5-10 families so rich and powerful they rule the world,and it is in place and exist because they participate in it. When some people struggle they react as you internalize the experience to fully learn and prevent there for improve from it and become wiser not play the victim limiting their existence and turning cold or less of who they were before for it but some don’t naturally conclude this outcome and w the rights not their for them resources far and few and a stigma of hate towards them for their ethnicity gender or sexual preference they have less options less freedom and more fear to vocalize their thoughts or even fully comfortably think them stifling their intuitive feelings from the beginning of their present lives not all of course but many are unable to fully realize what is going on around them and feed into the illusion of the “American dream” and think material items equal self worth and forget what actually does.or never learn what actually does in the first place.clothes makeup cars shoes a house flashy jewelry electronics and all the debt and work that goes w it are things they value and want and obtain more than empathy compassion honestly patience..self peace..love…to obtain material items you must believe in lies lie to yourself dumbdown your brain remove your heart silence your intuition and expand and increase your insecurity self doubt fear anxiety…all the negatives of our human pyche are on blast and you lost sight of what makes you happy and try to create false facades of your “happiness” just like America does. By lying to get what you want like a marriage and therefore setting up a foundation on lies and deceit what you sow you will real.if everyone is fake and lies that includes your marriage partner as well as you.both are living lies and not obtaining what they wanted-true love. The good people who haven’t been chewed up and completely destroyed bu evil around them so the evil wouldn’t look bad, are left to one constant truth. That people will let you down if you let them no matter what no matter what no matter how many times you allow then they will do one thing: they will let you down.every time. But who am I to claim my thoughts are what is right so what are my biased conclusions that make up what I feel is a let down. That’s why I know it’s true for me,because it’s easy to let me down.i am extremely loyal remember everything fully feel everything and follow it dont believe in hypocritical self furthering manipulative sociopathic ways of thinking or living therefore most people are not for me and every person no matter how kind hearted good intentioned and loving will still let me down on loyalty and on courage and intelligence due to the clouded drive of the country. They either don’t have the courage to speak up for themselves,or for their loved ones.they also see themselves as less than I see them i simply so not have the insecurities that they have for themselves toward them I see their intent their worth and they don’t treat themselves w the same respect I know they have and deserve. Empathists are easily used and abused by others who use their partners etc empathy as a way to do so. They see it recognize it and use it to their advantage I the most hateful selfish way. They know empathists will care about their problems their issues their struggles when they don’t have the capability to feel any human emotion themselves. They will use empathy honestly compassion as a weakness which is so sad that they lack so much of their spiritual and metaphysical self that they use something that is so pure rare and good as a selfish negative vulnerability it truly shows how little of understanding they have of anything this present physical body is experiencing and and experiences or knowledge of consciously unaware previous soul journeys of themselves or anyone ever for that matter. Unfortunately they don’t see this as a negative they see it as correct fitting the norm and see very distroughtful self hurting/universe hurting tendencies as positives.its both sad and scary to know just how flawlessly pieced together a wrongful society and government is and how incredibly hard it is to end a continuous power it almost gets harder-easier for them as time passes.the illusions are further instilled and deeper embedded causing souls to contain the right ingredients needed from birth day one carried on from past lives they are so deeply embedded let alone society once they start growing that their parents fully are consumed instilling them in their children even that much more along w every other peer they come in contact w. The small number of families that have successfully in power for thousands of sincne the beginning are probably laughing at how easy it is and keep continuing to get as time passes. They might not have had power from the beginning but they used their power once obtained to change that to where they were in power from the beginning.we have been here before we just dont remember.we have lived different less hateful scenarios and and greed and hate thru evil and power have backtracked corrected and as what we know what we lived and manipulated it to their advantage.why are white men thru history so evil so fear driven so powerful? They have seen the natural scenarios of what they to offer and it reveals the real strength power or lacking of so much they had to go back to fix the world so badly just to change their sore outcome the organic first time around.
Wow that is some built up hate!
Too long didn’t read. If you want to write a book, perhaps start your own blog. This one is about Costa Rica, not feminism or LGBTQ or whatever that novel was about. do you like Costa Rica or not? You appear tp be able to write, just not able to stay on topic. Topic is: Costa Rica.
Loved reading this piece on Costa Rica. Hope your heart leads you to the love of your life!
Awww thank you so much Angie, I treasure your comment <3
I love your article. I am 27 and I have been going to Costa Rica for 14 years, and I have always been in love. I found your article by searching for information of how to move there. One statement you made was “Tourists without residency are legally allowed to own vehicles, property, businesses, and generate income from self-employment… I just wanted to double check that is what you meant, and that you didnt mean to say that tourists are NOT legally allowed. Thank you!
Hi beauty, thanks for your comment!! Yes, you are allowed to do all of those things. Self employment meaning working online somehow earning income from back in the states, not self employment like being a massage therapist locally. Hope that helps and makes sense 🙂 xoxo
You cured me of wanting to retire in Costa Rica. But, I have not lost my sense of adventure!
Clarity is power! Grateful to help any way I can 🙂
My significant other and I want to live in Costa Rica for a few months but do not need expensive housing or “;luxuries”. She loves the beach but we are on a budget we respect. Your ideas on housing and location?
I had to go to San Jose on business. I was kind of annoyed that we were greeted by about 30 prostitutes just from the taxi to the hotel front door. Every time we left the hotel, we had to fend off the prostitutes….some appeared to be 13 or 14 years old….when we talked to the desk clerk…he said just ignore them…it’s common practice……never been any where else in Costa Rica, but is this a national standard? If it is, I don’t think I want to go back ever.
That’s strange I have never heard of that before… I’m a woman so I am blessed in this way 😉 If you go to the small villages in the jungle, mountains, beaches, there isn’t overt prostitution. Only in the cities. Same like most places in the world.
Great posts….great pics……..great god……ya have it all…except ya must find yourself a honest male……your in gods jungle…….ditching the illusionists dream for nature……right on……
The goal…..there are no. Ore goals …..
John Geydos, about prostitution: I have been coming here for 25 years and now live here in Costa Rica and I can tell you there are only prostitutes in any quantity in San Jose and Jaco’ Beach.
And even in San Jose’ it’s only in the area known as Gringo Gulch near the Holiday Inn. If you avoid that general area you will likely not see prostitutes in San Jose. The other areas would be the “Coca-Cola” where the main bus station is or the Zona Roja south of Avenida Central but those are very bad areas that one should not stay in.
In other parts of San Jose and the rest of Costa Rica, you will likely not find prostitutes, and the government of Costa Rica is working with the USofA to eliminate under age prostitution.
Thanks for your clarification! I would like to say there certainly ARE prostitutes in all parts of Costa Rica, as there are in all parts of the world. Allegedly there are tons (male and female) here in Puerto Viejo, but I have never noticed them because they’re not out soliciting. So you would only know about them if you’re seeking them out I believe.
Costa Rica isn’t the usa….nor Europe….
If there’s no tile there…..it’s because god is saying to you are in Costa Rica and let the nature take its time finding tile, instead of the American way…I can’t find any……or I’m looking for tile now.
I agree with that….let’s toss out the USA lifestyle and get to he bikini, the flower, the yoga, the juice…..and peace….
There is no tile…….I Costa Rica it’s the earth…….
I’m a flight attendant based out of Atlanta and I’m looking for a home in paradise.
How much would I have to pay for a nice 1 bedroom apartment in Puerto Viejo?
I also have two cats that I ended up rescuing, is it possible to pay for a cat sitter who takes care of them while I’m traveling?
Thanks for your help!
I like costs Rica okay but you would be much happier in New Zealand. Far less crime..amazing nature. Far better food. A bit more expensive but well worth it.
New Zealand has some tough immigration standards and cost of living is similar to the USA. Most people that leave Canada, USA, Europe are looking for a desirable and more cost effective place to live.
Very informative. Thank you.
You’re so welcome! I wish you so much clarity 🙂
Thank you for sharing your story! You seem like a talented writer 🙂 I came back from a trip to Punta Arenas with my family a few days ago. Costa Rica is a beautiful country. Although I am not considering moving there, I can understand why anyone would. I noticed many for sale signs there and I was wondering how much a small house with just enough of yard space would cost and this led me to your blog. I commend you, and I applaud your bravery. I totally feel your vibe. I am 30-something, live in NYC. I do pretty good. I believe the American dream is a nightmare and for years I’ve longed a different way/pace of life.
Aw thank you so much!! I very much appreciate you and I wish for you exactly the life that you dream of <3
Hi hi – fantastic article!
Would you perhaps be able to tell me the names of the major hotels/tour companies and/or marketing agencies that you mentioned in your article? I’m a tourism communications master student and I’m seriously looking at doing an internship in Costa Rica.
(I’m about to buy your ebook too, btw) 🙂
Hi Samantha, lovely! 🙂 Not exactly sure nationally, but there’s Costa Rica vacations, and then you could just google for some of the nicer hotels/resorts around the country. Harmony Hotel is a really nice one in Nosara, Blue Osa always has work trade avaiable and is an amazing spot. There are lots you can check out Work Away as well for work trade and internships! Also Yoga Trade! xoxo
Thank you so much for the super info! That gives me a really good place to start 🙂
Wonderful I am so happy to hear that 🙂 You are so welcome!
Do you think I can find some work here ? I am Married to Costa Rican woman. I still don’t have the papers but I working on it. I am German are used to live in United States New Jersey for 19 years, Are used to run my own construction Company. Besides I’m very communicative. I have the diploma in business administration. Can you give me some tips please.
I would appreciate it. I am 54.
With all of the respect
I forgot to add I speak 4 languages.
Hey Max totally possible but I’m really not able to advise you on this as I don’t work in Costa Rica and I’m no expert. Sorry! I hope you can find what you’re looking for <3
Great post. I lived in Bejuco, Puntarenas for year, brought the dog, did side gigs for extra cash. It was fun, but if you’re used to Western style living it can be quite an adjustment. It’s not as cheap as everyone says and it’s getting pricey as the years go on. But, I agree, go. It’s gorgeous. It’s worth it. You’ll make life long friends and enjoy a relaxing adventure! Looking forward to going back!
Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us Nikki, and I totally relate <3 xoxoox
Thanks for the great info. Headed down to CostavRica in January andbreally got good information here.
I am 77 and yesterday purchased your Ultimate Guide to Costa Rica.
However I seem to have lost it! I do not think I put it into my dropbox or wherever it was suggested!
Do not blame it on age ,it was me stopping to talk on the phone,
I paid the money due for it.
However I did get a brief look at it before it went walkabout on my iPad!
Did you include info for retirees and if not can you suggest whom to contact? For info re living .
What connectivity is available for my iPad pease.
Thanks for planting the seed in this noted Blue Zone!
I am determined to live there. Im sellimg homeAnd everything I have lived away from family in fla Over 40 alone. I cant relate 17 to 56. Different and they in snow. I cannot
.. finding out not so good friends just takers that I’m leaving. there’s no reason. people disqust me, only if its about them. Some reason i left at17 so i guess at 57 its time to change be happy enjoy people. Walk away.from hate and their bs .. experience life i miss
I don’t have children and my mamma gone ive been petty successful thank god took last 2 years off regrouping. I am selling everything . I need two suitcases. Stuff thats hard part house, gonna miss beemer convertibles i have always had. Excited. Say kiss my azz fl im gone. I can , lmao
Gonna miss my bmwS all convet
I am determined to live there. Im sellimg homeAnd everything I have lived away from family in fla Over 40 alone. I cant relate 17 to 56. Different and they in snow. I cannot
.. finding out not so good friends just takers that I’m leaving. there’s no reason. people disqust me, only if its about them. Some reason i left at17 so i guess at 57 its time to change be happy enjoy people. Walk away.from hate and their bs .. experience life i miss
I don’t have children and my mamma gone ive been petty successful thank god took last 2 years off regrouping. I am selling everything . I need two suitcases. Stuff thats hard part house, gonna miss beemer convertibles i have always had. Excited. Say kiss my azz fl im gone. I can , lmao
Im too good to live without respect
Thanks for the great information I am going to Costa Rica next month
I love your post. It is very accurate. I was an exchange student in San Jose many years ago. I was able to completely Emerson myself with the culture to the point of having difficulty with English upon my return. My Costa Rican “family” called me a “Tica de agua dulce”. My husband has his heart set on retiring to Costa Rica and starting a B&B. I genuinely worry about his ability to be happy there and to be able to adjust to the culture. He is a very impatient man. I keep telling him that we need to go spend some time. BTW, I would live there in a heartbeat. I’m just not sure about him
Thanks so much for the blog. It was so insightful.
I want to move there so badly, planning my trip right now to figure out where exactly I’d want to settle down!
Is there a website or FB page about people who own small businesses and are looking for buyers or investors?
Costa Rica is great and as a US citizen you need a passport, but not a visa to travel to Costa Rica. You can contact me if you wish. I am a retired teacher and have lived in Costa Rica for 20 years.
Thanks for offering your support Ralph!
Hey, I´m a Tica. If anyone have any questions I could help to answer it
Thanks angel <3 !
I’m a fitness and nutrition coach, is there any remote chance to find a good job there around this?
Too crowded? Too non-existent?
Please give me a clue.
Hey Thalia, all is possible!! I think the easiest way would be to build an online coaching platform that you could do from anywhere 😉 You could also start contact different spas and retreat centers to see if they’re in need of your gifts <3
It would be great to travel to costa Rica and have someone there that could show you around for a few days or weeks…someone that you could trust from their experience.
I’m a retired veteran with several injuries and the snow and winter weather is starting to really be a hinderance to me here in Canada so I’m searching for a climate where I can be at my healthiest.
When is your next trip? Do you book with others?
Wow. I just love this article! I work from home in NYC and will sometimes take mental vacations on the internet by typing up Costa Rica in the search field and letting Google guide the way so that’s how I stumbled upon your website. Thank you for sharing your experience and insights into one of the best places on Earth! My mom is from Costa Rica so I know it well but living in the US with my husband and two kids, I only get to daydream about the day I’ll get together with my crush country. My husband and I contemplate moving our family down there but have so many reservations about making the leap. Do you know any families that have made the move? If so, any insight into their experience? the ups, the downs for the kids?
Hey Elisa, I’m so glad to be able to share with you anything I know <3 Yes I have friends who moved down with their families!! I recommend checking out my friend Rozanne's blog, she homeschools her 6 kids, her husband works online, and they're building a sustainable container house in the jungle. She came on my retreat two years ago and decided to move the family from Toronto!!
Pura vida <3
Hi, Camille. I came across your article and enjoyed reading your thoughts on Costa Rican living. I am an american looking for a place to move to outside the usa. And now you’ve got me interested in Costa Rica. I love the idea of living in Central America and starting a small business there and enjoying a more relaxed atmosphere than New England. I enjoy life much more in smaller towns with good people in close community atmosphere. I would love to hear more from you about life in Costa Rica. One question I have is, if i bought some land there, would i be able to bring my own vehicle and keep it? You seem like your living a great life! Would love to hear more….
Hey Christopher I’m so happy to hear that this article’s been helpful for you!! You can read all of my Costa Rica posts here: https://www.thisamericangirl.com/costa-rica/ And get my Costa Rica ebook for more <3 https://www.thisamericangirl.com/ultimate-guide-costa-rica/ Pura vida wishing you allll the blessings you so deserve!
We have been living in the US for our entire life and have been looking at where we want to retire. We have been reading about Costa Rica for some time now and must say we liked your page and all the info. We love nature, yoga, adventure, the beach mountains and everything in between. We have panned a trip this December and home we love it. We have a couple vacation homes here in North Carolina Beach and we would like to sell and do the same thing out there. We are Michele and Eddie
My girlfriend and I are planing a trip to CR and your articles are just what we have been looking for. Plaining on doing a lot of reading before the trip. I have been to CR twice and can’t get enough of the beauty of this country and the people. I would like to start a business and buy property in the future and your articles are going to be a great help. So for now I’ll say goodby and thanks. Keep up the good work.
I am a 68yrs old male retired.I was reading abt Panama & heard abt Costa Rica & read some of ur articles.I am planning to visit there in the next month or so.I just want to get a nice cosy place near the beach ,2bedrooms 1or 2baths.I don’t wanna work or do any business.Just stay retired & enjoy life of what’s left.What abt full time maid???.Any suggestions or comments & what kind of expenses would I b look in @ monthly.Thanks for all the help I can get.
Great article and I enjoy your positive attitude.
I’m living and working in the US but my soul feels like I need more of a pura vida lifestyle. I really don’t know how to make that happen, and don’t know how I would make income. But, I’d love to move to Costa Rica.
A couple questions —
If I just came to visit on a budget, where would you recommend? I’m more of an introvert who wants to see real culture and meet nice folks as opposed to partying. I like sitting somewhere nice to read and eat a meal, take walks around people. I’d also want to be close to the ocean (and somewhere safe of course).
I see you must get some income by hosting retreats and such. I wouldn’t know where to start on building an online business. Any tips?
Thank you for your time.
Hi I just read your article and thank you it gave me inside info I was needing. I do have a question how is the healthcare system in CR ? Are there a lot of hospitals .or media merges? I am so worried about falling ill and not being able to be seen for treatment ? And I heard there is a thing called gringo charge for items meaning we pay more for same item then a Costa Rican true?
I am so glad you share your experience with us. I have a plan to go out there. It will help me sure.
Great, a post about living in Costa Rica from someone who has not even bothered to actually live in Costa Rica. I am sorry, but the way you paint it is not real at all. I have NEVER come home to find a snake on my bed, or have bats ever wake me up; were you sleeping in a cave? if so, that is something that you should expect, as is all that is contained within this “informative” article.
Please tell me of a country that allows you to enter and never leave with only your passport, or that gives you a residency just because you asked for it. You are not allowed entrance to the united states with a tourist visa unless you prove you have something to go back to, not just a plane ticket, so you are welcome for how lenient our migration laws are.
First time I have ever heard about weather causing my vehicle to break down. It would be difficult if all tires went flat once the temperature reached the 26C. Also, watch out for all of our aggressive dogs. Only Costa Rica has aggressive dogs. BEWARE!
Painting theft as something you should expect because our wages are $2 is quite simply wrong. Take into account that this super low wage includes full health coverage, and you have to pay little to no tax on top of it, plus low fares on most utilities. Yes, some things are expensive, everywhere, and you cannot compare the economy of a 325M of people, to the one of 5M. Also, the percentage for imports is completely off. The max amount seen is 40% tax on imported goods.
And since you have not lived here, I doubt you ever had to buy appliances. There are thousands upon thousands of stores throughout the country where you can get appliances, even imported, if saying it came from the united states is so important.
There are nice supermarkets almost everywhere, and how long it takes you to get to one them depends on whether you choose to stay near the town, or on a mountaintop.
I am Jerry I want to retire and start phase 3 of my wonderful life in paradise. I have been a farmer for 42 years and it’s time to move forward with my new life. My son and daughter are planning to visit your beautiful country in late February. We are staying in the arenal lake area wondering if you know much about that area . My plan is to move there in 2020 I love your blog that’s the kinda thing I want to do. I want to live pura vida!! I have lived the American rat race long enough I’m not rich but have many skills that may come in handy in the simple way of life. I visited in 1994 and vowed if I could I would go back but life happens and years get behind us in a hurry and now is time to retire and enjoy life. Would like any advice you can give me to lessen any mistakes or pitfalls which I know will happen but I am determined to make this move work. I will need contacts and would appreciate any help you can give me
Names James and I have been living here for 14 years. My wife passed away about 7 months ago and I have about 5.5 acres and three small houses. It is really out in the sticks, but close enough to services to get by. In any event, I live near Palmares, Atenas, and San Ramon, nearly equidistant from one another. I would like to help in your quest to do what you are seeking to do. It is absolutely gorgeous here with a climate to die for. I am a dual citizen and know a thing or two to get things done. Anyway, if I can be of help to you, let me know.
Gracious for your comments. I am so sorry for your loss of your wife. I am sure you have many wonderful friends there to ease your sense of loss. Your area that you live in sounds like what I am looking for I want to move back to a simpler life. I would like to grow my own food and fruits I don’t need to work but I want to stay busy I like the rural lifestyle I have always lived in the country side. We are coming in February and staying in the arenal lake area. You are further south than I was thinking what is your opinion of that area. I would like to meet you I don’t have many contacts in your country have some realtor contacts but they have an agenda to sell I would value a friend like you and make more real relationships with real people that have done what I am trying to do I have a year to plan you can e mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have e mail I am interested in meeting with you while we are visiting let me know what you think
I believe that I am located west of Arenal, but no matter. I have a lot of gardens, mostly for show, but have bananas, platinos, pineapple, mandarin and naval oranges, , pipa, and mango trees here. But, just about anything grows, as the climate is perfect for that. I, actually, will be in the states visiting my son in Omaha (sounds terrible, doesn’t it) the 6th through the 12th., Also have 2 tailapia ponds, so fish is readily available. You are welcome to hang here for minimal costs, no rent, just some minor help watering and helping me do a few things, nothing major. But, I would require a couple of references that I can talk to, if you are interested. It is always advisable to get familiarized before buying property. There are some unscrupulous lawyers here that have sold and stolen property from unsuspecting victims. I have heard of several such circumstances,. Going through a Realtor and their lawyer probably is fine, but you will spend more. Greed is the name of many people’s game and I abhor that.
Anyway, maybe we can meet and discuss options over coffee. I am not trying to talk you into or out of anything, just want to make it so your advancement here is smooth. One thing is clear here, need to be patient.
Very nice to hear from you and if timing does not pan, please keep me appraised and I will try to be an advocate for you in your quest.
We are going to be in Costa Rica flying to San Jose 2-27 till 3-6 would very much like to meet with you and learn as much as we can in a short trip as we can. I thought that the arenal lake area might be what I’m looking for but I would like to see your area also gracious for the offer to stay on your property but there are 5 of us coming my son Jesse his friend Tony my daughter Sarah her b f e- man and I am single we have a house rented in arenal area but could change that if you could point us in a direction in your area your place sounds like exactly what I’m looking for I want small area to grow things and a place big enough so that friends from the state s can visit me there also want learn and adapt to culture there I am quite aware of the differences but that is what I am looking for. Have been in farming 42 years and am ready to kick back and relax for a few years would there be any possibility of meeting when you are in Omaha I don’t want to intrude but it would be a chance to meet on neutral territory. Are there places to rent nearby your place that we could stay? We would also like to see the pacific coast “touristy area” although pretty sure I wouldn’t want to live there. E-man is pretty sure we can rent a SUV there do you know anything about that? I want to live a lifestyle of simplicity and leisure and travel. I am looking for local contacts and I think you would be invaluable to me
Not sure if you feel comfortable contacting me directly but if you can I would like to chat more
I am fortunate to have lived and worked and retired here in Costa Rica. I find that most of your article was right on track. I found the love of my life here and spent 12 wonderful years with her, She passed away some 7 months ago and have been lost without her. She was a Tica and with that said, I went the through the process of being a tourist, then a legal resident and , finally, a dual citizen. I have been blessed with a beautiful place to live, great views, rivers and waterfalls, yes, all on my property. Did I mention that the climate in the mountainside is absolutely divine with it being 80 to 60 year round. I lived in Florida for most of my life and near beaches, but after a while, being hot and sweaty wore a little thin on me.
I could not have made a better decision than to come and enjoy the life here, it is pura vida. For those that have a hankering to live here, remember, this is not the US and will never be. There are some issues some cannot get over, like the roads and the laid back aspects of the people. Like going to a bank and waiting in line, only when it is your turn, the attendant takes a coffee break or has a long conversation from a friend that just happens to be in the bank at the same time. Getting used to the customs and laws takes some getting used to, as well. But, all in all, it has been like a rebirth for me or a second chance of fulfilling my dream. My dream was to retire in Costa Rica and I have made that a reality. You can do this, but it takes patience and a positive mindset. Good luck to all that have made this your dream.
Received an email from you before but your response came back as computer “machine language”.
My girlfriend and I are retired and live on a modest budget. We want to spend 1-3 months along a coast with a nice beach. We would like to find a modest home to rent. I rafted in Costa Rica a few years ago and loved the people, climate, and the beautiful “country’. Any suggestions, web sites, etc would really be appreciated!
Loved the blog here. As an american who is really desperate to escape the rat race that is America, I find this inspiring. I have longed for a free lifestyle of travel and experience. I often tell friends and coworkers, it just don’t seem right that on a planet that is approximately 24,000 miles around, why do we continue to repeat the same paths over such short distances day in and day out. I feel we Americans have just been domesticated to live the way we do and it feels so unnatural to me.
I am thinking of uprooting a big part of my life and am looking for some advice. I will have to leave and return as recommended by you cause of Visa issues. Despite that I do intend to spend big chunks of time there so I can embrace what Costa Rica has to offer.
From most of the blogs and reviews I have read, people speak of seeing very few trailers. This to me is a little concerning, bc that was a huge part of my plan. It would be my own personal space that I could make into my own and have it for when I wanted, just as I wanted it to stay. Wamp Wamp!
I would still prefer to do it that way. Purchase a travel trailer and make my way down. My questions to you are……
1) Based on what you know and have seen, do you think it is a good idea?
2) Do people rent out plots of land for rent as opposed to actual residence? and would it have water and electricity hook up?
3) Is there place you would suggest for dumping the trailer? I do love the water and would prefer to be within walking or bike riding distance, while still being safe?
4) For the times when I would not be there, do you believe the trailer would be safe (ie. not pillaged, robbed, or stripped for parts)? or would I have to hire someone to check on it for me in my absence ?
I apologize for so many questions, but this curious mind is so excited about moving this plan forward. Any first hand knowledge or experience goes a long way.
Thank you so much.
Ps. love you page. Very insightful and helpful for those of us newbs to the picking up and going life. lol
I love your blog. Your information is accurate and sincere. I have been going to Costa Rica for the last nine years and I have been contemplating relocating permanently there for a while….However, over the years I have seen the shift in prices ( they have gone up drastically) and in the attitudes of the locals. Everybody seems to be outhere to “make a buck” and, usually, that is of the back of the “gringos”. Last summer I have spent over 8 weeks in the Central Valley and, while I was happy with the climate, fresh food and markets I have to note a few things that should be considered before moving there.
1. Rising prices of real-estate and services (generally sub-par in comparison with the US)
2. Lack of good shopping, or any shopping
3. Lack of entertainment and cultural life e.g. concerts, opera, theater, museums
4. Lack of social support and community:Ticos are closed to foreigners, it is hard to penetrate their communities or to form friendships
5. Lack of daylight ( Sun rises at 6am and it sets at 6pm pretty much every day of the year)
I speak Spanish fluently ( I am a Spanish Professor) and, I consider myself a flexible traveler with a lot of experience and world connections, but Costa Rica and its people, even though very hospitable and nice,were a hard code to break for me.
Last summer was a reality check for me; I have decided that I might continue the routine o spending a few weeks at a time and put my moving plans on hold for a while.
On the other hand, before you ever undertake such a serious move, you might want to consider the sufficiently affordable US Southern states such as Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. They are beautiful, abondant with history and they have warm winters. Just saying…
Since everybody here seems to be an expat , I hope someone can help us find a good customs broker to clear our goods and deliver to our door in Costa Rica!
We have done all the possible research as far as rules and regulation on what to bring and not but could not a find a company who offers a door to door service so decided to find a company in Costa Rica. According to the link below, we should be free of duty
But seems we still need to clear the customs when our container reaches to Costa Rica.
I really appreciate if anyone here can recommend a reliable company in Costa Rica?