Pura Vida: Living in Costa Rica

Thinking about moving to Costa Rica? Costa Rica is a beautiful country with amazing weather year-round. With a lower cost of living than many other countries, people have been making a home for themselves in Costa Rica for a long time, especially as digital nomads, international investors, or after retirement in their home country.

In this article, we will discuss what it is like to live in this beautiful country in Central America. The article will cover the best cities to live in and the cost of living, as well as other things you need to know about living in Costa Rica, such as the Costa Rican lifestyle, healthcare, and education.

Best Places to Live in Costa Rica

There are many places to live in Costa Rica, but most people choose to live around San Jose, the country‘s capital city, or close to one of the many beautiful beaches. The Central Valley is a hot spot for the expat community and for international investors who take advantage of the excellent real estate projects the country offers. There is a higher elevation in this region compared to other places, so you get amazing weather all year.

Nestled in the mountains with beautiful landscapes, you will be able to wake up every morning to amazing scenery. The region is home to many people from around the world who fell in love with Costa Rica’s natural beauty and abundance of outdoor activities, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet people from different cultures.

You can also choose to live in a mountain town and immerse yourself in the beauty of the country‘s national parks and gorgeous views, or you can live by the beach, just a stone’s throw away from major cities, but bathing in the sunlight of this gorgeous tropical country.

The Central Valley is by far the most popular destination and place to live in Costa Rica, but this doesn’t mean you won’t find expat communities in the cities of Arenal, The Gold Coast, Playa Jaco, and Playa Dominical.

Live in Costa Rica

Cost of Living

One of the main reasons why people choose to live and apply for permanent residency in Costa Rica is the lower cost of living. Rent can be very low compared to North America or various European countries since you can find a one-bedroom apartment with all the amenities you need for only $450 a month.

It’s no surprise that many North Americans prefer to retire in this fantastic foreign country on the Caribbean coast. Most people spend about $1,000 to $4,000 a month depending on what city they live in and how much money they spend on things like food, transportation, and extras like coffee and going out in the evenings.

Costa Rican Culture

It’s always important to know the culture and social norms of a place before you decide to move there. Costa Rica may be a hip expat destination and a hub for international living but it is always useful to become familiar with the local customs and pace of life. You might even want to consider visiting a few times before permanently moving. Here are some important cultural tips to know about before heading to this Central American country.

Greetings

Most people in Costa Rica usually shake hands or kiss each other on the cheek when greeting one another. When speaking Spanish, you should always use the formal “usted” when addressing people you do not know.

Education

Punctuality

In business settings, you will be expected to be on time. For social meetings though, tardiness is allowed and almost always happens. The relaxed vibe of the country allows people to be late for social events and meetings with other people.

You might want to actually plan to be late for social meetings, so you are not the first one there, awkwardly waiting for everyone else.

Dress

Local Costa Rican men wear long pants and close-toed shoes. It’s okay to wear shorts and sandals if that’s what you are comfortable in, though. Women can wear dresses, shorts, tank tops, or jeans.

It’s normal for the women in the country to wear tight clothes, but you should still aim to dress modestly unless you are at the beach.

Public Transportation

The infrastructure is reliable and many buses ensure the connection between cities and towns within the country. They usually make frequent stops, making it easier for you to get on and off them. Almost every town has a bus terminal with several routes.

There are also two shuttle services – Interbus and Gray Line. These are smaller and more comfortable buses. The shuttles tend to travel from city to city rather than within one city.

Taxis are a common presence in city life, but they are not as cheap as buses. You will be able to get to your destination quicker though.

Climate

The climate in Costa Rica is pretty mild and warm all year round with most days being in the range of 77 degrees Fahrenheit to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The country has a dry season and a rainy season, but the rain lasts only a couple of hours in the afternoon, so don’t think that you will get stuck inside during the wet season. You can dress for a warm climate all year round and enjoy the beach and surfing.

Climate

Healthcare

Your government insurance from your home country probably won’t cover medical expenses in Costa Rica. Some expats choose to get private or international health insurance. The public healthcare system in Costa Rica has been around for the last 80 years and is extremely reliable for citizens and residents. Many expats and international investors who choose to move to Costa Rica opt for this affordable healthcare system and pay a small monthly fee for services as soon as they get their residency.

However, foreigners who live in Costa Rica may choose to have private health insurance and benefit from services similar to what they were getting back home and access to English-speaking medical professionals. 

Education

If you plan to move to Costa Rica with your family or children, you might be wondering about the educational system. Most local public schools are small and taught in Spanish, so your child will need to learn the local language before attending them or attending a bilingual school.

Private schools abound in Costa Rica, so you’ll have a variety to choose from. You can send your children to an international school which follows more closely curriculums found in the USA and UK. These schools are usually taught in English.

More Pros of Living in Costa Rica

  • Costa Rica is a beautiful country and a popular tourist destination. You will have beaches and warm weather all year round to enjoy as well as cool mountains and lush rainforests to explore.
  • Low crime rate. Costa Rica is a safe and democratic country with a stable political environment.
  • Great for retirement. Visas allow you to stay in the country as long as you have savings even if you do not currently have a job.
  • A growing community of expats. No matter where you are in Costa Rica, you will find it easy to make friends and connections.

Pura vida

Final Thoughts

Costa Rica is an amazing destination for international investors, whether they are planning to live alone, with their family, or with their significant other. It is also a wonderful destination for retirees and provides visas for digital nomads. 

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