Expat Guide to Living in Costa Rica
Whether you're already living in Costa Rica or preparing to move to Costa Rica, our Expat Guide to Living in Costa Rica offers articles and reports submitted by expats about expat life in Costa Rica. For answers to specific questions, visit our Costa Rica Forum to talk with expats in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica has a lot to offer expats with its tropical climate, eco-friendly culture, beautiful beaches, welcoming people, good healthcare system and relative safety. Many expats warn newcomers about the high cost of housing and food. In this updated version of the best places to live in Costa Rica we cover many more locations such as Playa Flamingo, Nosara, Lake Arenal, Jaco Beach and Ojochal.
Expats talk about some of the biggest challenges they've faced living in Latin America. Whether you're moving to Panama City or Punta del Este, this article is a must read to help you prepare (hint: you'll be much happier if you learn the language) and adjust your expectations (realities: the roads are rough, the pace of life is slower and bureaucracy is unavoidable). Despite all of the challenges, the list of what expats like about life in Latin America far exceeds the challenges.
From lower cost of living to affordable healthcare and beachfront living, expats discuss the top reasons they moved to Central America.
Expats living in Costa Rica talk about Pura Vida, deciding where to live in Costa Rica, meeting people and more.
People considering a move to Central America often narrow down their list to Panama and Costa Rica. Expats talk about the cost of living in Panama and Costa Rica - housing costs, gas, car, electric, internet, groceries, budgets for various lifestyles and more.
Expats in Costa Rica answer the question: If a friend of yours was thinking of moving here, what other advice would you give them. One expat summed it up perfectly when he said not to let your desire to live in paradise get in the way of thinking about the logistics. Here's what other expats had to say.
An expat who has lived in Costa Rica gives all kinds of great advice on living there. Cost of housing, what to bring with you, how to settle in and much more is covered in this comprehensive expat report.
It's a good idea to rent before you buy in San Marcos, Costa Rica. Meet your neighbors, get advice on where to live and if they know of any homes for sale. And, bring any electronics you'll need, because the cost is double in Costa Rica.
An expat talks about what it's like living in Montezuma, Costa Rica. The challenges he found in Montezuma where terrible roads, power outages, the language barrier and the prohibitively high cost of shipping into the country.
An expat living in Playa Jaco, Costa Rica enjoys the family-focused Costa Rican culture and the slower pace of life. She has great tips to help newcomers adapt to life in Costa Rica.
An expat in Montezuma, Costa Rica talks about learning to live more simply, let go of material things and enjoy the fresh air, sunshine and life. But, you'll also have to adjust to living without Starbucks, driving on very bumpy roads, lots of insects and rainy season.
Playa Potrero is a small fishing village just north of Playa Flamingo in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. An expat living in Playa Potrero talks about what it's like living in this beach town with lots of North Americans and tourists.
A woman who moved to San Jose, Costa Rica talks about her dreams and expectations vs the reality of life in San Jose. She had envisioned a Hemingway-like lifestyle, but has found that the reality is much different.
Why retire in San Isidro de Heredia, Costa Rica? Can you live on $1,000 or $2,000 a month? How difficult is it if you aren't fluent in Spanish when you first arrive? A retiree who arrived in Costa Rica a month ago answers these and other questions.
More Culture Shock Reports for Costa Rica
Culture shock is part of the settling in process. Knowing the different phases of culture shock and how other expats in Costa Rica handle it can be very comforting. Below are some of the responses from expats in Costa Rica:
Submit a Culture Shock Report
More Living in Costa Rica Reports
What are people's priorities in Costa Rica - work? family? What are the best ways to meet other expats? Are people accepting of racial, cultural and religious differences? Below are some of the responses from expats in Costa Rica:
Submit a Living Overseas Report
Submit a Moving Overseas Report
More Moving to Costa Rica Reports
What should you take with you when you move to Costa Rica? What should you leave behind? What type of housing and neighborhoods are typical for expats in Costa Rica? Below are some of the responses from expats in Costa Rica:
Submit an International School Review
Reviews of Schools in Costa Rica
Reviews and school profiles from expat parents and even a few school administrators in Costa Rica. Great place to find insight into school facilities, teachers and curriculum. Below are some of the reviews from expats in Costa Rica:
Dream vs. Reality of Living in Costa Rica Reports
Most expats have have "dreams" (and fears) about the expatriate experience before they moved to Costa Rica. If you are already living in Costa Rica, share how those "dreams" have been fulfilled, and how they have not. Below are some of the reports from expats in Costa Rica:
Submit a Dream vs. Reality Report
Submit a Retire Abroad Report
Retiring in Costa Rica Reports
Retiring abroad can be a great option for retirees seeking their dream lifestyle at an affordable price. Help other retirees, who are thinking about retiring in Costa Rica, by filling out our Overseas Retirement report. Below are some of the reports from expats in Costa Rica:
Submit a Having a Baby Abroad Report
Having a Baby in Costa Rica Reports
How did expats choose their doctors, midwives, hospitals? What is childbirth like in Costa Rica? Below are some of the reports from expats in Costa Rica:
Working in Costa Rica Reports
What's it like to find a job in Costa Rica? How difficult was it to obtain a work permit? What types are jobs are typical for expats in Costa Rica? Below are some of the reports from expats in Costa Rica:
Submit a Working Abroad Report
Costa Rica Residency
Applying for residency in Costa Rica can be a daunting process. Which type of residency is right for me? Do I need an attorney? Do I have to leave the country every 90 days? What is a cedula? This article answers these and many other questions.
Healthcare in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is has both public and private healthcare systems. When you become a resident, you must enroll in the public healthcare system (CAJA). Many expats use the public system for routine healthcare and have private expat health insurance for specialists, surgeries and emergencies.
10 Tips for Living in Costa Rica
Expats in Costa Rica love the Pura Vita vibe, Costa Rican's focus of family and friendship and being surrounded by nature. Can you live in Costa Rica on $1,000 a month? Is driving in Costa Rica dangerous? Expats share their tips and experiences living in Costa Rica.
Banking in Costa Rica
Information for expats living in Costa Rica about banking in Costa Rica, wire transfers, banking fees, banking limitations for those on a tourist visa and more.
Cost of Living in Costa Rica
If you're moving to Costa Rica, you'll want to understand the cost of living in Costa Rica. Lifestyle, location and health insurance are part of the formula. Expats talk about real estate prices, rents, international school tuition, travel expenses and the fun stuff - travel, dining out and more.
Expats in Costa Rica: Pros and Cons of Living in Costa Rica
Expats in Costa Rica offer some advice on the pros and cons of living in the Central American country. Topics covered include the health care system, where to live, and also some general information about the natural beauty of Costa Rica.
8 Things to Know Before Having a Baby in Costa Rica
Expats discuss their experiences giving birth in Costa Rica. Topics covered include public (CAJA) hospitals vs. private hospitals,high C-section rates, maternity coverage, dual citizenship, permanent residency for expat parents with babies born in Costa Rica, baby stores and formula options.
Best Places to Live Overseas: Costa Rica vs. Panama
When expats consider a move to Central America, there are more and more options available to them. Often, the conversation will turn to Costa Rica vs. Panama. Read what expats who have lived in both of these countries have to say.
13 Best Places for Families to Live in Costa Rica
Expats in Costa Rica talk about the best places for families to live in Costa Rica. From the cool climate of the Central Valley to the beautiful beach towns in Gaunacaste and Costa Ballena, proximity to international and bilingual schools, safety and lifestyle are all taken into consideration.
Moving to Costa Rica: 8 Things to Know Before Moving to Costa Rica
Moving to Costa Rica has become more popular among expats. Making this choice requires a lot of research to ensure the expat experience you hope for will be realized. Expats that live there stress that it should start with a trip there before any major decisions are made.
6 Things to Do in Jaco, Costa Rica
An expat in Jaco, Costa Rica shares 6 fun activities for expats (and tourists) to do in Jaco. From surfing to bar hopping to shopping for organic fruits and veggies at the local markets, Jason Mueller shares some great activities.
5 Tips For Living in San Jose, Costa Rica
The majority of expats in San Jose, actually choose to live not in the city, but outside of it. There are great options in the surrounding area, including places that are closer to the coast than San Jose.
3 Ways to Get Rich as an Expat in Costa Rica
Expats in Costa Rica have three main ways to make money legally -- you can obtain permanent residency, find an online job or start your own business. Bill Ripley covers each of these options and offers great tips for expats looking to make money while living in Costa Rica.
Staying Safe in Costa Rica
Recent crimes in Costa Rica have involved robbers arriving at homes and impersonating police officers. Alley Cat offers great advice and detailed information about what you need to know when the police are at your door.
7 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a relatively safe, eco-friendly, expat-friendly destination with gorgeous beaches and friendly locals. Many expats say that housing and food prices in Costa Rica are high. We've gathered information submitted by expats about Tamarindo, Dominical, Ojochal, Atenas, Escazu, Grecia and others popular towns.
The Costa Ballena Region of Costa Rica
There's an area along the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica known as the Costa Ballena. Ballena means "whale" in Spanish and this area is the mating area of the humpback whales seasonally from December to April. This area is also home to a number of well known beaches in Costa Rica and noted for the large enclave of north American and foreign baby boomers, retirees and expats living in the area.
10 Tips for Living in Costa Rica
Should you wear jeans and a t-shirt in San Jose? Did you know that one place may have twice the rain and be windy compared to another place 10km away? Read our 10 Tips for Living in Costa Rica for insights from expats who have been there and done that.
Moving to Costa Rica with Your Pet
Moving to Costa Rica with your pet? There is a lot of confusion lately about pet shipping to Costa Rica. An old law is now being enforced on pets arriving in Costa Rica.
My First Steps in Costa Rica!
Romain describes his first days in Costa Rica, "Of course, I haven't yet met any scary snakes or spiders bigger than my hand, but I'm not afraid any more. Do you know why? Because this country gives you confidence. Because people here give you faith in what you can accomplish."