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An Expat Talks about Moving to San Jose, Costa Rica

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

San Jose

Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.

I'll give the tip that it's always a good idea to bring at least one professional/business attire type of outfit and perhaps formal wear. Costa Ricans ("Ticos") take a bit of pride on appearance and do not appreciate the fresh off the beach, "dirty gringo" look of most tourists if you are applying for a job, etc.

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What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?

Travel there first, travel around the country and find a place/local people that suit your tastes. Everyone in the country is generally friendly. I don't know why the other guy seemed to have problems making friends with Costa Ricans. Perhaps he is the type of foreigner who has difficulty adjusting to different cultures/places and ways of life. Costa Ricans are not "in your face" friendly or over the top outgoing by any means. They are, however, genuinely friendly if you're respectful and considerate of their space, culture, customs, etc.

What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?

Housing can be very cheap, especially if you rent out a room from a Costa Rican family. While the family's home (bathroom especially) may not be of the same type that a middle-class American is used to, it is the best way to get to know your new home country's people. If you want, you could even rent out a room at a backpackers' type of hotel or hostel for cheap rates, too. I've stayed in simple beach-front hotels for US $9 a night!

How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?

I just wanted to clear up some of the bad reviews of the other guy who posted before me about San Jose, Costa Rica. First of all, if you are planning on moving to Costa Rica for whatever ex-pat experience, if possible, avoid San Jose. It is a very crowded, dense little city that is not all that interesting. Also, foreigners are more susceptible to theft here. That being said, get out of San Jose and live in any of the other great towns all throughout this beautiful country. True, transportation can be mediocre (if insisting on travelling budget), but it definately suffices. It's a small country and travelling from the Pacific to the Carribean can be done in one long day even on the slowest, cheapest bussed routes available.

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Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?

Cheaper, undoubtedly. Unless you want to live in the most expensive/foreign-overrun areas of the country or unless you insist on staying in the same level of housing that you stay in back in the states. Costa Rica is not the USA. It's Costa Rica. Learn to live more simply, you probably won't miss it in the long run!

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