Cigna International Health Insurance

Living in Costa Rica > San Jose >

An Expat Talks about Living in San Jose, Costa Rica

Sep 16, 2019


San Jose, Costa Rica

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.

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

San Jose

Describe how you "dreamed" expat life would be before you moved overseas. Please provide as much detail as possible.

As a writer and former professor with an interest in politics, my main expat fantasy involved hanging out with other expats and locals discussing politics and ideas. I imagined a group of us gathering at a regular bar or coffee shop with a few fawning graduate students joining in to soak up our collective wisdom. At minimum, I hoped for a Hemingway-like lifestyle.

As a fallback, I at least hoped to have fun. I knew from having visited as a tourist that the "party atmosphere" is a blast.

I also figured that I'd live in a well-run social democracy of nice people with affordable socialized healthcare.

How has your expat experience met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?

I have been pleased to encounter locals with a broader exposure to ideas than I was accustomed to in the US. Ordinary businesspersons, engineers, and schoolteachers here are for example acquainted with Marxist thought and interested in discussing it. They don't simply dismiss it without understanding it, as is common in the US. On the flip side, most understand Adam Smith and can discuss his ideas. They also generally know more about the world -- even more about the US -- than Americans do. I have found a regular bar near the major university where a bunch of us gather. A couple are writers too, and while here I've published two books and numerous articles.

Also, especially during my first year or two, I did party a lot (and had a good time). I'm in the socialized healthcare system for a low tax and the people really are nice. On the balance, I'm content with my experiences in the country.

Expats in Costa Rica may get a free expat health insurance quote from our partner Allianz Care, whose plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Allianz's flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget. Get a Quote

Expats in Costa Rica may get a free expat health insurance quote from our partner Allianz Care, a leader in international insurance for expatriates. Allianz's plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Their flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget..

How has your expat experience NOT met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?

My first disappointment was failing to meet other expats with similar intellectual interests. I'm sure they exist, and every now and then one writes a thoughtful letter to the editor in a local newspaper, but I've mostly encountered retired military enlistees, firefighters, blue-collar workers, and bail-jumpers whose interests don't seem to extend beyond sports and complaining about the local culture. During the Obama years it also seems that a lot of angry and vocal right-wingers moved here. I have a few expat acquaintances but only one expat friend because I just haven't found the bunch to my liking. In fact, I tell locals that Americans in the US aren't as bad as the expats and they shouldn't judge us all from the ones who show up here, and pretty much only associate with locals.

Over time my romance with the local culture has also waned. Sometimes instead of considering my barroom buddies as intellectuals I consider them public employees. They're seemingly more interested in their pay and benefits than ideas, and a lot of their ideas are typical of public employees. Graduate students seem more oriented toward their future careers (mostly as public employees) than ideas too, and the only fawning they do is fawning that leads to advancement. The writers, it turns out, work on commission, and most who commission writers are rich students paying someone else to write their theses and dissertations for them. It's cheating, but normal. And everybody watches way too much soccer on TV.

The party scene is of course make believe, and after awhile I realized that I had to leave it. Lots of people get hurt in that scene, where dishonesty is common. One expat commented that the 3 month limit on tourist visas is "for your own good." He was right. You can't party like a tourist forever.

As for the social democracy with socialized medicine, it's actually sloppily managed and you get what you pay for with socialized medicine. There are lots of glitches. The people are still nice, but it's more superficial than I initially realized and often seems to mask incompetence.

On the balance I'm satisfied with the lifestyle I found as an expat and prefer it to the US, but reality is different from fantasy.

Get FREE quotes from up to 6 international movers from The Relocator. Save up to 50% on your move to Costa Rica! The Relocator offers an easy and free service to receive quotes from renowned and certified movers worldwide. Get your moving quotes.

Cigna Expat Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in Costa Rica from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
Get a Quote

More about San Jose

Guide to Living in San Jose

Guide to Living in San Jose

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.

Healthcare in Costa Rica

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.

Expat Healthcare & Health Insurance

Expat Healthcare & Health Insurance in San José

An expat in San Jose, Costa Rica offers an incredibly insightful report about public and private hospitals, doctors in Costa Rica and the costs of prescription medicine.

12 Tips for Living in San Jose, Costa Rica

12 Tips for Living in San Jose, Costa Rica in San Jose

An expat talks about what it's like living in San Jose, Costa Rica. He says that most expats move to San Jose for the lower cost of living, friendly people and climate. And, he offers an in-depth look at nightlife, recreational activities and more.

Retirement in San Jose

A U.S. expat retiree in San Juan, Costa Rica offers comprehensive advice on retiring and living there. Housing, crime, health care and more are covered.

Join our Costa Rica Expat Forum

Visit our Costa Rica Forum and talk with other expats who can offer you insight and tips about living in San Jose, Costa Rica.

More about Costa Rica

Best-Places-to-Live-in-Costa-Rica7 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.

Staying-Safe-in-Costa-RicaStaying 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.

3-Ways-to-Get-Rich-as-an-Expat-in-Costa-Rica3 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.

8-Things-to-Know-Before-Moving-to-Costa-RicaMoving 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.

Write a Comment about this Expat Report

Sign In to post a comment.
addacomment

Comments about this Report

ssaunders88
Oct 15, 2019 18:31

Very interesting and intellectually honest report. I appreciate that. (Trotsky was disappointed when he lived in Mexico) Interestingly, expats and locals approaching retirement age are moving out of Costa Rica. Costs are spiraling out of control; crime is rising and public services are in decline. Try Valparaiso Chile.

Cigna Expat Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in Costa Rica from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
Get a Quote

Guide to Living in San JoseGuide to Living in San Jose

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.

Healthcare in Costa RicaHealthcare 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.

Restaurants in San JoseRestaurants in San Jose

Support your favorite restaurants in San Jose as they recover from the pandemic. Submit a free listing for them on Expat Exchange to help spread the word about them to the expat community.

Expat Healthcare & Health InsuranceExpat Healthcare & Health Insurance in San José

An expat in San Jose, Costa Rica offers an incredibly insightful report about public and private hospitals, doctors in Costa Rica and the costs of prescription medicine.

12 Tips for Living in San Jose, Costa Rica12 Tips for Living in San Jose, Costa Rica in San Jose

An expat talks about what it's like living in San Jose, Costa Rica. He says that most expats move to San Jose for the lower cost of living, friendly people and climate. And, he offers an in-depth look at nightlife, recreational activities and more.

Retirement in San Jose

A U.S. expat retiree in San Juan, Costa Rica offers comprehensive advice on retiring and living there. Housing, crime, health care and more are covered.

8 Real Estate Tips for Expats in San Jose, Costa Rica8 Real Estate Tips for Expats in San Jose, Costa Rica

An expat offers invaluable tips about buying real estate in San Jose, Costa Rica. He advises expats to rent before you buy, wait until you have legal residency to buy, hire a lawyer (or two) and much more. It's a must read for anyone thinking about buying a home or investment property in San Jose or the surrounding suburbs.

Best-Places-to-Live-in-Costa-Rica7 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.

Staying-Safe-in-Costa-RicaStaying 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.

Copyright 1997-2021 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal