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Mal Pais, Costa Rica

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William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Sep 17, 2022

Summary: Expats, digital nomads and retirees discuss what it is like to live in Mal Pais, Costa Rica: Cost of living, Finding a home, Meeting People and more.

What are the pros and cons of living in Mal Pais?

Expats, digital nomads and retirees living in Mal Pais responded:

"It's true that Mal Pais is growing but it still is a tiny fishing village and somewhat remote. One road, one grocery store and two restaurants. The beaches are beautiful and you see or experience something new almost everyday. One day a calf snuck up to my husband on the beach and licked the back of his arm. He was so surprised at the roughness of it's tongue. He said hello and then it's mother moo's and he ran back to mom. Once in a while we see whales and this causes quite a stir on the beach. We watch the fishing boats come in from their day of fishing, knowing they will be selling fresh fish just a short walk away. There are many men who kayak early each morning to catch fish as well. One I know smokes his fish and sells it to the local market. It's a simple life. People bake, make crafts, paint and give lessons for means of income. We don't need much to be happy here," said another in Mal Pais.

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William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance in Costa Rica

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
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What type of social life can someone expect in Mal Pais?

When we asked expats and global nomads about their social experiences in Mal Pais, they replied:

"Being social in a small fishing is about community. We have small social gatherings. We walk to the beach at sunset, wave at neighbors and make dinner plans," remarked another expat in Mal Pais.

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"When we walk to the beach for sunset we wave, say hola to everyone. It's a small community so we all know each other. We met new people coming and going every year as they come to visit Costs Rica," added another expat in Mal Pais.

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What advice to expats in Mal Pais have about housing?

If you live in Mal Pais, newcomers to Mal Pais would love to hear your answer to this question:


"It has changed in my little village. Covid-19 has driven prices of real estate and rent up. People who got stuck in Costa Rica have decided to stay and build. We have several building projects in out town. We are fortunate to have rented a house two years ago with an affordable rent. Progress is happening all around us," remarked another expat in Mal Pais.

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Will I be able to find a job in Mal Pais?

When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Mal Pais, they reponded:

"Most people get a job through word of mouth or a local Facebook groups. This is a tourist area so people work at restaurants or clean homes. It's also a fishing village so people work on the books. There are several people who have local online businesses," said another person in Mal Pais.

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What do expats in Mal Pais appreciate most about the local culture?

"We love the Pura Vida vibe. Some people say it doesn't exist, but for us we notice the simple laid back attitude everyday. We love the local people and have made many friends. We appreciate the simplicity. I especially love the surprises! For example, the horses walking down the street grazing on the graze unattended. The iguana that lives on my roof. The monkeys steeling my avocado and then pooping in my floor after I hid all the fruit. The fruit bat that fell on my computer keyboard out of nowhere! I love the "you don't see that everyday!" aspect of life here," explained one expat.

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What do expats find most challenging?

"Honestly the most challenging aspect of the new culture is having to still deal with the US on some level. Using Skype to make US phone calls is extremely challenging. I needed my laptop repaired, the taxi took me to the repair shop but the "guy" who does the repair was not there. The taxi driver made a phone call and found another guy who repairs computers. After driving up a narrow dirt road and missing the turn we finally arrived at a private home. A young man approached the car and told me in English " sure i can fix" uh okay I replied. We drove away and I had an uneasy feeling that I just handed over my laptop to a stranger. Several days later and a few desperate emails I got my laptop back in good working order. Everyone I asked about the repair man's good standing was answered with " of yeah I know him, hes a good guy." Another challenge at first was finding certain products in the local grocery store. We have adapted to buying more local products, but one time I asked the store if they had decaf coffee? They promised to order some for me. Everyday or so I would ask "did you get the decaf? The response was "maybe tomorrow" in Spanish of course. I finally gave up asking," remarked another in Mal Pais.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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