Expat Exchange
Free MembershipSign In

10 Expats Share Tips for Moving to Costa Rica

By Betsy Burlingame

AGS Worldwide Movers
AGS Worldwide Movers

Summary: 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.

Expat Costa Rica - 10 Expats Share Tips for Moving to Costa Rica

We asked expats in Costa Rica, "If a friend of yours was thinking of moving to this city or town from far away, what other advice would you give them." Here's what they had to say:

"Do your due diligence! Don't let your desire to live in paradise get in the way of thinking about the logistics. It doesn't have to be difficult, especially if you form a network of friends and advisors online prior to your move. My final advice -- don't ever send anyone money for 'services' in advance, unless you have completely assured yourself that they are a legitimate business (get references)," remarked another expat in Lake Arenal, Costa Rica.

"Leave most everything where you came from, sell it off, come start a new life in Paradise. Be prepared for some culture shock and getting used to the slower pace of life but be prepared for more exercise and a better quality of life where you will live life, not watch it on television. (not that we don't have tv's and cable)," commented one expat who made the move to 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.
"Be ready to live, love and relax. This is a beautiful country and we live in paradise," said one expat in Playa Hermosa de Jaco, Costa Rica.

"Come and see for yourself before you make a commitment to moving here. There is a lot of hype about Costa Rica being a paradise, a cheap place to live or retire, and a safe place because it eliminated its army in 1948. The reality is that San Jose has a high crime rate, the iron grates on all of the houses and businesses can be off-putting - as can the security guards with loaded riffles - and it isn't a cheap place to live. Food, utilities and rent in certain areas of the city are quite high especially for a developing nation. Other issues in San Jose: air pollution from cars is pretty bad; noise pollution gets on your nerves after a while; it isn't safe to walk outside in the late evening or night; the streets, sidewalks and highways are in terrible shape; and government monopolies make it near impossible to get a cell phone and makes renting cars super-expensive because of the mandatory insurance. People must visit and spend a few weeks talking to people before deciding to move here," cautioned another expat when asked about living in Costa Rica.

"Hmmmmmm...take a vacation here first, spend a few months and get a feel for the scene here. Also, online research is an option too," said another expat in Costa Rica.

"Relax, enjoy and slow down. Life at the beach is carefree, easy going and free of many stresses. Take in a sunset, have a fresh cup of local coffee and chat with a Costa Rican local and/or expat. Visit the feria (public farmers market) on Friday morning. Watch a local futbol match or take in many of the Artify Jaco murals and local art galleries. Enjoy the great restaurants which the area offers, visit the beaches and national parks within an hour of the area for day trips," said another expat who made the move to Costa Rica.

AGS Worldwide Movers can move you to and from anywhere in the world. Presently the AGS Group has over 141 locations in more than 95 countries and has one of the largest networks in the international removals industry. We relocate 85,000 families every year. Free moving quote!
AGS Worldwide MoversMoving to Costa Rica Soon?

AGS Worldwide Movers can move you to and from anywhere in the world. Presently the AGS Group has over 141 locations in more than 95 countries and has one of the largest networks in the international removals industry. We relocate 85,000 families every year. Free moving quote!
Get a Quote

"I would advise them to spend time not as a tourist but as one might live here. Visit the grocery stores. I did not realize that some items I depended on were not available. The sales tax is almost double what it is in our town in the US. I did not realize that mail is not delivered to one's house here. Check out the banks and see if you can open an account from which to pay your local bills," wrote one expat living in Escazu, Costa Rica.

"If you are moving to Matapalo, Costa Rica, prepare yourself to blend in & be prepared to slow down. Try to make everything you experience a learning experience. Do not stress out if things do not go the way you are use to. Nothing you have ever done will prepare you for living in a foreign county. Be happy," said another expat in Costa Rica.

"Rent first. It may not be the lifestyle for you. Make sure you are comfortably with the idea of a tiny community, in particular, a tiny community of North Americans," added another expat who made the move to Costa Rica.

William Russell Health Insurance

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.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

William Russell Health Insurance

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.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

"Be prepared for a lack of resources in almost every department. You are not going to find Walmart right around the corner and Starbucks will not be on every street. Yes, you can get used to it. You'll often find what you need; although it might be an alternative. Learn to live simply. Learn to live with space not things. Be prepared to pay a lot of money if you want to ship things here or to home. Be prepared for the rainy season. Be prepared for a lot of insects. Be prepared for humidity. Be prepared for crappy roads, many dirt and rocks. Be prepared to see people driving all over the road. Be prepared for your electronics to fail. Be prepared to meet a lot of wonderful people. Be prepared for illegality of cannabis; especially for those who have medical cannabis certificates in the States. Be prepared for the electricity to go out. Be prepared to travel 7km, one way to obtain gasoline for your vehicle. Be prepared to breathe fresh air. Be prepared for a lot of sun. Be prepared to see things that might appear alien to you - often. Be prepared to kiss women on the cheek when you meet them. Be prepared to learn what is truly important in life. Be prepared to let go and breathe," explained one expat living in Montezuma, Costa Rica.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

Costa Rica GuideCosta Rica Guide
Learn what members have to say about living in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Forum Costa Rica Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Costa Rica on our Costa Rica forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

Costa Rica Index Costa Rica Index
An index of all of our site's Costa Rica information.

Contribute to Costa Rica Network Contribute
Help others in Costa Rica by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Costa Rica.

Expat Healthcare Advice in Costa RicaHealthcare & Health Insurance in Costa Rica

Expats in Costa Rica offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in Costa Rica.

Expat Talk about Healthcare Advice in Costa RicaMembers Talk about Healthcare & Health Insurance in Costa Rica

Expats in Costa Rica offer advice about healthcare in Costa Rica.

Best Places to Live in Costa Rica Best Places to Live 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.

Real Estate in Costa RicaReal Estate in Costa Rica

Real estate listings in popular cities and towns in Costa Rica.

Guide to Real Estate in Costa RicaGuide to Real Estate in Costa Rica

Advice for people renting and buying real estate in Costa Rica.

Pros Cons of Living in Costa RicaPros & Cons of Living in Costa Rica

Take off your rose-colored glasses and learn what digital nomads & expats have to say about the biggest challenges and the greatest rewards of living in Costa Rica.

Cost of Living in Costa RicaCost 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.

Costa-Rica-ResidencyCosta 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-RicaHealthcare in Costa Rica

Costa Rica 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-Rica10 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-RicaBanking 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.

AGS Worldwide Movers
AGS Worldwide Movers

AGS Worldwide Movers
AGS Worldwide Movers

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

Costa Rica GuideCosta Rica Guide
Learn what members have to say about living in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Forum Costa Rica Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Costa Rica on our Costa Rica forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

Costa Rica Index Costa Rica Index
An index of all of our site's Costa Rica information.

Contribute to Costa Rica Network Contribute
Help others in Costa Rica by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Costa Rica.

Expat Healthcare Advice in Costa RicaHealthcare & Health Insurance in Costa Rica

Expats in Costa Rica offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in Costa Rica.

Expat Talk about Healthcare Advice in Costa RicaMembers Talk about Healthcare & Health Insurance in Costa Rica

Expats in Costa Rica offer advice about healthcare in Costa Rica.

Best Places to Live in Costa Rica Best Places to Live 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.

Real Estate in Costa RicaReal Estate in Costa Rica

Real estate listings in popular cities and towns in Costa Rica.

Guide to Real Estate in Costa RicaGuide to Real Estate in Costa Rica

Advice for people renting and buying real estate in Costa Rica.

Pros Cons of Living in Costa RicaPros & Cons of Living in Costa Rica

Take off your rose-colored glasses and learn what digital nomads & expats have to say about the biggest challenges and the greatest rewards of living in Costa Rica.

Cost of Living in Costa RicaCost 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.

15-Best-Beach-Towns-in-Central-America15 Best Beach Towns in Central America

People are flocking to Central America to enjoy a lower cost of living, the laid-back beach lifestyle and adventure. In this article, we explore 15 of the best places to live on the beach in Central America according to expats.

Living-in-Costa-Rica-GuideLiving in Costa Rica Guide

Our Living in Costa Rica Guide is a primer on everything about living in Costa Rica: best places to live, cost of living, pros and cons, healthcare and insurance, and more.

17-Best-Places-to-Live-in-Costa-Rica17 Best Places to Live 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.

Costa-Rica-ResidencyCosta 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.

Copyright 1997-2022 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal