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Costa Rica Expat Forum

Driving in Costa Rica - outskirts of San Jose

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jdavisbj
2/1/2012 22:24 EST

We are visiting Costa Rica in March with the idea of retiring and wondered about renting a car to explore on our own.

We willl be visiting Grecia, Escazu, San Ramon & Santa Ana areas and wondered if driving would be considered safe for Americans like ourselves.

Can you recommend a good car rental company and what should we watch out for.

Thanks, John

johnny1950
2/1/2012 22:53 EST

John
We have been to Costa Rica twice for the same reason looking for retirement. We rented from Vamos 4X4 and were exceptionally pleased with their service. Tizanna was the person we used and she was fantastic. They give you a GPS and a cell phone for local calls. The GPS was very important it got you where you were going and warned you of narrow bridges and beaches etc. We did not have one bit of trouble driving there. The cars were in excellent shape. Their phone # is 1 800 950 8426. They also pick you up at the airport and when the trip is finished drop you off at your hotel. I do not have any business connection with them was just very satisfied with their service. Will be using them when I come back again in July.
Johnny1950

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jdavisbj
2/2/2012 01:17 EST

Hi Johnny,

Thanks for the response. Can you tell me what they charged you per day or week.

How do you handle insurance for the vehicle you rent. ?

We live in the US in Arizona, where are you located ?

When do you think you will retire there ?

Thanks, John

johnny1950
2/2/2012 09:17 EST

John
I am from Florida now previously from California and New York. As for insurance you have to take the basic and I use my credit card's insurance. Try to get a credit card that does not charge 3% transaction fees and covers you. I know Pen Fed Amex is one and I believe capital 1 also has this. As for their rates call Tiziana tell her I told you and she can give you the most up to date rates. She speaks english. Hoping to move around Februay of 2013 if all goes well. If you need hotels or other information let me know.
Johnny

PacificLots
2/2/2012 13:13 EST

I have tons of clients that rent and drive in and around the Central Valley of San Jose. We recommend Vamos rent a car, since they don't sting you on insurance, extra driver, etc. If you mention Pacific Lots they will give you a free cell phone or GPS for the duration of your visit. There is a "placa" law that states you can't drive your car one day per week inside the "circulatacion" or ring road based on the last digit on the license plate, 1and 2 on Monday, 3, 4 Tuesday, 5,6 Wednesday, 7,8 Thursday, 9, 0 Friday. They will generally let tourists slip by that law but you might get pulled over. Also don't leave luggage unattended in your car while in Costa Rica. There are red light cameras in San Jose, use your seat belt and don't speed, there are speed cameras and radar especially on the General Canas highway.

jdavisbj
2/7/2012 18:47 EST

Johnny,
Thanks for the great info and referral. Will probably call her today for a reservation.
Thanks,
John,

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jdavisbj
2/8/2012 10:44 EST

Pacific Lots,

Thanks for the help, I have contacted them.

How far is Pacific Lots from San Jose >

Thanks,
John

johnny1950
2/8/2012 23:43 EST

John
Good luck with your trip. We will be going again in July. Hope to go for good in Feb of next year. Keep me posted and if you need any info give a shout. My email is
Johnny

PacificLots
2/13/2012 09:55 EST

Our project is 3 hours drive from San Jose in the southern Pacific coastal area of Costa Rica (about an hour south of Quepos). We really can't handle drop in visitors since our project is so large. We run 4 day property discovery tours (about 5 per month) and charge $299 per person for the tour. We pick you up in San Jose and bring you back 4 days later. We apply the visit fee to any purchase if you decide to purchase in any of our developments. We are in our 23rd year, are debt free, have sold out 13 phases and are the largest builder of custom homes in the entire country. see www.PacificLots.com

Givngo
2/15/2012 14:09 EST

I have the same type of question. I will be flying into San Jose in March and hitting up a few different places along the Pacific coast and down to Jaco. Is renting a car safe and are the roads to Jaco safe?

GoingLikeSixty
2/15/2012 18:27 EST

Yes and Yes. But Jaco can be dicey.

johnny1950
2/15/2012 21:31 EST

The roads are very good. Make sure you have enough CR. money for the tolls. I was lucky did not think of it and they were able to change a five dollar bill for me. I used Vamos 4x4 they pick you up at the airport and when you return drive you to the hotel or airport. They give you a GPS so you won't have any problems. I spoke to Tizianna there. Make sure you get a 4x4. Just in case you want to get off the main roads. Jaco has a lot of good hotels and services.
Johnny1950

PacificLots
2/16/2012 11:35 EST

Driving throughout Costa Rica is safe but do realize that most Costa Ricans are "first generation drivers" meaning they did not grow up in the back seat of their parents car since likely their parents didn't have a car. Therefore most have less experience driving, do not follow the "rules of the road" as we have been taught, don't stay right for slower moving vehicles, might pass in a no passing zone, just be aware. There are more traffic fatalities per thousand in Costa Rica than in the US. Don't tailgate and don't speed. There are radar traps, traffic light cameras, etc and always wear your seatbelt.

BOBJCR
2/16/2012 11:45 EST

I CONCUR; BEFORE I RETIRED TO THIS COUNTRY, ONE OF MY MINI CAREERS WAS AS A DRIVER LICENSE EXAMINER. I WOULD CONFER A LICENSE ON ABOUT ONE THIRD OF THOSE CURRENTLY BEHIND THE WHEEL HERE. BUT I WENT TO UNIVERSITY IN MEXICO, AND THEY DRIVE THE SAME WAY. I THINK IT IS THE LATIN TEMPERAMENT AS MUCH AS IT IS LACK OF EXPERIENCE.

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