Costa Ballena, Costa Rica
Costa Ballena, Costa Rica
Costa Ballena, Costa Rica

Moving to Costa Rica

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Dec 07, 2021

Summary: Moving to Costa Rica: Expats, retirees and digital nomads talk about everything you need to know before moving to Costa Rica.

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What do I need to know before moving to Costa Rica?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Costa Rica, they said:

"ESCAZU!!! Even our local Tico friends (who were all educated in the states) and have lived all over CR would agree. CR is booming right now, at least for professionals in law, medicine, computer science/network administration, & architecture/engineering. Our best friend here has to hire software engineers from India because CR workers are so expensive and doing so well here. This is just our opinion of course. For example, one of our son's opinions when he visits us in Escazu is disgust. He thinks why leave the states to just live in an expensive, English speaking, mini-California suburb. He leaves as quickly as he can to stay in the rural & beach areas (he luckily speaks fluent Spanish) to escape our lifestyle. He could never afford to live in Escazu as a musician/artist. Final note and a plug for Outlier Legal and the founder attorney Rafael Valverde who went to law school in the states. Do not make the move without reading his website articles at the very least & he and his team provided enormous support (and still do) in dealing with the puzzling and very unpredictable bureaucracy that is CR," commented one expat who made the move to Escazu.

"Do lots of experiential travel and due diligence. It is easy to get rose colored glasses because Costa Rica is so beautiful and the people are so nice. Gringo's are viewed as wealthy and easy targets for getting taken advantage of, plus the legal system is a jungle as well. Do your work upfront, get lots of advice from others and reference everyone, even if you think they are honorable. If you want to enjoy Costa Rica, don't learn by trial and fire or it will taint your experience and enjoyment," remarked another expat in Paquera, Costa Rica.

"Spend time in the area and get to know it's full time residents. Participate in community activities, fundraisers, church activities if you are inclined. Eat at the local restaurants, shop locally, go to the local farmers market. Visit your prospective neighborhood at various times of the day especially at night to see if crime is a problem or noise issues. A community feels very different when you spend time with its full time residents and not tourists. You can truly gauge the area determining if it's a good fit for you, your family and your lifestyle. Get an honest lawyer to determine if the house you are interested in has a clean title (and the same for raw land). Get references for doctors and medical facilities in the area. In a nutshell, tourist activities are fun but it's far from reality of every day life. Think about what your day entails in your home country and perform the same activities in your prospective desired area," said another expat in Playa Hermosa de Jaco.

"It is a good idea to rent before you buy. Talk to the neighbors. There are little pockets of problems that you could avoid by asking folks for their opinion. The neighbors may also know where there is a great house available that you missed in your search. Last piece of advice, get up and move," remarked another expat who made the move to San Marcos, TarrazĂș.

"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," explained one expat living in San Jose, Costa Rica.

"Stay away from Santa Ana and Escazu which are both referred to as "little Americas" and their prices are comperable to Bethesda, MD or San Francisco, CA. Besides the rest of the country is even more beautiful," said another expat in City of Guapiles, County of Pococi, Province of Limon.

How do I find a place to live in Costa Rica?

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 8 Best Places to Live in Croatia and the Living in Mexico Guide. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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Costa Ballena, Costa Rica
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