Expat Exchange
Chinatown in San Jose, Costa Rica
Chinatown in San Jose, Costa Rica
Chinatown in San Jose, Costa Rica

Pros and Cons of Living in Costa Rica

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Jul 13, 2022

Summary: Pros and Cons of Living in Costa Rica. Expats, Retirees and Digital Nomads talk about the pros and cons of living in Costa Rica

Allianz Care International Health Insurance
Allianz Care International Health Insurance
Allianz Care International Health Insurance
Allianz Care International Health Insurance

What are the pros and cons of living in Costa Rica?

Live in Costa Rica? Answer this Question

Expats, digital nomads and retirees living in Costa Rica responded:

"Paying bills can be a big challenge so try to get auto pay set up where it is available. Most people wait in lines to pay bills at the bank or most markets offer computer bill pay. Cash only. Passport or other picture ID required. Costa Rica has no real street address system and the mail is terrible there. Some addresses are like 400 meters West of the World Gym," added another expat in Santa Ana.

"My only dislike is the postal system. The system is impossible to navigate when trying to receive a package. I have learned that it is easier for me to order something, and divert the government postal system altogether," explained one expat living in Florencia.

"love the climate, people are helpful and friendly - beach sand is too hot in the summer sun," said another in Playa Jaco.

"The positive aspect of living in Playa Jaco and Playa Hermosa far outweigh the negative aspects. The area has excellent services for it's residents (locals and expats alike). The infrastructure is good with availability of internet, excellent water, paved roads, and reliable power sources. The police force is present but not overbearing and very helpful. Restaurants, bistros, bars and coffee shops are plentiful and reasonably priced. The community is very multi-national with expats from all over the world. The incredible variety of restaurants of the area boast this desirable quality with cuisine offerings from authentic French, Spanish, Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean, American style steak houses and of course, local Costa Rican cuisine. Due to our proximity to the ocean, seafood is affordable and plentiful. The area has many butchers, bakers, vegetable/fruit stands, along with large chain grocery stores. The area has a good expat community that are friendly, helpful and will assist with helping other expats offering excellent advice and/or encouragement. The beach is the lifeline of the community with many aquatic activities, family beach/surf events, a strong art and culture following, and volunteering opportunities. As the area is popular with local Costa Rican families from the Central Valley, the beach is a big draw and does get busy during holidays and long weekends. The local businessed really rely on tourism outside the area so although the traffic can get busy, it's important for those in the tourism business especially after the pandemic affected the area," explained one expat in Playa Jaco.

"Sold NY Home, moved to Costa Rica where everyone is from the US. Still have to check out and find a place in Florida but nothing is similar in the US to Costa Rica. I am still a citizen and have to leave June 2 for 72 hours. Borders to Nicaragua and Panama closed recently. All good, Key West probably," explained one member in Nosara, Costa Rica.

"Dominical is small and very complete. I Like the artist community and the laid back atmosphere. Getting used to a different way of doing business is challenging and I wouldn't change it. Working on getting my residency. The dry season is a bit hot. Being hot gives me opportunity to go to US and take art workshops. Supplies are hard to get, but the challenge is to work with what I can get. Now that the house is built, I will be working on getting to know the community. I want to share my knowledge of sewing with whoever is interested. I will be doing some volunteering with food distributions and hope to see where my other skills might be of some benefit. My retirement account is enough to keep me going, so I don't need a job. For 72 I have alot of energy and like sharing my knowledge. Landscaping my son's Airbnb property is one of my projects. Because the tropics are so different from US, I need to Find people to teach me about tropical planting and soil improvement. I am concerned about sewing machine repair and have a hard time finding cotton fabric here. Luckily there is a clothing maker in town, Ruth, who is very helpful. The mail service is pricey. We do alot of business with Amazon. Because we are always building and son makes furniture, Amazon is a great place to find parts that aren't available in Costa Rica. Looking forward to seeing Costa Rica, have a car now and friends are visiting, so off we go on some adventures. A fire destroyed my home and used this excuse for a new life," explained one expat living in Dominical, 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.

What do expats in Costa Rica appreciate most about the local culture?

Live in Costa Rica? Answer this Question

"There are many things I appreciate about my new culture in Costa Rica! Family ties, friendships and a slower pace of life is key here. Costa Rica is not a consumer-based society. There is less pressure on acquiring objects of status, impressing others and "keeping up with the Jones's!" How refreshing! Community life of home, family and close friendships emphasize what truly is important in life! I believe it is important to remember such a simple aspect of life in Costa Rica. You will be admired for your goodness, kindness and willingness to learn and adapt. Monetary riches and displays of wealth and superiority have little value in a culture based on family and country," said another expat in Playa Jaco .

"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," added another person living in Mal Pais.

"Slowing down! Not expecting things to happen immediately. Knowing that things will happen in their own good time. The happy smiling people even in the face of poverty, these people are happy with their lot in life. The nature is also a huge factor here. I feel that humans are raping our earth and I see evidence of that when I return to TX. All the concrete, the gas wells, all the cars. It's refreshing to see people respect the resources here in CR," explained one expat living in Parrita.

"The people in the San Ramon area are very nice and polite. I love the slow pace of this mountain town," said another in San Ramon.

"There was little I found to appreciate about the culture in Boquete. I sensed a certain resentment among the Panamanians against x-pats. The ones I encountered did not make an attempt to engage. Grecia was distinctively different. The Ticos were gracious, friendly and willing to provide assistance as best they could," explained one expat who made the move to Grecia.

"Kindness, warmth, concern for fellow man, fact that they wage no wars, their appreciation of fresh foods, their curiosity about my country, their eagerness to learn English and their Pura Vida Attitude," added an expat living in Quebradas.

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

What do expats find most challenging?

Live in Costa Rica? Answer this Question

"Roads can be terrible, power outages, language, keeping electronics working, trust, purchase and shipping of goods, getting use to what I consider rude behavior, ie people cutting in front of me in lines," explained one expat.

"The most challenging aspects in Costa Rica is learning to leave the mentality of "how things are done" back home. Costa Ricans are proud of their independence! You may have an idea on how to get things done or how it should be done. Leave that thinking behind. You may make a casual commment or suggestion and this is encouraged. However, it is important not to humiliate or act superior. Costa Ricans want to keep their culture alive and wherein there are interested in other cultures, they are very proud and independent of their own. It is important to adapt and not try to control or change your new homeland. Remember as an expat you are still a guest," said another person in Playa Jaco .

"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 expat in Mal Pais.

"Lack of individualism. Rampant conformity. One better understand exactly WHAT socialism means before diving in. Don't read the US educational system's biased propaganda. Study the culture you will be moving to, and always ask 'WHY?'," explained one expat living in San Rafael.

"Communication, lack of mobility, the total inconvenience of it all. Also, trying to make ends meet financially. The phrase Retire for Less and only needing $1000.00 per month is bogus. In both locations supply and demand caused prices on consumer goods to spike, rent is on the rise. Only utilities were in line with the advertisements," said another expat in Grecia.

"Their cavalier attitude toward animals/pets. Their tendency to lie rather than hurt feeling," added another person living in Quebradas.

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.

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.

Chinatown in San Jose, Costa Rica

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.

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

Copyright 1997-2022 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal