Mal Pais, Costa Rica

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By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Sep 24, 2021

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?

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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 expat in Mal Pais.

What type of social life can someone expect in Mal Pais?

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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," said another in Mal Pais.

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

"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," remarked another expat in Mal Pais.

What advice to expats in Mal Pais have about housing?

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"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," said another expat in living in Mal Pais, Costa Rica.

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

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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," remarked another in Mal Pais.

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

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"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," remarked another in Mal Pais.

What do expats find most challenging?

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"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," explained one expat.

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 Rica is 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.

William Russell Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quotes for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
Get a Quote

Mal Pais, Costa RicaGuide to Living in Mal Pais, Costa Rica

Mal Pais, Costa Rica: Cost of Living, Healthcare and What to Know About Living in Mal Pais

Costa Rica Forum Costa Rica Forum
Join our Costa Rica forum to meet other people living in Mal Pais, Costa Rica.

ContributeContribute
Help other expats and newcomers by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Mal Pais.

Healthcare in Costa RicaHealthcare in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is 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.

Mal Pais, Costa RicaExpats Talk about Living in Mal Pais

Expats talk about what it's like living in Mal Pais, Costa Rica: Cost of Living, Healthcare and What Newcomers to Mal Pais Should Know

Expat Report: Culture Shock in Mal Pais

An expat in Mal Pais, Costa Rica provides a detailed culture shock report that offers a great example of someone who has learned to roll with the punches that come with expat life in a somewhat remote location. Covers everything from mosquitoes, to finding products from the local grocer, to getting your laptop repaired. And don't for get about the fruit bats and monkey poop!

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