Living in Costa Rica
Many baby boomers and other people considering retirement are considering retiring in Costa Rica, so I have created this list of Living In Costa Rica Tips.
Costa Rica is one of the top choices for retiring expats, but it’s not for everyone. Some purchase a home there and then move to Costa Rica lock stock and barrel without learning enough about it, then they have to sell their home and move back to their home country.
But if they do their due diligence, most people who retire in Costa Rica and follow my Living In Costa Rica Tips as given below, enjoy their new lives in Costa Rica.
Being an expat in Costa Rica myself, and having known many other expats here, I have created this list of Living In Costa Rica tips which I hope will help you to enjoy your brand new life in Costa Rica some day!
Living In Costa Rica Tips
- Visit Costa Rica at least several times for a month or more, before moving there. Try to live in one area — not in a hotel but in a house or condo in the area where you think you want to live — for at least a month, or more, if you can swing it. Vacationing in Costa Rica is different than living there. If you can afford to stay there in one place for 2 months or even 6 months,
- that would be ideal.
- Learn Español — Start taking lessons as soon as you can. You can start out for free or inexpensively online and then start real classes where you have a chance to converse in Spanish with others. You might even take a month and do a “home stay” in Costa Rica as part of a language school such as C.O.S.I. A home stay is where you stay with locals in a house while going to school and immerse yourself in the Spanish language and Costa Rican life and culture.
- Make Tico friends. Even if you don’t speak fluent Spanish you can still make a friend or two, and having friends here will make a lot of difference to your adjustment here.
- Don’t hang out exclusively with other gringos, especially those Gringos who love to sit around all the time and complain about Costa Rica. That is a recipe for failure here (If you don’t learn to adjust and like it, then you will have to move back to your home country!
- Be thankful for the things you love about Costa Rica! This depends on what you like. Many love the nature (birds, monkeys, exotic insects, rainforests, etc.) that is all around! Other people love the beautiful beaches, and jungle adventures! Still others move here for the kind and patient people. What is your reason for loving Costa Rica? Appreciate and celebrate it!
- Don’t try to change the customs or practices of Costa Rica; accept them “as is”. You will most likely never understand the reasons Ticos do things the way they do them! And they will never understand why Gringos do things the way we do! They simply are different in many ways and though you may never understand it, you have to just accept it. “It is what it is” and you have to accept it or you won’t be happy here.
- Join organizations — official or casual — that enable you to get out and participate in Tico life! You may volunteer at a school or start or join a charity drive, or attend the local church, or meet with local gringos who interface with Ticos through volunteer efforts or environmental causes. Just meet locals and enjoy the things they enjoy and become part of the community!
- Remember: Costa Rica is not the same as where you were raised! It’s not just that they speak Spanish, or have a different skin tone or look about them. No, they have their own unique culture and experiences and you will always be somewhat of an outsider. Some experience “culture shock” when moving to any foreign country so be prepared for an adjustment period. But remember, even though it is different, it can also be a lot of fun to learn about and very rewarding to be part of!
- Do research online or by talking with other expats and prepare for the challenges you may face. There will be challenges to face no matter where you live in the world! Costa Rica has its own set of challenges, so get ready for them by learning about them from others. Your specific area will have its own set of challenges. There could be a lot of insects there. There will probably be more rain than you are used to. The sun may be hotter. There may be mold issues due to lots of fog and rain; or flooding, wind or volcanic ash. Learn what you may face and how others cope with these issues.
- Seek out recommendations for service professionals you will need. Talk to Gringo and Tico locals to get recommendations for lawyers, construction supervisors, mechanics, doctors and dentists, etc. One or two recommendations on a web site is a good start but try to find local recommendations. Ticos often know the best and cheapest mechanic or attorney, for example. Having Tico and Gringo friends will help you have an easier life in Costa Rica!
I hope my list will help you retire in Costa Rica successfully! Be sure to see our How To Guides for finding an attorney, buying property and so on.
We sincerely hope these Living In Costa Rica Tips will be of help to you when you do retire in Costa Rica!
Mike at Rancho Silencio