Living in Costa Rica

retirement in thailand concept Costa Rica lies just hours from a number of mainland US cities by air, ex. 2.5 hours from Miami. Costa Rica has been a snowbird migration destination for decades. San Jose is the principle city and has the normal pains of any large city.

Map of Costa Rica

Weather - Costa Rica has two seasons: dry (Dec - May) and rainy (June - Nov). Except for October, the rainy season can be pleasant. Many North Americans prefer the Central Valley where temperatures tend to be moderate year round.

Costa Rica is rife with nature experiences. Beaches, eco-tourism, whitewater rafting and exploring.

Nightlife - Bars, clubs, restaurants and casinos.

Activities available - Golf and tennis.

Security concerns are moderate. There is crime, but it is mostly non-violent. Beware of pickpocketing and petty theft.

Fast food has long since invaded Costa Rica. McDonald's, KFC, TGIF and Toni Roma'sare a few examples. Plaza Istzcazu has some good restaurants.

ATM's and Credit Cards - As in any country, always keep your eyes on your credit card. ATMs are widely available. Many cards charge a 1 percent service fee and banks will levy a 1 - 2 % to convert to dollars.

Driving - High clearance or 4 X 4's are the recommended vehicles unless you never plan on going to the countryside. Getting to some good resort areas requires fording streams and bouncing along kilometers of dirt roads. Gasoline as is more expensive than in the US. Costa Ricans drive on the right.

Cell phones are widely available. The local telephone company is a monopoly with an overloaded system. However, it works most of the time. Wrong number calls are common.

Domestic help is available and cheap. Depending on location, $150/month should get you a half-time or full-time maid.

Internet access is improving. Allow US $20 for standard cable plus $30 +/- for internet service. High speed cable is 256kbps download and 128kbps upload with speed depending on the time of day.

Taxis - Be sure to use registered taxis. Match the license plate number and number painted on the taxi.

English-language newspapers & TV - Tico Times, HBO, Cinemax, CNN, NBC, CBS.

Internet access cost and quality: $20 for standard cable and an additional $30 or so for Internet service.

San Jose has a very large expat community.

Working - San Jose has opportunities, but work permits are hard to get and pay is local wages. A number of large corporations.

Medical and health care is good to excellent. Dental care is extremely good and costs 1/3-1/2 of US prices. Mosquito borne Dengue fever is endemic.

Language - Learning to speak Spanish will pay numerous dividends.