Avoid Mistakes When Considering Living in Costa Rica

Well after living in this beautiful country of Costa Rica for over nine years now, I think I have a pretty good perspective of things to do and not do to make life totally enjoyable. So here is a short list of important things to consider before moving to Costa Rica.  If you have read of few of my previous posts you will notice that I strive to give good, honest information, not just stories of what a great life it is to live in Costa Rica and the exploits that can happen. I hope you find this information useful

This list can go on forever but I do not want to write a book so I am going to keep it short if I can.

  • This is not Kansas Dorothy: Sure you can always go back to where you’re from if living in Costa Rica is not right for you. However many people come to Costa Rica with unrealistic expectations. If you’re running from problems back home trust me they will follow you here. So don’t make a rash decision while on a vacation that you want to live in Costa Rica. Is it a great place to live? Of course, it is or I would not be here for over nine years already with no plans of ever returning to New York, that’s for sure.
  • Do your homework: This item could go on for a long time but if you are really interested in making the move then do it. Like any life changing experience, moving to Costa Rica is huge steep in most people lives. It can be extremely rewarding and beneficial; it can also be extremely frustrating as well. So read and ask a lot of question and don’t always believe everything you read on the internet. Sure there are a lot of great articles and blogs talking about how wonderful Costa Rica is and for the most part they are right, but there is a lot more to just the Pura Vida life style and running around having fun all the time, I call it fluff writing and you find a lot of that especially from someone trying to sell you something. Just think about it for a minute, if it was so fantastic the whole world would move here and then what? The MOST IMPORTANT thing, in my opinion, is to know and always remember, this is Central America; learn the culture, language and local traditions and how things work and you will be well prepared to live a great life in Costa Rica.
  • Visit more than once: Even though Costa Rica is a small country there are many different types of climates, terrains, and availability of services all over the country, from pristine beach towns to out of the way off the grid locations in the jungle, to cool mountainous areas to the hustle and bustle of the capital San Jose. Everyone’s idea of paradise is different. For me, it is the laid back beach town of Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste. Very close to, within twenty minutes, many amenities as in the Liberia international airport, modern well-equipped hospitals, full blown grocery stores, night life and great restaurants and best of all a beautiful beach to swim and enjoy. Now if I want to visit another beach they are many within that twenty-minute drive range as well. If I want to head to the mountains it just under an hours drive, really close for day adventures.
  • Find the right location for you: You know the old real estate adage: Location, Location, Location. Well, it is used often but what it really means is; where a home is located is the most important factor in its value, both now and in the future. Here is the key “The Future” as in if you decide to sell. Unless you really plan on spending the rest of your entire life in Costa Rica then I guess this does not hold up. As mentioned above Costa Rica is very diverse, so spend time traveling the country, be adventurous, enjoy the trip and find the best location that meets your needs now and in the future. If you find a location that you like, go back during the “rainy season” to see what it is like, you may have visited during the “Dry Season” and the two can be very different depending on location. This could be a real eye opener for you.
  • Work with a real professional: I see people making this mistake all the time. They would rather trust the taxi driver or the bar manager from the hotel they are staying in then working with a true professional. “Hey mister my brother has a great house for sale and you can get a great deal on it if you work with me”. Have you ever experienced this? It always makes me laugh when these same people think they will get a better deal on a property than if they worked with a professional. In the long run, for the most part, it ends up costing them a whole lot more and, guess what Dorothy? they head back home! Also, there are a lot of smooth fast talking real estate brokers here and in reality, all they really want is a sale. So see if they are there for you after the sale to offer assistance that you will need, offering to connect you with moving companies, doctors, home repair men and things like that. Do not let them talk you into a location just because the price is right or the beauty of the area you are in. Find out first if they are even legally allowed to work in Costa Rica! Just because he speaks your language does not mean all is good. If you find someone you are comfortable with, ask for references and check them out, if they can’t produce any this it is a sign to run in the other direction.
  • Learn some of the laws and responsibilities you will have: this is very important, you are coming to a foreign country, what may be acceptable by the laws of your home country may not be here in Costa Rica. It blows my mind sometimes when I hear people say “property taxes what property taxes”. As an example knowing that your property taxes are due in the first quarter of the year for the present year, or that you can pay them quarterly here in Costa Rica or how about this one, you can be sued for calling someone a liar in a non-heated argument even if was just a passing comment. Another good one to know that is very important is that in order to get a Costa Rica Driver’s License, you first need to be a resident. Or do you want to own a gun? Well, you can’t until you have full residency without restrictions and the list goes on from there.
  • Leave your type “A” personality behind: Just because you come from a more developed country or a big city or feel because of your education you may be smarter than most, leave that attitude and way of thinking behind when you come to Costa Rica. You have heard the term Pura Vida, It literal translation is Pure Life, but it has so many meanings that I could write another article just about that. But the reality is staying calm, if you raise your voice and act like your better than the person you’re talking to, they will just shut down and you won’t get anywhere or get what you need. It is always best to remember you are a guest in Costa Rica and respect the people of Costa Rica and you will be amazed at the way someone will help you and of course, things will go way better than you think. As is often said here in Costa Rica “Tranquilo Amigo”.

This is just a basic list of things to think about if you are considering a move to Costa Rica, if you would like the opportunity to ask me specific more questions I would be happy to answer them for you and If I do not know the answer I promise you I will not give you a line of Bull.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you.