1. Research your options. Look carefully at the different areas of the country you are considering. Choose your information sources carefully. Talk to as many people as you can who have experience with life in Costa Rica. Join an expat forum and engage people, they will be more than willing to help with any questions.
2. Visit the country for at least 3 months first. Don’t just come down to Costa Rica for a vacation and then make a snap decision to move. Many have done that and found out that beach town life was not for them or that the location they picked was not going to work for the business they wanted to start. Going back to point #1, an extended stay to learn and acclimate to the culture should be part of your research plan.
3. Choose your neighborhood with care. Look for communities where you will feel comfortable. Cheap rent in a poor area may not be the best choice. Expat communities tend to be more expensive, but you will be safer often having a community paid security guard and you will have like minded company.
4. Recognize things move slower down here. Don’t expect things to work at the same pace the US or Canada. Things just take longer to get done in Latin America. You will have longer waits in the lines for banks or anywhere for that matter. Remember mañana doesn’t nesecceily mean tomorrow, it often just means not today.
5. If you planning a business, get help. One highly recommended point if you are planning a business, get help and advice from someone you trust, for legal advice, or corporate identify, a good business consultant will save you thousands of dollars.
6. Try to learn about the culture. Don’t make the mistake of just surrounding yourself with your expat friends; you need to get out and learn what makes the culture tick.
7. Learn the language. Make the effort to learn the language; the locals appreciate your trying and will be much more helpful.
8. Watch out for the con. There are scams down here and many of them prey on the newbie. Most of the scams are actually run by expats. Trust is earned. Do your due diligence on deals, especially real estate deals, where you should get yourself a good real estate consultant.
9. Stay informed. This seems obvious but let me give you an example; often Central American countries have poor information dissemination, you could find yourself at the bank one day with no access to your account because you were unaware of the new ID card you needed which in North America would take a few minutes to remedy but could take several days down here.
10. Enjoy the Pura Vida.
We hope these points are helpful if you are planning on living in Costa Rica. If you need any assistance with your adventure from planning to rent to transportation help do not hesitate to contact TCRN, we will be happy to help you with your new life in Costa Rica.
The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
San José Costa Rica