It could mean Friday, next Tuesday, the beginning of October, or even never. The same relaxed approach to getting things done applies to most services and government operations as well. Most infrastructure is poorly maintained. The roads are in poor condition. Street signs and building numbers rarely exist.
And buses are somewhat unreliable since they change their routes depending on road conditions, especially during the rainy season. The steps you were told you needed to take last month to get your visa or a building permit may be completely different than the response you get when you go back to the same office with that first set of paperwork completed.
Your best bet? If you go into the process knowing what to expect, you can be better prepared to roll with the punches, remain patient and calm, and just keep moving the ball forward at every opportunity. Losing your temper and blowing up at the underpaid, overworked immigration employee or customer service representative will get you nowhere. This Central American country literally has it all, with terrains and eco-climates ranging from long stretches of undeveloped coastline to towering volcanoes to dense jungles and rainforests to lush valleys to waters teeming with all sorts of exotic marine life to inland lakes, streams, and rivers with cascading waterfalls.
We could go on and on. These wild and rugged settings form a backdrop for all manner of tropical species. This could mean everything from spotting monkeys and toucans in your garden to finding scorpions in your house or even bats in your toilet. Among the most prevalent unexpected guests are insects. The humid beach towns, particularly along the Caribbean coast, are often plagued with mosquitoes, which can carry dengue fever. Ants are a problem everywhere, and they bite.
So clean kitchens and secure food storage are essential to ward them off.
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Termites can also invade and cause considerable property damage. And you might see cockroaches as big as your hand. What can be done about these unwelcome intruders?
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Not much. However, they do seem to be more prevalent and grow quite larger in the coastal areas. Outside of trying to find a spot less populated with critters, just do your best to be on the lookout for them. Check your shoes before you stick your foot in. Shake out blankets and sleeping bags before you curl up in them. Things like that.
In North America, the way you choose your desired temperature is by adjusting your thermostat. Are you looking for a year-round consistent climate with temps in the low 70s and the anticipated daily shower each afternoon? Try the Central Valley, near San Jose, which thousands of expats already call home. Then try a quaint little village on the coast. A word of caution, though.
The Caribbean coast gets more rainfall than the Pacific, particularly the eastern slopes of the Central Cordillera mountains. The roads, as well as your own property, will at times be a muddy mess. The persistent rainfall, plus the lack of sunshine to dry things out, can result in a lot of your belongings Think outdoor furniture and patio cushions.
Oh, and all that nature we talked about? The rain and flooding often send select members of it Think bugs and snakes. How can you combat these issues as a newcomer? Except rest in the knowledge that once the balmy summer weather arrives December to April , the downpours and flooding will all just seem like a bad dream. Until next year. As a result, there are tons of ways to experience the outdoors and get your adrenaline going. With so many great opportunities to enjoy nature, there are understandably a lot of visitors to Costa Rica.
It really depends on your preference whether or not that presents a problem for you. Some expats welcome the constant influx of individuals from all walks of life. Some would rather feel more like pioneers who were the first and only ones to discover such a hidden gem of an expat destination.
The general consensus? The welcoming, anything goes approach affords a lot of chances to meet new people and learn about other cultures. All those visitors need food, lodging, tour guides, and other niche services that savvy expat investors are more than willing to provide. Compared to many of its Central American neighbors, Costa Rica is extremely safe. Its homicide rate is That being said, Costa Rica still has its share of petty crimes. The good news is that much more of them are property-related. Homes, particularly those that are only used seasonally, are frequently broken into.
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Tourists are often pickpocketed. Prevention is key for those visiting or living in Costa Rica. Limit any excessive carrying of electronics like camera, smartphones, iPods, and other devices. As long as you use common sense and stick to the more traveled and well-lit thoroughfares, especially at night, you should be just fine. Lock up any outbuildings.
A major perk of becoming an expat in Central America is the low cost of living, compared to the price of the same goods and services in North America. Fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as some great health food options, are widely available. Some great properties can be had at a fraction of what a comparable sized home in the same incredible setting would run you in the U.
Taxes are also low, with property taxes rarely exceeding a few hundred dollars. There are also significant tax savings for foreigners. Two of the biggest savings for those living in Costa Rica are domestic help and health care. The services of a maid, gardener, or other domestic worker can be as low as a few dollars per day, a luxury most people could hardly afford in a first-world setting.
Health care, while arguably first-world caliber, is also a great deal. Costa Rica has a state-run health system whose quality has been ranked higher than that of the U. The hospitals are clean and modern. Most doctors are U. These are some of the reasons Costa Rica has become a popular destination for medical tourism. Except for the fact that there are definitely cheaper places to live in Central America. So, while Costa Rica is not the cost leader, it makes up for any higher prices with its exceptional quality.
If cost is a driving factor in your decision-making process, then you might want to look at some other destinations in Latin America.
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However, just remember that the old adage about getting what you pay for is true more often than not. Costa Rica has long been a hotspot for North American expats, and it shows.
The North American influence is everywhere. There are large, well-connected expat communities in most of the more popular towns. They have gardening clubs, gringo poker night, food and wine tastings, and other social gatherings. There are even programs specifically geared towards helping newcomers acclimate to their expat home. This type of North American-influenced lifestyle is precisely the reason that many expats left in the first place. As a result, it may be a turnoff to some. Again, it really depends on your preference.
Food costs in Costa Rica largely depend on personal preferences. For those who enjoy cooking at home, groceries run the price gamut, and depend heavily on whether you consume imported or local goods. Remember that as a general rule, services and labor are inexpensive, but many goods are more expensive than back home. Used cars can be bought for only slightly more than their North American equivalents. Most concerts and traveling shows cost the same as in other countries. Medical care in Costa Rica is of high quality and very inexpensive.
Note that all legal residents are required to pay membership in the Caja.
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