3 Reasons Not to Live in Costa Rica (and 3 Reasons You Should Move There Now!)

It took a while for my husband and I to pluck up the courage to sell our house and most of our belongings then move to Costa Rica, a continent we’d never visited before with a language we didn’t speak.

Costa Rica beach

We weren’t strangers to taking risks and moving abroad though.

I’ve lived in eight different countries and we’d moved to New Zealand from the UK together ten years earlier sight unseen.

But this time, it was different. This time, we had three kids in tow. This time, we were responsible parents and respectable business owners.

Although most of our friends and family didn’t see it that way. When we told them we were moving to Central America they thought we were nuts.

You see we were already living the dream lifestyle, working from home with our own business on stunning Waiheke Island in New Zealand with its sub-tropical climate, laid back vibe and stunning beaches.

But once a traveler, always a traveler. No matter how great our lifestyle was, and we did know how lucky we were, the pull of adventure was too great to resist. The itchy feet got too much for us in the end.

Costa rican grasshopper

So we chose to move to Costa Rica in Central America because we wanted to move somewhere which fitted these main criteria:

  • A country where you could get permanent residency and buy property – so if we liked it we could settle down permanently;
  • Non-English speaking but with a widely spoken language – because we wanted our kids to be bilingual;
  • Cheap – because we had three kids to support and we’d be traveling for a while before we started working again;
  • Somewhere we’d never been before (which excludes many places in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and South East Asia);
  • Somewhere with amazing stunning beaches, nature and wildlife;
  • Somewhere stable where our kids would be safe – we already felt guilty enough about uprooting our children from their peaceful existence, we didn’t want to put their lives in jeopardy too.

Choosing Central America was easy compared to choosing one country within Central America.

3 Reasons Not to Live in Costa Rica

Before leaving New Zealand we spent months researching which Central American country would be best for us before finally settling on Panama and rejecting its more popular neighbor Costa Rica which seemed to be:

1. Too touristy.
2. Too over-priced.
3. Too over-run by expats.

But we kept our options open and decided to travel around Central America and visit as many potential places to live as possible before deciding where to lay our many hats.

We traveled through Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica before finally deciding Costa Rica was the one and only place that really got us excited for permanent residency.

In the end, we knew living in Costa Rica would be the place we’d love most.

3 Reasons You Should Move to Costa Rica Now

So why was moving to Costa Rica preferable to other countries in Central America?

Costa rica living

1. Although it’s a popular travel destination Costa Rica is still wild, untamed and rugged.

I guess we’re fussy about beaches having been spoilt in New Zealand but since the one main aim in our lives is to live by a gorgeous beach finding a beach which made the grade in Central America took time.

We finally found those beaches in the Southern zone of Costa Rica.

2. Costa Rica was the only place where the wildlife is really rampant. I hope it stays that way.

When we were in New Zealand we dreamed of seeing toucans and in Costa Rica we had them in our garden every day. Toucans weren’t the only creature we shared our lives with.

A bird perched on a tree branch
Friendly neighbour

We had everything from monkeys and pizote (coati) in our trees to hummingbirds or scorpions in the house and even bats in our toilet. It was quite an experience for the whole family.

3. We discovered that where once we’d have been glad to be the only expats in town that wasn’t fair on our kids.

While we were happy to send them to a local school and keen to immerse them in the local culture and language, we also thought they needed other English speaking kids to hang out with.

costa rican culture

So, in the end, having a community of expats nearby in Costa Rica helped us make our Central American experience a success for the whole family because if our kids are happy, we are too.

We ended up spending 18 months in Central America and living in Costa Rica for most of that time.

In the end, it didn’t turn out to be a permanent move for us. The schooling for our children wasn’t great and, although I’m a homeschooler at heart, in practice it’s just not me. I wanted to live somewhere where my kids could go to school so I could have time for writing.

Costa rican frog

So eventually we packed our bags, waved adios to the tree frogs and toucans then moved to Queensland, Australia which was always plan B.

As backup plans go the Sunshine Coast in Queensland is perfect for us.

It’s a much safer, sensible choice and while part of me still yearns for the adventure and excitement of Costa Rica, the other half rejoices that my kids go to a good school 40 weeks of the year, six hours a day, five days a week leaving me guilt free time to write.

I’d love to go back to Costa Rica one day and although it didn’t work out I’m very glad we made that brave move.

In fact, I’d do it all over again and who knows, maybe when the kids have left school we will.

More Resources for Costa Rica

Check out these helpful travel guides:

Have you ever moved somewhere you’ve never been before? Does living in Costa Rica sound like a good spot for you?

Bio:Annabel Candy was born in England but escaped as soon as she could to live in France, the USA, Laos, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Costa Rica. She now calls Australia home and spends many long hours bashing the keyboard, sharing travel stories at Get In the Hot Spot and blogging tips at Successful Blogging.

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172 thoughts on “3 Reasons Not to Live in Costa Rica (and 3 Reasons You Should Move There Now!)”

  1. I know someone who recently got back from hiking in Costa Rica and loved it. Another great blog is De La Pura Vida. She is an expat living in Costa Rica with her Tico fiance. She may be a good resource for people in Costa Rica because she is an expat but also gets to experience a Costa Rican culture that most people don’t get to see.

    And more importantly, just for Craig and Caz, she is a GAMECOCK!! 🙂 You can check out her blog by just looking it up as delapuravida.com or catch her on twitter at @DeLaPuraVida

    1. Thanks Jeremy. I checked out that site De la Pura Vida and it’s awesome. I’m wanting to move there so I love how detailed she is. Appreciate that!

  2. Tyler - Round the World Travel Challenge

    Interesting that the 3 reasons not to live in C.R. came first. Damn expats, we are the new colonialists!

    1. Hi Tyler,

      Lol:) I know what you mean. There’s no where that hasn’t been discovered and expats moving to CR have done a lot to push up property prices and contribute to development and hence loss of jungles:( But many do actively work to protect the environment too.

      1. OK the Expats pushing up Costs of Living. And getting Busy With Everything! Lol! That’s a Big Reason for me looking elsewhere? Smile. BTW, how does C. R. Get away without an Army? Is the U.S. Watching out for their International Security?
        Hard to imagine as the Region has had such a long time Hot Political Problem. I Love Latino People and their Vibrant Cultures! Via con Dios! Charles “Carlos”

      1. Martha Elizabeth

        Hi. I was reading this old post and am interested in finding out…are you still in Costa Rica?
        We just moved here from U.S. and have bunch of questions for people like you who left your home town to come here..

        1. Hello, my name is Chris, I am considering moving to Costa Rica. I heard that the cost of living is very cheap. I live in Kona Hawaii now and it is just too expensive. I receive social security in the amount of 1,150 dollars per month for the rest of my life. Could a single person like me live in CR on that income?
          I could use a friend to help guide me through the process of relocating there!
          I heard that there are a lot of ex pats ( Americans) living there.
          I also heard that you can rent a house for around $400 per month! Is that true?
          Any and all info that you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
          Web sites, e.t.c.
          I am 53 but look younger, how is the medical services there, is there Internet? How do I go about looking for a place to live, do I just fly there rent a hotel room and then start looking?
          Thank you again for your time, I am basically looking for resources to learn all about Costa Rica before making the leap!!
          Thank you again for your time, it is much appreciated!
          My personal e mail address is [email protected] thank you for your time, sincerely, Chris.

  3. I lived in CR for 7 years. My first son was born there. It’s a great place to raise kids for sure.

    I live in Antigua, guatemala now and funny enough, I never wanted to leave Costa rica, but now can’t imagine ever living there again! Guatemala surprised me completely!

    1. Priscilla Borsalli

      Hi Marina!

      My husband and I are studying the possibility to move to Central America. I got curious when you said you lived in Costa Rica for 7 years but now live in Guatemala and like it better. I would like to hear more from your experience.

  4. I’ve spent some time in Costa Rica, my diff, id I’m single no kid’s. Costa Rica is the most stable Democracy in Central America and has no Army and little crime. Top notch educational system at 98% literacy compared to the weak U.S. System. One of the two top ecological systems in the world and in the top ten places to retire, start a business, and become a citizen.
    There is a large Ex-Pat population in the Central Highlands, you do not need to live there. Prices are higher and education is lower.
    If you want to live, work, or retire in C.R. do your own research as to what you’re standards of living are and go on one or two trips there, many American English Speaking Corps. are there if you need work.
    Social Services are outstanding.Become a Citizen by marrying a Tica, that’s more for me since I’m single 🙂
    Bad part, bad road conditions and slow transportation…but as a backpacker I Love that.

      1. Its acctually Tico not Tica and they are the true native “costaricans” since a big part of the population is acctually peoples from surrounding countries. Additionally I love it there, I just got back from a trip there 2 days ago and am already researching moving there. I would recomend moving there but be prepared for a different and eco-friendly lifestyle. Its also true that the schools are really good, but not the ones for american people… so if you move dont go to a private english school.

        1. I am a tica myself and actually tica is a female costa rican and tico is a male..! Pura vida..

          Living in Canada at the moment missing my beautiful country and its beaches

          1. I’m an experienced Global guy too. My girls are now young adults on their own and I keep my Art Studio on Bowen Island, BC Canada. I’m looking into C. R. And Panama or Venezuela. I prefer Indigenous Communities and their Cultures to Expat.
            I know I need to live there to be sure, but of those 3 countries which in your opinion might be best for a Single, Mature,
            Artist, Adventurer?
            Also, it seems you had to give up on the concept of your children being Bi-lingual? Was that an issue?
            I brought my family with two Lovely daughters back to Canada from Africa for better Education and public Security. Now they’re independent and I’m looking for some responsible adventure. Smile. Appreciate your reply. Be Happy! Charles

            Africa for the Security and School System.

          2. I’m 49 and single looking to move to either Panama or Costa Rica. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

          3. Hi Tica!
            I’m a Canadian Fine Artist looking into Costa Rica as a good Latino Culture to Semi-Retire in. I’ve lived much Globally in Latin America, Africa and Polynesia and of course Canada and U.S. Can you share something’s about C.R.? Might I find an over burden of Expats? Or just enough to see one once in awhile to wave to? I mostly mix well with Indigenous People and to learn new Cultural Ways. Hope you’ll be in touch. Charles “Carlos”

          4. Hey miss Tica!

            Are you still in Canada? I’m an Australian who lives in Canada(Ontario)..I’m playing with the idea of renting my house out and moving to CR!!

          5. Any info on moving to CR would be great. I live in Ontario, Canada at the moment. I’m just starting to research things. Have you moved there yet?

          6. Hi Jan ( great name)
            I moved to Costa Rica 4 months ago from England, if there is anything you would like to know or I can advise you in any way,

          7. Hola Tica,

            I’m from Canada and just got back from a vacation to Costa Rica! I’m looking into moving to CR as I fell in love! Would love to talk more with you!

          8. I am a Canadian living in small town Ontario. We are seniors looking to find a winter home and return to Ontario for summer months. Apparently there is an area frequented by Canadian tourists/ex-pats and I’m wondering if you know where that is? Also, any information on making a move like this is welcome. My partner is 68 and I’m 62. We would have to sell the farm and a house to make a permanent move. That will take time and give us the opportunity to check out Costa Rica (or any other places) to see if it would work for us. Right now we are both in good health but I am curious about the quality of health care and other amenities. I like my “creature comforts”.
            Thanks for any advice you may be able to share. Also welcome additional website referrals or books.

      2. Hi! Actually, “Tico” is the popular name people use for referring to Costarrican. This is because in Spanish, diminutives are formed with -ito at the end of a noun, for example: pequeño (small), pequeñITO (diminutive), but Costarrican people use to finish this diminutives by adding -itico to the original word. So, “pequeñito” becomes “pequeñitico”, and that’s why we are known as TiCOS, ‘coz we are the ones who finish the noun in TICOS… And yes, TICO is a male and TICA is a female 😉

  5. I’m still kind of laughing at the fact that scorpions in the house and bats in the toilet ended up on the list of positives about Costa Rica. That would have been enough to send us packing right there.

    1. We are planning on moving to CR soon. I am worried about the scorpions. I know they are not dangerous, but YUCK. I know they come into people’s houses all the time. If you live in a condo in Escazu will they get into the condo? Does any one know?

      1. I live in Costa Rica, and I’ve never seen a scorpion or a Toucan(just in the zoo) in my life because i live in the city, and they’re usually in the Beach areas like Puntarenas or Guanacaste, Costa Rica is not a Jungle where bugs, scorpions or Toucans are everywhere!! But obviously if you live in Guanacaste for example you’ll have to deal with them

  6. I decided to move to London before I had actually visited there. I did have to do a trip there for a job interview before actually moving, but I don’t count that, as I had already decided to go 🙂 Costa Rica sounds pretty good actually, and well, you never know how you feel about a place before you’ve actually lived there.

  7. Very interesting. I know a family that is looking to move to Central America and they are considering Costa Rica for schooling options (2 kids). So the bit about the schools was especially interesting, will definitely share the article. Told them to go and visit first, just look around and spend some time before making a decision.

    1. Hi Vasco, some areas have more expats and better schools. It’s much easier if you’re kids are younger but my oldest was almost ready for high school so that was part of our problem:) Thanks so much for sharing the post. It’s great to connect with you here.

    2. Hi,

      We are a family with 1 kid 4 1/2 year old and would like to move from Canada to Cost Rica.
      We would appreciate to get in touch with expats with kids who did it and live there.

      Any contacts are very much appreciated, please e-mail.

      Thank you,


      1. Come to Uvita and send your kids to Escuela Verde (check out their website) great bilingual school of 80 kids up to grade 6.

      2. Don’t do it! We left Canada in July of 2012 to live in Costa Rica… And I regret it every day! We have 3 kids, who were put in a private school… What a joke. Canada’s education system is ranked in the top 10, the tico system here is terrible… Their MEP education is not internationally accredited… And the American schools are a joke.

        You only have one chance at your kids education… Don’t mess it up.

        1. Are the private schools poor everywhere? I have 2 kids, want to move there, but school is a concern? Also, is there a resource where you can speak to someone about the details of moving to CR?

          1. Hello! I live in CRC, in fact, I am from CRC. It’s obvious that I’m not going to speak bad about my own country, so yes, education system here is not the best one. But is not a general problem. There are a bunch of good schools. I think that depends of the plans your children have for the future. If they want to stay here, we have universities with a diverse careers. On the other hand, if they plan to study a professional career abroad, then they would have to study in the schools that offer the international degree. We have both private and public schools you choose in that case. Palmares’ Bilingual High School is one of the public ones and The European School is one of the privates ones!

  8. Hi!

    This was really interesting to read! I was born in England, now live in New Zealand. Volunteered in CR earlier this year and loved it, I agree with your comments. I love it there so much but not sure I could live there ALL YEAR ROUND? I have a website about CR it would be gerat if you could check it out – I would like to link you if thats ok with you? On the links page about moving to CR and in the E-Book I am selling?

    Would be great to hear back,

    Thanks alot!
    Lou 🙂

  9. You had 18 months of costa rican experience, it is something that most people will consider a successful move anyway. Also, at the end you made a good choice, eduction is really important and it leaves you free to make such excellent posts… something we all bloggers want.

    Personally, i would have never been able to get enough courage to pack everything up and go to a different location/country and settle down there. However, i hope to make a Costa Rica travel some day, perhaps a long tour, but with a return ticket.

  10. Yes, in Costa Rica most private schools keep your kids from 7 am to 2:15 pm others from 8 am to 4:00 pm. BUT these schools are located in the Central Valley of Costa Rica unfortunately not there at Rural Areas or other provinces where everybody wants to live (seeing Tucans, Monkies and Nature !). Near rural areas of Costa Rica the schools are public and they have only basic services, since they don’t receive some help from the Government, except there is not any payment are free.

    1. Hi RG, great to hear from you. Yes my kids were at a public school – there was no other option – which went from 8am-11.30am. But it was often shut. We went for the Costa Rican experience and we got it so I appreciate that and it was free:) My kids will remember it forever!

  11. I thought Costa Rica would be very touristy, but if you make a little effort, you can find some places that aren’t very saturated with visitors. It’s still an amazing country, not matter how many tourists/expats are there.

  12. I admire your courage to move around the globe in this way. Always thought Costa Rica is more for tourists. I was wondering how locals accepted you and your children.

    In France for example the kids are not really accepted in the kindergarten only after they speak fluent french and they don`t want to teach them so you have to do it at home.

    1. Hi Alexander, the locals are a friendly and welcoming bunch. The children were accepted at local schools with very little spanish. But they picked it up:)That’s terrible in France. How are immigrant children supposed to learn French if they can’t go to kindy?!

  13. Hi!!
    I will traveling to Costa Rica in a weeks now. I have traveled before but this is the first time I’m going alone. I don’t plan to travel extensively throughout the country, just San Jose, Manuel Antonio, and the Caribbean side. Since I am staying in Hostels and don’t know much about traveling alone, Is it wise to bring a backpack and a luggage roller? Or Just a backpack? Thank YOU!

  14. We are looking to relocate and want to know where you were exactly. We live in the Fla. Keys with our 3 kids and 3 dogs. All of our kids are teens. We have no clue where to start!!! Please help us in any way you can…we want to rent. Of course be near the ocean and moutains…ect, ect. Most important is the kids and socializing!!! Thank You!!!

    1. Hi! We are also researching and planning to move full time to CR with our 3 kids – 3, 8 and 11. I am also originally from Key West, but currently live in VA 🙂 We have visited CR 3 times in the last year, including visiting Escuela Verde twice (thought it was adorable and love the two owners). I would love to connect with anyone else in the same boat either planning or already doing. I am worried about the kids adjusting and getting a quality education so they can go to college and having friends. I would love any advice and input!

      1. Hi! We are planning to move to CR too. We live in Calgary AB.Also we have 2 kids 2.5 and 12. When you are planning to move?

        1. We are planning on moving this summer to CR. I think Escazu is the most modern city. Better schools too.

  15. I’ve just found this blog and I’d love to relocate too with our 3 kids…8,5, and 1. I’d love to know more, as well!

  16. Hi Annabel,
    I loved your writing. We are planning to move from Hungary to Costa Rica with our kids for a year or two. I have been searching the web for information about the relocation (e.g. where to move, how to find a flat/job, how much money you need, how to get the children into school there..).
    How can I get in touch with you privately?
    I would like to know absolutely everything about this country 🙂

  17. Hello everyone,

    I am Costa Rica, very proud to be it. Firstly, is very offensive for us, when ignorant people named you nut for move to my country, they don’t really know what are talking about.

    Secondly, I am very glad that you decided live here for sometime.

    And finally, if somebody needs help or orientation about my country, just let me know.



    1. Hi Carlos,
      I’m so glad you wrote this. I agree that it was really disrespectful for them to call people nuts for wanting to live in Costa Rica. It is also disrespectful to evaluate Costa Rica as an “experience” or “adventure” rather than as a place where they are guests and having local resources shared with them.
      The funny thing is, their own countries are a mess. That is why they are trying to colonize again.

      1. Hi Lori,

        I never check this web page. So sorry, I just realize about some mistakes in my past writing.

        Thanks for your comment, I still believe in nice and respectful people like you. Yes, I ironic those people are all the time complaining about this, that, here, there, so, if they don’t like why they don not leave the country? or better, try to find a solution to this big problems?.

        Anyway, have you been in Costa Rica?



        1. I lived in Mexico for more than 10 yrs. The best thing about where I lived was most Americans can’t handle the lifestyle and attitude changes. They spend a lot of energy trying to make the place the way they want it, and in the end, go home, complaining the whole way. These are the type I would avoid normally, so the country did the “weeding out” for me. Unfortunately, Mexico’s problems, inextricably linked to the US, are beginning to invade my favorite sea side village.

          Now, I’m looking to Costa Rica for a possibility of simple, rural mountain living. We’ll see!

    2. Hello carlos,
      I have a brother that lives in El Salvador that wants to relocate to CR with his girlfriend he is a fluent english and spanish speaker what place would be best to find a job and rent a home?
      Thank you

    3. Hola Carlos,yo quisiera sargar la residencia de Costa Rica,ya que ano pasado trate en Panama y ladron de abogado me robo todo mi dinero y no si nada.

      I have my auto in panama,and would drive it costa rica some time in Nov,or Dec. for vacation and look around,i also have some family members that have live there for many years,they are from Puerto Rico,i live in South Carolina USA.I’am retired.

      1. Hi,

        If you want to get the Costa Rican residence, you may be married with a Costa Rican citizen or do some occupational activity in the country. If you need further info, let me know

  18. We are seriously considering a move to Costa Rica from the USA. We have 2 kids 9 & 13. Which cities have good schools?

  19. This is so crazy b/c I just last year quit my corporate job and started my own, rather successful business. My husband is still working full time, in the rat race, great salary, lot of demand on his time. We have visited Costa Rica- Uvita actually- 2 years ago. We stayed at Oxygen Jungle Villas- LOVED it- still my favorite vacation. We have talked about relocating for 2 years and I’m just at that point. I want somewhere untouched by all the commercialism, I want a laid back, more simple life, I want to stay at the beach (we currently live at the beach), I want tennis courts for my daughter. We do have one (1) 8 year old- almost 9 year old daughter. We are ready to sell everything and go

    1. I have lived in CR. It is a wonderful place, but it is no place to raise a family by American standards.. I have seen many families sell everything and move to the area where we lived only to return home disillusioned, broke and angry in 6 months. The schools aren’t great and the kids have way too much freedom. There is a lot of easy access to drugs and there isn’t the stigma about premarital sex that one would expect in a predominantly Catholic country, lots of young unwed mothers… Also, I hope you are independently wealthy, since you can’t work in Costa Rica as a foreigner, Lots have tried to make a way, but you just can’t do it…the economy won’t support your endeavors. Sorry to be a kill joy, but it is the truth. It is hard living in a foreign culture, it is a lonely life for you and your kids. In the end the only way you can protect and raise your kids by American standards is to keep them out of the Tico culture, which will isolate and frustrate them.
      There is no such thing as paradise… while you may gain in beauty and lack of commercialism, you stand to lose a great deal more in the quality of life you can offer your kids.
      Costa Rica is beautiful and unique but it is no place to raise your kids.

      1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences Elle. I’m sure it will help people to undertake careful research when making decisions on whether to move to CR. I think everyone has different perspectives and values so decisions must be made in accordance to that. I think living in a foreign country is indeed challenging and can be lonely, but it also can be very rewarding. If CR is not the right place then I hope people will consider some other countries that perhaps might be a better fit. It’s always difficult to make decisions like this when we have kids.

      2. Martha Elizabeth

        So true..I’ve been in Costa Rica from U.S. for the past 6 months and have tried MANY times to connect with other fellow citizens who live here and homeschool, just as I do. They are unfriendly, and never respond to my messages. Everyone is doing their own thing, and don’t care. While the Ticos are great, friendly people, the culture in general is very shocking. The tico women are really not that friendly, the man are.

  20. This is my opinion which is at least depending on your preferences I honestly feel that there are less tourist sights in Costa Rica than there are in U.S.A. (if necessary to point out I actually reside in Canada.) To give you a better perspective let’s supposed that if you enjoy large shopping complexes,visiting or even residing in a high rise building(s) and theme parks your “best bet” is the U.S.A. so therefore I’m doubtful that you’ll find places like these in Costa Rica but however I’m sure that there’s got to be some large shopping center in Costa Rica.

  21. I lived in Costa Rica for a year with my Tico husband. As beautiful as the country is, we were tired of fearing for our safety all the time. We moved back to my home in Australia and we feel so at peace not having to worry anymore. We are still very nostalgic about CR and look forward to visiting again, but to live there, it’s not for everyone.

  22. Victoria Blocker

    I am originally from Costa Rica, but been in th US for many years. My husband is a physician and we’d like to retire in Costa Rica, somewhere in the Central Valley.
    We are interested in meeting expats who have chosen Costa Rica as their home. So they can share their experinces with us. Can e-mail us at [email protected]

    Thank you


    1. Hola Victoria,

      Tico, guancasteco, que vive en Australia. El proximo año me regreso para CR, gustoso de compartir experiencias. Pura vida

  23. Hello, I was wondering if anyone can help me. I’m thinking of moving to CR and commuting to Houston for my job as a flight Attendant. How do I go about obtaining residency and where is the best place to live where I can feel safe and be able to get back and forth to airport? I want a nice 2 bedroom apt.

    1. Hi Tabatha,

      I am Costa Rican and I love to help people (orientating them) in terms of Costa Rica info.

      Let me know what do you want and I try to do my best efford.



      1. Heeey Carlos 🙂

        I’m coming to Costa Rica next week and I’m looking for some information about CR. Please contact me through my email if you’re still interested about sharing some information about your lovely country: [email protected]

        Pura vida 🙂

  24. Thanks for sharing your candid impressions on life in Costa Rica. Many people have the impression that it is overrun by tourists and expats as you say. But that’s really not the case. Yes, there are expats here and even some enclaves where expats dominate. But for the most part, expats blend into the scenery so to speak. The ones that stay are able to integrate into the community and learn a new lifestyle.

  25. Awwww the title of this post was like a stab in the heart! Glad it redeemed itself. 😉 I lived a year in CR and miss it so, so much. I lived away from it all … When a backpacker sends me a message, “It is SO expensive here,” I always guess, “Tamarindo?” and am always right. But this post was great. Made me think of some lovely memories. 🙂 🙂

    1. Hello Abby,

      I was wondering could you tell me where are some safe places to live in CR? Also, is it expensive to live there?

  26. We love it here and are thinking of relocating here permanently but of course every place is suited to some and not others . So were going to do a trial year , we have had great experiences whilst on holiday but appreciate its different when you live there full time . Very interesting piece of writing and nice to see different peoples opinions . Were going to look for a rental villa and see how we get on …. very interesting and also useful writing thank you

  27. Old post but excellent points. Very touristy was also our first impression, and expensive, but there are upsides. We found a nice place from Manuel Antonio for work exchange: National Park Backpackers hostel .

  28. My wife and I moved to Costa Rica two years ago. After just three weeks in the country we found ourselves wrapped with duct tape and laying on the kitchen floor for two days after being robbed, lucky the air conditioning was running, and that our cleaning lady arrived to save us. I’d never been so thirsty in my life.

  29. Is worth to be mentioned that if you didn’t graduate from a state university in computer sciences then you´re screwed, you won’t find a job that pays you enough for living as a citizen is supposed to live, the over-priced land is reaching more that ridiculous prices, the “social” medical care is in the dumpster now, job are disguised exploitation, capitalism is taking over, wall street broker wannabes are running this country, labor is in a shortage, call centers are the new sweat shops, the XXI century lower-layer of neo – industrial revolution, we are the most pathetic, wrecked shameful inhabitants of America, poverty all around, we still buy hand mirrors from developed countries…fuck this country!

  30. Costa Rica is a place that wasn’t on my radar until recently when friends visited and talk of potentially moving there as well. Interesting post and lots of good points. Thanks for sharing!

  31. So any one can help me find out how much money do a family of 3 (Parent and 1 children) needs to live above a mid life level in Costa Rica.

    My Question because i got a job offer and i don’t know if it is good or not specialty that i will pay the home rent and the transportation.

    So please any information about the standard of living will be useful

  32. I actually live in Canada move from Costa Rica and I have to say it was quite a dissapoinment even for my husband to come back from Costa Rica He was in Costa Rica many years and coming back here was quite shocking.! We are getting ready to sell everything again and move out of Canada… Missing Costa Rica so much..! Love my beaches.! And about the school systems maybe shouldn’t blame it on the education system but more on the student.! I studied in Costa Rica and I speak 6 languages and got my degree in surgery.! Which as been approved in Canada. Won’t be using it here.! Thank God. A good student will be good anywhere a bad student, will fail everywhere.!

  33. we visited costa rica last year and I still cant get over this amazing peaceful country.
    I would love to check if anyone who live there has older kids and what areas better to look for few years relocation . Ages 14 and 12 for a bilingual school.



      1. Hi Carlos, I’m just finding this article and your offers of help. I’ve been to cr 5 times in the last 7 years and am enchanted. I’m a massage therapist, my husband is a graphic designer/artist and I have an almost 5 year old daughter who we will homeschool. We’re ready to pack it all up and move to the country we’ve loved so much. We’ve only traveled to the guanacaste and Nosara in nicoya. The advice we’ve received from other ex pats was to come and travel and find the right fit. We both loved playa grande in the guanacaste as it’s beachy, beautiful, low key and mildly touristy. I speak a little Spanish and my daughter is learning. My email is [email protected] if you find this response and have some input for me. Pura vida!

      1. I lived in Playas Del Coco and took a bus to Teocali in Liberia though. You don’t necessarily have to live in Liberia to go there. A lot of beach town kids go there. They even had buses from Tamarindo which was like 45 mins to an hour

  34. I lived in Costa Rica when I was 11 to 13, I am now 19. It was the greatest experience of my life. I am insulted that you thought the educational system wasn’t top notch. They actually have a better education than the U.S. All students are required to take English as a second language, and in their high school years they pick a third language. Definitely do not attend an English private school there because you will get the American education system there. I personally went to Teocali in Liberia. It is a private bilingual school. All levels have half their day in English and the other half in Spanish. In the 7,8,9,10,11 levels you take on a third language for a couple hours once a week. When I attended it was French. Part of the curriculum involved a course called analytical thinking where you picked up quite a bit of Latin vocabulary. I learned Spanish very quickly and the teachers were phenomenal. Gym classes involved swimming in an outdoor pool and playing basketball in an open gym outdoors. They have tests you have to take to graduate, which in my opinion are harder than the SATs and you are better prepared for these tests. I learned college math in seventh grade while there. I did not see that math again in the U.S. until I took an advanced placement calculus in high school. When I returned to the U.S. for 8th grade, I was placed in advanced classes and received high school credit. I believe this was all due to the education I received from Teocali. I have a close friend who went to Country Day School of Guanacaste, which is an English school, and he did not come out with the same level of education that I did. So, apparently you didn’t do enough research into which schools your children should have attended. The public schools are good, but a lot of people who attend there do not plan to receive secondary education so the attitude is spread amongst the students and teachers. Also the University of Costa Rica is free to attend if I remember correctly. The educational system is Costa Rica is phenomenal. I now attend a respected university for my chosen major and having the experiences from Costa Rica and the language has made me very marketable.

    1. I loved reading your input. I am very, impressed with what you learned in their school system. Let’s face it: a majority of schools outside of the U.s. and Canada are way more advanced which is why we are looking to putting our son in a school that is elsewhere. I am Canadian and proud to be, except that the way they are teaching here is completely lazy. Even lazier than when I was a kid (I’m 32 now).

    2. By the way, do you need to be a citizen in order to enroll in school in Costa Rica? How long do you have to reside there before doing so?

  35. My husband is currently working full time from home and we have 2 toddlers and an infant on the way. We want to take advantage of this time and move to a totally different place for a year. Any advice on moving to Costa Rica. Is it possible to move there for a year without a work visa?

  36. Hello,
    I am looking to move to Costa Rica. I have 3 children and 17, 15, 9. One of my greatest desires is to live on an island again. I have lived in Puerto Rico and loved the culture but it was very expensive and returned to the U.S. I have considered Costa Rica because I have heard it is affordable and a great place to live. I was wondering if there is an area that would be better for someone like us that are both fluent in Spanish and English to live in that is kind of in between. I want to have some contact with people that can speak English but I do not want to miss out be emerged into the Spanish community and culture. I am not concerned about my older children because they are homeschooled but my 9 year old has learning disabilities and I am wondering if submerging her into a new language might be to difficult. I am reading mixed reviews on the schooling. I agree that the American school system is not the best. I would want her in public school, I just wonder about special education? Any suggestions?

  37. I graduated from high school in California and went to college in Germany,there I got to meet other Costaricans who also attended various universities in Germany.Their
    Bachillerato was accepted while my HSDiploma required required extra classes in math,chemistry,physics and a few other subjects.DOES THAT TELL YOU SOMETHING?.By the way I’m costaricam.

  38. Hi

    we too are thinking of picking up and living elsewhere. My husband is from costa rica but I am not sure that’s where I want to be. We too have 4 kids still at home between the ages of 3 and 16. We have talked about Australia as well but when I looked it up, there are all kinds of categories we must fall into in order to live there legally. How did you do it?

  39. Hi there…we are a family of five ( 3 kids , 8, 6 and 3) we would love to connect and figure out your work situation…we are thinking we might liketo go to CR for a few years..currently in Canada..my husb has his heart set on Tamarindo !!! he is a surfer..need i say more

  40. I have no kids and I am thinking about retiring early and moving to a country where my dollar will go a long way. Live modestly and in a beautiful, warm country where the people are kind and the culture inviting. I hear that the medical and technological infrastructure are all top notch but I also hear many divergent opinions on living there. I understand that the logical next step is a visit but I was hoping to have some comments from you kind folks on what I can expect, what to watch out for and if the country is as amazing a place to live as some people are telling me. Thank you so much!

    1. Hello Kevin

      I do recommend you to come visit , check it out and rent a place for a few months. I suggest visiting Lake Arenal area and contact the people from teamrealtycr.com. They are the only trustworthy people I know that can help you out with very valuable information.


  41. I loved this review. I love your adventurousness and open mind. My husband and I are looking to live abroad with our 3 year old son and we thought Costa Rica too and read they had excellent education. But, reading what you had said about the schooling for your children makes me question, what was it about the schooling that wasn’t appealing? I would love to hear. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Hello Precian

      Being a Costa Rican I can assure you the schools here are good. In general the private schools are better than some public schools. However the Costarican education system has one of the best educational program called ‘Colegio cientifico”
      I went to a public elementary school and high school, then I got in the University of Costa Rica ( UCR), one of the tops universities in Latin America, and finally I got my master degree from University of Virginia. My conclusion from both univeristies is that I found UCR much harder.

  42. Bit late to read this but I just stumbled across this post as my husband and I are contemplating moving from Brisbane to San Jose for a couple of years with our young children.

    Thanks so much for the insights, very useful in our current decision making, particularly as we visited Costa Rica pre-kids with a very different mind-set!

  43. I mean, are you my twin?! We are going through the exact and I mean exact story at the moment. Living in Gisborne, selling and trucking the family to CR with plan b being Noosa. Please email me….would love to chat further about your experiences in CR. We’ve travelled a bit of Central already but now we have two children in tow. Glad I found this! xx

  44. I understand that Costa Rica is a busy place run by expects and the prices high and it’s too busy with tourist but it’s a great place to live like you said when you are a traveler you are always a traveler. I’m like you I have been traveling the world with my wife and my two babies for years and it’s hard to embrace at first foreign lands and their cultures. You know that when you get into places where the tourists dominate then it’s a tough place to live. I am sure you love it there. How often you see a toucan anywhere else. Very rarely and for that reason I love it and loved being there. It’s a great country and I enjoyed reading your post.

    1. Hi Marc!
      Well, (here) the touristic places tends to be more expensive. Local owners aren’t dumb. They expect that tourist from far countries will have enought money to afford to over-pay for “basic luxuries”. Ask to the locals for a better, more tasty and cultural place to eat, rather than a “re-known place” for tourist.
      If you’re on a budget, know this: To give “tips” here, is not a “social-obligatory-stigma”. The payment of the salary of the restaurant’s waitress, covers all the working-legal obligations. Is “culturally aceptable” just saying thanks to the waitress for their service. To give a “tip” is only up to you!

  45. Thank you very much for this interesting article.
    I am thinking of moving to Costa Rica for 6 months with my boyfriend. As I am only 23 years old I was wondering if you think it is a good idea ?

    I do want something completly different and to try this kind of life for a few months.

    I thank you for your answer,


    1. I just moved to escazu Costa Rica with my husband and 2 kids.. so far we are loving it, it was a last minute decision and so far all has worked out except the schooling for our kids, we are from Canada and here we are looking at lighthouse private school , we went there and got all the information about the schooling and they want my 7 year old to start second grade all over again as they are saying that he is behind and in Canada they are teaching in second grade what first grade knows.. I’m not happy about this and was wondering if anything similar to this happen to other parents.

      1. I would worry about that. It happened to me when my parents divorced and I had to start off at a lower level. If you go back to Canada say at high school level they will have to write a test to see what level they are functioning at My own daughters went from french school to english school and a school board test had to be given. Education is education where ever it’s from. It all catches up in university ! What made you choose the area where you are living. I’m vacationing to Cost Rica with my daughter April 9th we are from Toronto.

      2. Sorry ment to say I wouldn’t worry about it! I’m using my cell phone and auto correct drives me crazy sometimes.

      3. Dagmar Augustun

        I am looking to may by move to Costa Rica,but I am unsure,becours, no
        spanish speaking.From the USA with German background. Where do
        most of USA and Canadian people live in CR ???
        Thanks for a replay………Cheers Dagmar

  46. Hello, I live most of my life in USA. I’m Ben married for 24 years I had 3 children 21, 15 and my 12. All speak fluent English a little Spanish. My husband was diagnosed with cancer 4 years ago know he is been diagnosed with terminal cancer but I believed in a God that he can make a miracle that’s my believing, and we thinking to move to Costa Rica we think probably will be better for my husband. He is originally from Siguatepeque Honduras a nice small town. But we will like to move to Costa Rica because has better resources and that weather and all that beautiful green an good oxygen., any suggestions and if you think we making that right decision please all references will help thank you.

  47. Joyce Fredison

    I’ve been to Costa Rica several times for work and always added a few extra days for sightseeing. Always thought of one place I would want to live, If I could. But is it possible to retire in Costa Rica on a very modest pension of $1,600 per month? I know that housing is a huge problem there.

  48. Costa Rica has been a tourist destination for many people like me. When i visited CR few months back. I was astonished with its beauty and was really thinking to stay there. Your post again have make up my mind and will surely try to fulfill my dream in my lifetime.

  49. Hi there, my husband and I are thinking about moving to Costa Rica in 5 years and I was researching the education system and what I read said that it was the best in Latin America. So I’m curious what you didn’t like about it?? I would love your opinion as you would have first hand knowledge of it 🙂 thank you!

  50. Could you explain more please on how you managed to move so freely between all those countries and how you were then able to move to Australia? That would be much appreciated. Did it take a while and cost a lot of money to apply for work Visas or do you naturally have rights to work in NZ and Oz etc due to family?

  51. Ok you guys can you give me some advise? I am australian and thinking of Costa Rica l am on an aged pension about $400 a week I have a defacto wife from Cambodia. We both love wild life you have their. We have no wish to live in a city we are country green people who love rainforest and want a simple life. Any info please.
    Yours faithfully. Richard and Then.

  52. Looking to move to Grecia or Atenas. I have two sons ages 10 & 11yo. Having a hard time finding an English school… or mostly English. Our Spanish is not we’re it needs to be (yet). Any suggestion? I’m willing to look at other regions to find the right school for now and move later after we all become a bit more fluent in Spanish. Thanks!

  53. I love Costa Rica. I was surprised to see how polite were the people in 2006. I do not know if this paradise changed….I loved San Jose. And the nature around with parks and waterfalls. The colors. The people. Everything was amazing. I came from a city with so many rude people and San Jose ” me encanta” because the people’s positive attitude.

  54. if you people don’t like my country feel free never to come back what you all don’t understand is the fact that we don’t like getting infected with your natzy ideas we like who we are and since lots of you have been moving here the crime,drugs and everything related to it have move in to are land not even counting the fact that you people have been kicking all are people out of the states for the past 20 years treating us like shit,,,i lived there for a long time so I know get the fuck out

  55. Hi! My husband and I are NOT travelers or adventurers by any means and have lived in the DC Metro area all of our lives! Even so, we have recently become very interested in the idea of moving to Costa Rica. We’ve got 2 young children and one on the way, and prefer that they be submerged in the culture, school included. My kids are half Mexican-Spanish (Spanish from Spain, just to clarify) and they understand Spanish completely. Unfortunately, since I am the English speaking one, they are not fluent speakers. I am excited about the idea of them becoming completely literate in Spanish. This is a HUGE deal for us “boring” people, but we are up to the challenge in order to provide a better quality of life for our family. However, never having done anything remotely close to global travel, I don’t even know where to begin :-/ I am open to any suggestions, websites, blogs, etc. that could point me in the right direction 🙂

  56. Living, or even retiring, in Costa Rica can be a great option. However, if you’re an American citizen you still have to pay taxes on your worldwide income. That means if have self-employment income or even earn money from investments, you still likely will have to file a U.S. tax return. Furthermore, with the FATCA requirements, you may have to report money you have in foreign financial accounts. We have clients across the globe and encourage people to get advice before they make the move abroad.

  57. I think your choice to leave was wise. It might be beautiful and all, but providing your kids worse education than you can afford is just not fair to them. The article is very objective and I am glad you had this nice experience.

  58. I am a single retiree and am thinking about moving to Costa Rica on a permanent basis. I am sure I can find American expat communities but my biggest concern is the banking system. I need to know that my income can be safely direct deposited in a safe bank. Otherwise I suspect I will have use my ATM card for all purchases and cash withdrawals.

    Thank You
    Michael OBrien
    Upstate New York

  59. Love the traveling you have done. We recently lived in Costa Rica and Ecuador and loved it. I would really like to permanently move to New Zealand but I cannot find a way to stay there permanently. Any suggestions? We are American living in the US currently. Thank you.

  60. I just returned from a trip to South America and Costa Rica. Since I got back to California, I have been trying to convince my sweetie who is retired that we need to move to Costa aRica. I fell in love with the country and have a desire to make this happen. Our income exceeds the requirements of $1800 a month. Packing ASAP!!!

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