I keep seeing articles that say Costa Rica is one of the happiest countries to live in. And while that can be true for some, I wanted to point out various reasons why someone may not want to move here.
1. You don’t want to move to Costa Rica if… you really like the four seasons.
Well, there IS a “Four Seasons” hotel in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, but there is definitely not four seasons of the year here (it should really be called the “Two Seasons Hotel”). No changing of the leaves. No crisp season when the snow melts and it’s that “light jacket” weather. No snow or ice or sleet or slush.
Costa Rica has two seasons: a “summer” (dry season) and a “winter” (rainy/wet season). The summers are beautiful. But so is the rainy season – the mornings are usually clear and sunny, and if you venture out in the afternoon, just do like the Ticos do and go about business as usual, just pop out your umbrella when it rains. Costa Rica really has a climate for everyone (except if you want snow).
2. You don’t want to move to Costa Rica if… you’re an introvert and never want to talk to anyone.
So you want to have a quiet day, go into town and do your grocery shopping and return home all in peace and quiet? Well, good luck. People are gosh-darn NICE here. You can’t get away with going out and NOT having a “Buenos días!” thrown at you with a smile, or running into a friend, or an acquaintance even, and chatting a bit. It’s just the way it is here.
OH WAIT – I’m a semi-introvert(!), can sometimes feel awkward, and there are definitely days where I’d rather not talk to anyone… But I’ve found even on those days, the Ticos genuine smiles and kisses cheer me up regardless, and later – I feel like I didn’t “just go into town for errands”, but someone remembered who I was and greeted me with joy, and really, how could that not brighten my day?
3. You don’t want to move to Costa Rica if…. you are neurotic about your personal space.
I met a Tica for the first time the other day. We told each other our names, shook hands, and said mucho gusto (“pleasure to meet you”). Today I saw her for the 2nd time – and she greeted me like a long lost friend! She had a huge smile, arms opened wide, and she ran out to greet me with a kiss on the cheek. That’s not unusual here. After you’ve met someone, the next time you see them, you are bombarded with kindness. It sounds crazy to us “stiff Americans”, yet this is how the Ticos are – they are genuinely kind and happy to see us. They are sweet when I stumble around with my awful Spanish… they are patient when I say mas despacio, por favor. They smile and laugh and disagree with me when I say !Mi Espanól no es bueno! (“my Spanish is not good at all!”). Sounds like a crazy way to treat foreigners, doesn’t it? But I’ll take it!
4. You don’t want to move to Costa Rica if… you must have a smooth car ride everywhere you go.
Granted, some of the roads are ok here, but most are heavily laden with potholes. Sometimes people will stick a tree in them, so you know to avoid while driving. If you ride around in the car a lot, it will be a bumpy ride. This is not that big of a deal to me when someone is kind enough to give us a lift (unless I’m carting some homemade éclairs and they’re being bounced all over the pretty platter they are carefully placed on). However, we recently were with a friend and this really bothered her. When she said “oh my, the roads are quite bumpy here” about every 5 seconds, we knew this person would not last long in Costa Rica…
5. You don’t want to move to Costa Rica if…. you expect immediate service everywhere you go.
This is just not the way things are done here. Yes, the people are nice, and they want to help you, but they are also extremely laid back. They don’t get too worked up or stressed out about anything. Everything gets done in its own time, pura vida. At a restaurant, when you take that last sip of your drink, a waiter will not instantly appear at your side and ask if you want another one. You’ll typically have to wait. Sometimes for quite a while. And you might need to flag down your waiter and request it. And then wait some more while he/she gets it and brings it back to you in their own time… NOTHING is in a hurry here, folks.
However, I must say, that I really enjoy this (hey, I don’t have to race back to the office to punch a time clock!). It is what it is here, and once you accept that, life can be pretty darn pura vida.
6. You don’t want to move to Costa Rica if…. you have a bug phobia.
With Costa Rica never having a winter season and many areas being beaches or rain forests – YES, there are bugs here. What did you expect?
OH WAIT – I moved here with a bug phobia! And when I say “bugs” I’m mainly talking about roaches and extra-large spiders (tarantulas). However, I’M STILL HERE. And I really haven’t seen these certain bugs that much, certainly not every day. I also really think the bug experiences I have had, have helped to diminish my phobia. I can’t control the bugs here, but I can control how I react or deal with them (sometimes typing words like this helps me to actually believe them). Click here for my secret tool that helps me deal with them.
7. You don’t want to move to Costa Rica if…. you’re offended by people hanging their dirty laundry out to dry.
Well, more accurately, their clean laundry. Most Ticos do not own a clothes dryer. Sure, they are available. But why would they buy one, when they can hang their clothes outside to dry for free? This is the mind-set of most Ticos I have come across, and I think I can really learn something from them. Why buy something if it’s not necessary? Seeing clothes hung out to dry in front yards – over fences, on top of shrubs, over roof overhangs – is a most common sight here.
8. You don’t want to move to Costa Rica if… you either hate or love dogs.
Let me explain. If you’re not a dog person (squeamish at the mere site of a puppy wagging its tail), Costa Rica might not be for you. You will see a lot of dogs roaming around on the streets, sides of roads, everywhere. Sometimes they will bark at you, and come up to you (which I know would scare people who don’t like dogs). However, I’ve never encountered a dog that actually touched me, I’ve always been able to “scare” them away with a grunt or shout.
On the other hand if you are a dog lover, Costa Rica might also not be for you. Having a dog for a pet here is a more recent thing. Most dogs (if owned) are kept outside, a lot of times on a chain. It doesn’t occur to most Costa Ricans to neuter their pets. So they multiply. And multiply. And multiply. The good news is you can definitely get involved in dog rescue projects here. Some of the best people I know head up dog fostering, rescuing and neutering projects.
9. You don’t want to move to Costa Rica if…. you want to drive a brand new flashy sports car.
Well, you CAN buy such a car here, but #1 it would cost you loads of money, and #2 you’d be severely limited as to where you could drive it (see above potholed roads). And if you think you’ll just bring your car with you from the States, you will pay for that too; tack on 52% of the value of the vehicle (if 6 years old or under) plus the cost to ship it over seas.
We don’t have a car, and WE LOVE IT. We get around just fine by bus, it’s only 80 cents a fare into town or $8 for a direct ride to either the west or east coast. We really save so much money this way without the price of a car, and all the inspection/insurance fees to go along with it. Sometimes I do miss driving my Mini, and Greg would love to get an old Toyota Land Cruiser – they’re everywhere here, there’s even a bumper sticker that says OTRO TOYOTA (“Another Toyota” – how cute is that)… but we have stuck to our guns and stayed with the bus, as we know we do not need a car, and so far it’s been great – lots of adventures happen this way.
10. You don’t want to move to Costa Rica if…. your diet consists of Dr. Pepper, pretzels, and football.
Well, let me revise, for a price, you can get Dr. Pepper and pretzels, as well as watch American football if you pay for cable TV or visit some sports bars in bigger cities.
However, there are great (and cheaper!) substitutes. You can find batidos (fresh fruit blended with either water or milk and ice) everywhere, which are refreshing and let’s face it, a lot healthier than a Dr. Pepper. And Pringles are a great and healthy substitute for pretzels. Kidding, but Pringles are pretty cheap here, and look at this cute little pack “Sólo para mí! (“Only for me, Gregorio!”). Also, futball (soccer) is the national sport here, you will find soccer fields everywhere you go. Added bonus ladies: much easier to see how fit the men are without all that American football paraphernalia on!
Now, if all the above reasons were true, I wouldn’t be living here.
And the ones that are slightly true for me (bug phobia, slightly introverted, oh and
I do love dogs) have only helped me to become a better person. I think I’ll stay!
Pura Vida! — Jen