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28 Apr 2016
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Expat Living

If you’re thinking buying property and living in Costa Rica to take up the life of an expatriate, you could be forgiven for visions of a future filled with nothing but strung up hammocks and umbrella drinks. Indeed, not every day will be “just another day in paradise,” but the culture and laid-back approach to life in Costa Rica, famously known for its Pura Vida (pure life) vibe, does make it easier to live a simpler life than that which we experience in the United States, Europe or Canada. 

Ticos don’t spend their lives ticking off tasks on their to-do lists; they approach responsibilities with an attitude of … well … mindfulness. They may make a plan, but typically expect it to develop at its natural pace. Costa Ricans know that regardless of the undertaking at hand, something will happen; it may not be a final result or even close, but progress will be made and everything will resolve itself in good time so there’s no point in tilting at windmills or trying to force a result. 

Culturally, Costa Rican life is about living in the moment; experiencing the great weather, the beautiful scenery, friends and family. A philosophy that avoids stress and embraces a peaceful life, Pura Vida exemplifies respect for natural life, and living in harmony. As a result, “Tico Time” is very flexible: “8:30 p.m.” could really mean 9 or 10; “tomorrow” might really be next week and “soon”, a few months; likewise, “the other day”, could really refer to something that happened several months ago. 

In Costa Rican culture, people are reluctant to say “No,” or “I can’t do that,” because they don’t want to offend. Likewise, most are reluctant to give direction, give unsolicited advice or information, or otherwise meddle in the business of others. A non-confrontational culture, it is important sometimes to read between the lines and pay attention to unvoiced cues, but this can also be appreciated for its more tranquil, less aggressive atmosphere. 

Because there are two season: summer or the dry season (December – April) and winter, known as “green” season because of the rains (May – November) the temperature remains fairly constant (low 70s to mid-80s). Even during the rainy season, mornings and evenings tend to be sunny and dry, especially on the Central Pacific Coast. Basically, every day is a summer’s day in Costa Rica and that makes life feel just a little sweeter, simpler and steady. 

There are many reasons to consider making the move. While not as inexpensive as in years past, you can live quite comfortably on as little as US$2,500 – $3,000 per month, especially if you join the national health service (the Caja). Monthly living expenses for utilities, food, domestic help, medical care, and transportation vary according where you choose to live. Beach areas are slightly more expensive, but expect to pay about 22% less than what you do in the States, again depending up the area from which you hail. In a master-planned community, such as Los Sueños Resort & Marina, housing costs could include HOAs, but the good news is that property taxes are lower in costa Rica than in the United States. If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, living the dream of Pura Vida at Los Sueños just might be the answer. This overall lower cost of living helps expats to attain the simpler way of life they’re seeking; less stress, less pressure, less of a temptation to try to keep up with the Joneses.