By: Robelyn M. Yambao
Hola Mi Amigo/ Amiga!
It's me again, Robelyn, sharing my experiences as an expat with you. Today, I'm gonna be sharing my opinion in living in Costa Rica as expat.
Home, Shelter, Accommodation
In Costa Rica, some cities are expensive. The apartments and houses for rent are higher than expected. You will find cheap rent of apartment or casa in remote areas like mountains. If you are in the city, expect $300 for a studio semi-furnished casa and at least $500 one room furnished casa. If you wanted to stay by the sea or beach, expect $500 to $1500 accommodation depending on your needs. If you choose to live in a cheaper city, expect to have rough road and you will need your own car for transportation or else try to take bus to save money. Most cheap casa around $150 are not furnished, you will need to buy your own appliances which are expensive in town. We survived here for one and a half years now renting two bedrooms furnished for $300 plus utilities in Palmares. Right now, we got another place for $250 furnished two bedrooms in San Ramon.
Most of the ingredients like Asian food can't be found in the groceries. They have American stores and Asian stores but they have limited stocks of what you are looking for, sometimes not available at all! When you crave for seafood, you can't find fresh, all are frozen! Buying fish is like buying expensive meat. All are expensive, only fruits and vegetables are the ones affordable but not all because there are still some expensive fruits and vegetables. Seasonings are also limited in stock if you want to cook your favorite dishes. It's so frustrating because you can't cook the correct taste of the recipe you want. We always buy chicken around $2.50 per kg. in grocery store and the fresh seafood like fish and shrimp in Puntarenas market, an hour bus trip from San Ramon.
Clothing & Appliances
As usual, the prices are unbelievable very high. We always buy our clothes in a thrift store. They call it Ropa Americana where you can find some nice clothes for cheaper price. Buying appliances is twice or thrice the price from your own country especially from the Philippines. Well, they have stores that offer cheaper price but you are not familiar with their brands.
Language & Communication
This is the hardest part as an expat. If you cannot speak Spanish, you may find hard to live here because most of the people here don't speak English. Only few can speak English. I'm glad that our Tagalog in the Philippines is similar to Spanish, I could hardly understand but I can communicate a little with sign language. If you plan to live here, you may start learning Spanish now!
Visa & Residency
Another thing is your legal stay in this country. If you are not a resident yet or you are not applying for residency, you may find it uncomfortable to renew your visa to stay in this country because you will need to leave every 90 days or cross the border to renew your stamp. If you are a resident already, you don't need to cross the border but you will need to pay in their Caja like insurance every month just like locals do.
The cheapest transportation is taking bus and the most comfortable is buying your own car but cars here are expensive because all are imported. If you take taxi, you will burn your pocket because they charge too much unless you take the one they call in US gypsy. Taking bus is uncomfortable too because you need to wait for their schedule every hour to depart.
You will find it annoying sometimes because they work slow in here. For example, in the banks or government offices, they open very late at 9:00 and then a lot of people waiting in line. Every transaction, you will need an appointment because they don't have a walk-in so you will need to return not the next day but the next 3 days, 7 days or worst one month. Same in private establishments, you will need appointment. If there's a repair like wifi connection or cable because of damaged post due to heavy rain, it takes one week to wait to repair it. If you get married or gave birth, expect your paper will be registered in their system within 3 months.
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I hope you find my article interesting and looking forward for you to read more. Thank you!
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A licensed teacher in the Philippines who shifted her career into another direction to follow her passion to be a blogger. Her blogs are related in traveling and simple living as an expat in a foreign land.