Cost of living
The cost of living in Costa Rica is high compared to other countries in Central America. Costa Rica is called the Switzerland of Central by the locals.
Eating out can be expensive and drinks in bars and restaurants will set you back similar to what you would pay in the United States of America.
Food and drink are also pricey in the stores. We didn’t find any large supermarkets during our stay, consequently the choice options on the shelves in limited.
- Costa Ricans tend to place more emphasis on people and relationships than strict adherence to a set schedule. in social situations. It is acceptable to be 20 to 30 minutes late.
- Costa Ricans tend to take a more indirect path when communicating, requiring creative speaking and listening techniques.
- Costa Rica has a macho culture and women are often treated differently than men. Most women are expected to do all the housework, all the cooking, etc.
- Catcalls are common toward women walking in the streets but the advances usually stop at that.
- The shared national pacifism can also be seen in the attitude of the Costa Rican people. There is a culture of non-confrontation in Costa Rica, probably as a consequence of the country’s laid-back way of life.
- There are a few rules of etiquette to observe if dining with Costa Rican hosts. The first – don’t begin eating your food until the host says the words ‘Buen Provecho’.
- Costa Ricans take great pride in their dress, both inside and outside of work. Although they tend to perceive their outside work dress as informal, it’s still rather smart compared to other cultural norms.
- Tipping in Costa Rica is not mandatory, though restaurants do add a service charge on the final bill that includes 10 per cent gratuity. This is considered a sufficient amount for a tip when dining out, but you can always leave a few extra colons (or CRC) if the service exceeds expectations.
There are two international airports, which make for great airports for domestic airline hubs; San Jose & Liberia. Over the past few years there has been a shake up on domestic airlines, from only two a few years ago to currently four airlines doing daily scheduled flights.
Flying is a great and easy way to travel throughout Costa Rica, especially to the regions that are more remote. These off the beaten path areas, such as the Osa Peninsula, are often hard to get to.
The bus system in Costa Rica is not as developed as in other central and south American countries. Consequently, it is not so easy get the country by bus, but it is easily the cheapest way to get around.
Buses are privately owned in Costa Rica and tend operated in their specific areas of the country, setting their own routes, timetables and fares. They also operate their own bus stations. So, arriving in one place at the bus station if you have a connecting journey with a different bus company you’ll have to find where their bus station is located.
Many city buses also have the fare on the front. They will also have the name of the bus company on it so you can look for that to see if it’s the correct bus.
For a comprehensive guide to using buses check out the post on the blog MyTanFeet
Car & Motorcycle
If you are pushed for time then travelling by motorcycle and car is a great option. The roads are on the whole fairly good. We travelled along many of the main roads and we had no issues, although there were a lot of roadworks to negotiate. Also, we didn’t see many dual carriageways beyond San José and there not always places to overtake, so you’ll likely get stuck behind some slow moving traffic at some point during your travels.
Having said the roads are good, that is not true of everywhere. For example if you approach Monteverde from the east the road is horrible, with huge potholes. In Monteverde getting to some of the forests the roads again are very potholed, we just about managed in our little Hyundai with its low clearance. During the rainy season a 4×4 will be needed to get around some of these areas. Another region of Costa Rica worth visiting is the Corcovado Peninsula. The roads are poor and a 4×4 vehicle would be the best option.
It is also worth noting that finding an address can be difficult as houses are not numbered and sometimes an address is a reference relative to other things in the location. GPS worked pretty well for us in Costa Rica – at least for about 95% of the time!
Renting a car in Costa Rica is not cheap. We chose Adobe Car Rentals and had a great experience with them. If you go through bloggers at Mytanfeet you can get a discount. They’ll also help you coordinate with Adobe.
The train system in Costa Rica is rudimentary and not an efficient way to get around the country. The existing trains serve mainly the areas around San José.