I (aka Sarah, founder of this site) frequently share with you guys interviews from fab expats living in various locations throughout the world. This week I decided to complete the interview questions myself about the two countries I’ve lived abroad. So, here’s what life has been like for me in Costa Rica. If you are interested in reading about my life in Germany, head over here.
So now, my Costa Rica interview….
Please give a few sentences of background info. Who are you? Where are you from? Fun facts about you?
Hi I’m Sarah. I run this site. I’m originally from a suburb of Boston. I’m a major music snob. I read wayyy too many books (usually about 3 a week). I am always up for going to concerts. I love to have people over and feed them. My boyfriend, Thomas, loves to make people nice drinks and get them drunk. Together we are the perfect party hosts. 🙂
Why did you decide to move to Costa Rica?
Welll, I had been living in Germany for four years with Thomas and I was ready for a change. At the time I had been teaching English, which I figured I could do anywhere in the world. Thomas is a teacher (in German) so it made the most sense for him to find a job first. He was offered a job in Costa Rica and I was like, “Yeap, when’s the next flight?”….We moved less than two months later.
What do you love about living there?
So many things! We live in San Jose which isn’t the greatest city in the world, but it is pretty centrally located in the country which makes it easy to travel on the weekends and during vacations. It is a relatively small country but it contains so many beautiful places to see. Plus, the weather is perfect in San Jose basically every day.
What is not so great about living there?
I’ve learned to deal with things I had never experienced before such as earthquakes, crazy lightning storms, poisonous animals, volcanoes etc. For me, the earthquakes are the scariest. Usually they are just little tremors, but man do they freak me out! Also, I once found a tarantula in my washing machine. I’m not one to be scared of spiders, but finding a massive tarantula in your washing machine is never fun.
What do you do for a living there & what was the job search process like?
I run this site for a living. 🙂 When I first moved here I tried to find a job teaching English and although there were plenty of jobs out there most companies wanted someone who already had a visa (which I did not). So instead I created my own job.
How was the visa process?
After coming from Germany where the visa process was relatively easy, Costa Rica is a nightmare. If you are looking to get a visa here it is best to hire a lawyer to do the whole process for you. Even with a lawyer it is normal for the process to take a year or longer.
What is the cost of living like?
The cost of living is much higher than pretty much every other country in Central America. However, it is possible to live really cheap here. In order to live here on the cheap you need to adopt a very Costa Rican mindset. We save money by buying most of our food from a weekly farmers market, buying used furniture, and staying at cheap hotels when we travel. If you want the comforts of home expect to spend a lot of money. Everything which is imported is crazy expensive. Restaurants are pricey. Modern furniture is insane as far as prices go.
Would you like to stay there long term?
For a few more years, yes. Thomas and I both love it here for where we are currently in our lives. I can’t really imagine raising children here though, but for our current lifestyle it is perfect.
What are your fave traditional foods that we should definitely try if we go?
Hmmm I’m a big fan of Costa Rican breakfast. The breakfast is typically rice and beans, eggs, cheese, fried plantains, and fruit. I also love the fruit juices you get for breakfast here. So tasty! Ceviche is also considered a traditional food. It is made of raw fish pieces in citrus juice. I’ve actually never had it because usually it contains seafood as well and I unfortunately have a seafood allergy.
What are some places we should definitely visit?
Well this is a hard one. Who made these questions!?! 🙂
There are so many great places to see. Most people head to the Pacific coast when they visit, but I love the Caribbean coast more. The vibe is very laid back and Rastafarian. Plus, there are far less tourists. You should also definitely head up to La Fortuna where Arenal Volcano is. There is so much cool stuff to do in that area. If you find yourself in La Fortuna definitely check out a hot spring. There are some really expensive ones catered to tourists, but if you go to one of the ones for locals you can expect to pay only about $10 for entry. These less fancy ones are still amazing and you get a much more authentic experience.
What are some things about the culture we should know before going?
People are relaxed in ways you’ve probably never experienced before. If you make plans to meet with someone at 1pm, don’t expect them before 1:30pm. It is also sometimes impossible to get anything done here. Organization is not their strong point. Also, driving here is sometimes a crazy adventure. I suggest not driving unless you are an experienced driver.
Would you recommend it to other people who are interested in moving abroad?
Yes, definitely! I think you will love it!
I hope you enjoyed my Costa Rica interview. As always, feel free to leave me questions in the comment section. Also, don’t forget to check out my interview on life in Germany over here.
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