But the thing is…In the right places overseas…you have good options for safe, comfortable, affordable living with adventure built-in. Costa Rica is one of the favorite destination nowadays. Costa Rica stands as the most visited nation in the Central American region. A pioneer of ecotourism, Costa Rica draws many tourists to its extensive national parks and protected areas and ranks third of sixty countries covered in the 2014 Global Green Economy Index. As of 2015, 93 percent of the country's energy comes from renewable sources.
Ticos (Costa Rican natives) are peaceful nation without military. I didn't see any 'military toys' sold in the stores in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is the oldest democracy in Americas. With uninterrupted democracy dating back to at least 1948, the country is the region's most stable. The largest part of the budget is going to education, then Nationalized Healthcare, police, which can act as military in case the need arise.
One part of this country has the best weather there - dryer climate with dry forests and mountain fresh air where it is easy to breath (similar to California and Canary islands), not humid as in the other regions of the country, and it is - north west Pacific area (Guanacaste province).
The Las PLayas del Coco (Coco area) is growing touristy destination. It is fishermen town (fishermen bring fish from the ocean by 7 - 8 am on the Coco beach and sell their catch of fresh fish right on the beach not expensively (for $10 one woman purchased tuna the size of the arm).
Fast Facts About Costa Rica (from http://internationalliving.com/countries/costa-rica/)
- Population: 4,695,942
- Capital City: San Jose
- Climate: Tropical and subtropical; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November); cooler in highlands
- Time Zone: GMT-6
- Language: Spanish (official), English
- Country Code: 506
- Coastline: 1,290km
- Costa Rica is the oldest democracy in Americas, without military since 1948.
Costa Rica was sparsely inhabited by indigenous people before coming under Spanish rule in the 16th century. It remained a peripheral colony of the empire until independence as part of the short-lived First Mexican Empire, followed by membership in the United Provinces of Central America, from which it formally declared sovereignty in 1847. Since then, Costa Rica has remained among the most stable, prosperous, and progressive nations in Latin America. Following a brief but bloody civil war, it permanently abolished its army in 1949, becoming the first of only a few sovereign nations without a standing army.
It has also been cited by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as having attained much higher human development than other countries at the same income levels, with a better record on human development and inequality than the median of the region. Its rapidly developing economy, once heavily dependent on agriculture, has diversified to include sectors such as finance, pharmaceuticals, and ecotourism.
Costa Rica is known for its progressive environmental policies, being the only country to meet all five criteria established to measure environmental sustainability. It was ranked fifth in the world, and first in the Americas, in the 2012 Environmental Performance Index. It was twice ranked the best performing country in the New Economics Foundation's (NEF) Happy Planet Index, which measures environmental sustainability, and identified by the NEF as the greenest country in the world in 2009. In 2007, the Costa Rican government announced plans for Costa Rica to become the first carbon-neutral country by 2021. in 2012, it became the first country in the Americas to ban recreational hunting. - from Wikipedia.
Pharmaceuticals, financial outsourcing, software development, and ecotourism have become the prime industries in Costa Rica's economy. High levels of education among its residents make the country an attractive investing location. Since 1999, tourism earns more foreign exchange than the combined exports of the country's three main cash crops: bananas, pineapples and coffee. Coffee production is playing a key role in Costa Rica's history and economy.
Costa Rica's location provides access to American markets as it has the same time zone as the central part of the United States and direct ocean access to Europe and Asia. In a countrywide referendum on October 5, 2007, Costa Rican voters narrowly backed a free trade agreement, with 51.6% of "Yes" votes.
The literacy rate in Costa Rica is 96.3%, one of the highest in Latin America. When the army was abolished in 1949, it was said that the "army would be replaced with an army of teachers". Universal public education is guaranteed in the constitution; primary education is obligatory, and both preschool and high school are free. There are only a few schools in Costa Rica that go beyond the 12th grade. Students who finish 11th grade receive a Costa Rican Bachillerato Diploma accredited by the Costa Rican Ministry of Education.There are both state and private universities.
According to the UNDP, in 2010 the life expectancy at birth for Costa Ricans was 79.3 years. The Nicoya Peninsula is considered one of the Blue Zones in the world, where people commonly live active lives past the age of 100 years. The New Economics Foundation (NEF) ranked Costa Rica first in its 2009 Happy Planet Index, and once again in 2012. The index measures the health and happiness they produce per unit of environmental input. According to NEF, Costa Rica's lead is due to its very high life expectancy which is second highest in the Americas, and higher than the United States. The country also experienced well-being higher than many richer nations and a per capita ecological footprint one-third the size of the United States.
Costa Rica has been cited in various journals as Central America's great health success story. Its healthcare system is ranked higher than that of the United States, despite having a fraction of its GDP. Prior to 1940, government hospitals and charities provided most health care. But since the 1941 creation of the Social Insurance Administration (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social – CCSS), Costa Rica has provided universal health care to its wage-earning residents, with coverage extended to dependants over time. In 1973, the CCSS took over administration of all 29 of the country's public hospitals and all health care, also launching a Rural Health Program (Programa de Salud Rural) for primary care to rural areas, later extended to primary care services nationwide.
In 1993, laws were passed to enable elected health boards that represented health consumers, social insurance representatives, employers, and social organizations. By the year 2000, social health insurance coverage was available to 82% of the Costa Rican population. Each health committee manages an area equivalent to one of the 83 administrative cantons of Costa Rica. There is limited use of private, for-profit services (around 14.4% of the national total health expenditure). About 7% of GDP is allocated to the health sector, and over 70% is government funded. Primary health care facilities in Costa Rica include health clinics, with a general practitioner, nurse, clerk, pharmacist and a primary health technician.
Costa Rica is among the Latin America countries that have become popular destinations for medical tourism. In 2006, Costa Rica received 150,000 foreigners that came for medical treatment. Costa Rica is particularly attractive to Americans due to geographic proximity, high quality of medical services, and lower medical costs.
Since 2012, smoking in Costa Rica is subject to some of the most restrictive regulations in the world.
COSTA RICA has been a longtime retirement favorite, but this area is about to boom—and you can still get in on the cheap... and now's the time to do it... There is day and night construction of wide new trans-american Hw #1 currently passing Coco, very relaxing place, which is also fishermen town and popular tourist destination with dryer climate in comparison to humid weather if you will go further south.
Hard-rock cafe is recently built in Coco in anticipation of predicted higher tourism.
As soon as the new highway will be connected with San Jose, the capital, the Coco area should be booming with native Costa Rican tourists in addition to international tourists and numerous US and Canadian expats living in the condos along the beach.
"Sandy beaches with tumbling surf, peaceful lakeside living, bio-diverse tropical jungles, cool highland areas with modern cities. . . Little Costa Rica offers plenty to choose from. And for decades, expats like me have flocked here, making it one of the world’s most popular locales for good living abroad.
First off, there’s the climate. You can take your pick. Sunny and tropical or temperate and lush. Temperatures average 70 F to 90 F. Then there’s the affordable cost of living; the excellent, affordable health care; a stable government; and a thriving economy.
But it’s the friendly and welcoming people, the natural beauty, and the tropical lifestyle that will really steal your heart. “Costa Ricans are a gracious people,” says Rene Aoki, who has lived in the Arenal region for 19 years. “It’s an easy place to live where you can make close friends.”
Costa Rica’s Last Boom Towns Could Make You Rich
Costa Rica is a beautiful country, with long stretches of deserted and undeveloped beaches…dense jungles teeming with exotic wildlife…towering volcanoes, lush green valleys, and hundreds of crystal-clear lakes and rivers…
Not only that, but the country offers a great climate year-round, neighborly atmosphere, no-hassle residence programs, excellent healthcare, a stable democracy, and safety and security. It doesn’t hurt that many retired couples report living well on $2,000 a month—that includes all their costs.
For these reasons, as well as the welcoming locals who are warm and friendly to new foreign neighbors, Costa Rica has been an expat haven for more than 30 years.
That’s another bonus: you don’t have to be a pioneer in Costa Rica. There are well-established expat communities throughout the country. Things are “set up” so to speak, when it comes to shipping your household goods, using the healthcare system, buying property, and more. And by following this well-trodden path, your transition to your new life is much easier.
It’s small, about the size of West Virginia. But the variety of landscapes, climates, and lifestyles in Costa Rica is amazing. You have the rain-forests, wild beaches, and charming seaside villages of the southern Pacific coast, also known as the Southern Zone.
A Landscape and Lifestyle for Every Taste
There are the bustling market towns surrounded by sugar cane fields and coffee plantations of the Central Valley. Around the pristine 33-square-mile Lake Arenal, expats have taken up residence on the verdant hills rising from the shore, with vast lake views from their homes. On the Caribbean coast, life is laid-back and moves to the rhythm of reggae. And that’s just a small taste of all Costa Rica has to offer as far as places to live.
With all these different climates and landscapes, it’s no wonder that this Central American jewel is also one of the most bio-diverse spots on the planet. With just 0.03% of the earth’s surface within its borders, the country has an estimated 5% of the world’s species. In Costa Rica, this natural world surrounds you, putting the country on the forefront of eco-tourism and eco-living. Sloths, Capuchin monkeys, toucans, and scarlet macaws will be your new neighbors.
And no matter which location you choose, you can benefit from bargain real estate, whether you buy or rent. Three-bedroom homes in the Central Valley start at $109,000 to buy and $300 a month to rent. And two-bedroom condos a five-minute walk to the beach on the central Pacific coast in a booming resort town are $500 a month, the same units selling for under $70,000. Deals like this can be found throughout the country.
Another big bonus is the high-quality, low-cost healthcare. There are two systems: private, for which you can pay cash or use insurance, and the government-run public system which you join when become a legal resident. Overall, expats in Costa Rica pay a fraction of what they did back home for medical care.
All these advantages make Costa Rica a premier destination for those looking for a secure, fun, and active retirement surrounded by new friends in a beautiful setting
New expats find well-trodden ground and benefit from the experience of those who came before them. It makes integrating into a new life here that much easier, no matter where you go.
But it makes picking your perfect spot in Costa Rica that much harder. So to help you, here—in no particular order—are the country’s FIVE MOST POPULAR AND COMFORTABLE HAVENS:
1. The GOLD COAST—Sunshine, Surf, and Beautiful Sunsets
Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, near the border with Nicaragua, is popular for those seeking a beach lifestyle and warm climate. Known as the Gold Coast, this region receives the least rainfall and has more sunny days than anywhere else in the country.
It’s about five hours from San José. But no worries; there are plenty of amenities and modern conveniences.
If you’re looking for a mix of Tico culture and strong, well-established expat communities, then this is your place.
Years ago, this coast was dotted with small fishing villages. Vestiges of this remain: Freshly-caught seafood is abundant and cheap. But you have easy access to plenty of home comforts, too, such as imported foods, sports bars, and sushi restaurants. You’ll also find boutique clothing stores, golf courses, and tennis clubs (thanks to large resorts and residential developments like Hacienda Pinilla, the Four Season, and the JW Marriott).
Tamarindo, first discovered by surfers in the 1970s, retains a funky, laid-back charm despite its growth over the years. Going out to dinner in your swimsuit is perfectly acceptable. And buying groceries barefoot doesn’t warrant a second glance. Playa Langosta to the south is higher-end, with plenty of million-dollar mansions fronting the beach.
Valerie Townley, 57, and her husband Gaylord, 60, have a long history with Costa Rica. They moved to Tamarindo in 1982, just after an in-country stint in the Peace Corps. As Gaylord was an avid surfer, Tamarindo’s consistent waves were a major factor.
“Costa Rica has a lot to offer for such a small country, and the Costa Ricans are such a great people,” says Valerie, a mixed-media artist who works with driftwood.
“We walk every day with the dogs, whether it’s to the beach or the mountains. And we watch the sunset almost every day,” she says.
About a half-hour north is Playa Flamingo and the adjoining town of Potrero. Flamingo fronts a beautiful beach, with many of the homes and condos here clinging to a small, rocky peninsula jutting into the Pacific. It’s more residential community than full-fledged town. Potrero, about 20 minutes north, has expat developments next to a working-class Tico village.
Further up the coast, Playas del Coco is a sport-fishing and scuba-diving center with a thriving expat community. It also tends to be quieter than Tamarindo, which has a reputation for a bustling nightlife scene.
The growing international airport in Liberia, the capital of the Guanacaste province, makes getting there easy, with several flights to and from the United States and Canada every day. Ticket prices can be a bit higher than the main airport in San José. But factor in a five-hour drive before your flight, and you may join the many who choose to fly out of Liberia.
This area was on the forefront of the housing boom in the early and mid-2000s. As in the States and elsewhere in the world, real estate got a bit out of control. But now things have leveled off.
A walk-to-the-beach, two-bedroom condo in Tamarindo’s center is available for $77,000. If you want beachfront, there’s a three-bedroom, 2,475-square-foot home in Potrero for $210,000.
2. The CENTRAL VALLEY—Ideal Climate and Convenience
Expats have been flocking to the Central Valley for decades. Known in Spanish as the Steins Control, it is actually a high-altitude plateau—above 3,000 feet—that is surrounded by tall mountains. In the middle you have Costa Rica’s capital, San José.
Several towns have become expat centers over the years. San Ramon, Grecia, Alajuela, and Atenas, to the west of the metro area, are well-established. There’s Heredia to the north. Moravia to the east. And Escazu, Santa Ana, and up-and-coming hot-spots Puriscal and Giudad Colón to the southwest.
What makes this region so attractive? For one, thanks to the altitude, it has the ideal climate. Despite being firmly in the tropics, the year-round average temperature is the mid-70s F, with some areas at higher altitudes even cooler. Another is that, because foreigners have been coming to live here for so long, there’s a built-in expat “infrastructure,” like social clubs, theater groups, poker and bridge nights…plenty to keep you busy.
Plus, it’s centrally-located. The big city and all its conveniences are close by. You can be in San José and its suburbs within an hour to an hour-and-a-half at most from just about anywhere in the Valley. There you’ll find the best shopping in the country, including North American-style malls and warehouse shopping clubs (similar to Sam’s Club). It’s quite common for expats living in the Central Valley to pop in to San José for shopping, dinner, and a movie (new releases in English). If you want to hit the beach, it’s an hour or so to the Pacific.
It’s also the center of culture. Opera, classical music, jazz clubs, big-name concerts (Elton John and Bob Dylan were here in 2012), art festivals and museums, and other high-profile events…there’s something to do every weekend.
About three-quarters of the native Costa Rican population live in this region, as well. The Gran Area Metropolitana, as the capital San José and its suburbs are called, can be crowded and noisy. But get out of the city and you’ll find charming villages, bustling market towns, and plenty of quiet rural areas throughout the Central Valley. It’s also an agricultural center, with plenty of natural areas in between. Rolling hills covered with sugar cane fields, cow pastures, and hillside coffee plantations are interspersed with lush river valleys and forests.
Roberta Laidman, 70 and Harry Raabe, 68, have lived full time in Atenas, a town of about 5,000 for two years. One reason they chose the Central Valley is echoed by most retiree—age expats here: quick access to the country’s top public and private medical care in San José, including the top hospitals and most specialists.
“When you reach a certain age, you have to be within spitting distance of an angioplasty,” says Roberta. The quiet pace of life and the beautiful surroundings were also an attraction. “We’re just thrilled to be here. It’s like waking up in paradise,” says Roberta. “We eat breakfast on the balcony, and we don’t jump up when we’re done to do something else. The view is mesmerizing. The environment calms the spirit.”
The Central Valley is full of affordable real estate. A mountain-view home outside Atenas, a 2,000-square-foot, two-bedroom, furnished, North American-style home is listed at $219,000. A furnished two-bedroom cabin with views of Grecia and the Poés Volcano is $89,000.
3. ARENAL—Peace, Quiet, and Rural Living
Thousands of tourists visit Arenal every year. For them, it’s all about the volcano, which gives its name to the region. The hub of La Fortuna de San Carlos sits at the volcano’s base on the eastern side. Admittedly, the volcano is a spectacular sight, a cone rising 5,479 feet out of forest and farmland. But most visitors miss the best part of the area: the 33-square-mile lake, also called Arenal.
This is where the majority of expats live in this region. The shoreline is unspoiled. And the green field and forest on the hills that drop to the lake are dotted with homes. Along the lake road you’ll find eco-lodges, B&Bs, and boutique hotels. There are only a few villages, settlements, and developments that bring together more than a few structures in one place.
It gives the area a rural feel. And it’s almost eerily quiet, too. In North America, a lake this beautiful would be overrun with jet skis and powerboats, the shore lined with homes and docks out into the water. Not here. Boat traffic consists of ferries talking tourists from one end to the other, some sailboats, kayakers, and a few fishermen and pleasure cruisers. Every time I’ve driven the lake shore I’ve seen at most five boats on the water at one time.
Nuevo Arenal is on the north shore, about midway. It’s a tidy village with a gas station, bank, pharmacy, grocery stores. . . most everything you need for daily living. (Check out Rumors Bar and Grill at happy hour to meet locals and expats alike.) The majority of expats in Arenal are clustered in small gated communities and individual homes on either side of town. Tronadora and San Luis are small villages on the opposite shore with simple but very affordable homes. Church, soccer field, and tidy, spotless houses–not much else. Tilarán is about 20 minutes inland from Tronadora. It’s bigger, with larger stores and more medical care.
“Going to town reminds me of where I grew up in Missouri,” says Rene Aoki, 60. “You have to go to one store for this, another store for that. It’s refreshing. ”
Rene and her husband Jim, 72, moved here 19 years ago from Alaska. Back then there seemed to be hardly any foreigners on the lake. They had a core group of 12 to 15 friends. In 1999, they put up signs around the lake road inviting everyone to a Fourth of July party—130 showed up. The expat population has multiplied since then but…“you don’t know it traffic-wise or construction-wise,” says Jim, who explains that the lake region remains a quiet and calm place.
Lake-view homes are surprisingly cheap. A recent listing featured a two-bedroom home for $59,000—and it has a lake view. A North American-style home set on the mountains above the lake in Aguacate is going for $179,000.
4. The SOUTHERN ZONE—Classic Costa Rica
The southern Pacific coast, known as the Southern Zone, is what most people picture when they think of Costa Rica. It’s steamy rain forest. Jungle-clad mountains drop dramatically to deserted beaches.
There are no large resorts. No high-rises blocking the ocean view. You get the feeling that if humans left the area, the jungle would soon grow over everything they left behind.
And it’s the most bio-diverse region in an incredibly wildlife-filled country. On my recent visit I experienced this first-hand. Toucans flying past the back patio, as I had coffee in the morning.
More toucans on the trees outside the restaurant where we ate that night. Howler monkeys sleeping in branches above the beach. Sloths moving slowly in the trees, next to the road. It’s like stepping into a nature documentary—and, that’s without even visiting a national park.
The nice part about the Southern Zone is that it’s probably always going to stay this way. The paving of the two—lane coast road from Quepos to Dominical in 2010 made access easier—it’s a three-hour journey now, versus the file it used to take. Still, this area gets far fewer visitors than other regions and any development is low impact. Hit the beach and you’ll see the result: You often have the whole place to yourself.
Dominical, a lazy beach town and surfer’s paradise at the far north end of the Zone, looks much as it did when I first visited in 2005. A few restaurants and bars line the beach road. I like nothing more than to relax with a michelada (beer and lime juice on ice, with salt on the rim of the glass) and a bowl of ceviche, watching the water—a simple pleasure for $5.
Uvita, about 30 minutes south, has grown into a regional hub. It’s a collection of commercial centers on the coastal and is where most people do their shopping and other errands. Ojochal, another 15 minutes down the road is not a town per se. Rather, it’s more like buildings scattered in the jungle, crisscrossed with dirt roads. It’s an unlikely place to find a collection of top-notch gourmet restaurants, featuring everything from French to Italian to Indonesian to Mediterranean cuisine. Yet it’s happened, thanks to an international cast of expats—who can cook—and a community that embraces its unique culinary benefits.
Shelagh and Bruce Duncan have lived in Ojochal for five years. The couple originally from England but living in Canada for 32 years, had been visiting the area for years. They had even built a vacation rental for income and to use themselves. They never intended to move down permanently.
“Little by little, it was more like home, and it was harder to go back to Toronto and the grind,” says Shelagh, 65.
Shelagh, an interior designer, opened her own furniture shop, Royal Palm Interiors, soon after their move. “It’s been very fulfilling and a great way to meet people,” says Shelagh, who says there’s a common bond among all those who leave their home country. “There’s a good mix of people here, and they’ve become like a second family. They’re adventurous and think outside the box.”
Most homes in the Southern Zone are set up on the mountains to catch the cool sea breezes. And there’s certainly no clear-cutting for gated communities. Houses are built within the jungle or on former cattle pasture that is being reclaimed by trees. The terrain pretty much rules out developments laid out on a ruler-straight grid.
5. CENTRAL PACIFIC—A Comfortable Beach Lifestyle
I have mixed feelings about the Central Pacific coast. Jaco, arguably the best-known town in the region, is not my cup of tea. Too much concrete. Too many souvenir shops. Of course, plenty of people love that bushing resort—town atmosphere.
Playa Herradura just to the north is much quieter, a sheltered bay with cozy seafood restaurants. And south of Jaco you have several very low-key communities like Esterillos, Bejuco, and Hermosa, where surfers mix with retirees enjoying sunset cocktails on the beach.
Manuel Antonio, the town just outside the national park of the same name, is again not my favorite spot. The park is the most-visited in Costa Rica, so there’s no shortage of hotels, restaurants, and t-shirt shops. But the thing is, the beach, especially in the national park itself, is unbeatable—one of the most beautiful in the country, in my opinion. Protected coves, bordered by hills covered in lush green vegetation, aqua-blue water, and white sand—it doesn’t get better than that.
I can see the appeal of the Central Pacific coast. You can live on the beach and enjoy a “toes-in-the-sand” lifestyle. Plenty of expats do. And San José, and all the medical care, great shopping, the airport, and cultural activities are just a little over an hour away.
“I came here on a surf vacation. And it’s been the longest two-week vacation ever,” says Marc Hauser, 55, who’s been in Jaco for 20 years. “I bought a lot with a house under construction on my third day here and called my wife Ingrid and told her to put our house in Melbourne, Florida, up for sale.”
Marc and his family keep busy with their restaurant (with another under construction), vacation-rental management, and the construction of a private resort. But there’s plenty of time for fun.
“I get to surf one or two hours a day if the waves are good. And I play golf from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. almost every day,” says Marc.
“There have been a lot of changes over the years, but it’s nothing compared to LA, Miami or New York City. I’m living in paradise. When you live in the Garden of Eden, would you ever leave?”
As far as real estate, beach living is affordable. A two-bedroom home within walking distance of the Pacific in Esterillios is $125,000. In Manuel Antonio, a three-bedroom villa with a view of the ocean is $149,000.
Try Before You Buy: RENTING in Costa Rica
There are plenty of stories in Costa Rica of vacationers who bought property or a home within days of landing and ended up living happily ever after. But, while it may have worked out for them, I don’t think even they would recommend this approach. A much better idea is a low-risk trial run.
If you rent a place for a few months, you can see how you like daily life there. You can even try a few different regions on for size before deciding.
Long-term rentals, usually furnished, are abundant in the Central Valley and Arenal. But they can be harder to come by in the beach areas, where home and condo owners do a brisk trade in vacation rentals. One gentleman I met in Tamarindo can make up to $3,000 renting out his place the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Still, many owners and management companies on the coast are interested in taking on responsible long-term tenants.
When looking for a rental—and this goes for all regions in Costa Rica—check out the local real-estate websites. You’ll see long-term rentals listed, but many more vacation rentals and homes for sale. If you see any you like, just contact the office and ask if they’d be interested in renting the property long-term instead. If it’s empty, with no leads on the horizon, they’re usually game as long as you sign a lease of at least six months to a year.
To give you an idea of what’s on offer, a town-home is available in Ciudad Colén, in the Central Valley, for $1,000 a month (see here). Walk to the beach in Tamarindo from a two-bedroom condo for $600 (see here).
AFFORDABLE Living in Costa Rica
Living on a budget of $1,500 for a couple is possible in Costa Rica. Ticos, after all, live on an average annual income of around $11,000.
The key is to do what locals do.
First, avoid the fancy grocery store full of imported and gourmet items, where prices are at U.S. levels or higher. But you don’t have to go without all your favorites from home. Myself, I’m partial to sriracha Asian chili sauce and Sam Adams beer, and my wife loves hummus, none of which is available in regular stores.
We get all our fruits and vegetables at the weekly feria, or famers’ market. Every sizable town in Costa Rica has one. In villages or rural areas it may be smaller, but it’s always there. In season, mangoes are $2 for 6 pounds. Pineapples are $1 .30 year-round. Foot-long papayas cost 75 cents. Tomatoes, 50 cents per pound. Lettuce, 50 cents a head. Big bunches of herbs like basil, cilantro, and mint—about a quarter each.
When you live near the coast, you buy fish from roadside stands or beachfront fish camps where the boats come in. It’s all fresh catch of the day. Snapper for $12 for a huge two-pound filet. Sushi-grade tuna and mahi-mahi, $15 for two pounds.
Going local for dinners out is key, too. Our trips to the U.S.- style sports bar—with chicken wings—are limited to select college football-game days. Most of the time we frequent our local soda, the Costa-Rican equivalent of the diner. Rice, beans, plantains, and your choice of meat—chicken, pork—or fish is $4 to $5."
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