Whether you're heading down to Costa Rica for a week's vacation, a month to start scouting out your big move, or finally pulled the trigger on a one-way ticket and officially are an expat, you'll first have to get to Costa Rica - and that usually entails an airline ticket.
However, the price of tickets can fluctuate wildly, from a few hundred dollars to well over a thousand bucks during the holidays and busy season. So, I wanted to put some tools and resources in your hands for finding the best (ok, just cheapest!) airline tickets to Costa Rica!
1. Use reverse searches
If you are flexible with which days you can travel, a lot of cheaper airfares may open up for you. There are several travel search engines that will allow you to search by destination without putting in a hard date.
• AirfareWatchdog.com • Kayak.com
2. Travel off-season
Costa Rica, like many countries in tropical climates, doesn’t have set winters and summers like up north. Instead, they have a dry season from approximately late November through April and a rainy season from May to November. If you don’t mind some clouds and a little rain mixed in with sunshine, it can actually be cooler (but still plenty warm) and far less crowded, meaning cheaper flights, hotels, etc.
3. Let the travel sites do the work
There are some great Internet search sites out there that will do all of the work for you. Even better, register a search to a certain destination or below a certain price, and they will give you automatic email alerts. I like:
4. Check the airline websites directly
Search engines are great, but also search directly on the airlines’ websites. They often offer private deals or promotions that the search engines can’t access. Increasingly they are running cheap deals on social media sites like Facebook, so it’s worth it to Like their page and check in.
5. The best time to search for tickets
Did you know there are up to 10 different ticket prices on the same flight? So how do you get one of the cheap seats? Timing is everything.
Airlines release their new weekly fares on Mondays, so at Tuesday by 3 pm their competitors have released their deals, making it the exact time to search.
Studies show that the cheapest time to book is 49 days before your departure, or 81 days ahead of time for international flights. Interestingly, flights booked 200 days or more in advance are more expensive, and last minute flights may be cheaper, but the seat availability is extremely limited.
If you are flying during the holidays, start searching 10 weeks ahead of time. If you’re headed to a non-vacation destination, shop on a weekend – it will save you 5%.
6. The best time to fly
The majority of air travelers want to fly on a Friday or Sunday, so you’ll find the best deals available for flights on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday.
Flights at the crack of dawn, at dinnertime, or red-eye flights over night are cheapest.
7. Follow the airlines on social media
Almost every airline has a social media page, at least on Facebook and Twitter these days, and often release specials and limited time deals that aren’t publicized elsewhere. Like or follow a few airlines ahead of time so you can track their updates.
8. Book a package deal
Booking a package usually drops your airfare into the leisure travel category, saving you money. Arranging a ticket for your hotel, rental car, and airfare together may give you access to lower prices on internet search engines, and travel agents can be helpful when it comes to these bargains.
9. Ask for organizational discounts
Contact any organizations, unions, or membership sites you belong to, like AAA, AARP, unions, Veterans groups, or even Sam’s Club or Costco, as they may offer bulk discounts.
10. Sign up for frequent flyer miles and points
Always register to earn frequent flyer miles and keep track. Confirm with the booking agent and at the check-in counter to make sure they credited you your miles, and once you get home check to make sure they were registered.
11. Use a credit card that offers award points of frequent flyer miles
Some of them are great but only give you miles on one airline. I have a Chase Sapphire card (they don't pay me anything to give them a shout-out!) that allows me to accumulate points for all flights, hotels, rental cars, or even restaurant meals. I run all of my bills through it but pay it off every month, and the result is that I get at least two free flights every year.
12. Factor the airline’s luggage policy into the total price
When booking a flight, ask about their luggage policy. Slightly cheaper tickets for your family does no good if you are paying $50 each for baggage. According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, airlines make over $3 billion in baggage fees alone every year!
13. Call back the next day to see if the price went down
After you book your flight, call back the next day, within 24 hours, to check if the fare went lower. Most airlines have a policy where you could cancel and re-book for the lower fare within 24 hours without penalty.
14. Check the airline websites
While it’s convenient to go to one website and search for the best fares among all airlines and schedules, you can often find specials or the best deals on the airline’s own website. So do a little research but then cross reference with the airline.
15. Call and chat with a representative but then book online
I love getting an actual human being on the phone from the airline or travel websites because they can guide you and offer their tricks, tips, and vast experience. But if you want to book over the phone there’s usually a service charge of $15 to $50. So to save money, call and chat to identify what you want and then thank them, hang up, and book online.
Once you move down to Costa Rica, you'll probably realize quickly that transportation is a key issue. In fact, you'll feel fairly isolated and "stuck" if you don't have a vehicle to get around, whether it's adventures at local beaches or just to the market during the rainy season. So, today I want to bring you some great facts and tips about buying and registering a vehicle in Costa Rica, as well as the pros and cons of importing your car.
The pros and cons of importing a car to Costa Rica
I get emails all the time from people who want to drive down to Costa Rica. Number one, I wouldn’t recommend that because it can be extremely dangerous going through Mexico and the southern route until you get to Nicaragua.
Secondly, although people want their own cars, it just doesn’t make financial sense. It’s almost always better to buy (or even rent) a car in Costa Rica rather than importing your own car because of the sky-high import taxes.
The tax for importing vehicles into Costa Rica is 52.29% for models that have been released in the last three years. But in Costa Rica, a car is considered new for tax purposes for up to three years after it was placed on the lot for sale, no matter what its mileage or condition.
The Ministerio de Hacienda (Treasury) regulates the value of imported cars and other vehicles the same way that Kelley Blue Book does in the U.S. – based on make, model, engine, and other features and accessories. However, in Costa Rica, mileage and mechanical condition aren’t taken into consideration for this tax process!
Import taxes for cars that are 4-5 years old are 63.91%, and cars older than 5 years must pay an import tax of 79.03%.
Buying and owning a car in Costa Rica
Owning a car is very expensive when you consider maintenance, insurance, and gas, which is stable now (over $4 a gallon as of 2018), but can get expensive. But if you want to buy a car, check out pricing and find local sellers search http://crautos.com or http://www.encuentra24.com
The best places to buy cars are:
• In and around San José and Grecia
• The best deals are found when you buy directly from the owner
• Get to know the local expats and you will likely find one when someone leaves
• One of your best resources for buying and registering a car in Costa Rica is: http://ticotimes.com/costa-rica/buying-a-new-used-car
• Ideally buy from a dealer or a private seller
• Either way (especially if privately sold,) have the car inspected by a competent and trustworthy mechanic before you sign the papers Inspections are done at one of the many specially constructed locations around the country. They were built and are operated by a Spanish firm that won the contract to perform motor vehicle inspections.
Understanding reteve or revision technica:
• When a car is inspected it is given a decal on the windshield, which needs to be valid in order to avoid a ticket
• Once a mechanic completes the inspection certificate (which is then renewed every year for older cars and every two years for newer cars,) you can get the obligatory limited liability insurance, marchamo, at the MOPT (Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes) or at any number of private locations, including all public and most private banks
• The only insurance required is the marchamo, an annual “liability insurance” fee that every car owner must pay
• To avoid a fine, marchamo must be renewed annually from November 1 and December 31
• The fee depends on the condition and year of the car, and the driver (age, driving record, etc.) which costs around $200
• You have to have this up to date because police are always looking for cars without marchamo sticker
More notes on car ownership in Costa Rica:
• Remember that outside San José, parts can be extremely hard to find!
• Try to purchase a model where you know parts are easy to get and it’s easy to fix – or very reliable.
• If you need work done or parts, it might make sense to order them from San José or even go get them yourself!
• There is no AAA and it’s easy to get stranded way out in the countryside if your car breaks down.
• In the provinces, roads can be really rough, with flooding prevalent in the rainy season.
• For that reason, many expats prefer a SUV or pickup truck. It might be a good idea to get one fitted with a “snorkel” to keep the engine safe during the rainy season
• Chains on tires and towing winches/lines are a good idea, too.
• Always carry a spare tire and your own tools.
The (Costa Rican) Rules of the Road
Expats, foreigners, and visitors who plan to drive in Costa Rica should be aware of the laws and rules of the road.
One important thing to know is that if a foreigner is involved in an accident, the Costa Rican government may prevent the driver from departing Costa Rica until all injury claims have been settled, whether or not the driver is at fault or covered by insurance. This process is often delayed until courts are certain of the damage and responsibility.
Travelers renting vehicles should make sure to have theft insurance that will cover them completely, always park in secure lots (and tip the parking attendant beforehand!), and never leave anything visible inside the car – whether it’s valuable or not.
Note that individual, unlicensed “parking attendants” are everywhere. Often, a local guy or old man just throws on a fluorescent-colored vest and a whistle and become the unofficial parking police for a certain area! Remember that although they may offer to park your car or assist you with finding a spot, it doesn’t ensure that it is a legal spot - your car may still be ticketed or towed.
It’s best to pay these guys a little bit. If you DON’T pay them, you’ll often be amazed to find your car broken into, damaged or something missing when you come back! I usually let them know I’ll pay them well WHEN I get back to the car and it’s in good condition and safe.
Maybe you’re bringing the family down to Costa Rica for a first-time vacation, going with your nuptial entourage for a wedding on the beach, or even planning a few months in Central America during the North American winter to enjoy the warm weather, great beaches, and mellow vibe.
Either way, booking a hotel night-by-night may get insanely expensive – or downright impossible if you have a big crew looking for accommodations during the high season.
But, instead of just perusing the hotel websites, there’s another great option – Airbnb. The good news is that Airbnb is not only present, but thriving in Costa Rica - a fantastic option for vacation rentals, long-term stays, or any other arrangement you need for housing.
So, instead of just sharing a boring list of Airbnb listings in Costa Rica (which you can access on Airbnb Costa Rica, of course), I wanted to bring you a little fun background about the company itself.
1. Based in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is a privately owned accommodation rental website, with 1,500,000 unique listings in 34,000 cities in 192 countries all over the world.
2. By renting out rooms, space, or even entire private residences, Airbnb is offers cheaper, more flexible, and often more charming and comfortable alternatives to a hotel room.
3. For instance, a recent query showed that a night in a hotel in San Francisco would set you back on average $229, however Airbnb was able to offer room at approximately $165 and cheaper.
4. It’s perfect for families who wish to rent out an entire apartment on vacation, young couples or solo travellers who wish to explore foreign destinations on a budget, or anyone who’s looking for more of an authentic traveling experience.
5. While Airbnb is just about a household name today, the company started from extremely humble beginnings. In fact, Airbnb was born from the desperate attempts of two guys struggling to pay rent to earn a few bucks back in 2008.
6. Roommates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia couldn’t afford to pay their rent in their San Francisco apartment. So they came up with the idea of setting up and renting out three air mattresses in their apartment for travelers in the area, including breakfast as a perk.
7. They even created a quick website, Airbedandbreakfast.com 8. Soon they had their first guest, 2 men and a woman, who paid $80 each.
8. The light bulb went on that this was a great idea, so they enlisted their ex-room mate, Nathan Blecharczyk, into the fold to create a better website, promoting the concept of personal rentals to others, earning about $200 a week.
9.. The boys even raised their first $20,000 in funding to grow the concept. They decided they needed to advertise and promote their listings with better imagery, so went door to door in New York and took beautiful photos of their listings.
10. That helped them ramp up to $400 a week and a slow but steady upward trajectory.
11. Although they were spurned by bigger investors, they didn’t give up, and eventually went on to raise $119.2 million from various investors, including actor Ashton Kutcher (who is still a strategic advisor for the company.)
12. In 2011, the company started its overseas expansion, opening its first international office in Hamburg, Germany.
13. Certainly no company has climbed to greater heights in a short time than Airbnb, as only six years after their inception, in 2014, the company earned a 10 billion-dollar valuation.
14. According to The Wall Street Journal, Airbnb expects to climb to $10 billion in revenue by 2020 led by the current CEO, Arne Sorenson - one of the major players in the hospitality industry.
15. The “traditional” hotel industry doesn’t think highly of Airbnb, as Marriott International stated on CBS that Airbnb was an “interesting experiment,” but they “did not see them as any threat.”
16. Airbnb guests stay longer than average travelers (average travelers stay for 2.8 nights while Airbnb’s average is 5 nights).
17. About 20% of people staying with Airbnb are staying more than 30 days or more – perfect if you’re going to be down in Costa Rica for a month or two – or even half the year!
18. While it’s a household name in the U.S., still less than 50% of locals are familiar with Airbnb in Costa Rica, so the movement that’s labelled “the sharing economy,” so the company is anticipated to still see exponential future growth.
19. How much can regular people earn by renting out their homes? In New York City, one commercial host made approximately $6.84 million dollars from renting out their properties in the US between 2010 and 2014.
20. Along with their meteoric rise, Airbnb certainly felt some growing pains, as not all customer experiences were glowing. In fact, the company has endured a number of scandals involving theft, property damages and an array of sordid activities in hosts’ apartments.
21. In one instance, Airbnb promised to pay the damages, expected to be at $75,000 after a house was destroyed during a ‘drug-crazed orgy.’
22. CEO Brian Chesky was recently shocked by an incident involving a woman’s home that was ransacked by an Airbnb renter. In response, he instituted a $50,000 Airbnb guarantee protecting future hosts from damage.
23. An Airbnb guest once stayed at a house where the host died midway through their stay, confusing the matter of checking out and payment.
24. According to reports in the New York Post, “entertainers” of questionable character regularly pose as tourists renting out Airbnb listings in New York City, helping them security avoid cameras and saving money compared to hotels.
25. One Airbnb host was forced to pay tenants $1,700 to vacate her apartment after they refused after 30 days, citing California tenant’s rights laws and demanding a payment of relocation fees before they left.
Despite this small number of issues, the vast majority of Airbnb customers have wonderful experiences and thoroughly enjoy their stays – especially in Costa Rica!
Need help with booking a place in Tamarindo, Guanacaste, or Playa Jaco? Hit me up!
Virtual careers are a reality these days, thanks to amazing technology, a global marketplace, and increases in outsourcing. In fact, there are plenty of online jobs you could do to earn a living while traveling or living in Costa Rica - or anywhere.
However, I’ve seen a ton of websites that go that far and then stop, not giving you the nuts and bolts of WHERE you can find these jobs and HOW to get them.
It’s hard to even do research because most links bring you to other links, paid sites, people selling you stuff - or downright scams. To be honest, it’s incredibly frustrating!
There are virtual job sites, like FlexJobs.com, Upwork, and more that prescreen employers for you, and their small fee might be well worth it in wasted time.
So I did a little research for you (because I care) to offer some good resources to actually find a legit virtual job and get hired.
Please note that I do not have any affiliation or get paid by any of these sites (I wish). I’ve clicked on all of the links to see if they were live and looked like credible job services, but I can’t vouch for their validity.
So feel free to email me with any updates or experiences you have when you go to these sites and start your job search.
Warning: There are a lot of scams out there in the world of virtual work because the bad guys prey on the anonymity of being online and the dream of “quick money from home” that many job seekers buy into.
Here are 5 ways to make sure your virtual job is not a scam:
1. Make sure the employer is a reputable company. Check their feedback and reviews on LinkedIn, Elance, and Google them. Look up their Better Business Bureau rating.
2. Confirm they have a home office with a real address, not just a PO Box.
3. Ask for references from current employees and staff.
4. Get a phone number and surprise them with a call to make sure they are there, working, and professional. If you are suspicious, ask if you can swing by and say hi.
5. NEVER send money to them for ANYTHING.
How will virtual work be different from a regular job?
Instead of face-to-face contact with your coworkers and clients, you will have to do everything online. That means it’s so important to have a quiet place to work with a great Internet connection (which can be more difficult than it sounds in foreign countries.)
Since you won’t have managers looking over your shoulder, you’ll be tempted to take a siesta instead of working. But to be successful at virtual work, you’ll need to be organized, self-motivated, and have a great work ethic.
People often mistakenly assume virtual work is easy just because you can do it from home, but most virtual professionals I know work even harder, for longer hours, and sometimes for less money. But if you factor in that they don’t have to sit in traffic, get dressed up, or pay for parking and lunch, and the flexibility to take care of the kids – or travel abroad and sit by the beach – it’s well worth it.
Tools for virtual work:
Your laptop will be your best friend as you travel and work abroad. But these days, some people can get by just with a smart phone or mobile device. Also, a great Internet connection is a must. Most restaurants, bars, and cafes have free Wi-Fi abroad, but you will also want to get a home connection.
A Wi-Fi extender and a pocket Wi-Fi hotspot will be invaluable as a backup.
Your new job might require a printer, and get an external hard drive to backup all of your important documents and work.
A good quality headset with a microphone will be needed if you are making frequent calls.
Skype, Facetime, and teleconferencing software will replace personal meetings, and there might also be work-specific software or applications.
You can get paid via PayPal, which is convenient, but remember that they’ll take about 2.9% out of every transaction – which really adds up. You should also be aware that some payment platforms your U.S. employer may want to use, like Venmo, won't work internationally (they can pay to Venmo but you can't transfer or withdraw the money if you're abroad!) or may charge much higher fees.
Instead, just give your employer your bank account number and routing number from the start so they can make transfers or direct deposits.
You might want to keep a Post Office Box or use someone’s home address in the U.S. or your home country. This will serve two purposes: to collect any essential mail, and also to display a normal U.S. address on your marketing materials/website, etc. so you don’t advertise to potential clients that you’re living abroad.
And of course, you'll still pay U.S. taxes on any money you earn from a U.S. employer while you're abroad. *But always check with your CPA or tax preparer first.
How do you get the job?
You will need an organized resume, just like any other job, but a digital version. Since you won’t interview with your boss or Human Resource folks in person, the way you present yourself on paper (or computer screen) is extremely important. Take full advantage of testimonials, references from past clients, or employer recommendations. Highlight any education, certifications, professional awards, or projects you worked on.
A web page with a service page also makes for a great online resume center, or some sites like ELance or LinkedIn let you to set up your own profile.
Take advantage of every tool they allow – professional photos, work samples, uploaded videos, testimonials, etc.
A short video of you in professional attire, introducing yourself and talking about your job skills, experience, and goals for work is a wonderful tool, and the link can be emailed to any potential employer.
Expect a Skype interview, possibly more screening, writing samples, or even a skills test with a virtual job.
Note: Because of the lack of personal contact, expect your employers to do a Google search for your name and probably also look you up on Facebook. Take down those half-naked pictures of you doing tequila shots and stop talking about how you hate your past employer and can't wait to quit and move down to Costa Rica!
Best practices for virtual workers:
If you are traveling or living abroad, do you have to tell your employer where you are? Is it okay to work in your pajamas? At midnight with the television on? The fine line between professionalism and sloppiness often gets blurred with virtual work, but here is the unwavering truth: do the job well; exceed expectations, and you’ll make your employer happy.
It’s all about results, and if you need a babysitter to do your work, then you shouldn’t have a virtual job. Communication will key – there’s nothing that freaks your boss out more than if they email you for something important and you don’t get back to them for a long time.
If the job is 100% virtual, you don’t have to disclose your whereabouts (they don’t know if you are sitting home in the next town, the next state, or halfway around the world,) BUT you should ask to review their specific workforce policies before you start.
If something is going to create a conflict or become an issue in the future, then honestly address it with your manager ahead of time. Remember that there will also be a time change if you are out of the country, so you may have to work some strange hours!
Be organized, professional, and expect to put as much time into your virtual job-hunt as any other employment search. I promise you that it will be worth it to live the dream of spending time in a foreign country, while still earning a paycheck!
P.S. I have a ton more resources, links, and actual companies hiring for you in the Official Expat's Moving to Costa Rica Handbook: Special Report on Working and Earning an Income From Costa Rica.
Email me any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to help.
Once you move down to Costa Rica and things like location, housing and job are all determined, your attention will turn to the more mundane – like banking.
In fact, setting up a Costa Rican bank account will probably be on your radar after you use the ATM several times and get charged exorbitant foreign ATM fees.
Costa Rica does have a fantastic and modern banking system, accessible to the foreigner, long-term resident, and Tico alike.
Here are some tips and best practices for banking in Costa Rica:
Costa Rica offers a host of options when it comes to safely parking and managing your money. These include:
• 1 central bank (Banco Central de Costa Rica)
• 3 state-owned commercial banks
• 12 private commercial banks
• 1 workers’ bank
• 1 state-owned mortgage bank
• 3 mutual house-building companies
• 9 private finance companies
• 28 savings and loans cooperatives
In addition, there are 2 money exchange houses, 30 investment and retirement funds or trusts run by both state and private commercial banks and the state insurance company. All of these banks and financial institutions offer services to foreigners, whether they’re residents, students or have work visas.
When you first move to Costa Rica, the biggest decision you’ll have when opening a bank account is whether to do so at a private bank or the Costa Rica state bank. There are pros and cons to each: The state-owned banks like Banco Nacional and Banco Costa Rica offer the most branches and many more ATM locations, as well as guaranteeing all deposits.
However, you’ll find some seriously long lines when you visit these banks. Fridays closest to the 15th and 31st or 1st of the month can be nightmares with crowds and long lines trying to cash their paychecks. December is typically swamped as well as around any holiday!
The private banks, like the Canadian-owned Scotiabank, may have far less branches and ATMs, but are big on service, with less waiting times, better educated and accommodating staff, and English speakers.
However, private banks don’t typically offer deposit insurance. They’ll also carefully scrutinize your corporation and its dealings if you open up a bank account for any business.
No matter which bank you choose (or both!), the majority of these banks allow you to open up accounts and make transactions in colones, dollars, or even euros in some cases.
What do you need to open an account?
Whether you’ve chosen a state-run or private bank to open an account, there are a number of guidelines:
If you’re not a Costa Rican resident, you’ll need to show your passport. Bring a second form of credible ID, like your driver’s license, too.
2. Minimum Deposit
The minimum deposit will depend on the type of account, but you’ll need to deposit at least 5,000 CRC or $25 for savings accounts or $500- $1,000 for checking accounts.
3. Utility Bill
Bring a copy of one of your utility bills to prove your address in Costa Rica.
4. Proof of Income
If you get paid a salary, you’ll be asked to provide your orden patronal, while independent workers should show a Certification of Income (Certificacion de Ingresos), which is prepared by a CPA and includes your name, occupation, and monthly or yearly income.
5. Purpose in Costa Rica
Some banks may require retired Costa Rican residents to show their ID card or official document from immigration or your attorney showing that you’re in the process of becoming a resident. If you’re a student, bring a letter from your school stating your purpose to study in Costa Rica. Foreign workers should have their orden patronal or La Caja.
6. U.S. Tax Forms
A recently enacted policy called Conozca a Su Cliente (Know Your Client), Mandates that banks report certain things for transactions about $10,000 to help prevent money laundering. U.S. citizens will be asked to fill out tax forms and other documents to alert the IRS to the presence of these offshore bank accounts.
7. Letters of Reference
Most Costa Rican banks will require a couple of letters of reference, including letters from other banks where you’ve done business or made deposits. But they can also be letters from friends who are customers of that same bank where you’re applying, stating your relationship and vouching for you as a customer. You can even bring them to the bank with you to aid the process!
Other banking notes and tips:
• There are ATMs all over the cities but far less in provinces and small towns. It’s recommended you take out colones because it might be hard for businesses to give change for big U.S. dollar bills, and you won’t get a good exchange rate.
• Don’t use the ATMs located in smaller shops, restaurants, and casinos – you’ll get killed on ATM fees.
• During power outages, holidays and busy tourist weekends, the ATMs may not work or be out of money, so prepare in advance.
• Costa Rica is well established as an offshore banking haven, with banking secrecy laws that make it impossible for governmental (or private) agencies to access to your account information without a court order.
• For that reason, Costa Rica is a favorite place to hold significant assets for foreign individuals and corporations that want protection from governmental agencies and civil litigation like in their home countries.
• Travelers can expect most higher end hotels, restaurants and shops to accept credit cards, but many common and everyday businesses won’t accept them.
• When using credit cards, expect a processing fee and a very unfavorable exchange rate.
• Unfortunately, credit card transactions are more susceptible to theft in Costa Rica. When signing your receipt, cross out a block of 4-8 numbers on your receipt and request a copy of the receipt.
• It’s a good idea to check your account balances often to spot any fraud or over-charging. Use a hide-your-IP service to keep your logins to banking websites protected.
• Unfortunately, the same banking protection laws may not keep your credit card transactions confidential. Credit card transactions don’t fall under the same jurisdiction as banking secrecy laws, and in several instances in the past, the United States IRS forced MasterCard and American Express to disclose private financial information from their users.
• So you may want to stick to using cash and visiting your local bank in Costa Rica. When you enter, remember that appropriate attire is required, and don’t wear sunglasses.
• Whether you go into a private or government bank, you’ll be divided into two lines depending on what kind of transaction you’re there for.
• For standard transactions like making deposits, withdrawals and exchanging currency, you’ll be in the standing line. But for customers who want to open new accounts, request a new debit card, or make special business transactions or wire transfers, etc., there will be a special line where you take a seat, and then they’ll call you.
• Before you sit down, make sure to take a ticketed number – called a ficha – so you’ll be in the queue when your number is called. If you lose your spot, no one will take mercy on you!
• If you’re elderly, pregnant, disabled, with a young child, you qualify for the preferential line called the fila preferencial, usually located off to the side.
Did you find that helpful?
It probably isn't your main concern now but believe me - it will be very useful once you move down to Costa Rica and need to open a bank account!
For more great info, check out the #1 resource in the world for moving to Costa Rica!
Costa Rican holidays, Festivities & celebrations (and why you won't have a choice but to join in the fun!)
Once you move down to Costa Rica, you’ll inevitably at some point mutter the words, “Jesus Christ – it’s like they have a holiday every single day down here!” And you are almost correct, as there’s rarely a week that goes by without some celebration, holiday, festival, or religious observance.
Don’t forget that it’s also a grand holiday anytime the most popular teams like Soprissa or Alajuelense are playing, and definitely when the Costa Rican national team takes the field, there is reason to run to the nearest bar or television set and cheer on the home team.
You’ll also realize quickly that, whether you want to join in the festivities or not, these holidays will have a big impact on your life, including jam-packed roads, crowded beaches, sold out stores, huge crowds, fireworks all night, marching bands in the streets at 5 AM, music blasting, power outages, depleted bank machines, and more.
Instead of getting frustrated, angry, or tossing and turning as you try to sleep, I recommend that if you can’t beat ‘em, you join ‘em!
Here is a little information on the most common Costa Rica holidays:
Semana Santa - Easter week
Since Costa Rica is a Catholic country, Easter is a really big deal – celebrated far more fervently than in the United States. Ticos celebrate all week at church, at family gatherings, and also slipping out to the beach for some sun and fun.
The week kicks off at the church with “Domingo de Ramos,” an important ritual where the priest gives everyone in attendance a blessed palm leaf, in remembrance of the day Jesus walking in Jerusalem and was greeted with palm leaves.
Starting Thursday that week, all businesses are closed, and Ticos start their exodus to the beach to party hard. They usually find a way to make it to church that Sunday, where a big celebration ensues to honor the resurrection of Jesus three days after he was crucified. From a practical standpoint, don’t expect any work to get done that whole week in government or private offices, and beach towns like Tamarindo and Jacó will be overrun with Ticos so make sure you have a hotel room booked.
Virgen de los Angeles - August 2nd
Every year, masses of Costa Ricans (Ticos) observe this holiday by walking from their homes to one specific church no matter how far away they live, paying respects to the patron saint of Costa Rica, Virgen de los Angeles. Legend has it that in 1636, The Virgen of Angels appeared to a little girl from Cartago, Costa Rica. The vision actually came to her many times in the form of a small stone statue, asking the girl to build a church on the exact spot it was appearing. So, the people of Cartago did just that, and, to their delight, miracles started happening there regularly. The actual stone statue was discovered on August 2, 1940, so that date was set to honor the saint and the sacred church.
Costa Rican Independence Day - September 15
Costa Rica gained their sovereignty from Spain on the same day as the rest of Central America in 1821, and the nation still commemorates their independence. The display of national pride kicks off with parades, traditional dancing and costumes, street parties, children carrying small lanterns through the street, and plenty of face painting. It all builds up to the arrival of the Freedom Torch in Cartago when everyone in the country stops and simultaneously sings the national anthem.
Day of the Culture Encounter, or Discovery of America
Christopher Columbus may be less popular every year in the United States, but his holiday is still celebrated widely in Costa Rica. In mid October, the Ticos commemorate his arrival in 1502 to Uvita, an island off the Caribbean port town of Limon. The celebration goes on for almost a whole week, with the local residents and visitors filling the streets with color, music, dancing, beauty pageants, and plenty of “Rondon” a local fish stew.
The festivities turn into a full-on carnival like atmosphere with plenty of reggae, roots, calypso, salsa, and socca music.
Columbus’s arrival is celebrated a little more tamely in the rest of Costa Rica, with school children dressing up as different historical figures, like indigenous people or Columbus himself.
Halloween - October 31
The spooky holiday of October 31 is still pretty new to Costa Rica, but they were smart enough to adopt a good party when they see it. Of course, the little kids love dressing up and being walked around town by their parents for candy, but the teens and adults really live it up, planning their costumes for weeks and going all out in a bacchanalian celebration that is Rated R photo-worthy.
Día de los Muertos - November 2
Día de los Muertos, also called Día de Todos Santos (All Saints Day) or Día de Todos Almas (All Souls Day), is observed all over Costa Rica, as residents attend Catholic mass and make pilgrimages to graveyards to honor their deceased family members.
Christmas - December 25
Christmas is a huge deal in Costa Rica as well, though the traditions are very different than to those in the United States. It starts earlier in December and revolves around a model of the nativity scene called the Pasito or Portal, but this one decorated with tropical flowers, model houses and animals, and sometimes even fruit. Christmas lights adorn a lot of homes and establishments and wreaths are made of cypress branches and are dressed up with red ribbons and red coffee berries. Apples are popular leading up to Christmas time.
Instead of Santa Claus, the gift bringer in Costa Rica is Jesus, or ‘Niño Dios’ (Child God), who brings the presents while children are sleeping. Neighbors and friends get together to act out the pilgrimage of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, pray the Rosary, and consuming plenty of eggnog and tamales. There is a traditional family dinner, and then at midnight on the 25th, most Ticos attend the Misa de Gallo or Christmas Mass – literally translated “The Mass of the Rooster.”
Carnaval - December 27
In many parts of the country, particularly on the Caribbean eastern shores, they celebrate Carnaval on the 27th with parades, floats, music, and dancing.
Costa Rican football - any time they play!
Fiesta a de los Diablitos - December 30
Literally translated as “The festival of the little devils,” at midnight on December 30, the southern ethnic group of Borucas awake wearing devil masks, recreating a fight to the death between the Indians (Diablitos) and invading Spaniards. These days, a bull represents the Spanish and the Diablitos wear plenty of traditional costumes, fireworks, and native customs.
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day
Celebrating the start of the New Year is a holiday worldwide, but Ticos kick it off with special vigor, heading to the beach in droves to drink and dance on the beach until the sun comes up. Some people light paper lanterns and set them adrift over the beach to say goodbye to the old and bring in the new, while those in the city will gather in the public squares, like in San José’s Parque Central and Buenos Aires, and Puntarenas to keep the party going with their friends. New Year’s Day is a little tamer as everyone has a hangover, or “Goma,” so it’s usually spent celebrating with family.
December and January are festive months in Costa Rica, with each city and town holding its own fiesta. Usually on the weekends, the celebrations take on a fairground atmosphere, with parades, dancing, food, plenty of drink, rides, games, and singing. But the main attraction is usually the bullfights – though the bulls aren’t harmed in Costa Rica. Each town performs them a little differently, but you could literally book your dance card for those two months following around fiestas – and having a blast!
Here is a more detailed timetable of Costa Rican holidays:
• January 1st: New Years Day
• 3/19 - St Joseph’s Day (observance)
• 3/21 - 3/23 Holy Week or Semana Santa (public sector only)
• 3/24 - Good Thursday
• 3/25 - Good Friday
• 4/11 - Juan Santa Maria
• 3/24 - Maundy Thursday (national holiday)
• 3/25 - Good Friday (national holiday)
• 4/11 - Battle of Rivas (national holiday)
• 4/11: Juan Santamaria Day, National Hero.
• Holy Thursday and Good Friday: Religious activities.
• 5/1 - International Labor Day.
• 5/1 - Labor Day (national holiday)
• 6/19 - Father’s Day (observance)
• 7/25 - Annexation of Guanacaste (national holiday)
• 8/2 - Our Lady of Los Angeles (observance)
• 8/15 - Mothers Day.
• 8/24 - National Parks Day (observance)
• 9/15 - Independence Day. 10/12 - Day of the Cultures (observance)
• 11/2 - All Souls Day (observance)
• 11/22 - Teachers’ Day (observance)
• 12/8 - Feast of the Immaculate Conception (observance)
• 12/25 - Christmas Day (national holiday)
• 12/31 - New Year’s Eve (observance) Other holidays:
• 7/25 - Annexation of Guanacaste Day.
• 8/2 - Virgin of the Angels Day.
• 10/12 - Christopher Columbus Day.
Have fun and enjoy every day in Costa Rica - including the holidays!
Costa Rica may be known for its perfect beaches and sunny climate, but the wildlife is even more remarkable in the Central American nation. Despite being only the size of West Virginia, Costa Rica is home to more than 500,000 different species, making up an astounding 4% of all the plant, insect and wildlife species on the entire Earth!
Today, I wanted to introduce you to some of the cool, cute, and even cuddly animals and species that you'll encounter in Costa Rica!
The three-toed sloth
Costa Rica may be best known for its exotic and unique animals like the Three-Toed Sloth. As you might guess, these jungle dwellers are incredibly slow on land (but good swimmers) and lazy (they sleep 16-18 hours a day), living high up in the canopy and descending only once a week to go to the bathroom! In fact, these sloths dig a hole in the ground with their stubby tails, go to the bathroom in the hole, and then cover it up with leaves using its hind legs.
Interestingly, they are homebodies, spending about 20% of their life in the same tree and never venturing too far.
Sea turtles can be found in many parts of the world, but Costa Rica boasts the greatest concentration and variety of any nation. In fact, five of the seven species of sea turtles nest on the beaches of the Central American nation, where you can find leatherbacks, green, loggerhead, and hawksbill. But the most famous of Costa Rican sea turtles if the olive ridley, also called the arribada, which is Spanish for “arrival by sea.”
An incredible natural ritual that’s worth witnessing in Costa Rica is when tens of thousands of sea turtles come to shore, laying their eggs in the sand before leaving en masse. This happens up to eight times a year, and even scientists haven’t figured out how they know when it’s time to do this. Approximately two months later, the eggs hatch and hundreds of thousands of newborn turtles make their way back to the ocean to swim away. There are plenty of beaches up and down the coast where you can see this, but the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge is one of the best.
If you’ve spent some time in the lowlands or beaches of Costa Rica, you may have been woken up at an un-Godly hour by the ear-splitting shrieks and howls of nearby howler monkeys. In fact, these calls from the adult males can be heard for almost a mile away. They usually “howl” at sunset or sunrise in response to encountering people, rain, thunder, other monkeys, or even airplanes overhead, though some biologists think these noises are their way of communicating with the troop. While they are loud, they’re not dangerous, and you might see a whole family swinging from trees with their particularly long tails or picking leaves or fruit to eat. Howler monkeys make up 69% of the total primate population in Costa Rica.
Toucans sail and swoon through the sky in the Costa Rican rainforest, emitting a unique yipping call. You can usually distinguish their flight patterns from other birds because
they rise with a few flaps of their wings, but then the weight of their beaks pulls them down again, so they rarely fly in a straight line like other birds.
The Chestnut-Mandibled Toucan is largest species of toucan in Central America and eats fruit, insects, and an occasional small snake. In Costa Rica, they prefer the wet forest lowlands of the Caribbean and Cordillera de Talamanca up to Carara on the Pacific side of the country.
Mexican tree frogs
There are a stunning 193 species of frogs and toads from 14 families in Costa Rica, and Tree frogs account for about one-third of their numbers. The tree frog – or Smilisca baudini – is known for making a distinct sound often
described as the horn on a clown car. Despite being named after Mexico to the north, they do inhabit Costa Rica in large numbers and tourists can often hear them in jungle areas.
Costa Rica’s cloud forests, rainforests, and tropical dry forests are the perfect habitat for butterflies, or caligo eurilochus if you want to use their scientific name. In fact, Costa Rica is such a lepidopterist’s (butterfly watcher) dream because 90% of all the butterflies in Central American can be found in the country, as well as 18% of the world’s total butterfly species. That means Costa Rica has more butterflies than all of North America and Europe combined!
I hope you enjoyed these cute and cuddly critters, but don't get too comfortable out in the wild in Costa Rica.
In fact, there are a whole lot of exotic, dangerous, and even deadly animals, from crocodiles to poisonous frogs and more. I'll highlight them in a future blog or you can discover the flora and fauna of Costa Rica extensively in the Moving to Costa Rica Handbook!
When it comes to buying real estate back home, you’ve probably heard that the three most important factors are “location, location, and location.”
The same could be said for choosing the right place to move in Costa Rica (except it’s “lugar” in Spanish!). There is no one “right” location, as everyone values different things.
I suggest visiting as many places as you can and making a list of pros and cons based on the lifestyle and amenities you value most. For some, a lack of suitable roads, ATMs, stores and hotels, dependable Wi-Fi, and sporadic aircon will drive them nuts. For others, getting away from the hustle and bustle and getting as close to nature as possible is just what the doctor ordered!
But here are some great suggestions where to live in Costa Rica in places that are popular with expats.
First, let’s look at where you might want to live by region:
• Includes capital city of San José
• Plenty of well-established expat havens: San Ramon, Grecia,
Alajuela, and Atenas
• Ideal climate due to high altitude with year-round average
temperature in the 70s F
• Great existing communities for expats that have gyms,
restaurants, social clubs, theater groups, game nights
• Conveniently located near San José, go anywhere in the region in
1 to 1.5 hours
• Good infrastructure, amenities, and shopping with American-style
malls, super stores, and warehouse shopping
• Cultural heart of the country with the most theater, art galleries,
• Convenient to Costa Rica’s largest international airport just outside of San José
• Describes the northwest Guanacaste province of Costa Rica
• Most sunny days and the least rain in the entire country
• Ideal beach lifestyle and beach culture
• Good mix of Ticos and expats
• More relaxed and friendlier than San José, but the roads, amenities, and infrastructure are rougher
• Popular tourist places like Tamarindo can be expensive
• Rural, tranquil lifestyle
• Relatively underdeveloped a few B&Bs and small boutique hotels
• Nuevo Arenal is where most expats live, so you will find grocery
stores, pharmacies, and basic necessities
The Southern Zone
• Quintessential Costa Rica environment
• Some of the best beaches in the country
• Plenty of lush, exotic wildlife and nature
• Lacks big resorts or concentrated development
• Great opportunity to get in early on real estate or business before
• Infrastructure like roads and cell towers quickly catching up
• Home to Jacó
• More laid-back, tranquil surf spots like Esterillos, Bejuco, and
• Easy drive to the capital of San José
• Great secluded beaches like Punta Uva, Playa Chiquita and Manzanillo
• Perfect for fishing, watersports, and nature lovers
• Totally different Caribbean culture and vibe – almost like Jamaica
with Creole English commonly spoken
• Far less touristy and developed than the bustling Pacific Coast
• Real estate prices can get high right on the beach but cheaper
Some of the most popular cities, towns, and communities for expats in Costa Rica:
• Great shops and restaurants in the town
• Surfers should check out Hermosa and Esterillos Este
• Easily accessible day trips to great nature hikes
• Easy drive to San Jos
• Flooded with Ticos vacationers and expats on holidays, not the ideal spot for peace and quiet
• Some expats steer clear of Jacó because they see it as over- developed, touristy, and has “Little Vegas” resort town feel
• More drugs and crime
• Very popular spot for beach lovers and surfers
• Hanging on to that small village feel but plenty of shops,
restaurants, and amenities
• Strong and growing international community
• Some issues with petty crime and drugs
• Not an easy drive (3-4 hours) San José
• Closest big city is Liberia, 1.5 hours away with great international
• Not too far from Liberia to get to the Nicaraguan border for visa
• Very expensive place due to tourist activity
• Other expat communities nearby like Playa Coco
• Plenty of commercial activity, restaurants, and supermarkets
• Right along the Pan American Highway, and there are direct bus
lines to San José
• Beautiful mountains right along the coast
• Much less developed than other coastal area
• Great for nature lovers, more secluded and pristine nature but close access to necessities
• Lower cost of living than many other expat regions
• Tons of expat societies/organizations to welcome newcomers
• Very chill, slow-paced lifestyle
• An upscale suburb popular among expats
• Close to central San José
• For expats, most developed place to live for quality schools,
shopping, and western-style amenities
• Good climate with cooler temps and a little breeze that expats
really enjoy because it’s in the foothills
• Very safe community
• Some say expats have driven up prices and made it too
• Gated communities
• Dining and nightlife is limited - trade off with the small town vibe
• Good climate
• Not very exciting, residential
• Safe, convenient
• Small town on the Caribbean coast
• About 2-hour drive to San José
• Plenty of family and locally-run small hotels, lodges and
• Less expensive real estate
• Infrastructure isn’t as developed as resort towns on the Pacific
• Authentic, traditional Caribbean culture and vibe
• Amazing boating, fishing, and fresh seafood
I hope this helps!
Contact me if you need any more help and you can get a WHOLE lot more information in The Official Expat's Moving to Costa Rica Handbook!
Foreigners can buy real estate in Costa Rica and own a piece of paradise!
Every year, about 2.5 million tourists and visitors touch down in Costa Rica, the beautiful tropical Central American nation, many of them from the U.S. and Canada. Whether they stay for mere days or weeks on end, they often want to find a way to spend a lot more time in Costa Rica.
In fact, a good number of North Americans end up transitioning to Costa Rica, retiring, opening a business, spending cold weather months in the warm, inviting climes, or even moving down south permanently.
Moving down to Costa Rica and renting is one thing, but when it comes to actually buying that idyllic seaside condo or breezy villa nestled in the mountains, foreigners face a lot of uncertainty. You should have lots of questions, but also vast potential for one of the best investments of your life – both financially and in your future health and happiness.
Foreigners should exercise extreme caution when buying property in Costa Rica, doing their homework and using an English-speaking multinational real estate agent and guide who can help them navigate through the sometimes-complex laws.
But here is the good news: foreigners can own real estate in Costa Rica free and clear. Looking back, many expats and Costa Rica lovers say that buying a property in paradise was the smartest thing they ever did.
Here are the 5 most common questions I hear from foreigners who want to buy real estate in Costa Rica:
1. Are property ownership laws different for foreigners and Costa Rica citizens?
The amazing thing about real estate in Costa Rica is that foreigners and locals have exactly the same rights and follow the same laws – which presents a rare and unique opportunity for foreign investors.
In fact, property ownership is protected by the Costa Rican constitution. You don’t even need to live in Costa Rica to buy property or own land – you can buy and own outright with a tourist visa.
2. Do I need a Costa Rican business partner to own land in Costa Rica?
Not for the vast majority of property sales, however, there is one possibility where this would be a requirement, which I cover in detail in the full Moving to Costa Rica Handbook.
3. Should I buy property under my own name, or form a corporation to hold title?
You can hold a title under your own name. However, it’s recommended you look into acquiring property through a corporation (also called a Holding Company), which will give you plenty of legal benefits. Holding the property in this corporation will reduce your potential personal liability, help the closing procedure, and allow for easier sale, transfer, or mortgage in the future, as well as ease the process of registering for utilities like electricity, water, etc.
4. Can foreigners own real estate on the beach?
Pay attention to these clear restrictions and specific regulations.
Here’s how it works:
• No one can own property within 50 meters of the ocean (measured horizontally from the high tide line), which is public domain and protected by the Costa Rican government
• Property located past those first 50 meters but within 200 meters from the median high tide mark is in the Maritime Terrestrial Zone and called Concession property
• You can develop Concession property, but it requires a special grant from the local municipality
• Within this Concession property, native Costa Ricans do hold advantages and special rights over foreigners. For instance, non-resident foreigners can own up to 49% of leased beach property, but the remaining 51% must be owned by a Costa Rican citizen, resident, or corporation.
• These rules apply both on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.
• While this may seem complex, there are plenty of mutually beneficial arrangements that aid foreigners in safely and profitably investing in ocean front real estate in Costa Rica, especially condominiums and other similar projects.
5. How can I finance my Costa Rican purchase?
It’s possible to get a mortgage loan with a Costa Rican bank, but most foreigners upon looking into the arduous process and mountains of paperwork decide to pursue other avenues for financing. It’s just simply usually ends up being too hard to qualify, it can take months before a decision is rendered, and the banks charge exorbitant fees by U.S. and Canadian standards.
An interesting side note: one of the reasons why Costa Rica is so stable is because their banking system doesn’t recklessly or easily lend money – something the U.S. could learn from!
But there is a way to finance your real estate purchase in Costa Rica quickly, affordably, and surprisingly simply!
Just purchase the Moving to Costa Rica Handbook and check out our comprehensive section on buying and financing property in Costa Rica.
Or, feel free to email me if you have ANY questions about purchasing real estate in Costa Rica - I'm happy to help!
Every year, 6.6 million U.S. citizens call another country home - including Costa Rica but many others, too.
We do so for a variety of reasons -- work assignments, warmer climates and better medical care, and a cheaper cost of living for example. But whatever the reason for buying a one-way ticket and becoming an expatriate, there are some important choices to make once we get there.
I’ve been lucky enough to live in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and travel all over the world to 47 countries on six continents and counting. I’ve also met expatriates almost everywhere I traveled, and picked their brains every chance I got.
So, if you’re considering a similar move abroad, here are some things to consider:
1. The language barrier
Communication is something we take for granted, but when you are in a foreign country you might not be able to walk right up to someone and express yourself... or ask for life’s essentials, like the bathroom, and beer. You’ll want to study and practice the language as much as possible before you go. Also, taking intensive language lessons once you arrive is a great way to meet people and ease the linguistic transition.
2. Where to go?
There are many factors that go into your choice of a new home country: climate, political stability, crime, proximity to the U.S. for a quick flight home, cost, language and customs, etc. Many people chose to expatriate to places like Panama, Costa Rica, Belize, or the Philippines for these reasons.
3. Taxes, insurance, and other nuts and bolts
Even when you’re living in another country, the IRS expects you to pay U.S. taxes as long as you’re a citizen and make income. You’ll probably also want to stay current with your U.S. health insurance, and many people conveniently forget to tell them that you don’t live in the U.S. anymore so it doesn’t cause complications. You can bank online and pay bills online these days with e-statements, but you can also get your stateside mail sent to a relative or to a post office box.
4. Medical care
It’s important to be aware of the medical services available in your communities, and how they are rated for quality and consistency, as well as access to prescription medications. Many seniors who are expats want to live in countries with medical care that is much less expensive than in the U.S. Luckily, that is most of the world.
5. Buying real estate (or a business, a car, etc.)
Your first instinct may be to plant “roots” by purchasing a home, a car, etc. but I’ve found it’s best to give it some time. Don’t make any major purchases for at least a year until you thoroughly learn the local culture, customs, and business climate. There can be some complex and Draconian rules when it comes to property and vehicle ownership, as well as bizarre registration and paperwork demands.
People get ripped off or make bad decisions all the time, so give it some time until you’re a seasoned expat and enlist the advice of a trusted local. You’ll also want to weigh out the import taxes and costs of having things like a car or furniture shipped down to you, or buying them locally.
The reality is that you have to be careful no matter where you are in the world, but with some common sense, you can stay super safe in Costa Rica. Don’t walk around with expensive (or probably any) jewelry, don’t show off valuables, don’t go into bad areas, befriend locals to show you around and watch after you, always respect others, don’t walk around late at night or get too drunk, and get a dog!
Every country (including and especially the U.S.!) suffers from street crime. But you want to avoid countries where there’s political upheaval or religious extremist groups — and Costa Rica definitely doesn’t have those problems.
7. Working, making money, and doing business
Many expats find out that life isn’t quite as cheap as they anticipated and the savings goes fast, so you’ll have some decisions to make about earning money. But do you try and open a local business? Try to keep working in the U.S., doing your job remotely from your new home country? Or jump into tourism?
Do your research and go for a low-risk consistent paycheck, not a venture that requires a huge up-front investment of time and money. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen open bikini or surf shops, bars or restaurants, but six months later they’re broke, stressed and out of business. Keep it simple.
Technology will be an invaluable tool as you try to stay connected to friends and family, do business, and get things done from your new country. With some adjustment and planning technology will be your best friend. Get a local cell phone. Almost every bar and restaurant has Wi-Fi, so iPads, laptops, iPhones (with your U.S. network turned off!), and e- readers can all be used as mini computers to keep you rocking and rolling.
Applications like Skype, Netflix, WhatsApp, Internet calling apps, language translators, currency converters, and GPS make your life easier. And a GoPro camera or drone will be super fun in Costa Rica!
9. Blending into the local community
Assimilating to the local culture is a long-term challenge, but also a constant source of connection, humor, and fascination. Be naturally curious and open to being outside of your comfort zone. Say hello and show respect to everyone, learn the local sayings, the customs, celebrate the holidays, make local friends, and even get in good with the police and officials. Attending religious services and volunteering to do charity work are great ways to foster good will and positive karma.
10. Residency and Visas
Some expats want to become citizens of their new nation; some are content staying there on extended tourist visas. If that’s the case, you might have some shuffling to do over the border to renew your visa every 90 days.
Sometimes, there are huge benefits to becoming a citizen, while for others, it’s just not worth it. So do your homework and talk to other expats because it could be a lengthy and expensive process to establish residency.
-The Official Expat,
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