Pura vida or the pure life, a slower, relaxed, stress free lifestyle where people are happy and carefree while surrounded by nature. A place that is self sustainable and generates nearly all of its power requirements from hydro-electric and solar. Where nature rules and abounds to the point where you need to have constant respect for it. From active volcanoes to the highest number poisonous creatures anywhere in the world, this is a place of diversity and beauty.
It relies on the common sense of the people to look after nature and is not controlled by an over abundance of laws. There is little political unrest, turmoil or absurdity. A place that spends zero tax payer dollars on military because it does not have an Army and threatens no one.
The people are the friendliest of anywhere that I have traveled. They are always smiling, happy and inviting but also humble and somewhat reserved.
There is no such thing as daylight savings time. The sun rises and sets at nearly the same time all year long. There is no winter, summer, spring or fall. Seasons are defined by the amount of rain it receives and are deemed dry and green seasons.
With the exception of the capital city of San Jose and the surrounding suburbs, traffic and congestion are not a problem.
Costa Rica is the only country in Central America and Mexico where you can drink the water almost anywhere and not be concerned.
If you are a nature lover, this will be heaven. More than 25% of the land in Costa Rica is protected. There are currently 28 national parks and the numbers are growing. There are thousands of waterfalls.
Beautiful and uncrowded beaches line both west and east coasts
Creatures roam everywhere, from the beaches to the rain forests.
Orchids grow wild and butterflies flourish.
There is a micro-climate for everybody. The hills of the Central Valley have a very temperate climate and there is no need for air conditioning or heating. Conversely, the Guanacaste beach communities of the Pacific northwest require almost constant air conditioning with an average high of 91F and low of 71F. Whatever your desire, you can find climates in between the extremes that are perfect for you.
Time goes by slowly here. Manana (spanish for tomorrow) means maybe tomorrow, possibly later this week or maybe never. If you can't handle this, and need things immediately, you probably won't do well here.
If you are an outdoors person, Costa Rica is for you with the world's best surfing and fishing all year long.
Is everything here Pura Vida and this lifestyle for everyone? Absolutely not.
Over 50% of the people who move here leave after 2-3 years. From discussing with others, you either love and embrace the Pura Vida lifestyle differences or you try to make it like where you came from, hate it and leave.
Petty crime is an issue, more so in San Jose than in other parts, but it exist everywhere. Leave something on the beach unattended, or in your car within view, and there is a high risk that it will be gone. Personally I haven't experienced this, nor have any of my friends that have lived here for awhile.
Costa Rica is one of the world leaders in the use of pesticides, consuming about 7 times the amount per acre as in the United States. However, recently there has been a concerted effort to reduce the use and implement organic gardening techniques.
One must be aware of real estate scams. The profession is not regulated and there is no such thing as a licensed real estate agent. Anybody can sell property. You can buy property, but if you don't have water rights, you can't build. Networking with trusted friends, who had good experiences, is the best way to find a reputable agent.
Similarly, purchasing a quality, reliable car can be challenging. Odometer turn backs and the importation of salvaged vehicles from other Central American countries are issues. As with purchasing property, find a trusted resource referred to by others, and do your homework.
Costa Rica has the highest number of poisonous creatures anywhere in the world, numbering 26. Add in jaguars, saltwater crocodiles and bull sharks makes this country pretty lethal if you don't show it constant respect.
Costa Rica is the most expensive of all Central American countries. Some people will find that it is more expensive than their current home town. It all depends on where you are coming from. For example, as compared to Southern California, Costa Rica is much less expensive but if you are moving from the US mid-west, it may be about the same or more.
For us, we have purchased land, are building a house and purchased a used car, health and car insurance. The transactions have gone very smooth and we have developed a very trusted network of professionals and friends with expertise in each area. However, to accomplish this required about 18 months of research, networking, preparation and a bunch of trips, some of which were only for 2-3 days to meet someone in person. Our spanish is improving and we will continue to work on it.
The Ticos that we have interacted with have been caring and wonderful. So far, this has been a dream come true.