Testing the Waters Before Moving to Costa Rica

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I got on a 5-6 hour direct flight from New York City to Liberia Airport in Costa Rica. Got on an hour-long shuttle to our hostel in Tamarindo (cost: $20 USD each). By the way—if you ever visit, I highly recommend a shuttle. Public transportation would be cheaper, but it’ll be hot and take several hours.

We’re in Costa Rica for a 3-week a “test trip” to figure out how viable it would be to move here for the summer. Going through a test run that’s 1/10th the length of the actual trip may seem excessive, but we have our reasons.

Moving to Costa Rica

It’s been a multi-step process, but it’s finally underway!

One of them is that it’s surprisingly hard to get in contact with people in Costa Rica via e-mail. Call it the “island time” effect (FYI, Costa Rica is not an island) but most people take their time getting back to you. We never even heard back from some of the people we contacted. I mean, not even a courtesy e-mail telling us they had no openings!

On top of that, we also have a couple of “deal breakers.” Costa Rica is still technically a third-world country, and there are things you can’t take for granted. For example: reliable internet. If I’m going to blog, and Jake is going to play poker, we can’t exactly move to the jungle and hope for the best.

Moving to Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, it’s not unusual to have strange dogs nuzzle your leg and join you at brunch. This one didn’t even look like a stray!

What We’re Looking For

Besides a good internet connection, we also needed to know how much it would actually cost to live here.

  • Do we need a car to get around? (That’s a huge extra cost, and probably enough for us to pick a different country!)
  • What’s the cost of living?
  • Can we find a place to rent for less than $1000 between us? (We could afford more, but the goal here is getting to breakeven with income from our hobbies.)

Equally important is how reliable the waves are during the wet season when we would be here. Costa Rica’s “wet-” or “off-season” typically ranges from May-August. However, one local we spoke to said these patterns have changed in recent years due to global warming. These are the kinds of things that would be hard to find out without putting boots on the ground!

How to Know It Feels Right

Living in Costa Rica, especially tourist-swamped Tamarindo, definitely has its drawbacks. You have to throw out toilet paper instead of flushing it here because the plumbing system isn’t great. Selection at grocery stores (called “Supers”) is sparse, and everything is more expensive here than we had anticipated. But there are also signs we’re doing the right thing, like walking into 2 real estate agencies on our first day and leaving with multiple leads for apartments in our price range!

Moving to Costa Rica

Our version of the IMF currency basket includes something we eat very often: AVOCADOS.

On the plane ride here, I was reading an old copy of Inc. Magazine I’ve had lying around my house for probably 2 years. I came across an interview with one of the founders of MakerBot, Bre Prettis. At the end of the article, he says “If you do only reasonable things, you’ll never start your own business. It takes vision—a belief that you’ll be able to do the things you have no idea how to do.”

Moving to Costa Rica

A quote from Bre Pettis, one of the founders of MakerBot for Inc. Magazine in 2014.

Jake and I are far away from home or anything we know, but in a way that’s the point. We may not know what we’re doing or how we’ll do it, but we are figuring it out.


Don’t worry, mom and dad (let’s face it—the only people reading this blog!), the kids are gonna be alright!

What do you think about taking a “test trip” before moving to Costa Rica or a different country? Is it overly cautious, or just being prepared? Let us know in the comment section!