Lots of foreigners dream about leaving it all behind and moving to Costa Rica to sip rum on the beach and adopt a simpler, slower lifestyle. Yet, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and there’s a whole dismal existence to operating in this tiny Central American country that you won’t see featured in the idyllic expat blogs loaded with sleepy sloth images and Instagramable, no filter coastal shots. For those that want the real story, here’s a peek at the hard-knock reality that no one tells you about when living in Costa Rica. Yes, we try to keep it under wraps!
Reason 1: Electricity Prices
Living in paradise comes at a hefty price. Powering an entire country on 90% pure renewable energy is funded straight out of your pocket. They have an ascending usage bracket system where you get charged more to burn their clean, nationwide non-fossil fuel-based energy. It’s not fair that keeping your 3,000 square foot villa air-conditioned to a moderate 70°F (21°C) in a tropical jungle climate and running an infinity pool pump day and night should cost more per kWh than your eco-conscious neighbors down the street, or is it?
Reason 2: Humidity and Heat
Get ready to sweat if you live in Costa Rica. A lot. And not just when you’re power
walking on the treadmill at the gym while catching up on Netflix. It’s hot and humid all
year-round, especially near the beaches. Gone are the days when you can
enthusiastically layer on flannel shirts, long johns, wool socks, waterproof fleece-lined
boots, snow pants, a down jacket, sock cap, heavy gloves and a scarf so that you can
scrape the ice off of your snow shell of a vehicle, all for a 5-minute drive to the grocery
store. The only thing we locals put on when it gets cold are socks, so you can kiss your
trendy winter fashion collection goodbye.
Reason 3: Food Choices
Prepare to pay twice as much for a simple brie cheese wheel or organic vegan bacon-
flavored breakfast meat substitute strips, IF you can even find them at a nearby super
mercado. Instead, you’ll be left to choose from a selection of Costa Rican grown in-
season vegetables and fruits, or farm-fresh dairy and meat products. And you can say
sayonara to your favorite convenient ready-made foods like individually wrapped
microwavable “all-natural” frozen omelets for breakfast; there’s only actual hand-
cracked eggs mixed with local veggies and cooked in a pan on the spot for your
foreseeable Pura Vida future. Be forewarned: making a burrito will never be the same,
either. You will always want “gallo pinto” in it from here on out.
Reason 4: Tons of Scary Insects
You’ll never see a crazier or scarier assortment of bugs until you move to Costa Rica.
There are 6-inch flying grasshoppers (aptly called “langostas” or lobsters locally) that
kamikaze towards your head out of nowhere, spiders bigger than your hand and beetles
with tong-like pinchers that will snarkily give you the middle tarsus when you pull out
bug spray. Who would’ve thought of being in a country with 6% of the world’s biodiversity
would include so many insects and such a diverse food chain? Truly, seeing a few of
these creepy crawlies a year doesn’t make it worth the daily experience of watching
scarlet macaws, amusing monkeys, colorful toucans, nimble jungle cats, pizotes or
shiny blue morpho butterflies pass by your patio on any given afternoon.
If you’ve managed to look at all of these daily hurdles to life in Costa Rica and can still
embrace the positive aspects, then you might be able to endure it in the long-term.
Getting the most out of living here means appreciating the good, along with the not-so-
bad, and keeping things in perspective, especially on the surprise scorpion in your