So you’re thinking of going abroad?
The decision to do so is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. At least it was for me.
Living abroad completely changed my life. I’m originally from the States, and I’ve lived in Central and South America. Both were unique, challenging, enlightening and fun experiences I still think about often today. Living abroad in Costa Rica is a great place for your first big experience. Below are just a few of the reasons you should consider living abroad in Costa Rica.
1) You’re in the Caribbean
I don’t know where you live currently, but I live in Colorado which means it’s cold a lot of the year and there is no beach of any kind. This simple fact alone made my choice to move to Central America an easy one. Even if you don’t live somewhere cold, you’ve probably never lived in the Caribbean where the pace of life is slower and sweeter. In a country whose catch phrase is ‘pura vida,’ which has various meanings including its direct translation ‘pure life’ as well as ‘full living’ and ‘living great,’ you know you can’t go wrong.
2) You can learn Spanish
It’s always way easier to learn a language once you are immersed in the culture of a country that speaks it. It’s kind of a no brainer, right? At home, you may take classes that meet three days a week in a class room filled with students who speak your native language. The class, if you are lucky, may actually be taught by a native Spanish speaker, but that is rare. In Costa Rica, you will be surrounded by Spanish speakers. All of your daily activities will take place in Spanish, ordering food at a restaurant, asking for directions, flirting with that cute guy (or girl.) You’re basically forced to learn and therefore you learn it much quicker. Plus, you learn the local Spanish and not the Spanish of wherever your teacher back home is from.
Due to the increased desire to learn English (the reason you have a job) Costa Ricans, or Ticos, as they call themselves are quite apt with the English language these days. So if you’re worried about getting around in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, don’t be. Costa Rica might just be the easiest country to get around because of the friendly and willing Ticos and their experience with the English language.
3) You can travel. A lot.
Central America is an awesome, easy place to travel. While I lived in Central America, I managed to travel to all but one of the countries in the short year I was there. The countries are small and the bus system is great and cheap. Hell, all of Central America is cheap, which also makes it affordable.
There’s also plenty of holidays. Being largely Catholic, they have holidays for nearly every saint. This means you get long weekends often. Take advantage of them and take a four-six hour bus ride and be in another country for the weekend, or choose to explore how the locals do.
As well as traveling outside the country, there is also plenty to see within Costa Rica. You could visit the cloud forest in Monte Verde, hike the volcano in Arenal, fish in Quepos and dive in Puerto Viejo. There is much to see and do and many places are easily visited in a day.
4) You can have adventures.
My favorite adventure is scuba diving. My first dive ever was in Puerto Viejo and it’s what got me started on a lifetime of diving. What’s great about Costa Rica is its easy access to both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. That means even more places to dive and more underwater creatures to discover.
Plus diving in Costa Rica and most of Central America is cheap. These countries are some of the cheapest places in the world to get your diving certification. You can get your diving certification for an average of $450, which is well less than half the price you’d pay in the States. Your two tank dives are cheap as well and diving is something you can do wherever you travel to.
Other adventures in Costa Rica include zip lining through the cloud forest of Monte Verde, all sorts of beautiful nature hikes often ending in waterfalls to soak in, paddle boarding, surfing, kite surfing, snorkeling and just about anything else you can do in the water — Costa Rica’s got it!
5) You get to eat great food.
Though not exactly known for their food, Costa Rica has some great dishes. My favorite is Gallo Pinto, which is usually served for breakfast and consists of rice and beans, eggs, avocado, crema, cheese and a fried plantain. It’s a huge meal that will fill you up for all the activities mentioned above. They also have some great fruit you may never have seen or heard of including granadilla, maracuya and mamones. It’s always neat to try something you’ve never had before.
In addition to the food, you’ll also get to try an Imperial, a local brand of beer. And though their rum isn’t exactly the best, they are next door to the country which I consider to have the best rum in the world, Nicaragua, and you can order a Flor De Caña in any bar in Costa Rica.
You’ve got a lot of decisions ahead of you. But you’ve already made the hardest one, which was your decision to move abroad in the first place. There are a lot of places you could live, but I think the transition to Costa Rica is a very easy one due to the friendly Ticos, great food, awesome adventures and the ease of language. If you’re considering teaching English there, read our Ultimate Guide to Teaching English in Central America.
Most importantly, have fun and live it up. Pura Vida.
Words by Kari Redmond.