Costa Rica is a personal favorite of IGS staff members and a location we are all too happy to nudge our clients looking to practice their Spanish. In the capital city of San Jose, they have worked at a language school where they assisted in the classroom and tutoring. One of our law students requested work in in bi-lingual law office in the downtown area and we secured a terrific litigation attorney for her. In the highlands of Monteverde, our students have assisted a rainforest education institute that serves visiting school groups. They helped staff educate visitors on the dynamics of what makes a cloud forest unique. Our students likewise guided night excursions in search of tree-dwelling ocelots and monstrous tarantulas. Some well-reviewed travel spots by our students include rafting on the Pacuare River. One called it the journey of a lifetime. And a side trip to La Fortuna volcano is sure to produce some New-World monkeys and Old-World terror with some of the world’s most poisonous snakes.

Costa Rica is the most visited nation in the Central American region. It is the only country to meet all five UNDP criteria established to measure environmental sustainability. In November 2017, National Geographic magazine named Costa Rica as the happiest country in the world.Reasons include the high level of social services, the caring nature of its inhabitants, long life expectancy and relatively low corruption.

Costa Rica is generally regarded as having the most stable and most democratic government. Its constitution of 1949 provides for a unicameral legislature, a fair judicial system, and an independent electoral body. Moreover, the constitution abolished the country’s army, gave women the right to vote, and provided other social, economic, and educational guarantees for all of its citizens. It has one of the highest literacy rates (more than nine-tenths) in the Western Hemisphere and a solid educational system from the primary grades through the university level. Several renowned universities and an active network of bookstores and publishing houses tend to make San Jose the nucleus of intellectual life in Central America. Because of the country’s peaceful reputation and its commitment to human rights, several nongovernmental organizations and pro-democracy foundations have their headquarters in San Jose.

ATTRACTIONS

San Jose  San Jose is the capital and largest city of Costa Rica. The city is named in honor of Joseph of Nazareth. Though few people live in the city center, it is the most important working area of the country, which brings in more than a million people daily. According to studies on Latin America, San Jose is one of the safest and least violent cities in the region. In 2006, the city was appointed Ibero-American Capital of Culture. San Jose is the sixth-most important destination in Latin America, according to The MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index 2012, and ranked 15th in the world’s fastest-growing destination cities by visitor cross-border spending. San Jose has a number of theaters, many with European-inspired architecture. These buildings serve as the city’s main tourist attractions, not only because of their architecture, but because of the cultural, musical, and artistic presentations and activities, which include traditional and modern Costa Rican and San Josefinan culture. San Jose is also host to various museums, these museums allow visitors to view Costa Rican history, scientific discoveries, pre-Columbian era culture and art, as well as modern Costa Rican art. San Jose is home to many parks and squares (plazas in Spanish); where one can find gazebos, open green areas, recreational areas, lakes, fountains, statues and sculptures by Costa Rican artists and many different bird, tree and plant species. Plazas, or town squares, are very prominent across San Jose’s districts.

Monteverde Monteverde is one of the country’s major ecotourism destinations. The area is host to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and several other natural attractions, which draw considerable numbers of tourists and naturalists. National Geographic has called the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve “the jewel in the crown of cloud forest reserves”. Newsweek has declared Monteverde the world’s #14 “Place to Remember Before it Disappears”. By popular vote in Costa Rica, Monteverde was deemed one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Costa Rica, along with Isla del Coco, Volcan Arenal, Cerro Chirripo, Rio Celeste, Tortuguero, and Volcan Poas. In recent years, the area’s rapidly increasing numbers of tourists has brought a sizable influx of Costa Ricans from other towns and cities. Now, an estimated 250,000 tourists visit Monteverde a year. Improved goods and services, including partially paved roads, have arrived in recent years. Due to the area’s cloud forests and rain forests (including seven different ecological life zones), Monteverde has become a major part of the Costa Rican tourist trail – despite difficult access.

Liberia is the capital and largest city of Guanacaste province, Costa Rica. It is a major center for the country’s tourism industry. Liberia has been nicknamed la ciudad blanca (the white city) due to the white gravel that was once used to make the city’s roads and the whitewashed colonial houses which used to make up a large part of the city. The city center features a modern church, as many Costa Rican towns do, facing a plaza surrounded by locally owned shops and restaurants. Liberia is also home to an expo that takes place in the month of July, celebrating the annexation of Guanacaste Province on 25 July 1824. Liberia is a city in northern Costa Rica, near the Nicoya Peninsula. In its old quarter, the Museo de Guanacaste has cultural and historical exhibitions. The Museo del Sabanero showcases local cowboy memorabilia, including photographs. The colonial-style Ermita de La Agonia is a Catholic church with a white facade. To the northeast are the active Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and the dormant Miravalles Volcano.

Tamarindo is a town and district of the Santa Cruz canton, located on the Nicoya Peninsula on the Northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica in the Province of Guanacaste. Tamarindo is the largest developed beach town in Guanacaste, and the second-largest in all of Costa Rica. The main attractions are surfing and eco-tourism. One of its Beaches is Playa Tamarindo, a long, rocky beach with excellent waves near the mouth of the estuary. Currents can be strong, especially on a falling tide. Some eco-friendly activities that may be done in Tamarindo and neighboring beaches include: watching turtles during their nesting season, diving, snorkeling, body surfing, zip-lining, estuary trips, horseback riding and fishing. During the December to April period when the water turbidity is low, fishing may be done from the shore. The beaches in the area are generally clean. Common things to do in Tamarindo are: ATV Tours, Estuary Safari, Horseback Riding, Kayak Tours, Massages, White Water Rafting class or Tubing, Tours, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, Spa & Beauty, Sport Fishing, Sailing, Sunset Sailing, Surfing Lessons, Tennis Classes, Turtle Nesting Tours and Zip Line/ Canopy Tours.

Arenal is an active volcano that glows red from lava flowing down its slopes at night, and billows ash into the heavens during the day. Arenal is Costa Rica’s adventure capital where you can hike, ride horses, zipline, rappel, spelunk, paddle or pedal through lush rainforest and tropical rivers and lakes before heading to the volcanically-heated hot springs to soak off your adventures. Arenal is the youngest and most active of all the volcanoes in Costa Rica and one of the ten most active volcanoes in the world. Scientists have been able to date its activity back to more than 7000 years ago. The area remained largely unexplored until 1937, when a documented expedition took place to reach the summit. It has been considered eruptive since 1968. Arenal is estimated to be less than 7,500 years old and considered a young volcano. The volcano was dormant for hundreds of years and exhibited a single crater at its summit, with minor fumaroles activity, covered by dense vegetation. In 1968 it erupted unexpectedly, destroying the small town of Tabacon. Due to the eruption three more craters were created on the western flanks but only one of them still exists today. Since 2010, Arenal has been dormant.

TRAVEL ADVENTURE

Costa Rica is known for its beaches, volcanoes, and biodiversity, full of protected rainforests, stunning wildlife, numerous active and inactive volcanoes and an extensive list of national parks. The country’s lush forests are some of the most tranquil and beautiful in the world. Here you’ll find crashing waterfalls, gentle streams and unusual wildlife. This country offers all manner of outdoor activities: whitewater rafting, hiking, mountain biking, canopy tours, surfing, swimming, snorkeling and fishing. You can fly through the forest on Costa Rica’s famed zip-lines – one of the most exhilarating and terrifying experiences around. Costa Rica is considered one of the world’s best places to ride rapids, but you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy Costa Rica’s rivers. The country offers plenty of opportunities for all skill levels, including those with no rafting skills at all. You can take leisurely paddles down tame rivers such as the Sarapiqui and Corobici. Both offer a great way to see the country and an ample opportunity for wildlife viewing. More experienced rafters can try to tame the Reventazon River, which means “bursting waves,” or the Pacuare, regarded as one of the world’s best rafting rivers. The famous hot springs of Costa Rica is the best place to relax after tromping around rainforests and exploring volcanoes. The mineral-infused waters, which vary in temperature from 80 to 105 degrees, are said to be a remedy for a variety of ailments, including arthritis and skin conditions. It’s worth a visit to the hot springs resorts of Baldi and Tabacon in La Fortuna. Both include numerous pools, ponds and waterfalls set amid lush gardens. You can also grab dinner, sip a cocktail, or get a massage or mud wrap while you’re there. Corcovado National Park, is internationally renowned among ecologists for its biodiversity (including big cats and tapirs) and is where visitors can expect to see an abundance of wildlife. Manuel Antonio National Park also offers a Costa Rican wildlife experience that is not to be missed by animal lovers and those in pursuit of beautiful tropical beaches with rainforest reaching right up to the ocean. This has to be one of the best places in the world to see tropical wildlife, almost seeming like a zoo, as you spot monkeys, sloths and other rainforest dwellers like coatis in a natural environment as you meander along paths on the rainforest floor. Manuel Antonio is a must experience destination both for families and for couples who can select from numerous romantic eco-lodges and beachfront hotels with spectacular views.

THE PEOPLE

Ticos, as the people of Costa Rica are called, use the phrase pura vida (“pure life”) in their everyday speech, as a greeting or to show appreciation for something. Ticos are generally proud of their political freedoms and their relatively stable economy. Costa Ricans or Ticos, are a group of people from a multiethnic Spanish speaking nation in Central America called Costa Rica. Costa Ricans are predominantly whites, castizos (halfway between white and mestizo), harnizos and mestizo, but their country is considered a multiethnic society, which means that it is home to people of many different ethnic backgrounds. As a result, modern-day Costa Ricans do not consider their nationality as an ethnicity but as a citizenship with various ethnicities. Costa Rica has four small minority groups: Mulattoes, Blacks, Asians, and Amerindians. In addition to the “Indigenas”, whites, mestizos, blacks and mulattoes, Costa Rica is also home to thousands of Asians. Most of the Chinese and Indians now living in the country are descendants of those that arrived during the 19th century as migrant workers. Costa Rican culture has been heavily influenced by Spanish culture ever since the Spanish colonization of the Americas including the territory which today forms Costa Rica. Parts of the country have other strong cultural influences, including the Caribbean province of Limon and the Cordillera de Talamanca which are influenced by Jamaican immigrants and indigenous native people, respectively. As a result of the immigration of Spaniards, their 16th-century Spanish culture and its evolution marked everyday life and culture until today, with Spanish language and the Catholic religion as primary influences.

Housing & Commute
Cost
Visa
Safety
Languages

The cost of housing in Costa Rica is one of the major points that make living there so affordable. Aside from its scenic beauty and lower cost of living, many Costa Ricans, foreign investors and High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) are increasingly attracted mainly because foreigners are entitled to the same ownership rights as Costa Rican citizens, and there are no property taxes and no residency restrictions. Nothing else in the world can foreigners come to a country with no soldiers, a government that caters to investors and fee-simple real estate with no restrictions and where foreigners are entitled to the same ownership rights as Costa Rican citizens.

There are a lot of different modes of transportation in Costa Rica and each of the following has been the best choice in certain situations – public buses, collectivo motorboat, mountain bikes, SUVs, walking, commercial flights, private shuttles, tourist mini-buses, car and taxis. Bus is reliable, navigable, inexpensive and frequently runs through San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital, operates on scheduled timetables and set routes. But, there is one major drawback: Buses are slow. Driving on your own is not highly recommended as some roads are tricky (speckled with potholes and ambiguously marked intersections). A better alternative to get around to Costa Rica is renting your own set of wheels, hiring a car-and-driver service so you can enjoy the country’s gorgeous scenery without having to tackle challenging roads with confusing signage. You’ll have the luxury of sightseeing on your terms if you hire a driver to shuttle you around. If you’re on a budget, consider hiring a shared shuttle. The shared shuttle will make less stops than a private one, but it’ll be more efficient than the public bus system.

The cost of living in Costa Rica is relatively low you can have all the luxury and enjoy the pleasure of living daily life to the fullest in a place that mitigates stress and maximizes joy. That is why many retirees choose Costa Rica to live and spend their lifetime. The cost of living in San Jose ranks among the lowest of all cities in the world. Firms that compare the cost of goods and services between various cities consistently rank Costa Rica as having one of the lowest costs of living worldwide. On top of its affordability, Costa Rica has one of the highest standards of living in Central and South America.

Costa Rica’s national currency is known as the colon (CRC).

As of 26 March 2019, Costa Rican citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 150 countries and territories, ranking the Costa Rican passport 28th overall and first among Central American countries, in terms of travel freedom according to the Henley Passport Index. U.S. and Canadian citizens do not require a visa to enter Costa Rica as a tourist. An immigration validation will be stamped into the passport upon entry, and this provides proof of legal status in the country. Your passport should be in good condition; Costa Rican authorities may deny entry if the passport is damaged and you must have at least six months left on your passport before its expiration or you will be denied entry.

You must also provide proof of onward travel out of Costa Rica within 90 days, the amount of time your “tourist visa” is valid. This could be your return plane ticket or a ticket to another country. If you would like to stay longer, you must leave Costa Rica and re-enter. Though Costa Rica’s immigration laws changed in 2010, they still offer prospective residents a wide range of options. You don’t have to make an immediate decision on your residency status. You can renew your tourist visa as needed by making “border runs.” But if you plan to live in Costa Rica long term it is best to seek residence.

Visitors to Costa Rica require a visa unless they are citizens of one of the eligible countries who are visa exempt up to 90 days. Costa Rican visas are documents issued by the Direccion General de Migracion y Extranjeria, dependent on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, with the stated goal of regulating and facilitating migratory flows. Visitors must hold passports that are valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival.

Costa Rica is a safe place to visit or stay even if it doesn’t have an army of its own(as a part of its foreign policy), the country works hard to keep a safe and comfortable environment for their visitors. Petty theft and armed robberies are the main problems, more violent crimes, including sexual assault and murders, have occurred. It’s important for anyone traveling anywhere to trust your instincts they exist for a reason. There are some things we can do to stay safe and prevent anything bad from happening common sense is the most important thing. Crime is often a case of wrong place, wrong time. Being vigilant and listening to your gut is a good way to avoid danger.

The primary language spoken in Costa Rica is Spanish, which features characteristics distinct to the country, a form of Central American Spanish. Costa Rica is a linguistically diverse country and home to at least five living local indigenous languages spoken by the descendants of pre-Columbian peoples: Maleku, Cabecar, Bribri, Guaymi, and Buglere. These are the native languages still spoken, primarily in indigenous reservations. About 10.7% of Costa Rica’s adult population (18 or older) also speaks English, 0.7% French, and 0.3% speaks Portuguese or German as a second language.