The countdown begins here! There’s something for everyone on this list … and then some. Here are 99 different reasons why we love living in Costa Rica.
99. Costa Rica is 99% green. It is almost totally carbon-free, and the most environmentally protective country in the world. Most of Costa Rica still looks like it did when the dinosaurs walked the earth. You have to love and respect somewhere that places nature above money. This haven will blow you away.
98. Hiking in so many spectacular places: national parks, volcanoes and mountains, where the scenery seems to go on and on forever. You could spend an eternity clunking around this little paradise and never see all there is to see; there is an endless supply of “secret spots.”
97. Leatherback turtles are in jeopardy of extinction around the world, due to mankind’s growth and poaching. Yet Costa Rica is one of the leaders in protecting these iconic creatures with dozens of sanctuaries and conservation programs. Take some time and volunteer; you can make a difference.
96. One complaint you always hear about is how terrible the roads are in the interior of Costa Rica. Yet personally, we love it. How cool is it to bounce down a river bed that they actually call a highway, give it a number, and put it on the map?
95. The simple life. Almost every single day you will see a man and his son, riding in an oxen cart, taking their produce to market. They don’t have a care in the world and why should they?
94. The Nicaraguan people, who make up a large percentage of the labor force, are some of the gentlest, most loving human beings I have ever come across.
93. Sugar cane, which makes everything taste so good. Just try a glass of Coke and it will remind you of when you were a child, pulling that “no-deposit no-return” bottle out of the machine and popping the top on the metal opener.
92. Wooden furniture. One of the most unique towns in the world is Sarchi, Costa Rica. Almost every single person that lives in this pueblo is a furniture maker. There are dozens of stores selling handmade beds, tables and rocking chairs — all that you want to buy.
91. The cost of living in Costa Rica is a fraction of what you will pay to live at the beach in California or Florida. What continues to impress is how the Costa Ricans live such a fulfilling life, without all the luxuries and materialistic BS that we feel is so important in North America.
90. Let me make this perfectly clear: this is not the United States or Canada. That is why we moved here and that is why we continue to live here. Please do not come here expecting this to be like it is back at home and wanting to change this utopia to everything you had before. If you want that, stay there. We won’t miss you … .
89. Horseback riding on the beach, which seems to be every person’s romantic fantasy, makes for a great afternoon. There are some very remote beaches where you might be the only people galloping down the sand.
88. Soccer. What? You ask. Soccer (or fútbol as the Ticos call it)? When the teams are playing, every single bar is packed and everyone is wearing the colors of their favorite team. But when Costa Rica’s national team is playing — like in the COPA or World Cup — look out. You do not want to have a heart attack on that particular day as every single Costa Rican is watching the game. They are all wearing blue, white and red, and the entire country comes to a halt as they cheer on their heroes. You just have to love how passionate they are about their country. It isn’t even the sport that I really like, as much as watching how excited they get when it is on. And when they win? Wow!
87. Everybody walks. As you have probably read, the Costa Ricans have some of the longest life expectancy on this earth, notably in Nicoya’s Blue Zones, where many people live to be over 100 years old. There is something very special about seeing a family, all dressed up, walking to church on Sunday.
86. Respect and camaraderie for your fellow man is something that is instilled in the Ticos from a very young age. They very rarely judge people and are always there to help a person in need. If you get a flat tire here, the odds are four or five people will stop to help you change it.
85. Bakeries and bread. There is nothing like the smell of a fresh “hot-out-of-the-oven” loaf first thing in the morning.
84. So many countries have given up their currency and gone to the dollar, but not here. Costa Ricans are so proud of their colones, as it gives them such a sense of independence. Who else puts sharks and hummingbirds on their bills?
83. No-pressure street vendors.
82. All the public holidays.
81. Traditional parades and festivals.
80. Civilized elections. With the U.S. elections getting more and more contentious, we are reminded again of why we left and moved to CR. The anger and the bantering were almost too much to take. I’m so glad I live here. During Costa Rica’s election, everyone comes out and supports their candidate. They wave the flags of their political party, and put bumper stickers on their car, but as soon as it is over, they go back to life. No one complains about the president or says horrible things. They support whoever wins, as this is their country. They respect those rights of each person to vote as they choose, and they all come together for the goodness and sake of Costa Rica.
79. Deep-sea fishing in the Gulf of Papagayo is some of the best in the world. And if catch and release sport fishing is your thing, some of the largest and most powerful marlin and sailfish are biting. It makes for a trip that you will never forget.
78. You gotta love a country where there is a fried chicken place on every single corner. Colonel Sanders would be honored. We didn’t say it was healthy, but it sure is finger lickin’ good.
77. There is a famous saying in Costa Rica: “The only thing consistent is the inconsistency.” You will never be bored here, that is for sure. Every day is an adventure, and you never quite know what to expect. Learn to embrace it, and love it. Life is short; don’t get worked up over stupid things.
76. Big guanacaste trees! So beautiful and massive, they will take your breath away.
75. Butterflies. All the butterflies. Ever seen a blue morpho? When you do, you will know it.
74. Ice cream. When you taste the helado in Costa Rica you will never go back to Häagen-Dazs again. Ben and Jerry — you ain’t got a prayer.
73. Surfing. Costa Rica has some of the tallest surf waves in the Western Hemisphere, second only to the north shore of Hawaii. So grab your boards and come on down.
72. Great restaurants. Most people’s biggest fear is that they won’t have anywhere to eat. Well, you can put that notion to sleep. There are at least 72 to choose from here in our little area.
71. Latin music that echoes from all corners of the country. Although you may not always understand the words, the beat and the romantic sounds are easy to absorb; and everybody is always smiling and dancing.
70. Golfo de Papagayo is the large body of water, just off the coastline of Guanacaste. Tucked in the back of this huge mass of ocean, are the beaches that make up our little Shangri-la: Matapalo, Playa Ocotal, Playas del Coco; Playa Hermosa; Playa Panama and Bahia Culebra are some of the most pristine shorelines you will ever encounter. The water is super calm, almost like a big lake, so it is very enjoyable for everyone.
69. The women. The Ticas are some of the most attractive ladies on earth, and definitely some of the sweetest. They are always smiling and always friendly, and they make you feel like you are more than welcome in their country. They could easily be on our top 10 list.
68. Chocolate. Believe it or not, Costa Rica has some delicious chocolate. A good chunk of this country harvests cocoa and they turn it into some yummy stuff. Sorry Switzerland.
67. Rodeos and horse parades!
66. Creative road work. Don’t try to figure it out, just go with the flow and appreciate the paved side when you are on it.
65. Faith in God and respect for religion.
64. Fresh fruit.
63. Great and inexpensive car washes.
62. The beauty of electrical storms.
61. Inexpensive TV.
60. Ziplines and canopy tours. Fly through the jungle!
59. The vibe. Everyone is so relaxed and so chill. Why stress out man?
58. Easy to make friends. One of the biggest concerns new expats have is that they will be lonely. It is the exact opposite. Everyone goes out of their way to make the new guy feel welcome and to introduce him to others. Your biggest problem will be that you won’t have enough hours in your day for all of your social activities.
57. The craziness of the place. You see it all here, from entire families riding on a scooter, to a guy walking his pet farm animals. Hilarious and great to see, all at the same time.
56. Driving around town in a golf cart.
55. Seafood. Fresh fish ceviche every single day for lunch, with some Tabasco sauce and a cold Pilsen. Grilled mahi mahi, sea bass, red snapper, wahoo and grouper for dinner, just caught that morning.
54. Sunday is family day, and no matter what you think is important, they are not going to show up to fix your AC. Super special.
53. Farmers markets. On just about every corner of every town is a farmers market, with the freshest vegetables Mother Nature has ever produced.
52. Papagayo winds. These cooling breezes last all dry season long. In the shade with a fine breeze and all is good.
51. 51% of Costa Rica is a rainforest and it has an exceptional percentage of protected land compared to other countries. Over 5% of the entire world’s biodiversity is packed into this little country.
50. We have great internet at the beach. Better than most U.S. cities.
49. Very few bugs. We hate bugs. That is why we live in Guanacaste. Because of the dry season, we have almost no bugs at all, unlike the rest of Costa Rica, where some of them look like small pterodactyls.
48. Sea life. The Papagayo Bay is home to over 25 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises.
47. Dog lovers’ community. There are almost no street dogs and great organizations to help out with stray neuter clinics and finding dogs (and cats) homes.
46. Great network of pharmacies with in-house, free consultation.
45. It feels like home. This place is so serene; it just feels like home the second you step off the plane.
44. Awesome grocery stores. Check out Auto Mercado and let us know.
43. Great healthcare and vet care. Costa Rica is famous for its healthcare, considered some of the best in the world. The vets in the country are so caring and so attentive, and they will nurture your babies back to health every single time. Their fees are a fraction of what it would cost in North America, and most of them make house calls too.
42. Great manicures and pedicures. There are many great spots to pamper yourself for way less than North America.
41. Volcanic mud baths. Less than a 90-minute drive from the beach, are some of the most relaxing and rejuvenating mud baths in the world.
40. Easy to give back. You can make a difference in Costa Rica. There are about a dozen charitable organizations right here at the beach, where you can donate your time, energy and money, and the country and the people are truly thankful. Save the monkeys or save the ocean. Build a church or build a school. The ability to give back is endless. Please come here and help us make a difference.
39. Wildlife. The nature and wildlife here are overwhelming. You will not believe how many thousands of creatures you see every single day, and the fauna will take your breath away.
38. Costa Rica-style bull fights. The bulls don’t die and everyone has a great time.
37. Gallo pinto. This iconic rice and beans dish provides fuel to get out and enjoy yourself every day.
36. World-class bilingual schools.
35. Clear night sky. Tilt your head skyward here, and prepare to be blown away. You can see millions of stars every single evening, and the moon shines brighter here than many places on earth.
34. Rum easily could be No. 1 on the list. There is Ron Flor de Cana, Ron Centenario, Ron Zacapa, just to name a few, and at a fraction of what this stuff costs back home.
33. Fruit: Oranges, grapefruits, bananas, mangos and papayas are just a few among many.
32. Watering holes. Great local places to have a drink, shot or local chiliguaro.
31. World-class scuba diving. Big pelagics, huge schools of fish, manta rays, sharks — you name it. Forget the Caribbean, Costa Rica’s Pacific Ocean diving is the best.
30. Rainy season. Everything is green and the afternoon showers cool everything down.
29. Everybody knows your name. This place is like “Cheers”: everybody knows you. It is such a remarkable feeling, to walk into any restaurant, bar, grocery store or professional office, and be called out by name.
28. No traffic jams in Guanacaste. Occasionally, you gotta wait for a herd of cattle to cross the road, but no one is in that big of a hurry anyway.
27. Food tastes natural. All good ingredients grown and sold locally. You can taste the freshness.
26. Fresh and natural eggs.
25. Lizano sauce is one of the local salsas, which are famous in Costa Rica. It is a mix between a sweet BBQ sauce and a mild steak sauce, and it has one of the most unique flavors in the world.
24. The beaches in this country are stunning. There are hundreds of beaches that you can visit in just a day trip, some of them where you will be the only two people on the sand. Others are packed with bars and restaurants; it just depends on what you crave. There are snorkeling beaches and surfing beaches; black and white sand; miles long or just a tiny little cove; all waiting for you to discover. Some of them, you can only get to by boat or a 4×4, making it a real adventure.
23. Hummingbirds. There are 338 known species in the world, and 50 of them reside here.
22. The real estate in Costa Rica, in our opinion, is some of the most fascinating that has ever dotted the globe. We have views that blow away Laguna Beach, Malibu, Hawaii, Cabo or the Mediterranean and at a fraction of what those properties cost.
21. Whitewater rafting. There are dozens of rivers you can pound down, and some even with Class 5 — the most dangerous.
20. Dry season. From December to April, in the Papagayo area, there is not one single drop of rain. This is the only area in the country that experiences the dry season, and it is the reason we almost all live here. The weather is perfect. Every day is 85 to 90 degrees with 20% humidity, and the evenings get down to a nice cool 70 degrees. Many of the trees lose their leaves and flowers, and the bougainvillea and hibiscus are exploding with colors. There are consistent breezes all day and night long, turning this place into the perfect tropical retreat.
19. The most extraordinary tree in the world is called the corteza amarilla, and they are everywhere in Guanacaste. They flower the brightest and most radiant yellow, which you can see from 50 miles away. Sometimes, in the distance, it looks like the entire hillside or mountain range was brushed with yellow paint.
18. Waterfalls. There are hundreds of them, all over the country, and usually very accessible. There is nothing quite like swimming under a gigantic catarata, surrounded by jungle and the sounds of wild animals howling in the canyons, echoing for only you to hear. Exotic toucans hang in the trees, scoping you out; you almost expect Tarzan to come flying across on a vine.
17. Hot springs. There are entire rivers of bubbling hot water, pouring out of the sides of the volcanoes here; breathtaking lagoons and pools, gushing and flowing with 104-degree water. They are some of the healthiest places you can visit, and so relaxing it is almost intoxicating.
16. Guanacaste International Airport (LIR) — need I say anything else? What a blessing; it’s only 20 minutes away from our location. Formerly known as Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport, it has won many “best airport” awards. If you have flown in and out of LIR you know.
15. Expats in Costa Rica. There are numerous excellent examples of what we preach every day. They come here with an open mind, and want to assimilate into a new culture. They give back, donate and help Costa Ricans, trying to make this a better place. They bring money and create jobs and opportunities. They employ people, pay taxes and have started dozens of charity foundations. When there is work to be done, it is often the gringos doing it: beach clean ups, rebuilding of schools, Toys for Tots are just a few instances of expats giving back and getting involved. It takes a certain type of person to move to another country and start an entirely new life.
14. Sailing. The freedom that you sense when you are running hard across these huge bays is something everyone must experience. There are some awesome sailboat and catamaran tours that take you to private coves, where you feel like you are the only one who has ever dropped anchor there. The marine life you see and the beauty of the hillsides are a vision you will never forget.
13. English is spoken. Almost everybody speaks English. It makes it very easy to transition. Even though it is a great challenge to learn Spanish, all of our Costa Rican friends want to speak in English.
12. Playas del Coco is the coolest beach town, hands down. It is a great mix of First and Third World. It is the oldest fishing village in the country, and a favorite weekend and holiday spot for the affluent Ticos. When I first moved here, it was a bit of an eyesore, to be honest with you, but it has come a long way. It is so quaint and adorable, and has such an incredible feeling to it. You will fall in love, and like most of us, you won’t want to leave. Viva Coco!
11. Playa Hermosa translates to “Beautiful Beach.” Check it out; you will see exactly what we mean.
Drum roll please! We are down to the final top 10 list.
10. Your rescue dog. The precious creature that steals your heart from the first second you spot it.
9. Coffee. Nothing better than a fresh cup of Costa Rican coffee from the land of the best coffee in the world. Some of the best coffee never leaves the country and is consumed here.
8. Costa Rica sunrise. Here you get up with the sun, and seeing this majestic heaven come alive at 5:15 a.m. is evidence of something greater than yourself. To watch the volcanoes light up with vibrancy and energy; to see the mist over the valley slowly dissipate; to hear the howler monkeys and parrots come alive while the hummingbirds are whipping around my pool, and with no traffic noise; to feel those amazing breezes and the sun slowly heating up your face — this is living. Why are you not here?
7. Walks on the beach. There is no better place to enjoy a relaxing walk on the beach on any of the hundreds of beautiful beaches all along the Rich Coast.
6. Beach massage. You will no longer know how you survived all those years without a regular massage on the beach, under a palm tree. Experience the smell of the salt and the cool breeze in your hair as her magical hands work wonders on your body.
5. Pura vida. The pura vida is real. When you first hear about this “thing,” you think to yourself ”it’s a scam.” Nobody is that happy. Nobody lives life carefree. Everything here is pura vida, and they mean it. Life is too short to get bent out of shape over nothing. Too many people wake up every day, miserable. They hate their existence, they hate their jobs and they hate where they live. Not here. Everybody is content, everyone loves their life, and why would they not? This is the most endearing place in the universe.
4. Parties. Nobody parties like the Ticos … nobody. They have a fiesta, it seems, almost every other week. We love it! Party baby! What we find the most impressive is that there almost never seem to be any problems. This may be one of the few countries in the world where you can put 5,000 people in one place, at one time; pump them full of booze, and nobody gets in a fight. Everyone is just dancing and singing, drinking and partying, joyous as can be.
3. Beer. Costa Rica has great national beer and now the microbrewing scene has exploded. You can find a great beer anywhere you might find yourself thirsty.
2. Sunsets. It is kind of a rite of passage, a mandatory requirement for living in Costa Rica; everyone wanders down to the beach at 5:30 p.m. You crack open a cold beer, find your spot on the sand, and sit back and soak it all in. It comes slowly and powerfully, but it will change your life. As the sun dips down below the ocean, there is a fireworks-like display of colors, which shoots across the sky. No two sunsets are ever the same, and there is never a bad sunset.
1. If you ask anyone who has spent even the smallest amount of time living in Costa Rica, they will all agree on one thing. The people, the Costa Ricans, the Ticos — they are the reason we live in Costa Rica. They are the warmest, most friendly people you will ever encounter. They have so much pride, and are so thankful for everything they have. They welcome you to their land, and never ask for anything in return; just that you love this place as much as they do. You will never, for one minute, ever feel like you are not accepted or wanted. God bless Costa Rica – the pearly gates on earth. Pura vida!
Hope to see you soon. What is taking you so long?
See this article in the magazine (click photo):