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Costa Rica > Expat Experiences

Costa Rica

Sarah, San Jose

Published Friday March 02, 2018 (09:43:25)
Sarah & Thomas
Sarah & Thomas

Who are you?

Hi! My name is Sarah. I am originally from Boston. I run a Costa Rica budget travel blog for a living.

When I’m not blogging or traveling you can usually find me reading a book or cooking way too much food.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

I moved abroad in 2011 to Hamburg Germany to be with my boyfriend, Thomas. We lived in Hamburg for four years before we decided we were ready for a change (and hopefully some warmer weather). I was teaching English at that time and I figured I could do that anywhere. Thomas started applying to jobs internationally and after a few months was offered a job in San Jose, Costa Rica. We had never been to Central America before but we took the risk and moved here without knowing what we were getting ourselves into.

What challenges did you face during the move?

We didn’t have a car so we had to learn how to take the the public buses. We didn’t have an apartment lined up so we had to live in a hotel until we found a place. Learning how to navigate a new country and new culture was definitely a challenge at first!

Are there many other expats in your area?

There are a ton of expats in Costa Rica. In our neighborhood there are a lot of Germans, but definitely some people from the US as well.

What do you like about life where you are?

The weather is perfect every day. I am someone who is very affected by the weather, so I absolutely love it here. I get up every day at 6am to enjoy the mornings. This is something I would have never done before moving to Costa Rica.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

I don’t love the feeling of being a foreigner here. People in Costa Rica don’t seem to like people from the US very much. I completely understand, especially with amount of gringos living down here, but it can be difficult to always feel like I’ll never really belong.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

Since living here I have become a lot less materialistic. I like to think I wasn’t materialistic in the first place, but here in Costa Rica I definitely am not. A lot of people live very simply here and we have adopted that attitude as well. I find when I am in the US I get completely overwhelmed by spending money and people buying things they don’t really need.

What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?

I really like the food here. I like to try and not eat too much gluten and Costa Rica is the perfect place for it. A typical meal consists of rice, beans, a meat, and some kind of vegetable. I really like Costa Rican breakfast which is gallo pinto (a mix of rice and beans), scrambled eggs, a piece of cheese, fried plantains, and usually some fresh fruit. It is tasty and will fill you up! I don’t particularly like ceviche, which is very popular here.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

Try to make some connections before coming. We were very fortunate that one of Thomas’s colleagues helped us out a lot with our move and adjusting to life here. Without her I don’t think we would have lasted a year. Speaking with someone that has gone through it before or is familiar with the country makes all the difference.

What are your plans for the future?

We aren’t sure. We love Costa Rica, but don’t plan on staying here forever. However, it’s perfect for where we are in our lives right now. We may move to the US for a while or try an altogether new country for a few years.

You can keep up to date with Sarah's adventures on her blog, Costa Rica Vibes.

Would you like to share your experience of life abroad with other readers? Answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!

Read more Costa Rica expat experiences or view our latest Costa Rica articles

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