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San Jose, Costa Rica
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By: Angela C. Passman
Guardian Angels CR
Relocation Specialists
San JosÚ, Costa Rica
Contact / Information


Maybe you've already been to Costa Rica on vacation...

fallen in love with this beautiful land, like so many do, and now you are considering moving here!   Bienvenido, or Welcome, to paradise!

But, how do you start?
Where do you find information and all that is necessary to make your move and relocation experience a pleasant one? What things are important to be aware of, and what are the first hand experiences of others, and the best way to navigate through the relocation maze?

Costa Rica is a beautiful country and considered 'Paradise' for many reasons. However, like living in any foreign country, there are some "secrets" about relocating to Costa Rica that can help you make the move for yourself and your family a more enjoyable experience, with a minimum of stress.


Some frequently asked questions of those considering making Costa Rica their home are:

"How do I bring my pets to Costa Rica?" There is a plethora of paperwork that needs to be done and it changes regularly so ask us what you need before you make your travel arrangements so that you can have all of the proper documentation to prevent your beloved pet being put into quarantine. There is not a quarantine if you bring with you the right paperwork. This is a process that is required by the US government to leave the US and by Costa Rica to enter.

"What kind of schools are available for my children?" There are several private American and Catholic Schools that offer a very good education for your children. And with the help of a relocation specialists, you can find just the right school for your family. Taking into consideration what type of school you have had your children enrolled in prior to coming to Costa Rica, and other factors, will help in determining the best school for them here.

"My company is relocating me. Is there someone to aid in this...?" Yes, many corporations in the San Jose area find it best to work with a relocation service to aid the families of their employees. Relocation needs and services include finding the right school for the children, finding the right home for the family or after school activities for the school children.

"Will I experience Culture Shock?" The hardest part of the move for most people is adapting to the new culture. Most will have 6 months of feeling like a fish out of water with everything seeming totally upside down compared to the life they left behind in the states. A qualified relocation service can help you to cope with these changes and offer classes in Culture training upon your arrival so that you know what to expect and how to deal with the sudden lifestyle changes successfully.


Ten Fun and Useful Things to Know in Relocating to Costa Rica!

The kissing stuff
People greet one another by touching their right cheeks and kissing into the air. People seldom actually kiss one another on the cheek. Hint! Men do not kiss men. As a foreigner, you are forgiven for not doing this, but learning this and some of the other traditions will earn you respect.

At the doorway
When entering a home, it is customary to stand at the door and wait to be invited in, even if the people are good friends. When at the doorway, you might say "Con Permiso" (With your permission). Your host will then normally reply, "Adelante" or Pase" which means come on in. This is a sign of respect and courtesy you are showing to your host. Costa Rican's will stand at the door and wait to be invited in as it would seem rude to just bolt in without permission.

Coming and going
When entering or leaving a party or gathering, greet or say goodbye to everyone in the room with the appropriate kiss. Of course, if it is a large party that may not be possible or necessary but is always appreciated.

Bars on the windows
There are bars on the windows of many homes, but this may not mean that the neighborhood is unsafe or poor. This comes from tradition and from a different sense of private property than North American countries. Colonial Spanish architecture incorporated these bars since the 1500's, and in fact they are also used in Spain. They were here some time before the crime. The most probable reason I have heard is that they were used instead of glass windows for 2 reasons. They were cheaper, and also they allow for a cool breeze to blow through. Today they are still a part of the architecture.

Business in Costa Rica
When doing business (not retail stores), it is considered good form to greet and "chat" with your customer or client before getting down to business. This can take the form of discussing the weather, the beach, an upcoming vacation or any other neutral subject.

"Watching Man"
When parking on the street there will almost always be someone who is guarding the cars. He is called a "watching man" pronounced as one word. He or she is tipped about 200 colones (50 cents) for stays of more than half an hour. You can give less if it is a quick in-and-out trip but not recommended.

Ssst Ssst, Macha! Macha!
It is customary for men to compliment women in public places. These catcalls are called piropos and are usually harmless and should not be considered offensive unless they are vulgar. Women are advised to ignore them. Acknowledgment, even with hostility, is often interpreted as an invitation for more of the same. Macha refers to someone with a light complexion.

However did she get into those pants?
Women wear much tighter and more revealing clothes in Latin America than in many parts of the USA or Canada. This does not mean that they are sexually promiscuous.

Let your yes be yes
Costa Ricans have an indirect communication style that is often misunderstood by outsiders. For a Costa Rican, it sounds harsh to come right out and say no. They will use qualified speech such as, "it is complicated" or "it will be difficult" instead of saying no. Sometimes they will even say "yes" to acknowledge that they heard you, but "yes" does not always mean an affirmative response.

Get off my back!
Costa Ricans have a smaller bubble of 'personal space' than Anglo North Americans and Western Europeans. They are quite comfortable standing closer to one another and touching more often. It is quite common that while standing in line at the bank that the person behind you will stand so close that you can feel his body heat. On a bus, you may be the only passenger, but when a Tico boards, he may sit next to you even when there is plenty of room elsewhere!




In short, a qualified relocation service will help you with finding a home, finding schools, getting your visa, drivers license, buying a car, insurance, finding furniture, connecting home utilities, connecting with mail forwarding services and more. Normally, we are used to these being easy tasks in our country of origin, but in Costa Rica, with heavy burreaucracies, many of these can become frustrating and onerous tasks, especially when trying to work through a language barrier, as most government agencies speak little or no English. A qualified relocation service can save you much time and money, and sanity!

If you are planning on moving to Costa Rica, be sure to read up on immigration laws and visa requirements.


Angela Passman has assisted the employees and families of companies, like Intel, in making their relocation and transition to Costa Rica an easy and pleasant experience. She is available for pre-arrival consultation, and / or offers various programs to help the individual or family upon their arrival and new life in Costa Rica.
Contact Angela
Guardian Angels CR
Relocation Specialists
San JosÚ, Costa Rica







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