Why Expats Fall in Love with Costa Rica

The story of how most expats ended up living in Costa Rica is so similar to mine: “I came to Costa Rica on vacation, fell in love, and decided to stay.” But fell in love with what exactly? What is it about Costa Rica that entices someone to leave their home country and start all over in a foreign land?

I was first lured in by the wonderful tropical climate.

Life is simpler living in warm, but not too hot, weather. I don’t need a big wardrobe, I don’t need allergy medicine anymore, and I can live in the simplest of structures.

living in a tree house in costa rica

View of the treetops from my tree house in Costa Rica.

I live in an uninsulated house and control the small fluctuations in temperature by opening or closing my windows. Rare cold days and nights become a hot topic of gossip and help to create a bond and sense of community as everyone retells the story of how they spent their cold evening huddled underneath the blankets, watching movies.

A huge variety of beautiful plants thrive year-round. Mangos and other exotic fruits grow in abundance, so they are not expensive like they are in the States. In my backyard, I have orange and lime trees that constantly produce new fruit.

In fact, most of the fruits and vegetables here in Costa Rica produce year-round, so it is extremely easy to be healthy and eat local in-season food. There is no complicated menu planning as you wonder what the grocery store will have in stock that week -it’s all in stock, always!

I also love living in Costa Rica for the easy, inexpensive trips to exotic locations.

I’m living in a treehouse in a picturesque mountain town, which is already like a vacation. So when I take time off to travel to the Pacific or Caribbean Coast, I am taking a vacation from vacation. I can take my dog with me – she is welcome at most establishments – and stay at a nice hotel on the beach for $15 – $30 a night.

If that sounds ridiculously awesome, that’s because it is.

Take only photos, leave only footprints. This photo is from a recent trip to the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. The Osa Peninsula has one of the highest concentrations of biodiversity on the whole entire planet. It's AMAZING.

Take only photos, leave only footprints. This photo is from a recent trip to the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. The Osa Peninsula has one of the highest concentrations of biodiversity on the whole entire planet. It’s AMAZING.

The people I have met and continue to meet everyday in Costa Rica are also a huge draw.

Most of the Ticos, especially those in the smaller towns, are warm caring respectful people. As for expats, I have met some of the most interesting people among that crowd.

churros and burros at a festival in Costa Rica

I love being able to call up some friends at the last minute to go to a Mule Festival for churros, carnival rides, and bull fighting!

Most of the expats are adventurous creative people with a wide range of amazing histories and big imaginations and dreams that extend beyond normal confines. It’s a cross-section of people who wouldn’t normally find themselves in the same social circles in the States, but since we all have the expat factor in common, we get to become friends and expand our remarkable international networks.

Everything is not always easy and perfect in Costa Rica. I have bad days and get involved in horribly frustrating situations, but the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks and I find myself being thankful on a daily basis for my happy, exotic life in Costa Rica.


This article was written for and first published in International Living Magazine.


  1. Natalie says

    Hi Erin, I found your blog when I was writing my own. I even gave you some link love! My hubby and I are looking to retire (in 10 or so years) to Costa Rica and vacation there in the meantime. He has been there, I have not.
    Love your blog and this post is great! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Doc says

    I just celebrated my 1st year here and just like you said, the good certainly outweighs the bad. If I would have kept an eye on my backpack on the bus, nothing really “bad” has happened.

    I am unlike some other ex-pats, who are dumbfounded, disappointed, and bitter that this is not a cheap paradise that has transformed itself into a mini USA with better weather., I was looking for a new and different life when I arrived.Knew a guy next door to me. he returned to the US after 5 months. The comment he uttered more than any other was “Why don’t these frackking people learn to speak frakking English?”.


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