What is the perfect Expat life? How do you live it?


 It is, in my opinion, someone who is happy for having moved to Costa Rica; one who doesn’t find all the faults they can in their new home country, and embraces the differences and find humor in the processes.

I have identified 7 common barriers to having the perfect expat life be all want it to be. But be forewarned; achieving that life is not always easy and you will need to work at it.  Living in Costa Rica is a “simpler life” but not necessarily an “easier Life”!

Here are 7 obstacles that need to be overcome to enjoy the perfect expat life in Costa Rica:

  1. Complaining

We all complain. It’s human nature, and even after many years living in Costa Rica, I still sometime find myself wanting to complain. I sometimes compare things and situations that happen in Costa Rica with those in other countries. But are those other countries perfect? I doubt it. I know that the part of Canada I am from, sure is not perfect!

By complaining about differences, bureaucracy , we are focusing on the negatives which lead us to feel like victims. And, we didn’t come to Costa Rica to be unhappy victims! The important thing is not to use other countries, especially your “Home Country”, as a measuring stick and judge all of Costa Rica by that standard! Find a way to remember and to see the positives.

The perfect expat doesn’t spend all their energy thinking about moving back home, because they are already home.

  1. Learn the Language

Often, expats prefer to settle in a country where English is the primary language. True, and many Ticos nowadays speak English. However; that’s not the general population of Costa Rica. And, it is not the part of the population with which you will have the most contact. A lack of Spanish speaking ability doesn’t stop many of those who move here; they know that to have the perfect retirement life, their first step needs to be to learn rudimentary Spanish.

By learning a beginning ability in Spanish, you gain:

  • A better understanding of, and respect for the local population.
  • The ability to communicate what you really are trying to say.
  • An end for the need to employ a third person to assist you in accomplishing normal everyday things, like buying routine products, and 1,000 other simple tasks. 
  1. Live your own life

For some living abroad means being homesick and missing their family. Some of this is natural, and some people allow themselves to feel guilty about being far from family. They feel they must be there to take care of them, because they can’t take care of themselves. How silly is that? I have had clients who worried more about the credit card debt of their children back home, than enjoying their own life as an expat.

Another problem can occur when expats want to see their grandchildren grow, or when their older parents become sick and need more attention. Somehow, the expat decides that an occasional visit isn’t enough:

  • that they must be there to make sure everything is OK
  • and if they aren’t, they make themselves miserable with worry.

Another interesting perspective – one that denies others their right to live their lives as they see fit.  I have seen it happen many times that family who often live in the same neighborhood, never talk or find time to visit their mother or grandmother. And if they do, the children say “Hi” and head to their room our other activity, not spending time with the grandparents! They are busy, with busy lives of their own! Recognizing this as a reality, will help you to live your best life!

  1. Quiting your Job / Retiring

There are those who have dedicated their entire lives to their work or business. Those are the expats who often have a hard time adjusting to retirement; and being an expat. Because, they never took the time to acquire hobbies, and possibly never had much communication with their spouse. They become like a sailor or soldier who comes home after an extended time away; life progressed without them, and they have difficulty “catching up.”

Now that you’re an expat, you may have to work at staying busy. Start looking for new hobbies before moving to Costa Rica; things you always wanted to do, but never had the time.  Ask around your new community, find volunteer opportunities, etc. and you’ll be surprised how many things you can do to stay occupied and create the perfect expat life.

  1. Accept Organizational Bureaucracy

It’s always difficult to learn how to manage a totally different organizational bureaucracy than you are used to. Simple things like getting your cell phone to work, opening a bank account, or getting power and water installed, can be huge hurdles. And what about getting your household container through customs?

Don’t fight the bureaucracy; it can make those things (and more) feel pretty frustrating! … especially if you haven’t paid attention to obstacle #1. Be prepared to be frustrated until you “learn the ropes”; it will get easier as time passes.

  1. Handle Culture Shock

Some expats have a really hard time handling culture shock. Others don’t at all. Those who have traveled extensively, usually handle themselves somewhat better. But if you’ve lived your whole life in the same town, it’s much harder.

Keep an open mind, don’t take the approach “at home, we do/did it differently, so it must be better.” I am sure that your home country is not perfect either…. 

  1. Personality

Are you a “Type A” personality? A gotta have everything RIGHT NOW person? If so, then it may be bit more challenging to have a perfect expat life in Costa Rica.

If you want to live in Costa Rica and be happy, you will want to learn how to slow down and accept the slower pace of life. Always wanting everything done NOW?  If this has been your pattern, realize that slowing down is a good thing!

My “instant gratification” has been reduced immensely after living here a few years! I have learned that I can wait till my next trip to North America to get something I really want or need.

My recommendations

If you want to have the perfect expat life in Costa Rica, search for, find and talk to others who have gone through what you are experiencing. There are hundreds of expats and many good organizations (who can give you advice and tips that will help you make your transition easier.) 

When searching on line for information, ensure you are reading current posts and information. Often people are reading information that they think is current, and actually it is many years old. We have had many changes in the last few years…. so, ensuring you are getting current, relevant information will be crucial!  Check the dates of articles and posts.

When it comes to finding your perfect place to live, hire a realtor for your needs!

A good one, who will listen to you, and then assist you with some of the issues above. Or lend you a shoulder to cry on.

Do you have a question about this article? Or do you want to know more about Uvita Costa Rica real estate? Talk to us! We can share our experiences and knowledge!

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Published by ajimenez

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