Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: Private English Speaking School-$350/month

Roads are a big topic of conversation among us expats. It’s funny living in a place where  friends inform one another when a highway is closed due to mudslides. Needless to say, these roads are not only rough on your travel plans but on your car as well.

If you live on one of these car-busting/mudslinging routes, you may anticipate a prolonged period of silence at the other end of the line when you invite someone for dinner.

“Mary is having a party and she says her road is passable. What do you think?” you ask a friend in a hushed tone that would suggest a conversation involving embezzlement.

“What do I think? I think you’ll bust a tire rod if you decide to go,” she answers. The challenging road that makes your neighborhood very private is the same road that will make your house as popular as chicken chow mein at a pizzeria. I know this because I live on one of these roads.

It’s the reason I always recommend people rent a 4 wheel drive vehicle when visiting Costa Rica. And not one of those sidekicks, which my husband ungraciously calls a “sidekick in the ass” every time you go over a bump. I’m talking about something really industrious. Something that will surely cost over a hundred dollars a day to rent; however, if you can afford it many incredible opportunities open up.

It’s no mystery that some of the most beautiful places in Costa Rica are down the worst roads. For example, we were taking a few days to tour the Pacific coast and stopped at a realtor’s office to find an affordable place to stay. He recommended a few, and in passing, mentioned a beautiful house on a treacherous hill that rents for $4000 a week. Not to be scared off by the price, we traveled up this road and talked with the owner. She was leaving for the states at the end of the week, hadn’t rented out the house. She said we could rent it for three days at $100 a night…this would cover the cost of her airfare.

If I didn’t have my husband with me, I doubt I would have approached the woman and asked to stay in her million dollar home on the cheap. Also, if I didn’t have our SUV I would never have been in the position to ask her in the first place. We often find some of the most unimaginable opportunities at the end of a lousy road. Occasionally it’s a waterfall while other times it’s a hummingbird garden in someone’s front yard.  This time it was a gorgeous house with a pool overlooking the Pacific.

Having a 4 wheel drive makes the path less taken possible. I would suggest you consider one whether moving here or just enjoying a weeks’ vacation. Perhaps it will tempt you to explore a little more and find that surfer’s paradise or mountain vista. It could even be a deserted beach or that 5 star restaurant all the tourists are talking about.

You’ll never have a better time while enjoying a crummy road. That’s a guarantee.

About Nadine Hays Pisani

Nadine is the author of the best-selling series, Happier Than A Billionaire. Join her as she navigates living as an expat in the sometimes confusing, always beautiful, country of Costa Rica.
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  1. wootener13 says:

    Wilson, as a former Marine, I too thank you for your service to our beloved country. I can also completely understand your thoughts on “what do I want to do when I grow up?” I have the same “struggle”, so I work when I have to and play when I can. I may have to do adult things and make adult decisions, but those don’t have to kill the kid inside me 😉 I hope you find the peace that you are looking for buddy!
    Semper Fidelis,

  2. Wilson says:

    Well Rob and and Nadine, I just got your book yesterday in the iBook store. I did not stop reading until I Finished it tonight. what can I say? you guys are truly revolutionaries . Just learning how you both have come so far and risked so much. It is all really inspiring. And it is fantastic to see how each of your personalities has if anything made bond more than ever I imagine. The book was a fabulous and a lhumurous read. It has one drawback. It has propelled me even more to question everything, doubt my true purpose , question my direction. If I may I was raised here in the states originally from Colombia and grew in Miami as a young man I left to join the Navy and provide combat medic support for the Marines not too long after 9/11. In quick summary multiple trips to Iraq and Afganistan, leaves a person in tough place. I decided that my life had an expiration date on and if I continued to follow the paths I was going it would eventually be my demise. I was honorably discharged in Dec 2010 and since then I have been struggling to find meaning , purpose, drive and I question what in the world I’m going to do now , what path do I take, what career do I choose and the more I think about the less I want to be sucked in to this American way of life though I am proud of being an American and have fought for this country abroad I feel as if it is too easy to be trapped in a cycle of money making to gather the “necessities” and mortgages and kids and before you know it years have passed and we become as slaves to a system and not have the ability to pull out because of fear. So at the point I’m at right now is going to back to college and trying to figure out what in world will I want to do , can I do these jobs , and when I get there will I be happy and reassured that made the right choice. I know that I don’t know the answers..but after reading your story and precisely envisioning my self in a job that I hate then again looking back wondering if I made the right choice, it is tough I’m 30 and need to decide how I want to see myself and the more I thought about it while I was reading your book the more the desire grew in my chest to just pick up and go as well and move to that corner of the world and find out for my self what all this commotion is about. Rob & Nadine I wish guys all the best thank you soo much for putting those words to paper I really enjoyed it and has given me inspiration to be brave and dream about taking a trip and stay there for a while and disconnect from all of this and take bold step into the unknown …. I can’t wait … The thoughts alone consume my mind !
    Take care and may all of your plans come to fruition and may both continue to Happy,, P. U R A V I D A

    • admin says:

      Let me just say thank you for your brave service to our country. You have done more with your military service, sacrificed so much, more than most of us do in a lifetime. I feel deeply honored that you found my book and got a few laughs about the absurdity of this journey of ours.

      I’m sure your experiences have shaped how you want the rest of your future to look. And it’s difficult to decide whether this career path is the same one you will want to be on 10 years from now. But take your time, there is no rush for you. You are young and have the world open for you to explore. I am sure one day you will be on vacation here, or in the Caribbean, or a small village in Europe and you will say, “you know…I don’t want to leave here.”

      That happened to me, and the next thing I knew I was riding a horse up a mountain. But I knew that it was right for me….all of it. And you will have that moment too. And I hope I will be around to see it.

  3. I know the Sidekicks are sort of a joke, but don’t be too tough on the little guys. We driven literally thousands of km in dozens of different 4WD vehicles…Bego, Samurai, 4Runner, Galloper, Jimny, Rav4, Tacoma, Pathfinder, Prado… and it surprised us a little when the one of the two best, most capable offroad machines turned out to be a Dihatsu Terios. They tend to float a little in the deeper rivers, but other than that they’ll go anywhere the big diesel Toyota Prado will go and the only reason we take the Prado is when we’re carting guests around.

  4. Merry says:

    Nadine, what an amazing deal; hope to see some pics from the house.

  5. Krista says:

    ALthough- word to the wise. NEVER listen to the GPS in your rental 4 by 4. We drove from Tamarindo to Montezuma and the GPS took us along the coast. In rainy season. This meant we ended up crossing through big and deep rivers to get to our destination in the 4by4. It was really scary! Also, I can totally relate to the prettiest things being off the beaten track. We accidentally found Playa Manzanillo, which was completely deserted and absolutely beautiful.

    • admin says:

      That’s true. It’s also cool that you got to travel the road less taken and got to see many things that others overlook. I love it when I come across the beaches that aren’t populated. They are just as beautiful, just harder to get to.

    • Merry says:

      Happy Birthday, to your son! My twins turned 23 today too.

      btw, the GPS in our rental car didn’t work at all, but we managed to find our way around eventually.

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