Pros and Cons of Living in San José, Costa Rica
Happy Sunday Wanderers and welcome back to another post.
If you are not aware, since October I have been living in San José, Costa Rica with an intern group. As with any place there pros and cons to life here in the capitol city of Costa Rica. My friends and I have compiled this list to provide perspective about what life is like here. If you are hoping to travel or move to San José you may find this post helpful. Honesty of the cons aside, l do absolutely love living in here. Hope you enjoy!
Walkability- There is virtually no need for a car in San José. You’ll find that most things are walkable and, in a pinch, you can take an Uber or public bus for just a few dollars.
Central Hub- As the capitol city of Costa Rica, San José is a great jumping off point. You can travel to the rest of the country with ease by bus.
Summer- From mid-November throughout April the weather is beautiful and sunny with minimal rain during the North American winter.
Cheap Produce- Local farmer’s markets are great places to do weekly shopping. The Zapote Market is the largest farmers market in Costa Rica and you can stock up on a weeks worth of produce for around $10.
Language Immersion- As long as you have a baseline understanding of Spanish you will be able to navigate conversations with locals and practice your Spanish.
Amazing Food- San José has great restaurants with amazing vegan and vegetarian options, especially in Barrio Escalante. This cost of eating out is comparable to the states and in my opinion the quality is much better.
Cheap Cost of Living- You can find cheap rent and lackadaisical rental agreements in San José. Tourists can rent apartments and there is no need to get locked into long-term leases like in the states. My boyfriend rented a room with a shared kitchen and bathroom for $300 per month.
Confining- City lovers find that San José is just too small for their taste. There are little to no high-rise buildings and after living here for some time you will feel like you’ve seen it all.
Bus terminals- You can’t buy most bus tickets online and the bus terminals are usually located in questionable areas which are not the safest.
Rainy Season- May through mid-November is hot, humid, and you guessed it rainy! Luckily, it usually only rains for a portion of the day.
Expensive Grocery Stores- Like anywhere else there are both cheap and expensive grocery store options. However, I have found that most specialty items, especially vegan substitutes, are much more expensive in Costa Rica than the states.
Language Barriers- As is inevitable, if your Spanish is not perfect you will encounter misunderstandings or difficulties communicating every once in a while. It only inspires me to get better every day!
Restaurant Hours- Cafés and breakfast places don’t typically open before 9am and there are minimal late night food options passed 9pm. Early birds and late night snackers have to fend for themselves.
Resource Outages- The power often goes out in San José and during the dry season we have experienced periodical water outages due to the lack of rain and community need to conserve the resource.
In my opinion the worst parts about San José are the creepy dudes & creepy crawlies! Although I hate to say it, as a woman I often feel uncomfortable in San José. Creepy older men won’t shy away from gawking at you as you walk by and cat calling is a huge problem. For this reason, at all hours of the day I prefer to walk with a buddy or with headphones in so I can pretend not to hear. Walking at night is not advisable. In addition to creepy dudes, beware of the creepy crawlies! Termites, cockroaches and ants to name a few. They don’t bother me that much, but if you hate bugs, just know that they often find their way inside.
Overall, San José has really come to feel like home for me. I love that it is a small city because I prefer suburban and more rural living. The weather, food, and travel access make it an amazing place to live!
Do you have any questions about San José? Feel free to drop a comment below!
Wander often & wonder always,