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Our 2 Week Costa Rica Vacation

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Whew, we’re back from our 2 week Costa Rica vacation. It was a great trip, but we were getting worn out by the end. Fourteen days is a long time for a 4 year old kid. Toward the end, he was getting really homesick. And the best part about any vacation is coming home. Nothing makes you appreciate what you have more than traveling in a developing country.

Actually, Costa Rica has a pretty high standard of living from what we saw. The roads were pretty good, the exception being around Monteverde. Cars and modern appliances were available. You could buy pretty much anything you needed from the grocery store. The internet connection was solid and hikers were talking on their cell phones in the middle of the rain forest. The infrastructure seems pretty modern overall. Anyway, let’s start with the locations we visited and then I’ll just write about whatever topics come to mind.

4 Locations in 13 days

This was RB40Jr’s first trip outside of the United States so I wanted to make it relatively easy. If I traveled alone, I’d probably try to cram in more places. Mrs. RB40 likes traveling at a relaxed pace and I’m okay with that. We don’t like spending most of our vacation on a bus so we usually avoid vacation packages.

1 night near San Jose airport

After 15 hours on the plane and in airports, we arrived in Costa Rica around midnight on Friday and got through immigration very quickly. I booked us a room at the Holiday Inn Express ($103/night) because it was very close to the airport and they had a free shuttle service. This turned out to be RB40Jr’s favorite hotel in Costa Rica. Throughout the trip, he kept saying let’s go back to the first hotel. The reason was he liked breakfast – they had Cheerios. We left the next day at 2pm and headed to La Fortuna to visit Arenal Volcano. September was the rainy season so it was pouring when the shuttle van picked us up. I was glad I didn’t rent a car because the driving conditions were tougher than what I’m used to. The roads were okay, but I’d have gotten lost very quickly if I was driving.

4 nights in La Fortuna near Arenal Volcano

Casa Luna Hotel La Fortuna

I booked us a nice little resort about 2 miles out of La Fortuna. The hotels/hostels in town catered toward backpackers and budget travelers. The Casa Luna hotel ($75/night) had a nice pool with a swim-up bar and 4 hot tubs. Being out of town was a bit inconvenient, though. The taxi ride to La Fortuna cost around $4 and we took many trips to eat in town. Casa Luna had a restaurant, but it was more expensive than the places in town.

La Fortuna town – La Fortuna is a small town. There is a nice central park next to a church. There are many restaurants and hotels catering to the tourists as well. There really isn’t much to do in town itself. The main street has about 6 blocks and all the restaurants, tour operators, hostels, and hostels were concentrated in that area.

chocolate tourChocolate tour – There was a cacao plantation right near our hotel so we decided to take a chocolate tour. This tour cost $22 each and Jr got in for free. He did not have to pay any fees on all the tours we took so that’s one good thing about being 4. The chocolate tour was pretty interesting. I’ve seen the cacao fruit before, but I didn’t know how they were processed. The tour went through the each of the processing steps and we tasted the cocoa beans and cocoa power at various stages. We also had cocoa drinks and some chocolate. I liked the tour and would recommend it if you have extra time in La Fortuna.

Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano tour – I wasn’t sure if we wanted to take an Arenal Volcano tour because we didn’t want to hike much. The Lonely Planet said we could get to the park by taking the bus so we went to bus station to investigate. It turns out that you’d have to get off at the park entrance and walk many kilometers just to get to the trails. This didn’t sound very attractive so we signed up for a tour instead. We paid $35 each for this tour. The bus picked us up at our hotel the next day and we headed off to the volcano. We got off at the Observatory Lodge, enjoyed the great view, and hike around the park for a few hours. This trip was actually the perfect fit for us. We saw a toucan, a family of coati, a little yellow snake, and a margay cat.margay cat We hiked to a waterfall and walked over 2 suspension bridges. Afterward, the guide took us to a free hot spring and gave everyone a volcanic mud facial. Well, the facial was just the mud our guide collected on the hike. It worked really well, though. Our faces felt nice and smooth afterward. RB40Jr skipped out on the mud facial because he said his face is already soft. All in all, I was pretty happy with this inexpensive tour. I saw other tours that cost from $60 to $250. They get more expensive as you add longer hikes, entry to very nice hot spring resorts, and/or meals.

La Fortuna waterfall – We decided to visit the La Fortuna waterfall on our last day. We took a taxi over and paid $11 each to get in. You start near the top of a canyon and hike your way down. The waterfall was quite nice and we spent about an hour hanging out at the bottom. We didn’t bring our swimsuits because I read that the water was cold. The water was actually pretty comfortable and we would have enjoyed a swim there. Oh well, I guess you can’t trust everything you read on the internet.

Overall, we enjoyed our time in La Fortuna. Our hotel was pretty nice and RB40Jr spent a lot of time at the pool and hot tubs. Arenal Volcano was nice, but the lava stopped flowing since 2010 so it’s not that exciting. The next stop on the trip was Monteverde, the famous cloud forest. The bus picked us up from our hotel and dropped us off to take a boat across the Lake Arenal. This was RB40Jr’s first boat ride so he enjoyed it. After the boat ride, we continued on a bus toward Monteverde. From this point on, the road became pretty bad. It was a mud/gravel road for about 2 hours until we reach Monteverde.

4 nights in Monteverde

We stayed at Camino Verde Bed & Breakfast ($52/night) in Santa Elena. Our room has a bunk bed and a full size bed. RB40Jr had a huge meltdown because he wanted to sleep on the top bunk and we wouldn’t let him. He is a restless sleeper and falls out of bed regularly. The top bunk didn’t have any railing so it’s just not safe. The accommodation was basic, but it was fine for 4 nights. The B&B is within walking distance to town so at least we didn’t have to keep taking taxis anymore.

Santa Elena town Costa Rica

Santa Elena town – Santa Elena was even smaller than La Fortuna. The main street is paved, but all the side streets are dirt/gravel roads. The whole town catered to the tourists. It felt like an eco Disneyland. Most tourists stay for 2 nights and try to cram in as much activities as possible. The main street was just a few blocks full of tour companies, restaurants, and hostels. It felt very touristy to me.

Monteverde cloud forestMonteverde preserve tour – $42 each. The Monteverde cloud forest was pretty interesting. The guide told us all about the cloud forest eco system, but we didn’t see much wildlife here. He found one tarantula and a hummingbird nest for us and that was about it. Also, it was a rare sunny day so we didn’t even “see” the clouds as one of our tour mates complained to me.

Selvatura Canopy Bridges

Canopy bridges – $17 each. This one was pretty good. We went to Selvatura, one of the adventure parks. RB40Jr isn’t quite ready for the zipline so we just took the canopy bridges tour. This self guided tour includes 8 hanging bridges that go over the canopy of the cloud forest. We liked this tour because we could go at our own pace and it offered a unique perspective of the forest.

Costa Rica Monteverde clould forestFree tree! – Andres at our B&B recommended a free tree for us to climb. At first I was skeptical, but we had a free day so we went to check it out. This was actually a great experience. We hiked through the town and walked through some local streets to get there. It was nice to see the side of Santa Elena that most tourists never see. The tree itself was really cool too. We learned from the cloud forest tour that a fig tree can start growing on top of another tree. The roots from the fig tree will seek out the ground and eventually envelope the old tree completely. The old tree will then die out and the center of the new tree will be hollow. This tree has an accessible hollow trunk and you can climb up on the inside. I only went up about 25 feet before I got scared, but you can climb up more than 100 feet. Also, I liked that this was free. I was getting tired of paying for every activity.

Monteverde was pretty, but we probably won’t go back. The roads were bad and it was just too touristy. It’s time to move on to the beach!

4 nights in Manuel Antonio

The main town near Manuel Antonio Park was Quepos, a real Tico (Costa Rican) town. Quepos is a bigger town with many businesses. The accommodations in Quepos were more affordable, but the downside was you’d have to take bus/taxi to the beach. We opted to stay at Hotel Verde Mars ($86/night) closer to Manuel Antonio. This hotel has seen better days, but the location can’t be beat. The beach was right behind the hotel. They also had a pool which we used extensively. The wildlife was pretty good in this area. A sloth lived in the tree next to the hotel and many capuchin monkeys roamed the area.

Manuel Antonio Park

Manuel Antonio Park – $17 entry fee each. We decided not go with a guide on this trip. We wanted to go at our own pace and had enough of guided tours. We saw plenty of wildlife on our own, though. A deer wandered right into our path. We saw another sloth. Not really exciting because they are just sleeping in the day time. We also saw howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, and squirrel monkeys. The beaches in the park were beautiful and we hung out for over 3 hours. The raccoons were a huge nuisance, though. One big bold raccoon came right up to grab our bags. Mrs. RB40 tried to shoo it away, but she wasn’t very good at it. A guide had to come running over to yell at it to go away. You have to stand up and yell loudly at it. Mrs. RB40 wasn’t loud or aggressive enough.

Manuel Antonio Park

Espadilla Beach – Playa Espadilla was right behind our hotel and we hung out here the rest of the time. RB40Jr had a great time climbing trees, finding shells, chasing crabs, and playing in the surf. The sun was brutal and we had to take breaks in the shade very often. It was awesome to be able to play in the surf. Oregon’s beaches are too cold and you rarely see anyone in the water. The best part about staying near the beach is that after 5pm, most of the tourists and touters are gone and the beautiful beach was almost empty. The beach was really great at night too. We saw a few great lighting shows in the evening.

Staying near the beach was the favorite part of our trip. The mountains were nice too, but I should have scheduled more time on the beach. It’s so relaxing and we didn’t have to pay any money to go to the beach. Well, you could rent an umbrella and a couple of beach chairs for $10/day, but we skipped on that. I like sitting on the sand. Sadly our time at the beach came to an end and we had to head home.

San Jose/Bizarre travel day

We took the direct bus from Manuel Antonio to San Jose. This cost $10 each and the ride was very comfortable. Next time, I’ll use more public buses rather than private shuttles. We left at 9:30 am and got to San Jose around 1pm. We asked the taxi to take us to the Jade Museum, but the guy said it’s better to walk. Okay… I guess we’ll walk. RB40Jr had to go to the restroom so we ducked into a conveniently placed McDonald’s. The rain started pouring down so we hung out there for about an hour. Thanks goodness for McDonald’s. When the rain let up a bit, we continued to the Gold Museum. This was a pretty nice museum and we learned about how gold was used in the Pre-Columbian Era. The Jade Museum was closed by the time we got out so we went to the Artesanias Market instead. You can buy all kinds of souvenirs here. We escaped with just one big hacky sack that RB40Jr has been begging for. We decided to head to the airport at this point because we didn’t want to walk around in the rain.

We got to the airport around 6 pm, but our flight wasn’t scheduled to leave until 1 am. It turned out that we had to wait until 9 pm for the United Airlines counter to open. I was hoping to get into the terminal early, but I should have known better. The Juan Santamaria airport is pretty small and there were only a few United Airline flights scheduled. We took this opportunity to pay the airport tax and grab a bite to eat.

When 9 pm rolled around, we went to the United counter and was informed that we needed to fill out some departure paperwork even though we already paid the airport tax. But, they didn’t have a pen we could use. Mrs. RB40’s pen ran out of ink a few days ago so that was unfortunate. I asked an airport worker if I could borrow her pen and she said no. Really? You’re just standing around twirling a pen and telling people to go pay the departure tax and fill out forms. Do you think I would steal your pen? I had to go to the departure tax counter and ask to borrow the pen there. Which I had to share when a guy needed to sign for his Visa payment. Note to self: bring 2 pens when taking an international trip. After we got our boarding passes, we went to get in line to go through security and were pulled out of the line. The police informed us that we need to talk to immigration because we have a kid with us. Okay, why didn’t you tell us earlier when there were actually people at the immigration counter and when it wasn’t 10 pm? We had to wait around until one worker came back who asked us why we were waiting for him. Finally we were able to get into the terminal.

We arrived at Houston at 6 am and had a 3 hour layover. We went through US immigration (Mrs. RB40 was really impressed with the new Homeland Security scanners) and through airport security again. RB40Jr brushed his hand against the side of the scanner and it beeped. He had to do it over again and at this point he put his face in his hands, cried and refused to move through the scanner. He had napped on the plane, but he was exhausted by this point. After a bit of cajoling, the TSA lady motioned for me to come through with him. I suspect this is highly irregular, but at least we got through the check point. After that, we took the plane to Portland, MAX to downtown, and lastly the streetcar home. We finally arrived home after more than 24 hours on the road. Whew, what an exhausting travel day.

Traveling with a 4 year old

Oh man, traveling is much more high maintenance with a kid. He had a lot more meltdowns than usual and he was missing Portland a lot by the end of the trip. Costa Rica was too hot and humid for him. When the temperature passed a certain point, he just shut down. He’d say “I’m too tired” and couldn’t really do anything. Eating was also a big problem for us. He’d only eat a little during the meals and then he’d be hungry two hours later. It’s tough for a kid to adjust to new surroundings.

In Manuel Antonio, we had a kitchenette so I got us cornflakes for breakfast. RB40Jr had a huge meltdown because I didn’t get Cheerios for him. We had to explain over and over again that the grocery store didn’t have Cheerios. I think he had fun overall, though. He enjoyed playing at the beach, seeing various animals, watching a long line of ants carrying leaves, and taking some light hikes. We’ll have to keep traveling so he’ll learn to adjust better.

Packing and electronic items

We packed very light on this trip. I had 4 shirts, a pair of pants, a pair of shorts, a swimming trunk, and underclothes. We had a laundry service after a week and it worked out pretty well. I didn’t bring a laptop on this trip. Instead, I brought my cell phone and my Amazon Kindle Fire HD 6. Our hotels had internet so I was able to connect and keep an eye on the website. The tablet was very useful and I occasionally used it to check email and do minor site maintenance. My Republic Wireless phone was pretty useful too. I called my mom a couple of times and it worked perfectly. The phone uses internet to call so I didn’t have to pay anything extra.

Food

Costa Rica casado

The Costa Rican food was okay. We had many plates of casado. This dish typically consists of rice, beans, vegetables, meat (chicken, fish, or beef), and a fried plantain. Ceviche was delicious. Don’t order a burger at a soda (local restaurant) because it won’t be very good. Eating out seemed expensive too. A casado plate usually cost 3,000 to 4,000 colones. Add a drink and you’ll pay $8-10 per person for an ordinary meal. I didn’t see many ethnic restaurants while we were there. That’s another minus.

Retire in Costa Rica?

I don’t think I could retire in Costa Rica. I would love to live there for 6 months or so and explore the country more. The people are friendly and the infrastructure is good. I’m sure I could brush up on my Spanish so we could at least have simple conversation. I couldn’t live in the small towns in the mountains, though. I’d probably choose to live near the beach. The cost of living in Costa Rica feels high. Labor is cheap, but food and groceries are pretty expensive. One of my college roommates is from Nicaragua so maybe I’ll look into that. I’m sure it’s much cheaper there, but it’s probably safer in Costa Rica.

Rainy Season

Our visit during the rainy season turned out much better than I thought. It was nice in the morning and then the heavy rain dumped down in the afternoon. We scheduled all our activities in the morning and took the afternoon off. The rain also cooled things down. I suspect the afternoon would have been too hot to do anything and we’d have to take a break anyway.

Overall Impression

Overall, we like Costa Rica very much. We’d love to visit again someday and check out the Caribbean side. The beaches were awesome and the laid back vibe was great. I imagine California would have looked like this 50 years ago. Lastly, we spent less than $3,000 on this trip as budgeted. That’s not too bad for an international vacation, right?

Have you been to Costa Rica? Do you think you can retire there?

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{ 34 comments… add one }
  • Ramona October 7, 2015, 1:58 am

    Never been to Costa Rica, but I can relate to how difficult it can sometimes be to travel with a kid. And 15 hours to spend on plane / airports can indeed be very brutal.

    We did get a lot of heat ourselves in Atlanta, few years ago. we were absolutely shocked at how hot it can be. My daughter hates heat, so she’s always getting VERY cranky when not having the chance to cool off properly.

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2015, 10:18 am

      I wonder how long it would take for someone to acclimate to the heat and humidity. Clearly, 2 weeks isn’t enough. All the local people didn’t even sweat… We had the same problem when we go to Thailand as well. We always had to take the afternoon to cool off at the pool or in an AC room.

      • Mike Teall October 8, 2015, 1:50 pm

        I moved to TX in 1976 and STILL waiting to acclimate to the humidity.

        • retirebyforty October 8, 2015, 8:24 pm

          That’s not good news. 🙂

  • Jen October 7, 2015, 5:45 am

    I was so excited to read about your trip! We took a similar one about 18 months ago with our almost 2 and almost 4 year olds and I was curious what you did. I totally agree that food (or the lack of familiar food) can be the source of discontent with young kids. As a result, we always pack with a carry on sized suitcase of familiar foods that we know that they will eat. If their blood sugar is low but they refuse to try anything abroad, at least we have a back up cereal bar or something. Our kids now have a pretty good idea about what to expect when traveling, but when they were younger, it was tough! I’m sure RB40Jr will only get easier and more excited for trips as he gets older!

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2015, 10:20 am

      OMG, I can’t imagine taking 2 kids. That’s a ton of work! Actually, he really didn’t mind the strange food. He just couldn’t eat much when it was too hot. The Cheerio was a big point of contention, though. I probably should pack some for the next trip. Thanks!

  • Kate October 7, 2015, 5:52 am

    I’ve been to Costa Rica twice — once through a cultural exchange in high school and once to stay at my friend’s family condo. Totally different experiences! It was several years between trips and I couldn’t believe how much changed. Even back in 2004, it was very tourist-friendly. But it was way cheaper! I really enjoyed eating gallo pinto for breakfast every day. And, of course, it’s a beautiful country. I visited Arenal and most of the beaches on the west coast. Pura vida!

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2015, 10:21 am

      The cultural exchange sounds awesome. Mrs. RB40 had a chance, but her mom didn’t let her go. She is still complaining about that. I like the gallo pinto too. I’m sure it’s healthier than Cheerio. Pura Vida! 🙂

  • Mike Drak October 7, 2015, 6:30 am

    Joe I totally agree with you there is no place like home. Just wondering if you could send me an email when you have time. Would like to discuss my book with you.

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2015, 10:22 am

      Mike, I sent you an email.

  • CL October 7, 2015, 6:39 am

    I lose my appetite when I travel, too. A lot of people do. I learned to pack a large bag of familiar food – not even comfort food, but food that my brain looks at and doesn’t think ‘way too foreign.’ Thanks for writing up your experience.

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2015, 10:22 am

      I like to travel light so I never consider packing food before. It would be very helpful for our kid, though. Maybe I’ll try that next time. Thanks!

  • Insourcelife October 7, 2015, 7:03 am

    It’s funny, by the end of your post it started to sound like this trip was a lot of work and not so much a vacation 🙂 We did a similar 2-week trip with a 3-year old and it was an absolute blast. We mostly stayed in beach towns but we did spend 4 days in Arenal and went to a lot of the same places as you. I think what really made the trip so great was that we rented homes (4 places total) on Airbnb instead of hotels which gave us access to our own pools, kitchens and the overall feeling of living like a local. We also rented a car for the whole time we were there and that made travelling with a kid so much easier, despite all the horror stories you hear about driving there. I actually wrote about our experience driving in Costa Rica on my blog, just to give another perspective on all the negativity you read on the internet. I could totally see myself retiring there too – somewhere by the beach. Great country and great people but I do agree that it’s definitely on the expensive side i.e. on par with the US in terms of things like groceries. It sounds like prices were much lower even a decade ago until this place was discovered by wealthy North Americans!

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2015, 10:25 am

      I was pretty happy to not drive. 🙂 Now that I know more, I’d probably take the public bus the next time we go. The roads around Monteverde were pretty bad, but the rest of the country had much better roads as I understand.
      I read that the price is high due to inflation. Import food is also much more expensive than local food. We purchased a bunch of rambutan fruits and they were very cheap and tasty. You can probably live very cheaply if you live like a local, but I don’t know if we can do that…

  • Justin October 7, 2015, 7:27 am

    Looks like a great trip with the kiddo even if it wasn’t a barebones budget vacation. We made a lot of compromises for our kids (especially the youngest one) during our 7 week trip to Mexico. And the questions from him were priceless yet heartbreaking, like “when are we going back home? Not this home, back to Daddy’s house?” only one week into the vacation.

    Like your experience, ours broke down when it was too hot and humid in the tropical areas. I don’t blame him, as I wasn’t far from breaking down either! And the food was always a challenge. Yeah, it’s different and weird and not Cheerios lol. Our kids ate cereal for breakfast almost every day (even more consistently than at home in Raleigh). Easy and cheap enough to acquire, but disappointing that they weren’t trying all the fresh fruits and pastries us parents ate.

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2015, 10:27 am

      RB40Jr did pretty well for the most part. He only got really homesick near the end of the trip. He also tried most of the food. He didn’t like most of them, but at least he tried. 🙂

  • Mr. Retire by 35 October 7, 2015, 7:39 am

    Joe, thanks for posting this trip report! The Mrs. and I are wanting to take a trip to Costa Rica soon. This gives some inspiration and ideas for the trip. When we retire in 10 years, Costa Rica was a place I had ear-marked for a 3+ month stay.

    -Mr. Retire by 35

    • retirebyforty October 7, 2015, 10:28 am

      Sure, feel free to email me if you have any specific questions. Costa Rica is a beautiful country and easy to travel in.

  • Tawcan October 7, 2015, 10:28 am

    Never been to Costa Rica but from what I have gathered it’s pretty hot and humid. Sounds like you had a great time. We just came back from a 2 week trip in Japan with a 22 months old and it sounds like traveling with a 4 year old offers different challenges.

    Interesting point about breakfast, I’m glad that Baby T had no problem with any of the food that we gave him. He even tried sushi a few times.

    • retirebyforty October 8, 2015, 8:18 pm

      Jr. and I wanted to try sushi when we were there, but Mrs. RB40 vetoed us. She said we can wait until we got back. Japan is a great country to travel in. I’d love to visit again.

  • Wilson October 7, 2015, 1:38 pm

    Sounds like you did a similar, but extended version of my first tour through Costa Rica. I remember staying at some basic cinder block hotel right across from Manuel Antonio, from which after spending the day walking/ trying to avoid crushing innumerable brightly colored crabs, I almost didn’t make it out from because the tide had filled up a channel by the end of the day making it surprisingly deep to cross (maybe there’s a bridge now?) . I’m from the heat and humidity of the Gulf and so found the weather was actually nicer than staying home or driving to Florida and was pleasantly surprised at the coolness of Monteverde at night. It’s fairly easy for us to fly there so we went back two years ago and spent more time around Arenal and the hot springs and went to a beach on the Pacific side that was nice. Because we had less time the four of us hired a local driver who picked us up and took us from airport, then to Arenal, then to the beach, and then to a different airport for departure, all the while going back to his home outside of San Jose in between. It was definitely less adventurous than the first time when I took the local bus, but not un-affordable split four ways. Plus Daniel was a great, personable guide who spoke good English and humored my Spanish practice. And we met a guy at a roadside coffee stop that gifted us his personal machete.

    The infrastructure, I hate/have to say, is probably even more advanced than many spots in the U.S. I remember stopping at a soda in some random mountain village and the proprietor had her tablet hanging on the wall and she was checking Facebook. It’s probably even safer overall than where I live. If your criteria is a safe, as close to the U.S. level in comforts, etc. experience, Costa Rica wins hands down in Central America. Thus it’s the priciest too. If you’re looking for more adventure, more off the grid, you can still find it there, but land prices are much higher and the gringos quite pervasive throughout. I’ve been wanting to go to Nicaragua and/or Guatemala for years but I’m not sure I’d take my kid with me, but I’d have no hesitation about bringing her to Costa Rica.

    • retirebyforty October 8, 2015, 8:21 pm

      I think they changed the entry path to Manuel Antonio. When we were there, the path along the beach was closed due to caiman. A driver makes sense when you have a bigger party. We did that in Jamaica and it was great.
      Belize is really nice too for Central America. Probably as expensive, though.

  • Anjali October 8, 2015, 12:09 am

    That’s great. Stunning photos. Sounds like you enjoyed your vacations in Costa .

    Thanks for posting this.
    We are making a plan to visit Costa. Can you suggest me What is the best season to visit Costa?

    Regards
    Anjali

    • retirebyforty October 8, 2015, 8:22 pm

      You probably want to check the guide books. I think September was perfect for us, but maybe you’d like the high season better.

  • DivGuy October 8, 2015, 9:34 am

    Thank you for sharing all this! Will have a look with my wife too as it may give us a couple activities ideas when we will live there for 3 months next year and/or when family and friends will visit.

    I know the country is more expensive than many others, but as you mentioned, it’s also one of the safest around. That reassures me for the kids. I see Costa Rica like a well deserved break in the RV trip. I’ve also read schools are pretty good in the country so the kids might attend school while we’re there as well.

    Cheers,

    Mike

    • retirebyforty October 8, 2015, 8:24 pm

      It seems like a long drive through quite a few countries to get there. I’m looking forward to reading about it. I’m sure it would be a great adventure.

      • DivGuy October 9, 2015, 5:41 am

        It is a very long drive! We are leaving Quebec (Eastern Canada) and drive down there 😀 I’ll create another blog for this adventure!

  • Doan Duong October 8, 2015, 2:41 pm

    I spend two weeks in Costa Rica back in 2011, I enjoy it a lot but the tourist aspect just kinda ruined it for me, we get charge for doing everything. And also Americans been retiring there since the 70s so all the development make me feel like I havent left the US in some sense, exclusive resort/gate community. It rained a lot when I was there (in october), so I just go everywhere in a poncho (raincoat). Spend a few days in various town (Liberia, Tamarindo, Manuel Antonio, Monteverde, Arenal Rainforest); wish I could have gone to check out the east coast side since it more raw culturally, but possibly not as safe.

    • retirebyforty October 8, 2015, 8:26 pm

      I thought it was very touristy, but I still enjoyed it. Manuel Antonio was great because we didn’t pay for many activities. We had a chance to relax and enjoy the beach. Thanks for sharing.

  • Travis @ Freedom With Bruno October 8, 2015, 4:53 pm

    Hey Joe, glad to hear you had a great trip to Costa Rica!

    After saving up $1M in our early thirties, my wife and I quit our jobs and drove down to Costa Rica from California. We’re currently renting a nice house ($1000/mo) on the Pacific Coast which is just a couple minutes from the beach. I just got back from surfing!

    Overall, I agree with your assessment of Retirement in Costa Rica. I think becoming fluent in Spanish would be needed to integrate into the community, and while labor costs and housing are reasonable, pretty much everything else in Costa Rica is relatively expensive. Finally, it’s fairly hot and humid along the coastal regions and as a result I essentially never wear a shirt.

    Anyways, I’m enjoying your blog. Glad you got to see so much during your trip!

    Travis

    • retirebyforty October 8, 2015, 8:32 pm

      That sounds great! Costa Rica seems perfect for surfers. It made me daydreamed a little. 🙂 Manuel Antonio was hotter than the other locations, but we still loved it. We didn’t have any problem when we were on the beach (in the shade.) Enjoy Costa Rica!

  • Ed October 9, 2015, 5:07 pm

    Wow, Costa Rica is pretty pricey. The park entrance fees and meals are just about as much as they are here in the US and other “developed” nations. I thought Costa Rica would be somewhat cheaper, like Thailand. But part of it is being in a touristy area I’m sure. Having young kids myself, I know you don’t want to go off the beaten path too much with them.

  • Hanna October 11, 2015, 8:33 pm

    One easy thing to do or to change to become closer to early retirement

  • Cheryl October 13, 2015, 10:40 am

    Overall, sounds like a wonderful trip! We did a similar itinerary when we visited Costa Rica and really enjoyed it (except for having our camera stolen!). It was really inspiring to see that you could bring a kid on a vacation with you and still have fun, even with a few meltdowns. We don’t have kids yet, but we love traveling and that’s not something I’d want to give up. 🙂

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