About Costa Rica from the eyes of a local
Costa Rica is a small country located in Central America with a population of around 4.7 million with 7 provinces and a lot of beautiful places to visit. It’s a very popular country for tourists to come visit when they want to be in the heat, relax at the beach and see nature. But what most tourists don’t see is what the country is like, so read on to learn all about Costa Rica, from the eyes of a Tico!
I am proud to say that I am Costarican even though I know that we have a lot of things to improve. But every time I watch the news or read about attacks, terrorism or nuclear weapons, I say to myself that I am lucky to live in a country like this.
We might not have super fast Internet speed like South Korea, the USA infrastructure or huge cities, but we don’t have to worry about paying taxes to finance an army or paying deep student loans since Costa Rica’s education system is not as expensive as other countries.
The education in Costa Rica is for free and mandatory at the age of 6, kids starts kindergarten, then elementary school for 6 years, and finally to high school for 5 years. After you graduate from high school you can apply to go to a public university. Most of the Costaricans go to public universities since they are nearly for free and most of the times you get scholarships. The education level here is very good, people go to NASA and work for huge companies that move here because of the quality of our education.
My brother is a doctor and he works for the government. Every time I go to the EBAIS (that’s how we call the local clinics), I feel so lucky because we get all the medication and tests for free as we pay 9.17% tax out of our salaries for health insurance. I am very happy with our medical system. Sometimes you have to have a little bit of patience but you do receive excellent service.
Our economy is not as good as our beaches but we are number 11 in Latin America and like I mentioned before, several companies are moving to Costa Rica to open their operation centers such as: P&G, Amazon, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Bank of America and many more.
The Costa Rican minimum salary is 270 000 colones (Around $540) a month which depends on your education. For example, a doctor can make a base salary of $2,000 a month and a janitor around $600 but thanks to all the offshore companies, salaries are getting better. If you work for Amazon, the minimum you can make is $800 a month.
I know it doesn’t sound like $85,000 a year but if you compare it with our cost of living it makes sense. I pay $400 a month for my apartment rent which is average for the coast. In the city, you can rent a house for $300 a month.
I love beer and it is an excellent economy indicator because the price in the supermarket is around $1 and $2 in a bar. The price of gasoline is high compared to the US, a liter cost around 700 colones (around $5.3 a gallon) but prices are changing constantly.
Just like any country you can find poor people and wealthy people but on average we have a good life. We don’t have that much money to spend on new things but we do what we can to have quality time. It is common for people to live well into their 90’s and 100’s here. Nowadays it is normal to find people from all over the world living in Costa Rica. I went to the mall the other day and I thought I was in the states as everyone was gringo and Chinese people own 90% of all the minimarkets.
But I love the diversity here, you can have a Chinese New Year celebration and a Thanksgiving dinner. I love food so every celebration is more than welcome for me! Most of the Costarican are Catholics (80%) but you can find big groups of Christians, Jews, Mormons and any other kind of religion here, we respect everyone’s beliefs
. We are a democratic country so we chose a new president every 4 years. The main political groups are Liberación Nacional and PAC.
Our main transportation system is the bus system. It needs a bit more work but if you have patience you can go to almost anywhere in the country and it is very cheap.
But our biggest treasure of all is our nature, 25% of the territory is protected and we shelter almost 6% of the world’s biodiversity which is not bad for a country that covers only 0.03% of the world. So if you are looking for rainforests, jungles, black and white sand beaches, volcanoes, rivers, or any kind of flora and fauna, this is the right place. I’d probably have to write a hundred different posts just on the types of birds that are here!
Quality time and life: that’s the most important thing you can have, you don’t need to have too much in order to have a quality life.
Costa Rica has given me so much, every day I learn something new. Ticos (nickname of costaricans) are very nice people, we love to talk to people even if we don’t know them and we try to help as much as we can. We respect laws but we are not afraid of the police or the government.
This post was about Costa Rica through the eyes of a Costarican and I may be missing some more points but feel free to ask me whatever you want in the comment section and you will get a Tico point of view!
Want a foreigner point of view? Check out Samantha’s expat posts!