Here is some general living information concerning Costa Rica:

  • Safety: Liberia is much safer than San Jose, but foreigners are wise to take special precautions to avoid any problems.
    • We don’t recommend carrying valuables or more than ¢15,000 cash/more than one credit card. Only carry a copy of your passport (the original is only necessary for bank transactions or traveling).
    • Always be aware of your surroundings and try to walk in groups. At night, take a taxi. Some teachers feel better carrying pepper spray at night just in case. It’s just $15 at a local store in Liberia, or it can be packed in a suitcase with the teacher’s things and checked in at the airport.
    • When traveling on buses in Costa Rica, never put your bag(s) in the overhead compartment: keep them between your legs. Remember that you are a target and need to be alert at all times.
    • General safety: beware of the holes in the sidewalk, pedestrians do NOT have the right of way, and people drive aggressively.
  • Cell Phones: Teachers can bring their phone with them and buy a prepaid chip to put in their phone in Costa Rica.
  • Miscellaneous Living Tips: It is important to remember that when living and working in a foreign country a number of cultural differences will be encountered. Here are some examples:
    • Toilet paper cannot be flushed; it must be put in the trash.
    • Water is drinkable in Liberia and just about everywhere in Costa Rica. Bottled water is a better choice when in very remote areas.
    • Be aware of sensors at the front of buses. If you stand next to them, you’ll get yelled at.
    • Tips are not necessary in restaurants or taxis.
    • Make sure taxi drivers give you correct change (bus drivers too).
    • Be aware that some Ticos generally are not very politically correct. They may make what we consider to be offensive comments about skin color, body size, Nicaraguans and Colombians, the LGBT community, and women. You will probably find, though, that most Costa Ricans are friendly and welcoming, and comments that may be considered offensive are not a result of truly hateful attitudes. For instance, greeting a large friend by saying “Hola, Gordito!” (“Hi, Fat Guy!”) is not mean-spirited or intended to be cruel.
    • You’ll notice that Ticos are not very sensitive about personal space as they are used to being physically close to each other on buses and in long lines. They also greet each other and say goodbye with an air-kiss or a kiss on the right cheek. They are generous with hugs.
    • In Liberia, everything and everyone is very relaxed and friendly: people take time to converse when they see someone they know, no one is in a hurry, and arriving late is not uncommon.