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Expatriate guide to Costa Rica

Expatriate guide to Costa Rica

Living in Costa Rica

Apart from its scenic natural beauty and tourist spots, Costa Rica also known for its low-cost medical treatments, popular with foreigners. If you are thinking of traveling or moving to this country, we’ve got a handful of information that can help you find your way through.

Costa Rica Limun

Expat Clubs

Association of Residents of Costa Rica (ARCR)
For over 25 years, the ARCR has assisted those living or retiring in Costa Rica and those considering moving here. ARCR Administration S.A. (or ARCR) is a division of Casa Canada Group. This organization serves foreign residents in Costa Rica as well as people abroad who want to obtain residency in Costa Rica. We serve members both prior to their move to Costa Rica and throughout their years of residency here.
Address: Casa Canada, Corner of Ave. 4 and Calle (street) 40, San José, Costa Rica
Tel: +506 2 233 8068, +506 2 221 2053
Fax: +506 2 255 0061, 506 2 233 1152
Email: info@arcr.net
Website: ARCR.net
The Women’s Club of Costa Rica
The Women’s Club of Costa Rica (WCCR) is a social and charitable organization of women, founded in 1940, representing many cultures and nationalities. We are an English speaking group that offers diverse opportunities for “hands-on” service in the community as well as personal growth, and members are encouraged to participate.
Email: membership@wccr.org
FB: www.facebook.com/WomensClubCostaRica
Website: wccr.org
The Canadian Club of Costa Rica
The club is made up of about 200 members strong, and growing. The club encourages networking and the use of their business between fellow Canadians and try to present themselves, favourably, oin their host country, Costa Rica. The club also engages in charitable work through the very active Outreach programme.
Email: coordinator@canadianclubcr.com
Website: www.canadianclubcr.com
Costa Rica Central Valley Living Info
Cultural Activities, recommendations, suggestions, q & a, all you need to live in the central valley of Costa Rica.
A Group to share and exchange information about Valle Central or Central Valley in Costa Rica ( San Jose, Sabana, Rohrmoser, Pavas, Escazu, Santa Ana, Ciudad Colon, Puriscal, San Antonio de Belen, Cariari, Heredia, Santo Domingo de Heredia, Alajuela, La Gatita, San Pedro, Curridabat, Cartago, Moravia, Guadalupe, Tibas, San Cayetano, Desamparados, etc).
Website: groups.yahoo.com
Costa Rica Conscious Community
This board is for people interested in topics RELATED SPECIFICALLY to COSTA RICA- Walking More Gently here, Self Empowerment, Healthy/Conscious Living, Growing, Remembering our TRUE Selves, safe place to Ask Questions. Share your Resources, Organic Eating/Growing, Sustainable Living, Holistic Things, Raw Foods, Healthy Eating, Socializing with other Like-Minded Spirits, Spirituality, Cultural Activities & Events, Classes/Workshops, Questions &/or Experiences about Living in/Moving to CR, Tourism, Foundation/Charity/Volunteering, Gardening, Exploring CR & nearby together/separately, Share healthy recipes (using local ingredients), Culture, Sharing CR related Photos, Gay/Humanitarian Issues, WooWoos activities–again–please keep it ON COURSE/related to COSTA RICA ONLY.
Website: groups.yahoo.com
Costa Rica Living – Yahoo Group
Primarily unmoderated, non-religious, non-political and non-commercial list, open to all members to exchange information about Costa Rica.
Website: groups.yahoo.com

International Schools 

American International School (AIS)
American International School of Costa Rica (AIS) is a non-profit, college preparatory private school. It offers a program modeled primarily on United States curricula to a multi-national student body of approximately two hundred students from preschool through twelfth grade.

Curriculum: American
Address: Bosques de Dona Rosa, Ciudad Cariari, La Asuncion de Belen – Heredia, Costa Rica
Tel: +506 2293 2567
Fax: +506 2239 0625
Website: www.aiscr.org
British School of Costa Rica
The British School of Costa Rica is a private bilingual international school in Costa Rica founded by British people.

Curriculum: British
Address: From the end of the Rohrmoser Boulevard, 125 m. North, Urbanización Santa Catalina, Pavas, San José, Costa Rica
Tel: +506 2220 0131, +506 2296 1759
Fax: +506 2232 7833
Email: britsch@racsa.co.cr
FB: www.facebook.com/TheBritishSchoolOfCostaRica
Website: www.thebritishschoolofcostarica.com
Colegio Humboldt Schule
The Humboldt College is an educational institution of academic excellence trilingual and bicultural encounter. It offers a liberal education relevant to contemporary life from a broad social plurality. Costa Rica is a private nonprofit organization that receives financial support and sending teachers of Government of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Address: Next to Our Lady of Loreto, Pavas, San José Church
Tel: +506 2232 1455
Fax: +506 2232 0093
Email: humboldt@colegiohumboldt.cr
Website: www.humboldt.ed.cr
Conversa - Spanish Immersion
Founded in 1975, Conversa is Costa Rica's most experienced Spanish school. We offer two ideal locations, our six-acre campus in the mountains of Santa Ana, and our in-town school on the western end of the capital, San Jose.

Tel: +506 2203 2071, +506 2203 2072
Email: info@conversa.com
Website: www.conversa.net
Country Day School- Escazu (CDS)
CDS is an American School serving an international population. Country Day School is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools in the United States, and by the Costa Rican Ministry of Education. Focusing on the American High School Diploma and a wide range of Advanced Placement (AP) courses, the curriculum also prepares students for the Costa Rican Bachillerato examinations.

Curriculum: American
Address: Apartado 1139 – 1250, Escazú, Costa Rica
Tel: +506 2289 0919 ext. 2262 (Admission)
Email: mafernanda_cardona@cds.ed.cr
Website: www.cds.ed.cr
Country Day School- Guanacaste
The Country Day School is a U.S. accredited college preparatory day and boarding school situated in one of the world's most beautiful natural settings - the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica.

Curriculum: American
Address: 500 metros Sur del Hotel Melia Conchal, Brasilito, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Tel: +506 2654 5042
Fax: +506 2654 5044
Email: info@cds.ed.cr
Website: www.cdsgte.com
European School of Costa Rica
Bilingualism is part of The European School philosophy. In an ever-shrinking world, students must have an easy command of not only their native tongue, but at least one other language as well.

Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Address: Heredia, San Pablo, P.O. Box: 177 Heredia, Costa Rica
Tel: +506 2261 0717
Fax: +506 2263 5793
Email: info@europeanschool.com
Website: www.europeanschool.com
International Christian School (ICS)
International Christian School is a multinational school promoting academic excellence and the active lordship of Jesus Christ in all respects of life.

Curriculum: American, Christian
Tel: +506 2241 1445
FB: www.facebook.com/icscostarica?v=wall
Website: icscostarica.org
La Escuela de Idiomas D'Amore
La Escuela de Idiomas D'Amore - Spanish Immersion Center.

Address: Forum 1, Edificio B, Santa Ana, Costa Rica
Tel: +506 2204-8181
Email: sales@amerisol.net
FB: www.facebook.com/amerisol
Website: www.amerisol.com
Lincoln School
Lincoln is a non-profit, private educational institution offering programs from Preschool to 12th grade. It is governed by an elected Board of Directors, where parents are encouraged to participate actively.

Curriculum: Costa Rican Baccalaureate, International Baccalaureate
Address: Barrio Socorro, San Miguel, Santo Domingo de Heredia, Costa Rica
Tel: +506 2247 6600
Fax: +506 2247 6700
Email: info@lincoln.ed.cr
FB: www.facebook.com/LincolnschoolCR?fref=ts
Website: www.lincoln.ed.cr
Marian Baker School (MBS)
The goal of the MBS admission policy is to identify and select students who can succeed in their academically challenging program. They welcome students of any race, religion or national origin.

Address: P.O. Box 4269-1000 San José, Costa Rica
Tel: +506 2273 0024
Fax: 506 2273 0280
Website: www.mbs.ed.cr
Pan-American School
Pan-American School aspires to be the leading bilingual educational institution in Costa Rica. Pan-American School has a campus of over 35,000 square meters with five buildings for classrooms and offices. Surrounded by trees, our buildings were designed by internationally renowned architect Bruno Stagno to take advantage of natural light and ventilation. We have several sports fields for soccer, basketball, and other sports, an athletic track, and a 1,250 meter multi-purpose gymnasium.

Curriculum: American
Address: 300 mts south El Rodeo Restaurant, Radial Santa Ana, Behind The Tribu Building, San Antonio de Belén, Heredia, Costa Rica
Tel: +506 2293 7393, +506 2298 5700
Fax: +506 2293 7392
Email: info@panam.ed.cr
Website: www.panam.ed.cr
United World College Costa Rica
The college offers the International Baccalaureate Diploma. Most courses are offered in English as well as Spanish, making the College the first fully bilingual UWC.

Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Address: Santa Ana downtown, from the southest corner of the local church, 400 m north, San José, Costa Rica
Tel: +506 22 82 56 09
Fax: +506 22 82 15 40
Email: info@uwccostarica.org
Website: www.uwccr.com

Local News in English

A.M. Costa Rica
This is an English-language news site that delivers local news, events, classifieds and more.
The Tico Times Daily & Weekly
The Tico Times is a daily English-language online newspaper based in San José, Costa Rica. Founded in 1956 by Elisabeth Dyer and a group of Lincoln School students, they offer a unique perspective on the news in Costa Rica, Central America and the world. For half a century The Tico Times established itself as the leading source of English-language news in the region, first as a weekly print newspaper, and later as a Web-only publication.

Country Information 

Location: Central America
Capital City: San José
Currency: Costa Rican Colón (¢)
Language: Spanish
Calling Code: +506
Internet TLD: .cr
Electricity: 120V 60Hz.  
Emergency Numbers: 911
  • Red Cross: 1128
  • Fire: 1118
  • Police: 1117
Electricity is provided by Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad ICE.
Address: Sabana Norte, San José, Costa Rica
Tel: http://www.grupoice.com/

Embassy Information


Residents Visa and Work Permit information

Visitors from several countries including most of South America, Europe, few in Asia, Africa and Middle East may enter and stay for either 30 to 90 days visa free. Others will have to apply for a visa at the Costa Rican embassy or consulate in their home or host country. To check where your country applies please visit costarica.com, they have a database that specifies what visa regulations apply here.

There are many types of visas available including tourist, transit and residence visas. Costa Rica’s Direccion General de Migracion y Extranjeria has a full list of visa types and requirements here.


Most rental properties can be found in high-density areas like the beaches and San Jose, while expat communities can found in Esczu, Jaco, Rohrmoser and Guancaste.
Rentals can range from short-term to long-term. Most already come furnished. Real estate agents work more with properties for sale than for rent, so rental listings are usually via word-of-mouth. A good number can be found online like: The Tico Times, Buscomicasa, La Nacion and Encuentra24. Visiting neighborhoods and looking for ‘To Let’ signs is also a good idea.

MLS Costa Rica is the country’s official property and brokerage database that has listings of properties for sale and for lease.
Address: Apdo. 1006-2100-Guadalupe
Tel: +506 2283 0191
Fax: +506 2283 0347
Email: info@camara.cr
Website: mls-cr.com/en

Driving License

If you are a legal resident in Costa Rica, you can apply to have your valid foreign driving license converted, as long as you hold a Costa Rican ID document. The traffic department will exchange your driving license without any problem.

For first time drivers must apply for the B1 Drivers License and provide the following supporting documentation:
  •     Identification Card
  •     Proof of passing the Basic Driving Course
  •     Pass the Driving Test
  •     Medical Certificate


Costa Rica has a healthcare system in place that gives free medical treatment at select hospitals to locals including foreigners who have residency. Access to the Cost Rican Bureau of Social Security or CCSS by expats is given by contributing a certain amount from their income into the system.

The National Institute of Insurance INS or Instituto Nacational de Seguros, on the other hand, grants expats access even though they do not have residency. The INS is also valid in all hospitals.

Medical facilities and services in Costa Rica are good quality and cheap. That is why the country receives a number of medical tourists from all over seeking these services.

English speaking staff are mostly centered on San Jose; moving towards the more rural areas, it can be difficult finding an English speaking practitioner.

Routine vaccinations are recommended especially Yellow Fever; this applies if you’re arriving from a high-risk country.
Insurance Companies

Costa Rican Social Security
The Costa Rican Social Security is the lead institution in health services in Costa Rica.
Address: Avenida Segunda, entre calles 5 y 7, Diagonal a la esquina SE del Teatro Nacional, San Jose, Costa Rica
Tel: +506 2539 0000
Website (Spanish): www.ccss.sa.cr
Instituto Nacional de Seguros
Tel: +506 2287 6000
Email: contactenos@ins-cr.com
Website: www.ins-cr.com
Biodental Esthetics
Biodental is a renowned dental clinic that specializes in the oral rehabilitation. Their staff includes DDS professionals graduated with honors from the best specialties including implantology (dental implants), Periodontics (gums), root canals (nerve treatments), dental esthetics, orthodontics (braces), and atm disruptions (occlusion) All their dentists are graduated from top international dentistry colleges and teach in several universities within Costa Rica.
Address: Parallel Street to Prospero Fernandez Highway, 300 meters west from Texaco Gas Station, Escazu, San Jose, 1866 1000, Costa Rica
Tel: +506 2288 6276, +506 8832 7598
Fax: +506 2221 7482
Email: info@biodentalesthetics.com
Website (Spanish): biodentalesthetics.com
Centro Digestivo Drs. Con
The Digestive Center Drs. Con  is a specialist in medical, endoscopic and surgical treatment of diseases of the digestive tract such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, Barrett's esophagus, hiatal hernia, atrophic gastritis, metaplasia / dysplasia, colitis, inguinal hernia, peptic ulcer, problems center gallbladder (cholelithiasis, gallbladder polyp), hemorrhoids and gastrointestinal cancer.
Address: Mediplaza, 500 mts. Sur de la Rotonda de Multiplaza, Escazu, San Jose, Costa Rica
Tel: +506 2201 7201, +506 2201 7026
Fax: +506 2201 7033
Email: infomed@gastrocolon.com
Website (Spanish): www.gastrocolon.com
Hospital CIMA San Jose
The CIMA hospitals are recognized for their quality standards and safety records. The hospitals provide a wide range of medical and surgical services ranging from basic to highly complex.
Address: Carretera Prospero Fernandez, San Jose, Costa Rica
Tel: +506 2208 1000, +506 2208 1056
Fax: +506 2208 1001
Website: www.cimamedicalvaluetravel.com
Hospital Clinica Catolica
Hospital La Católica opened its doors on March 16th, 1963, as a new option for private medical attention. This initiative was undertaken by a group of Franciscan sisters (Congregación Hermanas Franciscanas de la Purísima Concepción) and physicians, who believed in providing wellbeing to Costa Ricans. Over time, the Hospital became known for its exclusive care and commitment to its patients’ health and lives.
Address: San Antonio de Guadalupe, Goicoechea, Costa Rica, in front of the Court of Justice
Tel: +506 2246 3000
Fax: +506 2246 3184
Email: servicioalcliente@hospitallacatolica.com
Website: www.hospitallacatolica.com
Clinica Victoria
Address: 200 meters North from Munoz y Nanne, San Jose, Costa Rica
Tel: +506 2224 0654
Website: clinicavictoria.com


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