Eating well and healthy living for expats in Costa Rica
Among stunning coastlines, mountains and rainforests, Costa Rica also offers a relaxed, laid back lifestyle, making it popular with expats looking to experience a new way of life. To help you maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle, here are a few ways you can take advantage of the country’s local cuisine and outdoor-oriented lifestyle
For expats looking to include more physical activity in their day-to-day life, the cities in Costa Rica are ideal as they are designed for pedestrians. While there can still be a lot of traffic, urban zones and clean footpaths mean it is often easier to run errands on foot rather than drive.
Despite being the size of Switzerland, Costa Rica has 12 microclimates, resulting in such a natural diversity that expats will be keen to explore the jungles, mountains and beaches. With national parks and trails, there are outdoor activities available for all ages and experience levels.
Costa Rica is also home to an incredible array of wildlife, thought to be 4% of the world’s
biodiversity. This means that expats have numerous reserves to visit with their family. But simply exploring outside is a great way to see incredible wildlife including monkeys, deer and hummingbirds.
However, despite this idyllic setting, expats should be aware that precautions should be made to protect against the weather. 12-hours of sunshine a day and humidity can potentially be dangerous. But with common sense and some sunscreen, expats and their families can still enjoy the great outdoors.
Discover Costa Rican cuisine
One of the best ways to embrace the culture of your new country is to investigate the local cuisine.
A 2015 study by Lancet Global Health noted a particularly high life expectancy due to a number of factors. One of these included ranking 26 th of 187 countries due to the quality of the food in the national diet.
Many of the dishes in Costa Rica include rice, beans, fruit and vegetables, meaning that locals enjoy a diet with minimal amounts of preservatives, additives and processed food. An excellent example is the iconic national dish gallo pinto. Served at breakfast it consists of rice and black beans and is usually served with tortillas.
Casados, made from rice, beans, meat and salad are commonplace, along with pulled or stewed meats, which are all popular.
Costa Rican tradition is to have three meals per day, with lunch being the heaviest and a light evening meal such as soup. The combination of vegetables rice and beans helps to make sure that people are able to sustain their energy throughout the day.
The diversity of the climate means that Costa Rica have farmer’s markets across the country offering an incredibly varied range of foods. Because most of this produce is locally sourced, the food can be purchased for a fraction of the cost that would be charged to the rest of the world.
Superfoods like flax seed and avocado are not only extremely healthy but inexpensive and readily available. This means that they are often enjoyed as snacks, allowing locals to replace chocolates and crisps with healthier alternatives.
Health and healthcare
One of the key elements to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is to be sure that the healthcare system meets your needs. The Costa Rican healthcare system is ranked by the UN as one the best in Latin America and in the top 20 worldwide. While this system is open to everyone and initial emergency treatment is without charge, other treatments will still need to be paid for, and so it is important that expats consider taking out global health insurance before traveling. This will also ensure that long waiting lists at public hospitals can be avoided.
Private healthcare is popular with expats and many use one of three private hospitals - CIMA hospital in Escazú, Clínica Bíblica in San José, and Hospital La Católica in San José-Guadalupe. Residency applicants are required to join a social security scheme that funds the universal health care system. This requires a payment taken from monthly income, but does mean that expats have the option to use both public and private healthcare services and are not restricted.
Whether it’s through accessing high quality healthcare, experiencing the diverse natural
environment or discovering a new healthy diet, simply becoming involved in Costa Rican culture will help expats to experience healthy living in their new country.
Kristen Brown, an expat who has been living in Costa Rica for almost six years explains what a dramatic change moving has made to her life:
“Since trading my corporate heels for a surfboard and camera in Costa Rica, my body -- mentally and physically -- has transformed. I surf practically every day, walk on the beach every afternoon to watch the beyond beautiful sunsets, and am three years strong into running my own photography business. I'm leaner, stronger, and leading a life of beautiful abundance.”
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We are- UNHAPPILY- home safe. Would much rather be back in Tamarindo. THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING you did to make our stay a joy ! We look very much forward to seeing you on our next trip to Costa Rica. PURA VIDA !
We had so much fun at Buena Vista. Thanks for arranging that with Memo.
I also want to say many thanks for all that you have done. We have enjoyed Costa Rica and I have found you so helpful with everything and a pleasure to deal with that it was a very stress free vacation. When I do come back here hopefully you will still be doing what what you do.
Our last couple of days will be spent enjoying the sunshine and eating at great restaurants. Sincerely,
While my computer is still running here, I'd like to take the opportunity to thank you for your help during our stay.
When we first came to your office, we were in dire straights and in desperate need of assistance. Andrea was extremely compassionate, spoke with candor, and had a "can do attitude" that was of immense help.
In addition, Andrea has put us in contact with Steve, with whom we are working, preparing to view a little property that might be just what we are looking for at this particular time.
In addition, having gotten to know Andrea personally as well as professionally has been our great pleasure. I wanted to let you know what a tremendous asset she is to your company. She is a great treasure -- a one in a million.
Laurel and Tony,
The both of you were fantastic with us throughout the property search and purchase process. As we had mentioned, two other attempts to find thorough, attentive, responsive agents to work with in Tamarindo were failures. I expect that we are more work to deal with than many others as we asked a lot of thorough and analytical questions and expected responses to all of them. You two never failed to deliver. The organization and execution of our condo shopping trip in January was excellent and the fact that you two devoted 2 full days to us, around our schedule, to get this deal done was key to our success. The selection of properties that Laurel planned out, including a few places above and below our target zone helped us to refine our interests. We truly appreciated your interest in our success. This could easily have been very stressful for us, and yet, it wasn’t. Thank you very much.
As a side note, when we walked into the Coldwell Banker office randomly with no appointment in November had we not found your office staff patient and accommodating from the start we would have simply walked on to the next agency. Your staff deserves special mention for getting us interested in the agency to begin with.
We will give you some advance notice before we make our first trip down so that we can plan to get together for lunch or dinner. We are tentatively planning on somewhere in the last 2 weeks of May, as soon as our son gets out of school for the summer.