Is Costa Rica Safe? Everything You Need to Know

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How safe is Costa Rica for visitors? Dave Seminara shares his travel safety tips, from places to avoid to violent crime, common travel scams and personal safety in Costa Rica.


Catarata del Toro waterfall at sunset, Costa Rica Photo © Getty Images/Matteo Colombo

How safe is Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is a beautiful country that essentially invented the eco-tourism holiday. Nestled between Nicaragua and Panama, Costa Rica is unique in the region because it has no standing army and has had no civil wars. It boasts a great climate, friendly people, beaches, wildlife and enough adventure travel opportunities to fill a month-long holiday.

But, it can also be a deceptively risky place to visit, particularly for travelers who have no experience of traveling in Latin America.

It’s a major transit country for drug trafficking, and in recent years, hundreds of thousands of migrants from poorer neighboring Central American countries have flooded into Costa Rica seeking work. While some have found it, many others do not have regular employment and are desperate enough to commit crime.

Here are a few tips to help you stay safe in beautiful Costa Rica.

How bad is crime in Costa Rica?

In the 2023 Global Peace Index, Costa Rica is ranked 39 out of 163 countries when it comes to overall peace. This is an increase of two positions from 2019. In Central America and The Caribbean overall, Costa Rica is ranked the number one most peaceful country in the region out of 12.

However, the homicide rate increased from 11.9 homicides per 100,000 people to 12.3 in the last year, and crime is still a significant threat to travelers in Costa Rica.

While most visitors do not experience trouble, you should exercise common sense safety tips to avoid becoming a potential target for criminals.

Tourists stand out from locals, but it’s easy to minimize your risk of serious crime. Here’s how to avoid trouble (that you could apply to anywhere you travel):

  • Travelers should consider traveling only in groups when moving about very early in the morning and late at night
  • When traveling by bus, avoid placing luggage in the overhead bins, as theft from them is on the rise.
  • Solo travelers, particularly women, are vulnerable on beaches at times when there are few others are around, the same applies to national parks and other wild places
  • Hand over cash and valuables if you’re robbed; they’re not worth risking injury for
  • Don't be flashy with your belongings or the way you dress
  • Avoid carrying your passport or too much money with you while you're out and about
  • Keep your valuables locked up safely in your accommodation, and never leave anything of value out in the open, even if it’s inside your hotel room
  • Don't leave anything under your towel while you're out surfing
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites at dawn and dusk
  • Don't say yes to drugs, don’t get drunk and keep your wits about you at all times
  • Snatch and grabs are quite common, with thieves grabbing just about anything they can get their hands on. A common crime is pulling watches from unsuspecting visitors as they casually hang an arm out a car window, or snatching sunglasses that are resting on someone’s head
  • Theft from parked and unattended vehicles is also on the rise. Try to park in well-lit or guarded areas, always keep the doors locked and windows rolled up, and never leave anything of value in plain sight of passersby
  • Pay close attention to your surroundings in crowded locations, particularly when using public transport throughout Costa Rica
  • Thieves tend to strike in more touristy areas like beaches, national parks and in and around downtown San Jose – so be aware.

Is Costa Rica safe for families?

Yes, Costa Rica is a great destination for family holidays and most families who visit experience no safety concerns.

Families probably have fewer problems than other categories of travelers in Costa Rica because there’s strength in numbers and, for the most part, families aren’t engaging in hard partying.

Is Costa Rica safe for LGBTQ+ travelers?

Many LGBTQ+ travelers visit Costa Rica and report few problems. Compared to other Latin American countries, Costa Ricans are considerably more tolerant than many other nations in the region. On 26 May 2020, Costa Rica became the first country in Central America where same-sex couples can obtain civil marriage licenses. 

That said, overall levels of tolerance may be a touch lower than what travelers from North America, Europe and Australia may be accustomed to.

LGBTQ+ couples could encounter unwelcome attention if they engage in public displays of affection in small towns where locals aren’t used to visitors. Avoid public displays of affection in more rural areas to be on the safe side.

Is Costa Rica safe for women travelers?

Women, particularly those traveling alone, must exercise a high degree of caution in Costa Rica as women visitors have been the victims of sexual assault and murder in recent years and the overall sexual assault rate has increased.

Solo female travelers should strongly consider staying in places where they can meet other travelers, particularly if planning to go on hikes, stay out late or visit remote places.

Places to avoid in Costa Rica

Here are some places to avoid or visit only if you absolutely have to, only during daylight hours and preferably accompanied by a local.

Be careful in Quepos, which is the gateway town just outside Manuel Antonio National Park. The same goes for Tamarindo and Jaco due to incidents of crime (mostly robberies) targeting visitors.

Other high-risk areas with violent crime rates significantly higher than the national average include Matina, a small rural community along the Matina River in Limón province, Limón, Liberia, Pococí, Talamanca, the Desamparados neighborhood in San Rafael, Santa Rosa de Pocosol, San Carlos, a rural region bordering Nicaragua, and the district of Barranca, on the Pacific coast in the province of Puntarenas. The Caribbean coast has historically had more crime than the Pacific coast. 

San Jose, like many big cities, can be riskier for travelers, particularly after dark and especially in the downtown area. It is advised that you avoid any of the parks in San Jose at night, as they are considered very dangerous, and stay away from the following neighborhoods in and around San Jose:  Los Guido, Desamparados, Pavas, La Carpio, Leon XIII, the El Carmen neighborhood in Cartago, and the “El Infiernillo,” sector of Alajuela.

Avoid camping on any of the beaches for safety reasons – it’s best to find secure accommodation at a lodge or hostel. A good rule of thumb is that anywhere visitors visit frequently will be a target for crime – don't be alarmed, just be alert.

Safety tips for travelers to Costa Rica

When to visit Costa Rica

December through April is the dry season. This is also Costa Rica’s high season. May through November is the rainy season, euphemistically called the “green season.” Afternoon showers are common during the green season and it’s slightly cooler than the dry season.

There are periodic hurricanes in September and October, which are by far the quietest months for tourism and also when prices are lowest, but Costa Rica is rarely severely impacted by them. 

Is it safe to drink the water in Costa Rica?

Yes, except in Limón and Puntarenas, though many visitors choose to drink purified or bottled water to be extra safe.

Methanol poisoning in Costa Rica 

In 2019, there were dozens of deaths and many cases of serious illness in Costa Rica caused by alcoholic drinks containing methanol. Be very careful buying spirit-based drinks, particularly if the price seems on the low side. Methanol can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. High doses can cause blindness or vision loss. Be cautious while drinking in Costa Rica, particularly in hole-in-the-wall type establishments.

Food safety in Costa Rica

Food hygiene standards in Costa Rica are in the middle of the scale. Hole-in-the-wall restaurants with unsanitary bathrooms and food stands might have great food at even better prices, but your meal might not be that great a deal if you spend half your holiday on the toilet.

Select clean restaurants and avoid buffets, especially where food is sitting out.

Travelers should be up-to-date on their vaccines. Check with your doctor to see what you need based on your situation. 

Hiking and wilderness safety in Costa Rica

Many travelers have gone missing and/or died in Costa Rica while hiking or camping in rural areas and national parks. 

Don’t hike, trek or camp alone in Costa Rica. Instead, hire a local guide, or hike with others and let someone know where you’re going and what time you expect to be back. Ask them to seek help if you don’t return at the appointed hour. 

Is it safe to go on a zip-line tour in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is a well-known adventure travel destination with many zip-line tours and bungee jumping opportunities. There have been reports of visitors being seriously injured or worse in zip-line accidents. Choose companies with the longest and best track record.

Common travel scams in Costa Rica

Slashing tires: one common scheme involves criminals puncturing or slashing the tires of a visitor's rental vehicle. As soon as the tire goes flat, a "good Samaritan" conveniently appears offering to help change it. Then, while you're out of the car trying to change the tire, the thief's accomplice sneaks in and steals anything of value from the vehicle.

If you do get a flat while driving, it's recommended that you continue to drive until you reach a safe, well-lit area where you can change it yourself. Reputable car rental agencies in Costa Rica will not hold you accountable for a damaged rim if they believe your safety is in question.

Mandatory car rental insurance: this may not be considered a scam but many car rental companies, including familiar international chains, often advertise low prices but then when travelers pick the car up, they are told that the price doesn’t include Costa Rica’s mandatory car rental insurance. The insurance is required but it’s a scam that they don’t disclose the price of in advance. This happened to me in Costa Rica. The companies with the lowest advertised prices tend to also charge the most for mandatory insurance. When booking, ask for the total price with a detailed breakdown of the rental cost plus the mandatory insurance so you can make an informed decision. 

Money scams: avoid changing money anywhere other than at a reputable bank. Scammers on the street often offer good rates, but you'll end up with counterfeit cash. Another popular involves a person dropping change in a busy or crowded area. When the victim bends down to help pick up the coins his wallet is lifted.

Passport theft: this is a growing problem in Costa Rica. It's recommended that you make photocopies to carry while traveling, but keep the real thing locked safely in your hotel safe.

A final caution: when you travel, you’re more open to meeting new friends than you are at home. This also makes you vulnerable. Definitely get to know locals but be wary of overly friendly people who approach you out of the blue with offers to take you places, give you free weed or buy you drinks.

Don't break the law in Costa Rica

Find out about local laws to avoid getting into trouble before you travel.

Police corruption 

There have been cases of police mistreating and/or extorting money from visitors. In any case, here’s a snapshot of your rights if you’re detained by law enforcement officials in Costa Rica.

  • You have a right to know the cause of your detention, the name of the officer who requested it, and to be shown the warrant issued against you if there is one
  • You have a right to immediately inform your country’s embassy that you have been arrested and detained
  • You have a right to consult with the lawyer of your choice, otherwise by a public defender
  • You have a right to know what law you’ve supposedly violated
  • You have the right to remain silent
  • You have the right to be treated with dignity and to exercise free will (i.e. not be coerced into giving testimony.)

Photography laws

Ask first, take photos later. It is illegal to take photographs of any official buildings in Costa Rica. If you are uncertain, check with a local or someone in authority.

Do not take photos of women and children. Although it's not illegal, doing so is irresponsible, and may be seen as suspicious or met with violence.

Drug laws and crime in Costa Rica

Buying, selling or possessing any type of illegal drug is a serious offense in Costa Rica. If you are caught, you will be arrested and could face either a hefty fine or a lengthy prison sentence. 

You may meet locals who will offer to sell you drugs, usually marijuana. If you buy it, do so at your own risk; marijuana is illegal in Costa Rica but personal possession has been decriminalized. 

Sex crimes

Prostitution is legal, however, 'sex tourism' is a crime, and brothels and pimping are illegal.

Always carry your identity papers

All visitors to Costa Rica are required to carry identification, but not necessarily a passport, with them at all times. There is an increasing problem with passport theft, so it's safest to leave your passport locked up at your accommodation. Carry a photocopy of the bio-data page with you, along with the page that shows your entry stamp into Costa Rica.

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  • james said

    Costa Rica is safe there's nothing to worry about, I went for 5 weeks and ran into nothing a toll its safe as long as you have common sense

    in recommend it


  • John said

    Does anyone go for the dental?


  • Micbael Bell said

    I lived in Costa Rica for 6 years. I have a family there and am locked out because of the Covid 19. My small kids and their mother travelled all over the country visiting National Parks, beaches , plantations and every wild animal park in the country. The horror stories on this page are isolated cased just like they are almost anywhere! Just use common sense and you will be fine statistically just like in your home country. It is amazing so many people act like other countries are a theme park where real life doesn’t take place. Do not go to Costa Rica and you will regret it!


  • Fallas Quesada said

    Keep in mind Costa Rica has been receiving a lot of people from Nicaragua, who cross the border illegally, so there is an spike on drinking, and crime, like many sexual related cases, one of which being the one of one doctor who was raped and kill, not that all Costa Rican are quiet people but it is the result of the president of Nicaragua opening the jails and helping criminals to go across the border to create mayhem in the country.
    if you ask it is safe to travel yes it is, but keep an eye open its is not the safest in America,


  • Micah said

    I (US citizen) lived in Costa Rica for a year and a half and never encountered any issues of violence or crime. I lived among the people and they are the nicest ever! Just like in any other country where you are a traveller, keep an eye out, especially in touristy areas, but DO NOT take Costa Rica off your bucket list!


  • Anthony T said

    I went to Jaco in December 2019, Fell in love with the country. I visited Manuel Antonio and Jaco. Yes drugs are everywhere, yes petty theft is an issue, but if you are smart you won't have an issue. In manuel Antonio many poor people will 'watch' your car for a few colones just pay them. Not only do they watch your car, but they are the ones who break into your car IF you don't pay them. Extortion? Yes but for 4 bucks who cares. I also went home with one lady from Jaco and while my experience was wonderful (I'm going back to stay with her longer) There are horror stories of people getting drugged or robbed when they visit a local girl's place. Just be smart if you treat it like you would any bad city in the USA you will likely be even safer than the worst places in the USA LOL. P.S. Jaco for the ladies ;) most beautiful women in the world.


  • Jean said

    Why do all the locals have bars on their windows, gates around their homes and guards at the entrances of their communities? That doesn’t send a message of safety to me. I’ve been here twice and have always felt safe but am worried I am being naive. Especially after getting ripped off at the grocery store today by the check out gal. Claiming I gave her 1000 colones when I gave her 10,000. I did so on purpose for a change -5,000 to pay taxi. Right from the moment she did it and closed her till and ran off to the bathroom, not stopping as I tried to call out it was wrong, not one person working there was open to believing I was honest. She was allowed to count her own til and no surprise it was all correct! Just 10 colones over. Not 8040.
    Anyway, I knew I gave her the 10,000 but humbly apologized and left the store anyway chalking it up to being much more careful in the future.
    It wasn’t a violent crime. But why the bars? When did they become common?


  • Dawn said

    I’m at a loss on the statement that one should avoid certain areas unless you have to go including Quepos and Tamarindo. Quepos isn’t 2nd home. I walk these streets as a female alone all the time and never worried ever. Of course common sense must be used but no more than anywhere else. Tons of expats live in both of those locations s and none are shaking in their shoes. These article seems to be a lot of fear mongering. If you choose to let this scare you into not coming, you are falling into a trap of disinformation.


  • Daphne de Castillejo said

    Responding to John's query re: dental in Costa Rica. Yes, coming for that works! See link to an article I wrote below, but understand it's 5 years old. Not noted in the story: My friend submitted her CR bills to her US dental insurance company & received $1000 for the claim.

    About crime--11 year's experience living here & several tourist trips before that inform my view. That is, petty scams have always been common, & horrific violent crimes very uncommon, but not unknown--concerning foreigners in Costa Rica.

    3 factors decrease or increase your risk: 1) Are you living in a CR suburban area or small town? Or visiting a beach, downtown San Jose or other touristic place? 2) Do you speak some Spanish, dress casually, carry only cheap cell phones, etc., or do you talk, dress & hold expensive gear as if you're strolling around an upper tier US suburb? 3) Are you here to explore volcano parks, snorkel, swim and see wild flora & fauna? Or are you looking to score weed, get drunk and/or buy temporary company? The closer one stays to the 1st option in each item above, the lower the risk. But life isn't risk free & I've enjoyed seeing Manuel Antonio, wouldn't miss it! Just be aware, don't let Tico charm affect your judgement.

    Personally, I've encountered many small scams over the course of years here, like wrong amount of change returned in a store. But I've successfully avoided a lot more! The process can be a bit disheartening! Costa Ricans tend to have very nice public manners, but they only really care deeply about their own families. Outsiders should keep this in mind. That said, no terrible experiences here for me, knock on wood. I make a point to be extra polite, but also extra vigilant. A great combo, trust me!


  • Andre said

    I have been to CR three times in the last 18 months, including once during the pandemic. I went to Puntarenas once and San Jose twice. I like the beaches there and also the capital city. I agree with the comments here, that you just have to be careful not to do anything outwardly stupid. The people tend to be very friendly. The prices for food and drinks and lodging aren't super expensive, but they aren't as cheap as one would think. (Avoid the casinos; they don't seem honest there.) My issue was that I fell in love with a young, innocent-looking woman who gave every indication that she was on the up-and-up, and we had a monthslong relationship that was somewhat fruitful for both of us, but in the end she was probably just playing with my heart so that she could survive. At least I got a story out of it. On another note, I will probably go back to CR one day, but not to see her!


  • Mike Thomas said

    Ok I am going to give you a raw version of Costa Rica not a sanitized Disney movie version and this might offend some people. Problems in Costa Rica cannot be blamed just on anyone or one thing. They are a systemic problem, Costa Rica entered its dark ages about 10 to 15 years ago, and is in a downhill process for many years that will get worse before better, the country has not hit bottom yet but it will. Costa Rica's golden age was 20 years ago and back.
    Please stop saying that the tourists made the prices go up. Mexico has over 750,000 expats living there and the cost of living is still low and other countries as well in Costa Rica are just plain greed and corruption on steroids. Costa Rica is morally bankrupt. Ticos have become so in love with money like drug addicts on Meth/Heroin or cocaine that they have lost all ethics and values.
    Ok take from someone who lived there and had a business for 15 years I am an American from Florida and wow I do not know where to start, Costa Rica 20 years going back was paradise now it has become dangerous and I have been to the rough parts and the good parts I know the country like the back of my hand Los Cuadros, Leox XIII, Los Hatillos, Desamparados I explored every corner of it, I lived in Escazu, Romosher and Curridabat my business was tourism and I knew it well the good the bad and the ugly.
    I left in 2014 and have not gone back not so much the tourist that is in danger is the expatriates that move there that are in danger, why would someone move to a country where you have bars on your windows and you have to spend money on security constantly as a foreigner if you let your guard down they will steal from you or worse. Costa Rica has the best and most deceitful advertising you have ever seen they hide the dirt under the carpet, the moment you get off the plane to live there the locals will have a profile on you everyone is looking to rob you blind top to bottom politicians, lawyers, cops, neighbors, maids, security guards well everyone if you are a poor American they will not like you, money is more important than human rights, yes there is places in the US with a lot of crime but where I live in Fort Lauderdale I can leave my doors unlocked car unlocked nothing ever happens maybe not in Miami, yes US has spots of dangerous neighborhoods but also peaceful places in Costa Rica crime comes to you everyone there are people even to US Embassy personnel unless you live on top of the Chirippo mountain you cannot leave your doors and windows open.
    The police is not there to help you they are underpaid, they constantly do roadblocks for cars and stop people on the street to check papers is mostly for a shakedown, lawyers have no idea what the law is CR law is very confusing even to them is a mess the real problem is the elite families that control Costa Rica they have literally sold their soul to the devil and they are so corrupt and greedy that they are hurting everyone else mark my words this place will be like Venezuela in 10 years, we know US politicians are corrupt but Costa Rica lies about their crime rates the ICT-tourism paints it as the happiest place on earth and they use Human rights campaign as a shield of lies, the reason they do not have an Army is not for peace is so the people will never have a coup against the ruling class in Costa Rica Figueres was the president who got rid of the army back in the 40's their family and children are in politics his son became president and rule the country the police is armed to the teeth as a paramilitary operation a hidden army of wolfs amongst the ticos lamb mentality loyal to the ruling class this is the real reason Costa Rica is going downhill corruption greed denial and stubbornness, the leaders will run this country into the ground sucking and stealing all the money they can till it will be same as Venezuela en 20 years.
    Costa Rica has a hidden army. How often do you see police running around with machine guns? In the US is called a swat team/army military in Costa Rica is called a policeman. I always said people lie numbers don't lie but in Costa Rica both lie because the government does not report bad things and inflate good things also alot of crimes go unreported people know that nothing will be done so they do not report it to the police 1 to 5 years wait in the courts for cases very disorganized.Costa Rica does not deliver value for its high prices it's like they sell you a bag of potato chips no content but high US prices, the country is going downhill with so much corruption horrible infrastructure, and bad roads that need constant fixing., So stupid to go there and buy a house right away is always good to live in a third world country for a year and explore before buying, the joke in Costa Rica if you want to make 1 million you better bring 2, I saw so many foreigners lose their home in scams by lawyers. men you better not marry a Tica everything you own belongs to her and her family. The courts will screw you and not let you leave the country especially if you have kids, even a poor American will get hit with $1,000 to $2,000 child support payments they think money is easy to get in the US during xmas and in February you will pay double, called aginaldo and Bono scholar. The stress of constantly watching your back is horrible. I never felt safe walking in San Jose. The problem is that you have so many Nicaraguans and Colombians there, some are good but some are criminals that left their country and Costa Rica welcomes them as Miami did with the criminals from Cuba in the '80s that Castro sent. If one of these Nicaraguans commits a crime they just go back to Nicaragua and the CR and Nica government are not friends so good luck in getting extradition.
    If you get killed there you have a high chance that the killers will not be found Costa Rica is a casino that likes to make money in but not dishes it out, they will not spend money on forensics unless they are making money or it hurts their image abroad and hurts tourism., also people are always looking to sue you for any stupid thing, if you ever have to go to court to fight someone stealing your property it will take 5 years and the lawyers will drain you till you just walk away. You also must fear the cops as much as the criminals and in Costa Rica people can be tried for the same crime over and over till they are satisfied with the outcome Spanish law at its best, people will try to instigate problems and sue you for anything to extort money from you all they need is two witnesses and Costa Ricans are self entitled so you will lose and pay no doubt since you are the foreigner and did I tell you is super expensive inflation is crazy this place might end up like Venezuela.Hope you never land in jail in CR their jails are below human standards wish you were in US jail no human rights Costa Rica does not live by it's own morals they portray as human right leaders always criticizing other countries I felt safe in Managua and Habana then in San Jose looking behind me constantly motorcycle criminals are everyone cops are too busy looking for easy drug busts shakedowns. More than 80% of Costa Rica’s beaches have no lifeguard system plenty of riptides in Costa Rica and this is because the government loves to take in money and does not like to put money into any type of infrastructure, Costa Rica braggs on how superior they are to other nations in the region Nicaragua has better roads again is plain corruption old Costa Rican saying "Todo pa dentro nada Pa fuera"Medical is good if you sign up for the CAJA social security system however you will be making two hours lines to be seen so foreigners have to pay private medical care very expensive and Ticos love shortcuts but there is always an exception to the rules. Costa Rica has a mixture of capitalism, socialism and communism mentality, they love everything served on a silver platter and given to them this is why very few Ticos that come to the US make it they cannot handle the reality of making money and paying taxes.
    And if you have a business and hire employees social benefits are expensive, also every time you drive your car no free parking have to use parking lots or Nicaraguans to watch your car if you do not pay them they scratch your car if you do not pay your security guards to watch your house well they are connected with the thieves organized crime most of them are Nicaraguans if you have security cameras and can prove who the thieves are they will be out in two days some of them being in and out of jail 10 to 40 times the legal system puts them back on the street because Costa Rica is the land of the Pobrecito unless you are American or European even if you are poor to them you are rich and they will tax you any way they can legally or illegally thru crime and, yes cops will rob just as fast as a common thief.
    If you own a business there you will go crazy trying to make money legally, manana syndrome on steroids people love to make long lines at the bank Ticos do not have a concept of time, American and European brains are disciplined in the time concept , Ticos have a disorganized thinking of time in their brain it does not exist, except for not working you have tons of holidays and every time there is a major soccer game country shuts down, this is all ok if you are retired but if you do business it will drive you crazy, December people quit working half of the month until end of January really the government. I left and I rather travel to Europe if I can beach I have plenty in Florida and Hawaii and so many US islands, I rather retire in the middle of the mountains in Wyoming in cold weather than retire in Costa Rica and have my guard up 24/7 no pura vida no peace Costa Rica has become a shit hole, yes beautiful nature but go someone else maybe Chile or Uruguay, everything in Costa Rica is window dressing fake and phony, fuckery and trickery to the max. Ask me anything about the country. I will tell you I learned it very well.
    I ran a small hotel and is not the Ticos you have to worry about I saw expats and Europeans prey on tourists because you let your guard down when you see an expat, some of them took down payments on real estate and then disappeared, or just they did not care to see if you sue someone in Costa Rica it could take several years up to 5 or more and lawyers are super expensive and unreliable, I had to kick some expats out sometimes and ran background reports on some and found out that some were running from the law in the US or had so criminal issues in the US they loved Costa Rica corruption was comfortable for them that is why they stay there, I have traveled over 50 countries ex-military and although most expatriates are good people mostly comes retiring some are just running from their legal problems.
    If you apply for to become a resident from a developed country they make it an expensive difficult process having to hire a lawyer but if you are a criminal from Nicaragua o Colombia or any third world country they give you residency easy based on political asylums other factors, I had an American friend leave the country after a long hard wait for residency and his card finally arrive he said send it back he waited and spent so much money he got fed up left and never came back.
    If you really want to move there watch local news in Spanish with a translator after three months you will be so depressed that you will run for the border, read the local cheap newspapers buy them all and you will see what Ticos see not English polished publications, if you are deceived is because you are a dumb blind sheep and you let your self be deceived, research research and research to the max.
    Add insult to injury, this has nothing to do with Costa Rica but if you are an American the US embassy is extremely bureaucratic and only good for basic issues.
    They have even robbed US embassy employees google it: assailants entered the home of a U.S. Embassy employee in the western San José suburb of Escazú yesterday, tying up the diplomat’s wife and stealing items worth $10,000, according to police.


  • BobB said

    RE: Mike Thomas above ...this excessive and largely inaccurate description of Costa Rica. CR is far safer than all the Caribbean Islands and countries and, Mexico and most countries in South and Central America. Just compare murder and violent crime rates!!! Much of what Mike Thomas says is untrue or very exaggerated. I just don't understand how he got all these bad ideas about wonderful CR and why he would spend sooo much time writing such a comment to disrespect CR. He appears to have a bug up his arse. He did not say one good thing about anything in CR ...and much of his complaining isn't related to tourism.

    I have lived in CR for 11 years and most of the negative rhetoric in this comment section is a total surprise to me ...I have had very few bad experiences here (fewer than in the USA.) Most of the comments above (note some are as old as 6 years in an article written in 2021) look like they were hand picked to make this a hit piece against CR.

    Frankly, I don't personally care if you come to visit beautiful and safe CR which has soooo much to offer ...I won't miss you. But, I will spend the time to write this because much of the tourism industry is suffering here due to the Covid now.

    I have seen Guatemala, Panama, 8 Caribbean Islands, Bahamas, Venezuela and more (and enjoyed some or all of those destinations.) But ...I retired in CR from N. Stonington CT! I would rather live here than any part of the USA (and I have seen much of the USA) or any other destination I know.

    So ...come and visit ...or don't! But ...if you don't warned that you will miss seeing one of the best tourist (and retirement) destinations in the world.


    • Ellen Hall said

      Note from World Nomads: This article was fully rewritten in 2020. We've taken down any comments related to the previous article.


  • Michael said

    Do not believe the sugar coated version of travel or living in Costa Rica. My brother was living there for over 20 years and was brutally murdered last week. The locals believed that he had some money hidden and a criminal element tortured and killed him and 5 other innocent people. The 5 other people were Ticos. No one is safe.


  • Jimmy said

    So very sorry to hear of your brother's death, Michael.


  • Larry said

    I have come to Costa Rica for dental work that is very pricey in the U.S. I started coming in 2010 and have made many trips around 10 i would say and have seen the good and bad in Costa Rica. Generally speaking the people here are very friendly but not a lot of English is spoken. There is somewhat of a language barrier unless you speak fluent Spanish. The dental work is a big attraction to Americans because it is generally quality work at approximately 1/2 the cost in the U.S. My dentist and oral surgeons have been amazing. Other living costs here are comparable to the U.S. food, lodging etc. As stated above renting a car is more expensive because you have to purchase Costa Rican auto insurance with the rental. I end up walking almost everywhere or using Uber to get around. I was last here in 2019 before Covid and have needed additional dental work but could not make it until now in 2024. I caught an uber to the Central Market in downtown San Jose and could immediately notice the serious decline of the downtown area as I approached and walked the Central Market area. Post Covid has really taken its toll here. I did notice a much more prevalent police force everywhere i went, that tells me there must be a reason for it. Finally on a sad note and in heavy traffic I was attacked as i was getting into an uber for a necklace i had on that I thought had been covered by keeping it under my shirt. I reacted knocking the man down but after he had grabbed the chain by then, being young he recovered quickly and bolted with my property. My poor young uber driver was in shock as i got back in and we left the downtown area. I usually always remove my jewelry before walking anywhere in Costa Rica and carry only as much cash as I might need for the trip but I faltered that day. Lessons learned is that i will not visit the central market again and hope my area of Escazu remains safe. I am a U.S. retired soldier and spent many years in hostile areas throughout the world so take my comments as from an experienced traveler who became too comfortable.


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