Moving to Costa Rica: A car or public transport?
How do you envisage your new life in Costa Rica?
It is of course, possible to live without a car. If you do so in your home country then adjusting to doing so in Costa Rica is probably an easy enough task.
There are buses, taxis, Uber, flat areas to cycle or use a golf cart for transport. However a lot depends on your plans.
If you are planning to go to 1 place, and more-or-less stay in that place, then alternatives to your own car may be sufficient.
If you plan to see around the country then the benefits of having your own car begin to multiply.
Staying in 1 location
Main metropolitan area: Escazu / Santa Ana / central San Jose – central flat areas with shopping, dining and entertainment options nearby so walking, Uber, and taxis are the public transport options. Many residential areas are on hillsides. There is a limited rail network from san Jose to some suburban areas.
Other inland towns: Grecia / Atenas / San Isidro / Cartagena / La Fortuna – some flat areas in the downtown but if you leave the central areas the inclines make walking or cycling a challenge. Taxis, Uber and buses are the best public transport options.
Coastal towns: Tamarindo/ Nosara/ Jaco / Puerto Viejo – central flat areas especially around beach areas are accessible by bicycle/golf cart.
If you leave these areas there are sloping roads and hillsides which might require alternative transport options.
Mountainous areas: Monteverde, Rivas, Sarapiqui. These are hilly areas with very limited flat zones. Walking and cycling may not be a realistic options. As with everywhere, taxis, Uber and buses are the best options.
Visiting different parts of Costa Rica
This is where the advantages of having a car are clear. While you can plot a course using buses (often sir-conditioned and reasonably reliable) plus drivers, taxis and Uber, there is a level of inconvenience. With a car you can toss your baggage in the trunk and hit the road at whatever time suits you.
The main highways in Costa Rica are pretty good with sealed and marked surfaces with clearly signage. If you want to drive a couple of hours to a place of interest in Costa Rica the route will probably involve one of these highways for maybe half the trip followed by the other half on B roads (narrower and less polished).
Often these B roads are in pretty good condition and will get you to your destination.
Some places may be accessed only by unsealed roads where a 4x4 or at least an SUV might be the best bet.
Obviously our clients are those who choose to have the freedom and independence of their own car.
All we know if that they benefit hugely from that choice and often get to see all around our beautiful little country.
We don’t tend to encounter many of the golf-cart-to-the-beach expats!
Car are expensive?
Yes they are. But they tend to keep their re-sale value. Many of our clients buy a car, enjoy it for the period that they are in the country and then re-sell it when they leave. Often the car has not lost a significant amount of value in that time. This negates the argument that expats should use public transport simply because cars are expensive to buy.
Buying and selling may in fact be a net saving over a year of public transport costs.