Originally Posted by rmzbm
Oh, I SO SO SO wanna move somewhere like this! My cousin & his wife honeymooned in Costa Rica & said it was amazing! But, again, I'm sure LIVING there is different. I'd love to move somewhere tropical. But it's scary. What's the job situation there like, cost of living? What about homeschooling? Would love to hear more about life there!
The best thing to do is start going to places you think you might like, for extended periods of time, like 3 weeks and longer. Costa Rica is totally different from panama which is totally different from Columbia or Nicaragua, etc. The cost of living here is both low and at the same time high. It depends on how you live and what you expect. CR IS NOT, I repeat NOT like the US or Canada and won't ever be. Things are done totally differently and some of it makes sense and some never will. For example, if you shop at the farmers markets food is very inexpensive, super fresh and there is a pretty wide selection depending on which market you go to. On the other hand, cars are SUPER expensive here, basically double what you pay stateside. Also because Costa Rica, for environmental reasons, refuses to drill for oil (something I am fine with) gas is about 6/gallon. So a lot of people drive diesel and propane and bio-fuel alternatives are starting to take off.
Jobs can be had depending on if it is legal for you to work which depends on your residency status but the pay scale is different. The equivalent of minimum wage here is about 2$/hour. We have our own businesses here so it's a bit different. English teachers are always needed and if you speak Spanish there are many opportunities in the tech sector and biz management or customer service.
People home school also but there are some really good schools here and even the most expensive private school in CR is way cheaper than a crummy one in the States. So you can definitely send your kids to an excellent school here and pay like 1/3 or sometimes less than what you might up north.
Honestly I would suggest Panama for first time to Central American visitors. Panama City is amazing, extremely international and is totally beautiful. They have developed up instead of sprawling out so there are all these amazing high rise apartments overlooking the bay, there is the old city which looks like the French Quarter in NOLA but is like 20 times bigger and there is the Causeway which is this group of islands in the bay that have restaurants and cafes and bike rentals, etc. Probably 90% of the people speak English and they use the US dollar but everything is WAY cheaper, the shopping is phenomenal.
There are many expat communities outside of the city in the mountains and on the beaches. It's a great place to start when exploring CentAm because it doesn't feel so foreign that it overwhelms, for example, they love Dunkin Donuts there (scary, I know)
I do warn that it can get pretty f*&%^ing hot and humid in Panama at certain times of year. During the day in the summer, everyone is inside with A/C on. So if you don't like heat it's not for you and should go straight to the mountains in Costa Rica where it's misty and gets cold at night.
Hope this helps.