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Helpful Tips for the Newcomer

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Home / Preface
5 - Costa Rica in Brief
6 - Map of Costa Rica
8 - Symbols of Costa Rica
9 - Introduction
12 - Getting a Bird's Eye View
14 - Why Choose Costa Rica?
18 - Costa Rica Has Many Firsts to its Name
22 - A Place That Accepts All Races
30 - The Friendliness of the Costa Ricans
33 - Ticos are Individualistic
35 - Ticos Are Different and Procrastinators
38 - Why Others Have Gone Abroad
42 - Specific Reasons for Leaving Home
45 - Culture Shock
48 - Enjoy Your Retirement by Adjusting
49 - Ways to Adjust to Your New Life
56 - Making Your Stay More Satifying
58 - Cost of Living
67 - Addresses and Directions
69 - Your Car and Driving
71 - How Not to Be Obnoxious to Locals
74 - Adjusting to the Weather and Climate
76 - Choosing the Right Climate for You
77 - City Living versus Country Living
79 - Where to Live in Costa Rica
82 - Living in Your American Style
84 - Top Quality Health Services
87 - Medical Centers in San José
89 - Dying in Costa Rica
91 - Security and Safety in Costa Rica
94 - Personal Experiences of Petty Thievery
98 - Sex and Romance
101 - Going into Business Yourself
105 - Expatriates Production Enterprises
110 - Expatriates Service Businesses
114 - The Business Environment
120 - Helpful Tips for the Newcomer
125 - National Holidays and Festivities
128 - Religion, Churches & Support Groups
131 - The Optimism and Health Link
133 - The 8 Point Formula for Anti-Aging
134 - Obtaining Insurance
136 - Early Colonial History in Brief
139 - English Language & Tico Expressions
144 - Misdemeanors That Are Now Felonies
146 - Closing Words
148 - Bibliography
149 - For More Information and Contacts
151 - Appendix
155 - Index


The official colour of taxis in Costa Rica is red and their license plates start off with the initials of the province (SJP for San José Province, AP for Alajuela Province), and so on for the other five provinces. Those taxis that are not red or do not have the initials of the province on both of their sides are known as piratas (pirates) because they are not operating legally. Taxis have a small light on the roof and usually bear the name of the cooperative and phone number of which it is a member.

Before boarding a taxi ask the driver what it will cost you to go to such and such a place. Sometimes you can get a lower price if you ask for it. Make sure your driver starts his maría (meter) at the beginning of the trip. If you have any doubts about how much you are being charged, it's better to write down the cooperative's phone number and the taxi's tag number and call to inquire.

Not many drivers know English, so if yours does, you're fortunate because he can serve as a guide without your having to pay more. Try to avoid pirate taxis. Sometimes they charge less, but if there's an accident, you won't be covered as they carry no insurance. In general, taxis and buses in Costa Rica offer a safe and low cost service.

During the past several years the number of taxi pirates has escalated and they're found practically everywhere in town. The rise of this unofficial service has been due to the large number of unemployed. Many are driven by professionals who were unable to get a job after their university graduation and have recurred to this activity as a way to maintain themselves and their families.

Some of the official taxi drivers are choosy and will not take you if you're carrying too many packages, have a wet umbrella, or your destination is too close to where you are. My wife and I had a similar experience a few years ago when we got off a cruise ship in Miami. No taxi would take us because our Sheraton Hotel was just across the bridge from the dock. Not until I summoned a nearby police officer were we able to get a ride despite the taxi driver's nasty look.

Office Hours

Business hours usually start at 8 a.m. for government offices and 9 a.m. for most stores. Many offices close between 12 noon and 1 p.m. for lunch and finish work at 4 to 5 p.m. Not all government offices have the same opening and closing time, so you might be surprised that when go to one you find it closed.

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All texts of How to Retire Happily in Peacefull Costa Rica are copyrighted © by Frank J. Thomas Gallardo and Editorial Texto Costa Rica. We recommend to buy a hard copy of How to Retire Happily in Peacefull Costa Rica.