Thursday 23 September 2021
Paying the bills


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Paying the bills



TICO BULL – The other day I am sitting around with a group of friends, talking about life here in Costa Rica and the differences to that up north, the United States and further north, Canada.

Among the group are expats with years of living in Costa Rica, some newbies (under 10 years of living in the country) and “norties” (North Americans) visiting, some on their many visits, one their first time.

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So, after a few “Imperiales” (beers), “Guaro” (the local rotgut) and homemade pizza, we came up with a list.

By no means is the list complete or authoritative or may even legal, it comes from our collective experiences of living in Pura Vida. So here it goes:

  • You can breakfast by the Pacific, have lunch in San Jose and dinner by the Caribbean Sea.
  • Attend university for free or only a nominal fee.
  • Live in a community that is older than the United States or Canada.
  • Eat indoors standing up in a Soda.
  • Buy beer, wine and liquor in a supermarket and corner convenience store (pulperias). Not like our Ontario friends who have to go to the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario store) or “beer” store.
  • Transport alcohol however you want.
  • Drink water from the tap without feeling as if you would drink water from a swimming pool.
  • Go to a restaurant without a calculator (tax and tip is included in all prices).
  • All prices include sales tax.
  • Go to university for many years, fail and still have no debts.
  • Go by public transportation anywhere in the country. And cheaply.
  • Know very little or no Spanish at all but still get by perfectly.
  • You can walk down the street, see police, and not be afraid of them.
  • Have casual conversations with high-power business people, government officials, even take a photo-op with the President.
  • Visit the President at his/her home, may even get invited inside.
  • You can squat in abandoned buildings or the sidewalks and no government agency will harass you.
  • Public spaces can be commandeered for use by citizens, like hold protest marches, block major highways, etc.
  • Even foreigners have the right to use public spaces.
  • Graffiti is a respected means of expression.
  • Prostitution is not illegal, prostitutes can obtain health insurance and pay taxes.
  • Visit a brothel, massage parlour (with happy ending) legally.
  • Women can sunbathe topless in many beaches. Also, they’re not culturally expected to shave legs or armpits.
  • Have one extra month salary a year. It is called “aguinaldo” in Costa Rica, the equivalent of one month’s salary paid in the first weeks of December.
  • Buy eggs and milk that don’t have to be refrigerated.
  • Buy a (unlocked) SIM card for your unlocked phone almost everywhere that sells anything.
  • Find a political party that matches your politics no matter how off the wall that may be.
  • NOT go bankrupt due to poor health. (Does not apply to Canadians).
  • You can stay longer than 30 minutes in a restaurant/cafe without getting pressured to leave so they can turn the table over.
  • In Costa Rica, in general you can feel like your privacy is valued more.
  • Toss your empties out the car/bus/van window.
  • As a prisoner if you tried to escape from prison and caught, there’s no additional punishment for it.
  • You can pay an incredible amount of money for energy. Costa Rica is one of the countries with the most expensive electricity and fuel.
  • Drive through red lights and stop signs at night.
  • Watch shows with nude scenes on free access tv stations.
  • Not be hammered by drug advertising on television (unless you watch the American channels).
  • Walk to all the necessary social infrastructure, i.e. parks, schools, transport and groceries from your house, in any urban centre.
  • Take pictures and videos up a woman’s skirt and only get publicly shamed, not arrested.
  • Feel and be free.

Article first appeared at

Use the comment section below to add to our list or have your say on choices.

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Paying the bills
"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! In these times of new normal, stay at home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

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