You’ve made the decision to move to Costa Rica.., you have arrived and gotten settled in your new home, now what?

Hopefully you’ve done your research and made at least a few contacts on previous visits. Starting a new life in a new community in a different country can be daunting.

For some people who don’t make the effort to “fit in”, it can be overwhelming. There are lots of things you can do to make the whole process easier.

After you’ve had a chance to catch your breath, take some time to walk around and find out where things are located – bank, supermarket, park, restaurants, bakery, veterinarian, gas station, correo, hardware store, doctor, hospital/clinic, police, macrobiotica, hairdresser, mechanic, farmers market – places that you will frequent in your daily life.

Sit and spend some time in the local park – it will be a wonderful gathering spot. Smile and greet the Ticos as well as the fellow ex-pats you encounter. Costa Rica is a friendly country..take the time to relax and enjoy it!

Find a favorite little soda or café to frequent…get a sidewalk table if you can. It’s a great way to watch life & visit. You’ll get to know the staff and regular patrons. Everyone will get used to seeing you there and you’ll “belong” before you know it.

There will probably be somewhere in your new community that’s frequented by other ex-pats. Go there and talk to them about their experiences. Get their recommendations on hairdressers, mechanics, domestic staff, restaurants, doctors, health services, etc.

If you are not fluent in Spanish, do whatever you need to learn (we’re still working on this). Take language classes – either group classes or private tutoring – at a level you are comfortable with. Ticos appreciate your efforts to learn their language as well as their culture.

Make sure you go to the local feria (farmers market). It has fresh produce, meat and fish at very reasonable prices. It’s a great way to show support for local producers and is usually a “social occasion”, visiting with customers and vendors alike.

Find out if there are clubs and/or groups that involve your hobbies or interests. There are plenty to choose from – writing, hiking, book clubs, dance, exercise, gardening, theatre, bridge and more.

It is very important that you find a way to spend the “free time” that you discover you now have. Too often people don’t do anything with those hours and get very bored. They either get frustrated and move back or they turn to unhealthy solutions such as drugs or alcohol to relieve the boredom. Don’t become one of those people – stay active & get involved!

One of the best ways to stay active and get involved in your community is to volunteer. The opportunities are endless, including things such as animal rescue, orphanages, seniors centres, hospitals, schools, language classes, etc.

You have chosen to live in a beautiful country. Seize the opportunity to make the most of your life here, but always remember – you chose to live here. Learn the Tico culture and customs. Adapt to the Costa Rican way of life and accept that things are different rather than complain about the differences.

Embrace “pura vida”… you’ll be glad you did.

Article by Peggy Stewart published on We Love Costa Rica