By Ivo Henfling
Moving to a new country like Costa Rica can be difficult, especially if it’s a country where they speak a different language and have a different culture. There is definitely the uncertainty of the unknown mixed with the anticipation of starting fresh. If you really want to live that happy life when moving here, you need to work at it. While you’re doing your on-line due diligence, you may be thinking about how to settle in and how you will get familiar with your new surroundings. GoDutch Realty has been relocating hundreds of newcomers for many years that moved to Costa Rica to retire or just start a new life. No matter if you are going to relocate to Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua or Ecuador, I'm sure you can use a few great tips to help you introduce yourself to your new community.
Contact your preferred GoDutch Realty agent and look at every house that your agent recommends. Don’t look at too many homes; you will have a hard time taking a decision which house to buy or to rent. Make sure your wife is happy with the house and neighborhood. Happy wife, happy life.
Housewarming parties are a great way to get to know your neighbors and the people in your community. Ask for the help of your GoDutch realty agent to make a list of the people you can invite. Host the party on a weekend so that your neighbors and their friends can come. This is the most friendly and quickest way to get introduced and to even get to know the people that are NOT nice.
The next important step for fitting in the society is to join some sort of club or social group or go to the English Theatre. People with similar interests usually become very good friends even if they have conflicting backgrounds, which is so interesting about moving to another country. You’ll meet lots of interesting people of different nationalities who all have a different story to tell. Join a sports club, or a reading club, a bridge club, a gym or whatever your interest is. This will help you make your circle of interest in the new town. It also helps to go to the local pub or church.
Because you don't speak the local language doesn't mean you need to stay away from the locals. They will love you for trying to speak their language, even with hand and feet, so try to learn Spanish. Attend the local happenings, like the Oxcart festival in Escazu or the one in Los Santos, the horse parade at years end and the Palmares Fiestas. For sure your new hometown organizes all kinds of activities. Don't go "english only".
If you have small children, check all the schools in the area and put them in one that you think they will adjust well. Organize an activity with the neighborhood kids like a play date. For older teenagers, let them go out on their own. Register them in a sports club of their choice. If your child is satisfied and feels at home, only then confirm his/her admission.
Ask your GoDutch Realty agent and your neighbors for references for doctors, dentists and vets in the town. Visit a few practitioners before you choose one. Make sure your doctor likes you. Make sure you pick a doctor, dentist or vet who speaks English or at least enough to understand each other.
Once you’ve been settled and have done all the above, do a second housewarming part. This will get you going. In the Costarican culture, the locals tend to stick to family and you might never get invited to their inner circle. Don't hide yourself, make yourself available to the new adventure you're living. You will meet plenty of nice fellow expats you who are in the same social situation as you are. Mostly at special occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas there are many people around you who will love to do something different.
And when you’re stuck, call your GoDutch Realty agent for ideas.
By Ivo Henfling, your Costa Rica real estate agent who has relocated himself 30 years ago and knows how difficult it can be to adjust to your new environment, especially if you don't speak the language. Contact me now to see any of my real estate listings. If you’re in the market to rent a house, we’ll of course help you too.