I found the ideal Costa Rica apartment only two weeks after having arrived. I thought it would be a difficult chore. It turned out to be one of the easiest parts of my transition to Costa Rica.

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The apartment is located in a very quietresidencial” on the outskirts of Grecia, a small town (population around 10,000) about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the capital of San Jose (population 1.5 million). It has two bedrooms, living room, a large, fully equipped kitchen, and a laundry/storage room that is bigger than one of the bedrooms.

It is classy and well constructed, with plenty of hot water from an honest-to-goodness tank and picture windows in every room that look to the cloud forest-covered mountains of the Cordillera Central. From the balcony I can count the steeples of five churches in villages nestled in valleys above and below.

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And get this! The rent is $250 a month – fully furnished, including all furniture, washing machine, television, linens, towels, even dishes, utensils and pots and pans in the kitchen.

I didn’t particularly like some of the furniture, but it is fun shopping for stuff here. It can take a long time, though, to find what you are looking for. When they see a gringo coming, the price goes up unless you make it clear that you know what the price should be.

Some folks talk about the two-tiered pricing system, referring to “tico” prices and “gringo” prices. I believe it is more accurate to refer to prices for “Spanish speakers” and prices for “non-Spanish speakers.”

Need motivation to learn Spanish? That should do it! You do not have to speak Spanish fluently, by the way. I have learned that just making an attempt to speak Spanish is so rare among gringos that Ticos will give you discounts just for your effort to communicate with them in the language of their country.

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