As some of you might know, I’ve burnt out. My wife and I took our dog—and bought one way ticket to Costa Rica.
The plan? Slow travel, combined with building a sustainable business, and working on my mind, and body.
Why Costa Rica? Don’t know. I think we discussed it as possible next travel destination, before the decision to nomad.
Finding accommodation, and settling in San José
Finding accommodation was tricky. We wanted a few things:
- Safe and comfortable house
- A good place for day-to-day life, so good kitchen, washing machine
- Preferably a place with comfortable working environment
- Dog friendly
Most of the accommodations outside the capital, were, how to say it… Not suitable for long term (at least a month) rental. I don’t know how to describe those accommodations, but I felt that I couldn’t stay there for long period, and we didn’t want to move every week. Finding a pet friendly place was also a challenge that reduced the amount of options drastically. Lastly, budget might have played a role. So YMMV.
And so, after a brief discussion, we changed plan. Stay in a modern apartment in San José, and travel from there. I know that many people would not recommend staying in the capital, but considering our options, this was the best decision.
We found a perfect apartment in Guachipelin neighborhood. It had an amazing kitchen, very safe and secure. A co-working space was adjacent to the condominium. All looked good, except for one fact–it was a gated community.
Living like the rich
The first thing that our taxi driver told us upon arriving at our Airbnb is—“Ohh, very nice area. Rich people live here.” We’ve heard this phrase multiple times from Uber drivers throughout our trip. And it did feel rich. Secure condominiums, like small gated communities. We’ve never been in Central, or South, America—so this sense of security was important to us.
But with this sense of security, also came a sense of inability. There was nowhere to go. We’ve mainly ordered groceries through Uber Eats. Going to our activities, or the city center, required an Uber. I guess it’s fine if you rent a car, but we didn’t. And so we felt like we were stuck there, and were very dependent on Uber.
Battling the Jet Lag
The first 4–5 days were tough. I’ve experienced the biggest jet-lag ever—9 hours. I would go to sleep at midday; wake-up in the middle of the night. We did try to go and explore the city, but found it to be boring, and unattractive. And I barely did any work during that period.
The idea was to live a “normal” life—work on my business, cook at home, do boxing—but take mini-vacations once in a while. The first mini-vacation we took—was the Poás Volcano. It’s a day trip from the capital, and you get to see the most acidic lake in the world. I saw many volcanoes in my life (hello Iceland, and New-Zealand), so it’s hard to impress me, but Poás is a very nice volcano, due to the fact it has an acidic lake in the crater. It’s also considered active, with last eruption in September 2019.
The second mini-vacation was longer. We’ve rented a car and went around to La Fortuna, and Monteverde.
In La Fortune we visited the hot springs, which is a must-do. Night walk was also amazing, you see different animals at night. Hiking the Arenal Volcano was also a good reconnection with nature. The weather in La Fortuna was hotter, than in central valley.
Monteverde, on the other side, was colder in terms of weather. We hiked the cloud forest, which is a unique experience. And also did the zip-line, which I recommend (especially the tarzan swing, if you are an adrenaline junkie). I heard that the city itself is also very nice, but we didn’t really had time to experience it, and mostly enjoyed the nature around the city, and the hot tub in Selina.
The third and final mini-vacation, was a day trip from the capital to a coffee plantation, which was organized by Britt—a local coffee producer. I really like coffee, and I enjoyed this tour very much. If you are a coffee lover, I highly recommend it.
After one month in San José, we left it, and moved to a different region.
Nosara - a “heaven” on earth
I’m always skeptical when I hear the phrases “heaven on earth”, or “paradise on earth”. The last time I was in such “heaven”, was on one of the Gili islands in Indonesia. It was a bizarre experience: luxury accommodations for tourists, alongside destroyed local community who live in complete poverty. If this is heaven, I’m not sure if I want to get there after death.
Anyway, Nosara. Considered a blue zone, and a very popular destination among surfers, people who look for spirituality, and digital nomads.
In three words: I disliked it. It’s completely unwalkable, and when it rains (which is very often)—it’s covered in mud. The main transportation is ATV or a motorbike. It’s extremely overpriced for what it offers. Our first accommodation was pretty far from the center, however the second one was closer to the main restaurants and activities. I didn’t find many opportunities to work from cafés, and worked mainly from my Airbnb.
The drive there was also hard. It took us 5 hours to get to Nosara, and around 7 hours to get back to San José—due to car accident on the road, and insane traffic. Unless you are surfing, or like yoga (I’ve heard it a good place for yoga)—I’d avoid Nosara.
Back to San José
After two weeks in Nosara, we were back to San José for our final days, before leaving Costa Rica, and flying to our next destination. This time we rented an Airbnb in La Sabana area, which is a nice, central area. The condo was smaller than the one in Guachipelin, but it’s fine, as the main purpose of those days—was to unwind, relax, and prepare to our next destination.
We also took a one-day trip to Manuel Antonio national park. It’s nice park, you can see some animals, but the road is though. You wake up at 5 am, and back by 6-8 pm, depending on the traffic.
How would I sum up Costa Rica? Bear in mind that I’m judging it from a perspective of a digital nomad, a very fresh digital nomad. I don’t regret going there. I think it was a good decision as a first Central American country, but I didn’t find anything memorable from this trip. Yes the nature is nice. The weather is comfortable, but mostly in the capital. We felt safe there most of the time.
I didn’t find many places to work from. Maybe it’s because I stayed mainly in the capital. Selina in Monteverde was nice, and I think there is Selina in La Fortuna, and one in Nosara. So maybe if you do Selina hopping—your experience will be different. My wife and I, were focusing more on comfortable day-to-day living.
Lastly, Costa Rica is expensive. Very expensive. Some places would be close to Israeli prices, and Israel is one of the most expensive countries I’ve been to (excluding Iceland).
So unless you combine your nomading with activities such as surfing, or yoga; or you are comfortable with Selina, or travel without a dog—I’d skip Costa Rica.
I found the internet in Costa Rica to be very reliable. No matter where we’ve been, the internet was stable. One exception was Nosara, where they had occasional power outages, which according to our Airbnb hosts—where caused by the massive construction on the Peninsula. The power would immediately come back though.
I’ve read a lot of scary stories online, ranging from “bad roads”, all the way to “cops are targeting tourists”, and “rental companies are scamming tourists”.
We’ve rented a car 3 times, and had a good experience. The roads are bad once you get outside the central valley, but are tolerable. I recommend getting an SUV, as opposed to a small car, or sedan. You will appreciate the higher clearance. The price difference is a couple of dollars anyway.
For our travel in La Fortuna, and Monteverde we used Adobe. The process was smooth, and painless.
For our trip to Nosara, and back, Adobe was not available as they don’t have an office in Nosara. To Nosara we used Alamo, however on the way back Alamo was not available (no idea why), so we used National—which to my understanding is exactly the same as Alamo (they are located in the same office, and are handled by the same staff). Again, the process was smooth and easy.
Co-working and cafés
As I briefly mentioned, I didn’t have much opportunity to work from other places. Most of the work was done in the Airbnb, and in case of the first Airbnb—in the adjacent co-working space.
I can’t give recommendations for San José, but if you do find yourself in Nosara—here are some good places to work from:
- Sunrise Coffee—A nice cafe, with tasty food. Saw some nomads there.
- Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort—A big resort, with many activities, which include a juice bar where you can eat, and work.
- Norte Hotel—I worked from there, sitting by the pool. Cool vibes, and a nice bar.
- Roota Mercado—An organic grocery store, that also sells food, and drinks. Saw some nomads working from there.
Some general recommendations:
- If you are into boxing, I highly recommend Striking Performance Center. It’s a great martial arts school, and Rafael—who is the owner—is an awesome coach. I really enjoyed training with him.
- If you want to stay fit, and find yourself in Nosara—I can recommend Bodhi Tree Community Gym. There are two gyms at the Bodhi Resort. One is a fancy-shmancy, hotel-like gym, and the second is the community gym. I found the community gym to be better equipped, and it is cheaper (still expensive, because it’s Nosara).
- If you are into yoga, my wife says that the teachers at Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort, are very good.
We left Costa Rica almost two weeks ago, and are now in Guatemala. Stay tuned for trip report of Guatemala, I feel it’s going to be more interesting than Costa Rica. Happy nomading!