Short Term Housing
If you’re thinking of relocating to Costa Rica, but have more research to do before deciding on location, consider these short-term housing options while you explore your potential new home. In lieu of a long-term rental or pricey hotel stay, these alternatives are both affordable and practical.
Check into a fully furnished and equipped apartment hotel – just bring your toothbrush! Most aparthotels offer high-speed Internet, local telephone, cable TV, 24-hour security and other amenities to make you feel at home. With a furnished kitchen, you’ll save money on food costs from regular restaurant outings. Competitive monthly rates and convenience make aparthotels a smart choice.
If you’re willing to crash on a sofa, air mattress, or free floor space, check out websites like Couchsurfing and HospitalityClub. You’ll have access to a network of members around the world, including thousands in Costa Rica. Surfing is free, though members may ask that you cook a traditional meal from your homeland or answer questions about your country. Strict security checks keep members safe, and a thorough reference system will help you choose compatible couches to surf. Most members limit length of stay, so plan on about three days max per home.
If you love the idea of couch surfing, take it to the next level with a Costa Rican homestay. Live with a local family and for a very reasonable rate – around $15-$20 per day – you’ll receive a private room, two meals daily, and weekly laundry service. In addition to being very economical, homestays are a great introduction to Costa Rican culture, the country’s best crash course in the Spanish language, and an excellent way to make lasting friendships. Keep in mind that you’ll be sharing your family’s home, so there may be rules governing general cleanup, opposite-sex sleepovers, and noise levels.
House or Pet Sitting
When expats leave the country for extended periods, they often contract house and pet sitters to watch over their home and furry family members. Get involved in online expat communities, like Yahoo groups or Costa Rica forums, and advertise your housesitting services. If you have experience, mention it. You may find reduced-rent situations, free housesitting, or even paid gigs depending on the skills required and household responsibilities. If you’re having trouble finding a job, check out international housesitting websites; the annual membership fee is less than one night’s hotel stay, making this a good investment in future lodging.
If you’re leaving a house behind to set out on your Costa Rican adventure, house swapping may be for you. In exchange for a week or more at your home, you’ll swap keys with a Costa Rican homeowner. This is a wonderful way to explore local neighborhoods and get a feeling for living on your own in Costa Rica. Several international house swapping websites exist, and Craigslist also has a free swapping section.
Like aparthotels, short-term house rentals come fully equipped with almost everything you need to live comfortably. Vacation rental websites brim with weekly rentals, while online classifieds can point you to monthly commitments. In general, vacation rentals are more upscale, while a monthly rental will net you a better deal, as low as $15+ per day, often including high-speed Internet and cable TV.
Costa Rica’s national parks and private reserves offer a wide variety of volunteer opportunities. Help with park maintenance, turtle research, orphaned animal care, beach cleanup, trail creation and other essential activities. For a very reasonable rate, usually $10-$40/day, you’ll be treated to room and board, volunteer training, and a unique experience that doubles as a resume builder.