How to Make Friends in Costa Rica

Moving to a new country, either by yourself or with your family, can be a daunting endeavor, filled with challenges, especially when you find yourself in unfamiliar territory surrounded by unfamiliar faces. The prospect of starting anew, far away from the comfort of your friends and family, can seem overwhelming. However, with the right mindset and approach, you can build a vibrant and supportive community in your new country.

When I bought a beach house on the Central Pacific coast and started spending a few months a year there, I was able to meet a few of my neighbors but for the most part, I was all by myself. When I moved to Costa Rica full-time, I knew I had to be more deliberate about building my new  community. While I’m still working on it, I’ve learned a few things about making friends and community in Costa Rica along the way.

Are Ticos friendly?

From personal experience, Ticos are warm and friendly. I have been encountered countless acts of kindness and generosity during my time here. Whether it’s a stranger stopping to offer assistance when I had a flat tire or my Tico neighbors inviting me out for a delightful sushi dinner, the openness and friendliness of the local community never cease to amaze me. Engaging in casual conversations during happy hour gatherings on the beach has also led me to meet some truly wonderful individuals. In general, Ticos will embrace the opportunity to forge friendships with non-Ticos and will exhibit curiosity about your perspective as a foreigner. They are eager to practice their English while you strive to practice your Spanish.

Is it easy to make friends in Costa Rica? 

Ticos tend to prioritize their family relationships over making new friends. While I love this about Costa Ricans, it means it’ll take longer than you’d expect to build deep friendships with them. But if you give it some time – like most things in Costa Rica – you’ll count yourself fortunate with new Costa Rican friends.

What about making friends with other expats in Costa Rica?

There are more than 70,000 North Americans and Europeans living in Costa Rica, so you’ll often run into other expats. Some have been here decades while others are brand new, just like you. And like you, they’re also looking for their community. It will be easier to make friends with fellow expats since you have a shared journey and perspective so take the opportunity to get to know them.

Where do I start to make friends in Costa Rica?

Your neighborhood: If you live in a community or condo building, there’s likely a Whatsapp group to communicate with your neighbors (if not, start one!). Invite your neighbors over for wine or coordinate a shopping run with them. Over time, you’ll find your neighbors have your back, provide help when you need it, invite you over to dinner.

Spanish classes: Let’s face it, your Spanish could be better. No matter your level of fluency, there’s an opportunity to get to know other foreigners in Costa Rica by taking a Spanish class. There are a number of immersion schools throughout the country that Your Pura Vida can recommend to you.

Volunteer: I think it’s important to give back to your new home, and what better way than to volunteer in your community. Look for schools and tutoring opportunities, environmental conservation efforts, or healthcare initiatives.

Join a group and attend events: From street festivals to conventions, there are many events throughout the year perfect for meeting new people. And you’ll find lots of groups – from book clubs to social groups – perfect for finding people who share your same affinities.

Get out of your house: Hang out at a cafe or coworking space and strike up conversations with others. 

Be active: You likely moved to Costa Rica to enjoy her beaches and nature so this is a great opportunity to make friends. There are lots of groups that get together to hike, bike, workout at a CrossFit gym, explore a waterfall, or practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

We started Your Pura Vida to help others moving to Costa Rica settle and live in community, so that you can not only thrive, you can surround yourself with great people. We’re here to help connect you with opportunities to make a lasting community.

Like a good cup of coffee, friendships take time to brew. Be patient, be genuine, and let it happen naturally. And most importantly, pura vida!