Moving to a foreign country can be daunting, especially when leaving behind longtime friends and family. While your social circle is bound to be limited at first, you’ll find Costa Ricans and the expat community to be very inviting and quite friendly. It shouldn’t be long before you start seeing familiar faces all around town and feel right at home. Here are a couple of great places to meet people and start building your social network in Costa Rica.
1. Spanish Immersion Schools
Costa Rica has a wide selection of Spanish language schools located in almost every part of the country. Taking a Spanish course is an excellent way to learn the language, meet new people and get acquainted with the region through the local teachers and staff. Apart from the Spanish curriculum, courses usually involve day or weekend trips, cooking and dance classes and homestays with Costa Rican families. This is a great investment you can make during your trip that I can’t recommend enough. Here are a couple of my favorite schools.
2. Time Out Tavern
This nondescript sports bar located in Escazú is home to some of the best comfort food in Central America. It’s also a major hub for expats from all over the world and a great starting point to make some new friends around town. The walls are completely covered in flat screens which broadcast sporting events that can be hard to find in other bars. Thanks to the friendly owners and staff, you’ll feel like a regular in no time.
Time Out Tavern | facebook.com/timeouttavern
3. Poker Tournaments
There’s something about sharing bad beat stories that just brings people together. If you’ve got a little gamble in you, playing in one of Costa Rica’s weekly poker tournaments is a great way to meet locals and expats alike. A variety of casinos host poker events with small to medium buy-in tournaments and cash games on the side. The hotspot tends to shift every couple of months, but for the moment here’s where the action is:
4. Mac’s American Bar
Mac’s is a well-known expat hangout located in Sabana Sur, near the offices of a major online sportsbook. Not surprisingly, the place fills up with English speakers fresh off their shift from taking bets, ready for a beer. The bar is slightly less American than the name implies, but the drinks are reasonably priced and the food is pretty good too (I suggest the casado). No football fan should have any trouble striking up a conversation here.
Mac’s | www.macsamericanbar.com
5. Dance Classes
Taking a dance class is a great way to connect with new people and learn to salsa, merengue, cumbia and more just like a Latino. Well maybe not just like one, but enough to not embarrass yourself. Merecumbe is the most popular dance school around with several locations in San José. Since all couples are paired with new partners upon arrival, you’ll have no problem if you prefer to come alone. What better way to get out of your comfort zone and start meeting new people.
Costa Ricans are extremely friendly and get along great with foreigners. With a little bit of effort you should have no trouble making some fast friends with Ticos and expats alike.