From all over the globe
by Bruce Weigel
People come to Costa Rica from all over the globe, for a variety of reasons. How they get here also varies, depending on where they make the journey from, and why. The vast majority of travelers enter the country through one of the international airports in Alejuela or Liberia. Only a few opt for the more arduous journey overland via the Pan American Highway.
When I decided to leave the USA in November 2016, I knew I would be driving. There was no intention of returning, so I wanted to take as many personal items as possible and have my vehicle when I arrived. The ultimate destination was Costa Rica, but I planned to take my time and revisit some old vacation haunts in Mexico along the way. I had driven to southern Mexico before and reasoned that a few extra miles to Costa Rica were doable.
Sometimes acting on impulse can work out fine; if you want to emigrate to a foreign country, it helps to do a little research. The documents required to apply for residency in Costa Rica take time and effort to accumulate and are only valid for six months from the date of issue. I didn't find this out until I had already left the US. It also helps to have a working knowledge of Spanish to facilitate border crossings and unforeseen developments.
Driving here from the United States was a once in a lifetime adventure that adds a colorful backstory to my new life in paradise. It also allows me to offer advice to others considering doing it. You probably won't need four-wheel drive, but it's nice to have it. You will need some form of GPS for navigation, primarily through larger cities. Signage is often bewildering or non-existent. Avoid driving at night. Smile and be patient with authorities. Finally, I'm a six-foot male, and I got away with it, but I wouldn't recommend making the trip alone. Plan ahead, do some research and expect the unexpected.