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Getting around Costa Rica

Costa Rica is only 170 miles across and 288 miles from top to bottom, but travelling its length or especially width takes longer than you might expect because of the mountainous terrain, single carriageway roads, and heavy lorries on key routes.

There are limited railways and much of it fell into disrepair at the end of the 20th century. However, there is a commuter train in San Jose that takes in a few select destinations: San Pedro, Heredia, Cartago and Alajuela. Getting the bus from coast-to-coast takes about eight hours.

Due to the low level of train services and the length of time to travel longer distances, there are many airports throughout Costa Rica with flights to and from San Jose to all corners of the country — Limón, Liberia, Tamarindo, Tortuguero and Quepos. The biggest airlines are Nature Air and Sansa, though some smaller operators have their own routes and you can charter jets from a number of locations.

International travel is easy with Miami, Florida only three hours away by plane.

Taxis are easy to catch, and some villages have the odd tuk-tuk as a cheaper alternative, but public transport in Costa Rica is cheap and reliable though traffic can cause delays once you’re aboard. Many locals ride two-wheeled transport, but since motorcyclists accounted for 44% of road deaths in 2017, it’s best to pick a safer method.

Many expats favour 4x4/SUVs when buying a vehicle. Second-hand (10 years old and newer) SUVs start around $15,000 and reach $20,000 (March 2018.) Cheaper 4x4s are available if you’re happier with older or less luxurious models, and a small city car might set you back between $4,000 and $8,000. Asian brands make up most of the local traffic on the roads due to their price point, reliability and low cost of repair.

Make sure the Revision Tecnica de Vehiculos (RTV) and marchamo for your vehicle are up to date. The RTV is an annual vehicle inspection that checks mechanical and safety features, among other things.

Petrol/gasoline prices are around $1.10 per litre (February 2018). In early 2018 the cost of petrol and gasoline in Britain, Germany and other parts of Europe was $1.69 per litre and 75c in the US.

Having a bicycle is a great way of getting about, especially on the coasts where the roads are mainly flat.

Considering a move to paradise? Learn about the culture and lifestyle you can expect from your Costa Rican adventure.

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