April 7, 2011 - Now that you made the move to Costa Rica, have bought your Costa Rica property and are settling into your new home, it’s time to think about how you will interact with the locals.
Even though Ticos (the name for someone from Costa Rica) are an educated people and a good percentage of them speak some degree of English, Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica and when in Rome…
Sure, some people will say that only knowing a few phrases like “how are you”,” where are the bathrooms” and so on is enough because all of the utility companies and even fast food delivery services have English speaking operators is enough but learning Spanish can and will make your living abroad experience a lot better.
Getting the Best Deal Possible
For those who have been living in Costa Rica for a few years, by now you probably know that in half of the stores you visit, Ticos get a better deal than foreigners. Not to say that they are partial to their countrymen but it is because if you can communicate with them, most of the time you are able to build a better bond that allows you to get a better deal. At the worst, it allows you to argue for the price of the item.
As an example, if you are trying to buy or rent real estate properties in Costa Rica and are dealing directly with a Tico that does not speak English, knowing Spanish would sure come in handy.
Keeps You from Getting Ripped Off
Yes, like any other countries in the world, some not so honest people will try to take advantage of you if you appear to be clueless. Knowing to speak Spanish fluently can help you from someone taking advantage of you because if you speak the language, they will think you are not totally ignorant about the country and will more than likely not try to rip you off.
Secondly, sometimes you feel that you got taken for a ride when it was just a miscommunication problem and knowing is half the battle.
Understanding and Appreciating the Culture Better
One of the main reasons for moving to a different country should be because you love the new culture and the best way to start understanding the Costa Rican culture is to speak Spanish. Knowing how to speak Spanish will help you meet and make friendship with the locals while at the same time enabling you to learn more about their culture from a first point of view perspective.
You may or may not have moved to Costa Rica to retire but even so, if you one day decide to get a job in Costa Rica knowing Spanish is a big plus considering that you are in a Spanish speaking country. Even if you are applying for a job that does not require you to speak any Spanish, employers will look more favorably on you if you do speak it well.
Even if one day you decide to move out of Costa Rica, Spanish is an important language to learn considering that over 450 million people in the world speak it and that in the U.S. alone the latest census shows that 1 in 6 American are of Latin decent.
So do yourself a favor and learn Spanish while in Costa Rica.