When foreigners visit Costa Rica, they’re sure to notice the differences between their home countries and this tiny little Central American country. If travelers stray from their beach hotels & tourist destinations to visit the locals, they’ll undoubtedly notice significant differences between the majority of Costa Rican homes and their own comfortable abodes overseas.
My first visit to Costa Rica was as a university study abroad student in 2006. I spent the school year living with a wonderful family of four in their 3 bedroom house, and was quickly introduced to the peculiarities that their humbly cozy home had to offer. Now, having spent more than 6 years living here, I’ve come to realize that almost every home in Costa Rica has a few oddities in common.
I’ve compiled a list of the 10 biggest notable differences between Costa Rican and most North American homes.
- Many homes have no garage or only a 1-car garage. For many years Ticos relied solely on public transportation and walking. This has been changing in recent years.
- Ceramic tiles are the floor covering of choice in 99% of all homes.
- You’ll find no heating or air conditioning in most homes.
- Every house is equipped with a small back room called the “pila” which includes a big concrete sink for laundry purposes or dirty cleaning duties. The pila is an all-purpose utility room of sorts where most families house the washing machine (dryers are rare).
- Toss the leftovers in the trashcan. You’ll find no garbage disposal.
- Do you shudder at the thought of washing your hands in cold water? Better think twice before you visit, since most sinks only have cold water connections.
- At first glance, you might think you’re in jail when you glance out a first-story window. Homes here have barred windows for security.
- In the cities, big backyards are hard to come by. I did a happy dance when we rented our current apartment with space enough for my 3’x 3′ garden.
- People maximize their lots by building the outer walls of their homes directly beside the neighboring house.
- Roaches, anyone? If you’ve lived in Costa Rica more than 6 months, you’re guaranteed to see one of these revolting little (or not so little) creatures scurry across your floor from time to time.
If you’ve ever been to Costa Rica, add to my list below in the comments!
Linking here: The Expat Diaries