A Car! A Car! My Kingdom for a Car! Costa Rica

After weeks of looking for cars, filling out paperwork, dealing with required lawyers, setting up a corporation, waiting for wire transfers, waiting for plates, waiting for repairs, and lots of red tape, we… still don’t have a car…

Before we moved here, we were told it’s difficult to get things done in Costa Rica – that everything moves at a slower pace here. And I now have firsthand experience with that. I’m getting good experience practicing patience and learning to take life as it comes – one of the reasons we made this move in the first place, right? (Trying to see the bright side here).

Why Do We Want a Car?

So with all this hassle why are we still set on buying a car instead of renting, or even just taking buses and taxis? Convenience. We live way up in the hills and buses are irregular. Carrying loads of groceries up a steep hill with two little children in the dark can be fun – but it’s usually not.

We also want to explore. We want to take the little side roads to see what’s down there. We want to go to other places of the country that would be a hassle and expensive to get to otherwise. We want to be able to get to town and back without it taking 3 hours. We want more freedom.

Why Not Rent a Car?

Yes, we could rent a car, but renting from an agency is very expensive – usually between $800-1200/month. We did find one who had a ’93 Nissan Sentra for $500/month. 1993!

We’ve met a few people, including our landlord, who had friends, or friends of friends who had cars they were willing to rent for less – around $350/month. But none of them were really what we were looking for, or they kept falling through. We also decided we didn’t want to deal with people problems if there were issues with the car or it needed maintenance.

If we buy a car, we can sell it when we leave and get most of our money back. We can also buy a little nicer car that hopefully won’t need repairs while we have it. If it does need maintenance, it’s extremely cheap here (90% less than the states). It can just take a while to get done.

Riding the Bus Has its Positives

One thing I will miss about riding the bus – interaction with the friendly people who greet you and ask how you’re doing when you get on. You really feel a part of the community here. That and seeing our bus driver who bears an uncanny resemblance to President Obama. See for yourself!

Obama the bus driver

Obama look-alike

He doesn’t sound a thing like him, though. Kind of a high squeaky voice. Oh well…

Current Car Status

Okay, here’s where we’re at now with the car. We found a ’98 Toyota Rav4 4×2 for about $10,200 at a dealership here in Grecia. I transferred the money into a friend’s bank account here (since the dealership would only accept wire transfers from that bank). I also got a corporation setup that will hold the car to protect against liability here if we get in an accident (highly recommended here for gringos). Once we sign the papers to buy the car (a transaction involving multiple lawyers), it will take another 4 days to get the plates, and hopefully be ready to drive.

However, the day we were going to sign the papers, I saw a ’99 Rav4 4×4 for $9,500 on Craigslist in Escazú (45 minutes away) – looks like a better deal. I made an appointment to see it with my friend, but the day we were going to see it, the owner got it back from the mechanic and found a couple minor problems that will cost $500 to fix. So, it’s now in the shop, and will hopefully be fixed Monday, when we’ll go see it for the first time.

If it turns out well, and we want to buy it, I think the process is something like this: my lawyer collects documents from his lawyer. They work something out together or give us papers to sign. Somehow I get him the money and buy the corporation that owns his car (who knows what I’ll do with the extra corporation I bought for myself). And after several more days of waiting for who knows what, I will probably have the car.

So I’m trying to be patient, enjoying taking the bus in the mean time, and I’ll just count myself lucky if I’m driving a car by this time next week. Wish me luck. I am so ready to explore!

Brandon is a location independent entrepreneur, musician, worldschooling father, and the principal author of this blog. He's all about reaching his potential and enjoying life to the fullest in each moment.


  1. That cute little boy next to the bus driver is his son. :) I hope we have a car soon too, but I don’t mind taking things a bit slower. I’m sure we’ll have a car soon enough, and then life will speed up right along with it. I kind of like the slower pace every once in a while, perhaps not constantly, but it really is kind of nice for the most part. :)

  2. OOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooh PATIENCE, PATIENCE please come QUICKLY!What an exercise in gaining patience you’re having!
    I’m so sorry for all the delay. Hopefully you’ll get the 2nd car very soon and hopefully it will be better than the 1st one you were looking at. I’m sorry but I couldn’t help but have a good laugh while reading your post. It’s great you’re taking it in good humor. Look for ward to when you CAN do some exploring. That will be great for all of us that read your blog.. we’ll get to explore with you. :o)

  3. Wow! I thought choosing a car in the US was hard. Good luck with that. I hope the repair services are good there–and honest.

  4. Wow, what a process…and what patience you have! (or are learning to have. lol) I’m sure it will be great for you when you finally have one… I can see why it would definitely be worth buying.

  5. That photo is funny. I think our country would be better served if Obama was driving a bus in Costa Rica :D

    Good luck with the car purchase!

  6. […] determined a car would work better for us living so far from things. So we bought an old 99 Rav4 (an adventure in itself) , which has been getting us around great. We’ll probably just sell it when we […]

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