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!
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The Bible Story book or Alphabet Letters would be a great start for my little one. Thanks for sharing the info.
Oops. I accidentally commented about the books in the wrong section earlier today. Thanks.
No problem! Thanks for stopping by, Amy.
Blair Francis says
Oh roaches! We have the same issue in Texas! It takes a long time before people realize roaches don’t equal unclean conditions!
I need a pila in my house! Or at least a bigger laundry room. 🙂
You totally lost me at roaches. Can’t deal. I lived with them when we were young and poor, and it’s just a button for me, you know?
I’m starting a new fashion link up and I think you might enjoy it. Maybe have some fun with fashion. It’s all about breaking fashion rules. And the first link up is on Oct 10th and it wearing white after labour day! Hope you’ll join me 🙂 http://www.modamamablog.com/2013/10/repeat-repeat-repeat.html
Thank you for these fun facts about where you live!! Someday I’d love to visit Costa Rica, among other places!
So flattered you stopped by, Jocelyn. I’m amazed you had time to visit this little ole blog with all the baking you do! If you ever book a vacay here, I’d be happy to give you some tips about CR travel & sightseeing!
The bars on the windows… I’m used to. Jamaica has that in abundance. They also have “grills” or gates around their houses. It definitely makes for a safer home. 🙂
Jessica @ Jessiker Bakes says
WOW. It wasn’t until you made this list that I realise how similar Jamaica and Costa Rica are!! I will admit that my home isn’t like many others in Jamaica, but I definitely have a ‘pila’ (I didn’t even realise there was a name for it, we just call it the washroom). Jamaica also has the grills on the houses’ windows and like, either in front of the front door or that’s the entrance…no idea how to describe it but I’m sure you understand what I mean! So 2, 4 and 5 are definitely my features, since my house is air-conditioned and we have a garage. Unfortunately I can relate to the roaches, fortunately not often but definitely there! Thanks for sharing Jelli so cool to see the similarities. Makes me think I should let people know more about Jamaica!