All too often a traveler or group of travelers will wonder off to a new place in hopes of experiencing a new culture only to be find a culture created for their entertainment. Wether this be a resort or something less, it is not uncommon for vacationers to only see local living conditions as they are driving to and from the airport. The sometimes leads people to acknowledge the extremes of riches or poverty.
One of the things I really enjoyed about Jaco, Costa Rica is that there are actually many Americans living as locals. To be sure, there are plenty living the good life in Jaco, but there are plenty who either can’t afford to live the high life or prefer not to. One American I met lived in a standard apartment for about $275/month and had a primitive bachelor pad set up in the minimalist atmosphere. He did this because he liked it. Another had simply gone for vacation and never left, finding a local job when the savings account was drained.
The locals are also not usually kept separate from vacationers like they are in some places. Most are very friendly and will welcome you to the community casually. Some places take great effort to welcome vacationers to their communities in more of a picturesque way. Of course, if you really want to experience local living in Jaco with that grandiose vision that’s still an option. You can partake in a fresh coconut from a street vendor and really “feel” the local atmosphere! But you probably won’t catch the locals drinking out of their own coconuts. In fact, you’re much more likely to catch them drinking a disgusting green drink out of a plastic sandwich bag. I recommend the fresh coconut juice over the green bag. I consider it to be the original bottled water.
There are many beautiful places within Jaco. These are mostly condos and hotels, but the average apartment is not hidden from view as is the case some places. Of course, there is even cheaper living further from the town center and some areas with shacks for housing. Like anyplace there are various lifestyles and costs of living, but Jaco is small enough that you don’t have to take a bus to see the other side of the tracks or fear for your life if you choose to do it.
Make some friends! They’ll be happy to show you what local living is really like in Jaco. These photos are of a Nica’s (Nicaraguan chick) home in Jaco. Except the coconut, that was at my condo.