Owning a car in Costa Rica can be a big commitment. With the rising cost of gas prices, general car maintenance, license plates, and required technical inspections every year or two years, the cost of owning a car in Costa Rica can be a big commitment. When considering purchasing a car here in Costa Rica, aside from assessing your personal budget, what you really need to consider is where you’ll be driving.
Most cars in Costa Rica are stick shift, so if you don’t drive stick, be prepared to pay significantly more for an automatic. Stick shift cars work really well and give the driver more control when scaling the rolling hills and steep mountain roads throughout this paradise country. Even if you don’t know stick shift, it might be a good idea to learn if you plan on living in Costa Rica for an extended period of time. This way, if you ever want to borrow a friend’s car, you’ll be able to drive it.
If you live in an area that’s rather mountainous or with bad roads, you’ll probably want to consider getting a car with 4 wheel drive. When rainy season hits and the dirt roads turn to puddles of mud, you’ll be glad you paid the extra money for 4 wheel drive as you watch normal cars get stuck and have to be pushed out of mud puddles by their owners. 4 wheel drive cars are also a great option for perpetual explorers who plan on driving to secluded beaches and secret surf spots.
Of course, if you live in the city or suburbs and the wildest driving you plan on doing is taking the beautiful new highway to and from Jaco and Manuel Antonio, then a regular car without 4 wheel drive will work just fine. Remember, even though there’s an allure to cars with 4 wheel drive, those cars cost significantly more because of gas and upkeep. If you don’t live on a mountain or down a dirt road full of pot holes, chances are you’ll be just fine with a normal car.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what kind of car will best fit your needs in Costa Rica. Rest assured, no matter what you choose, you’ll enjoy the ride!