To help our students and graduates make a smooth transition to their new lives teaching English abroad, we've enlisted our ITA Ambassadors to provide us with insider facts and tips for making the most of life in major cities around the globe like Heredia, Costa Rica.
Whether it's finding an English-speaking doctor, opening a bank account, or simply finding a supermarket where you can find the odd comfort food from home (peanut butter!), our ambassadors have actionable on-the-ground-tips to help you feel at home in your new home city. Please note that things change and we will do our best to keep these "Fact Sheets" updated over time and that current and future ambassadors will continue to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information possible.
Meet our Heredia Ambassador!
|Visa Type||Work Visa|
|North American Comfort Food Locations||
Places to find American comfort foods include:
1. Automercado: The closest one to Heredia centro is a fifteen minute walk from the main park. It's considered upscale and prices are very high, buy you can certainly find North American comfort items there like peanut butter, Kraft Mac & Cheese, and even Campbell's canned soup.
If you're living around the city center, walking is the best way to get around. There's an abundance of grocery stores, parks, bars, and restaurants all nearby. During rainy season, it's not uncommon to take an Uber or taxi to avoid getting completely drenched.
Uber: An Uber ride within Heredia centro ranges between 800-1,500 colones ($1.40 - $2.60 USD), depending on the time of day and the traffic conditions.
Taxi: A taxi ride is usually comparable in price, but be sure it is an official taxi (colored red with a yellow triangle on the door), and that the driver turns on the meter before commencing the trip.
Bus: The most common and cheapest mode of transportation for locals and foreigners alike is the bus. While there are no official schedules (or source for such information), it's fairly easy to find the right bur or bus stop by asking ticos (the locals). If you're not very fluent in Spanish, learn some basic Spanish phrases like "Sabe el bus para San Jose (or insert name of city or town)?" or simply "El bus para San Jose?" Bus drivers and passengers should also be able to tell you where to get off if you tell them where you want to go. The typical bus fare from Heredia to San Jose is no more than 600 colones ($1 USD); much less to areas nearby.
Train: There is a train that goes from Heredia to San Jose and back on a limited schedule. It runs two or three times in the morning and then a few more times late afternoon. Basically the commuter schedule. The cost is 420 colones (.70c USD) one way.
|Hospitals & Doctors (English Speaking)||
Dr. Juan Carlos Bogantes is married to an American and speaks English fluently. He is the go-to doctor for many expat teachers here and comes highly recommended. He has an office in Plaza Bratsi (just before the mall Paseo delas Flores) and also does house calls.
Hospital Clinica Biblica is a private hospital for emergencies and special care. Their services are listed in English on their website and some staff speak English.
ASEMBIS has good reviews and is centrally located in Heredia.
|Beauty Supply Stores, Hairdressers & Barbers||
I do not use a lot of beauty products but I have got BB Creams and eyeliners at Walmart because they're brands I am familiar with (Maybelline and Almay). I've seen some high-end make-up stores at the mall too.
As for a hairdresser, I have a friend trim my hair every six weeks or so. I've never gone to a salon, although there seem to be one every two blocks or so. The same goes for barber shops.
|Bank Account Location||
Banco National, Heredia.
Some options I enjoy:
1. La Punta Sabrosa: A traditional Costa Rican eatery just a couple of blocks from where I work. I love their casado which is a big place of rice, meat of your choice (fish, chicken, or beef), salad, and fried plantains all for 2,500 ($5 USD) including a refresca, or freshly made fruit drink.
2. Mamis: Serves the best Caribbean food outside of Costa Rica's Caribbean coast in my opinion. Their rice and beans cooked in coconut oil is amazing, and I'd just love to know what secret they put in their sauce because it is unbelievably good. I eat there at least once a week, if that says anything!
3. Mananis: I love quaint little cafes, and this is just that. On top of that, they have some of the best pastries and coffee in the area. It's a great place to do some grading, reading, language exchange sessions, or simply to just catch up with friends.
4. La Galeria: Prides itself for its slow food. They offer five to six different hand crafted burgers (vegetarian options too) with their homemade sauces and made-to-order sweet potato fries. I've heard their paste dishes are spectacular too, but I always stick to the burgers. Their fresh made juices are also incredible.
5. Kawah Cafe: This place is a special treat. Whenever I am craving Wholefood's style salads complete with three different types of kale, crunchy romaine lettuce, and fresh rockets topped with toasted pecans and walnuts, it's my go-to place. If I'm feeling extra decadent, I'll order it with a piece of grilled salmon. It's a bit pricey but worth every colon!
Some places I like to explore include:
1. Fofos: This is a bar in Heredia that does a special on Monday nights where females get four free mixed drinks. That's right, hard liquor absolutely free! I don't go often, but it's a deal my friends take advantage of, especially on birthdays and special occasions.
2. Monte de la Cruz: I love being out in nature and luckily this mountain park is just outside of the city and is a quick bus ride away. There are trails for hiking, and if you're feeling adventurous, a small waterfall at the end of a muddy trek. If you're just looking to relax, you can put a blanket down on one of the grassy fields and read a book, or listen to your music. If you're with a group of friends, there are pavilions with barbecue pits and sinks available for a small fee.
3. Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR): When I'm in the mood for some city sights, I take the train to San Jose and walk around this hip and artistic campus. If I'm lucky, I might catch a performance on the quad or score cheap, used books. I also like to walk around Barrio Amon which has a colonial feel to it and some very cool cafes.
4. Club Sport Heredianos: Having lived in Heredia for over a year now, I've become a fan of the local futbol team. If I'm free and they're playing on home turf, you'll most likely find me cheering them on at the stadium.
5. Farmers Market: The Saturday morning feria is one of my favorite places to go in Heredia. It's one of the most authentic experiences of life in a Latin American country. It's bustling with vendors, shoppers, performers, and beggars. The air is a mixture of fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish, and smoke from the grill cooking tortillas caseros. It is an amazing experience that stimulates all five senses.
|Permanent Housing Resources||
When I was first house-hunting, I looked on Encuentra24.com and Craig's List. In the end, I found a room with a Tica lady through the TEFL school I was teaching at. After six months with my Tica Mama, who was an absolute sweetheart, I decided to move into an apartment with two of my coworkers. We found the place through word-of-mouth which is one of the best ways to find anything really.
Some other useful resources are the bulletin boards at Walmart, newspaper ads, and your employer.
|Expat Community Resources||
I work at Intercultura which hires a lot of expat teachers and it's natural that we come friends and form a community. In my experience, and many others I'm sure, it's comforting to have the support and friendship of people who are going through the same challenges and struggles of being in a foreign country - especially when first arriving here. It also helps to ease the blow of inevitable culture shock and the occasional homesickness.
I've also met a lot of expats through the TEFL school thanks to their monthly graduation parties to which all alumni are invited.
I tend to make friends organically, but I have friends who have used online sites and groups to meet people and get information about Costa Rica. These include:
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- Teaching English in Costa Rica: Country Profile
- What Type of Visa Do I Need for Teaching English in Costa Rica?
- Heredia, Costa Rica English Teacher Q & A
- Costa Rica Alumni Facebook Group: Only enrolled students & alumni may post, but anybody can check out the conversation between ITA grads teaching English in Costa Rica on a wide array of topics from job tips and apartment hunting to recreational activities & social meet-ups.