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Moving to CR with "fancy" electronics (e.g. laptop

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Joined: 01 Apr 2010
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 9:57 pm    Post subject: Moving to CR with "fancy" electronics (e.g. laptop Reply with quote

First of all, thank you for taking the time to read this and (possibly) reply!

I am planning on moving to Costa Rica in late September/early October 2010 and would like some advice on taking things with me. First of all, I will be on the coast in Samara for 4 weeks taking a language class and then afterward, probably move onto the capital to take a TEFL course and look for an English teaching job, though I might stay in Samara and take the TEFL course there if I hear good things about it.

I have been reading in the posts that CR has a sucky crime rate but I am unsure if this is just pickpockets or if we're talking about someone holding you up at gunpoint for money/your wallet, etc. Also, while your items are not on your person, how likely is it that your residence will be broken into? I understand that living in the city such as San Jose would be more likely to have a higher incidence of crime. I just want to know if I should carry my laptop around with me (heavy!) or stash it at home and if I should even bring my CD burner, external hard drive, and speaker system that hooks up to my comp. (They would be fun but are not "necessary.") Also, I want to know if I'm going to be able to comfortably bring my laptop with me places, whip it out to start writing on it, or if people will be eyeing me as an easy mark. (I am planning on doing some creative writing while down there.) I guess that doesn't matter so much but I REALLY don't want to be seen as an easily-taken-advantage-of gringa.

Also, small electronic devices: my ipod and possibly, a kindle. I will not be bringing a car to CR so will be taking the bus in all probability; I hear ipods and other electronic devices are expensive so would this be in bad taste? I've lived in San Francisco and taken public transportation for the last 8 years; I can't imagine taking a bus or train without either of those things to keep me occupied. I know a lot of this is about attitude and looking like you know what you're doing, etc, but I would love a thoughtful and honest reply. I'm not an idiot or newbie to traveling but want to cover as many bases as possible. I've also never lived abroad.

I know these questions might sound odd but thank you VERY much in advance for your help. Smile
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Joined: 24 May 2009
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2010 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been here for about a month, and I have had absolutely no crime-related problems. I listen to my ipod on the bus, and there are usually a few others with headphones on as well. No one is going to hold you up at knife point for your stuff on a bus. Having said that, do be careful at night. That's when most crimes of opportunity happen. In fact, most thefts are just that- crimes of opportunity. Easily avioded with common sense. Be as inconspicuous as possible with your expensive toys, but watch the others around you and follow their lead. It's probably a bad idea to take out your laptop in a provincial bus station, but in a cafe in San Jose it's no big deal. Yes, electronics are considered a little flashy, but lots of Ticos have iphones, mp3 players, etc. Ipods are not as shocking to them as you may think.

As for people breaking into your house, I can't say it doesn't happen, but it's far less common than most people think. Plenty of Ticos have laptops and home computers with all the peripherals and they're doing just fine. If you're really worried about it, insure your electronics before you leave, but don't leave them at home if you really want to have them. Also, I would advise against carrying your laptop everywhere you go unless you truly need it for something. It's much safer locked up in your apartment than it is out roaming the streets.
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Joined: 11 Jun 2005
Posts: 132
Location: Under the sun

PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I lived there every expat I met (including myself), had been a victim of crime.

People live in cages and have armed guards for a reason, if you want to keep your things safe then you must remain vigilant at all times.

Guns are easily brought across the border from Nicaragua and being robbed at gunpoint is NOT uncommon. Intercity buses are also notorious for bag thefts.

Things may have changed but it was common for Internet cafes to be held up and those inside at the time had everything stolen.
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Joined: 23 Apr 2009
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My two cents:

- you can bring your laptop (and other add ons) but leave it in your house and make sure that it is not visible through the windows. Macs are very expensive in Costa Rica and will likely be stolen if you take them out in public.

-You can listen to your ipod on the buses but put it in your bag or pocket. Don't walk around with it strapped to your arm.

-Be VERY careful at night. I would say no ipod at night when walking on the streets. Same goes with talking on a cell phone.

-Don't put your bad in the overhead bins on the public buses and then go to sleep. The buses stop many times and I have had friends get their bag stolen while they were sleeping.

-Don't pack anything valuable on the top of your bag if you are traveling on public transportation as it is easy to reach into the bag (this happened to someone i was traveling with on the ferry) when everyone is squeezed together getting on/off.

San Jose is not as dangerous as some people make it out to be but you have to remember that stolen ipod, laptops and other electronics can fetch a good price and many people live on less than $500/month so the extra cash from stealing a laptop makes a dramatic difference. Also, stealing less than $350 worth of goods is not punishable under costa rican law and most petty theft is not punished.
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Joined: 01 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 6:06 am    Post subject: thank you! Reply with quote

Thank you to you all who have replied with some wonderful information! It's better to go in being aware of these types of possibilities; computers are expensive everywhere and I wouldn't put it past anyone who used an opportunity to their advantage. Good call on the buses, too. I don't plan on letting anything expensive out of my possession and I would never "flash" anything just to look cool. NOT a good idea anywhere, in my opinion!
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Joined: 08 May 2010
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PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2010 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am in Costa Rica now, for a TEFL course, and so far I have not been a victim. But I am very vigilant, and that will save you as well. I keep my valuables on me at all times, and when I stayed in hostels for 2 nights, waiting for my school to open, I slept with my purse on my bed with me, just in case. Very paranoid.

I've been told not to go around town with my camera out on my neck, but I have done it and have been fine. But I keep my hands on it always and keep my tote bag over my shoulder and under my arm.

Just keep care to have your things close by, and out of view and if no one knows you have the goods, you lessen your visibility as a target.
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