Costa Rica, Expat Living, North America, Playa Jaco

Expat Living: Jason Mueller in Playa Jaco Costa Rica

October 19, 2016
Jason Mueller in Playa Jaco Costa Rica

Jason Mueller in Playa Jaco Costa Rica

Say hello to Jason everyone, a fellow Canadian who’s made Playa Jaco, Costa Rica his permanent home. Find out more about how he setup a business for himself abroad and enjoys life in a tropical country.

For even more insight into expat living on Costa Rica, read these interviews with Jen Seymour and Samantha from My Tan Feet.

Expat Living: Jason Mueller in Playa Jaco Costa Rica

Jason Mueller in Playa Jaco Costa Rica
Jason Mueller’s a Canadian who grew up in the outdoors, usually fishing, hunting, or doing some sort of extreme sport. Travel’s a passion of his, with the travel bug being planted at a young age when he travelled with his family on a trip to Costa Rica, which ironically is where he lives now. Hard work is usually the only option when working on his new ropes course adventure tour in Jaco, Costa Rica and when he isn’t working, you can find him at the beach or in the mountains relaxing.

Where are you from?

I was born in a small town named Smithers and later, an even smaller town named Houston. Eventually, I moved away to Williams Lake, Canada where I spent most my childhood.

Where are you living now and how long have you been there? Do you plan on staying?

Costa Rica, in a beach town called Jaco or Playa Jaco.  I plan on staying for the long term because I have a business. I’d like to relocate to a different part of the country, up in the mountains, where I’d continue to work remotely and make the three hour drive whenever needed. I hope someday to have a house in Costa Rica, one in Canada, and possibly one in another country.

Did you move there alone or with family, friends, a significant other or even a pet?

Jason Mueller in Playa Jaco Costa Rica
Currently it’s only me. I actually moved here with a friend and we’d planned to open a cable wake boarding park but unfortunately we’d a falling out and went our separate ways.

I also had a dog given to me but when I moved recently, I decided to give him to my neighbour. He really wanted a dog to keep him company, they had become best friends, even “hermanos” (brothers) and the dog is better off there. I still visit him often and bring food. 

What brought you to your new home? Tell us your story.

I was looking for a change in my life and wanting to move away from Williams Lake. I thought about selling my house and starting a wake boarding business somewhere else in British Columbia but my friend (mentioned above) convinced me move to Costa Rica and open up the cable park. It didn’t take much convincing though, as I was in from the beginning. We took a vacation to scope out the land and find the right place for the business and found Jaco was perfect. The surfing beach town, cute exotic girls, and great food sealed the deal for me.

What do you do work wise? Is finding work in your city easy? What are the visa requirements like?

Me and a few other business partners opened up Jaco Ropes in October; it took almost one year to get all of the permits and build up things. Times were tough when we started out and lucky for me, I was able to pick up a job working for A1 Auto Transport. It’s not easy to find good work in Jaco and even if you do, the wage is not so great. I’m fortunate to have some other online work as well.

Anyone coming to Costa Rica is allowed to stay for 90 days and only needs to get their passport stamped to get it renewed.  When visiting on a temporary visa you aren’t technically supposed to work but if you’re planning to work for a hostel or something like that, you’ll be fine. If you have your own business, you don’t need a visa to work for the company. You can also apply for residency, which is another process.

How do you “blend in” and be accepted by locals?

Jason Mueller in Playa Jaco Costa Rica
As Jaco is tourist town, there are a lot of “gringos”, making it is easy to blend in. When you travel to less touristy destinations, like where I want to move in the mountains, you do get some looks but I find the people here really friendly. I’ve learned to speak some Spanish, enough to have a conversation and that’s helped a lot with being accepted by locals. I think if they see that you’re trying to learn the language, they appreciate that but in Jaco it’s kind of hard to learn because most people speak English.

How did you make friends? Are you friends with locals or with other expats?

I have a mixture of “tico” friends (that’s what locals are called) and expat friends from all over, with most of them being from the United States. Some of my good friends, like my business partners, I met through business or work, and I’ve even become friends with some of my employees. Others, I met at the gym or local ice cream shop. Jaco is a small town so you see a lot of familiar faces every day and you get to know them. I don’t go out and party much but Jaco has a happening scene that’s great for meeting locals and tourists.

What has been the most shocking thing you learned about the local culture?

Tico time!  The locals here are very laid back and don’t really pay too much attention to time, so they’re always late. When we were building Jaco Ropes, we were told that we’d have all our wood in a month and it took nearly 6 months. I hear horror stories about people having their car in the shop for months, which is very inconvenient. You shake your head and wonder, why? I’m partially convinced after living here for a while that time is just an illusion.  

Did you have to learn a language? What learning methods do you recommend?

 Jason Mueller in Playa Jaco Costa Rica
As a business owner, it’s important to learn the language and I’m still learning every day. My favourite way of learning is to just chat with a cute girl. Luckily, I’ve learned a lot from this method but there are always missing gaps. I’d recommend Duolingo for basic learning only. After about 2 months it got too easy and boring (at least for me), because I was also using Rocket Spanish, which is a more in-depth online teaching platform that I paid for before moving to Costa Rica. Netflix has also been great! I understand probably about 70% written thanks to Netflix and also, just watching cable.

What do you love the most about your new home?

The fruit and vegetables for sure. I’ve become a great deal healthier since I moved here and with that comes the outdoor activities like surfing, hiking, or just chilling on the beach.

What do you “hate” the most about your new home?

I would have to take it back to “tico time” or just the fact that Costa Rica is way behind when it comes to technology or ways of thinking. For example, at the bank or a government institution, there’s tons of paper work involved even though a computer program would speed up the process and save trees. As a business owner, I want to get things done fast but this is never the case in Costa Rica.  Then there is just straight up common sense or courtesy. If you go out of your way and drive a few hours to go meet some one, you’d expect that they would let you know if they weren’t going to be able to make it.

Jason’s Favourite Things in Playa Jaco

Coffee Shop?

Panaderia Artesanal

Market?

La Feria, a local and organic food market that takes place by the soccer field and medical clinic every Friday.

Nightlife spot?

Jaco Blu for ladies’ night on Wednesdays.

Restaurant?

Rustico and Marea Baja, “sodas” serve traditional food for cheap, i.e. you can get a big plate for $5-6 dollars.  Green Room Cafe is good for dining, as well as Kokomos.

Things to do?

Surfing! If you live here, you have to surf. I don’t make it out as much as I’d like because I’m busy and I’m not as good as I’d like to be, but definitely surfing. I’ve also really enjoyed learning how to climb and would be happy to teach somebody at Jaco Ropes.

Weird and offbeat attraction?

If you come to Jaco, you should hike up Miro Mountain or you can also drive. It’s a hotel and restaurant establishment that never got finished because permit issues and and the owner passing away. Now it’s open for anyone to check out and the views are amazing!  There is a lot of really cool graffiti and great walking and biking trails on the mountain.

Get Social With Jason

  1. Website: http://www.jacoropes.com/
  2. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jacoropes/
  3. YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7ubBPMqxleFNdWYeG9sTww

Expat Living Information

If you liked this interview with Jason Mueller in Playa Jaco Costa Rica, then be sue to checkout out our other stories from other expats around the globe, including Stephanie Raley in Nasushiobara Japan and Fil Bo Riva in Berlin Germany.

If you’re looking to move to Berlin, check out my Berlin Guide for tips about making friends, finding a job, learning German and more!

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2 Comments

  • Reply Alex "The Traveller" October 31, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Is it a snake in your hand?

    • Reply jason mueller October 31, 2016 at 6:48 pm

      Yes its a snake. The location is at the Neo Fauna in Jaco.

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