America's First Au Pair Program

Trusted live-in child care - since 1986

Au Pair Culture Quests

Costa Rica

Central America
Capital: San José
Languages: Spanish (official), English
Useful links: Kids Culture Corner: Costa Rica | CIA World Factbook

The following information is generalized and compiled from questions posed to the agents and interviewers in Costa Rica. Although au pairs from this country may or may not have had these experiences/beliefs, Au Pair in America wishes to share this general information with our families.

  • The idea of being an au pair is becoming common in Costa Rica.
  • Applicants from Costa Rica are motivated by the desire to live in the U.S. and improve their English language skills.
  • Applicants do not have difficulty finding the program fees.
  • Young people in Costa Rica have the freedom of their family to socialize and date.
  • Curfews are common.
  • Young women are generally accustomed to sharing in household chores.
  • Nudity is not common at all and it is not accepted in or out of the home.
  • Costa Ricans are peaceful, friendly and easygoing.
  • Costa Rica is a very conservative society, in which kids have a very high level of respect for their parents and adults. Discipline comes from this respect. Kids follow the rules and instructions from adults.
  • Physical discipline is not common in Costa Rica in the educated classes.
  • Applicants obtain childcare experience through formal schooling, as babysitters and nannies and also in centers called “Hogares Comunitarios.” The government funds these centers to provide childcare for working mothers, thus also providing training for young women to care for children. There are also girls working with groups from church, boy scouts, etc.
  • Childcare responsibilities are shared by both parents.It is becoming more common for both parents to work and be away from home during the day.
  • The minimum driving age is 18. Most applicants obtain their license at the time they apply to the program.
  • The license is not difficult to obtain and takes approximately two months.
  • Applicants must submit a medical report, pay a fee, take the written test and wait one week for the results. Once the written test has been completed successfully, an appointment is made for the road test. The appointments are made for one to two months later.
  • The International driving permit is available.
  • Applicants typically take formal driving lessons and practice using their parents’ car.
  • Most cars have manual transmission.
  • English is compulsory. In 1999 the Ministry of Education implemented a new law that states all students will be taught in English from 1st grade onwards.
  • Approximately 63% of young women continue their studies at University.
  • Others attend technical school for secretarial courses, receptionist, etc.
  • The academic year starts in March and ends in December.
  • The educational opportunities of the program are very important. In most cases the educational goal is to improve their English.
  • The most common inoculations are Tetanus, polio, measles, whooping cough, and Diphtheria.
  • Most young women are inoculated and tested for TB (Tuberculosis).
  • Costa Rica has a free health service.
  • Most young women visit the dentist on a regular basis because it is part of the social security service. A number of people visit private dentists because the service is better.
  • “Eating disorders” are not common.
  • Most young people in Costa Rica eat meat.
  • Vegetarianism is not common.
  • Costa Rican cuisine is tasty rather than spicy-hot and is centered around beef, chicken and fish dishes, with rice, corn or beans and fresh fruit as supplements.
  • The most common religion in Costa Rica is Catholic. Most young people in Costa Rica practice their religion regularly, as it is one of the main characteristics of the country.
  • Most homes have a telephone.
  • Internet access is readily available, but not necessarily in the home.
  • Family members will not be able to take a message in English from a potential Host Family.

I really feel like I have a family in America after being an au pair. My host family is going to visit me and my family in Sweden this winter and I cannot wait to see them!
Sandra, au pair from Sweden