Close

Keeping in touch while living in Costa Rica

Hello everyone,

What are the best ways you've found for keeping in touch with friends and family back home while living in Costa Rica? How frequently do you stay in touch with loved ones?

Are there local equivalents to common instant messaging and online video calling services that you prefer or are more widely used?

If there is a sizeable time difference, how do you manage this?

Do you make international phone calls from a landline or mobile phone from Costa Rica? What do you think of the cost?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

Smoke signals and tin cans and string.

Priscilla :

Hello everyone,

What are the best ways you've found for keeping in touch with friends and family back home while living in Costa Rica? How frequently do you stay in touch with loved ones?

Are there local equivalents to common instant messaging and online video calling services that you prefer or are more widely used?

If there is a sizeable time difference, how do you manage this?

Do you make international phone calls from a landline or mobile phone from Costa Rica? What do you think of the cost?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

Costa Rica, although it's considered a so called developing country, the communications network is pretty much the same as modern North American countries.  The exception to this would be pockets of areas without internet and when you get into extreme rural areas.

Before renting or buying, always make sure that internet and phone service is available.  I am having to spend $600 just to simply boost my cell phone signal at the new property we're moving to.  The cell phone signal will also have to be used for internet service - via Hotspot.  If you have just one or two bars on your cell phone, this booster works great to boost it to full service.  This booster is made specifically for ICE, Kolbi and Movistar.

- Expat Dave

ExpatDave :
Priscilla :

Hello everyone,

What are the best ways you've found for keeping in touch with friends and family back home while living in Costa Rica? How frequently do you stay in touch with loved ones?

Are there local equivalents to common instant messaging and online video calling services that you prefer or are more widely used?

If there is a sizeable time difference, how do you manage this?

Do you make international phone calls from a landline or mobile phone from Costa Rica? What do you think of the cost?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

Costa Rica, although it's considered a so called developing country, the communications network is pretty much the same as modern North American countries.  The exception to this would be pockets of areas without internet and when you get into extreme rural areas.

Before renting or buying, always make sure that internet and phone service is available.  I am having to spend $600 just to simply boost my cell phone signal at the new property we're moving to.  The cell phone signal will also have to be used for internet service - via Hotspot.  If you have just one or two bars on your cell phone, this booster works great to boost it to full service.  This booster is made specifically for ICE, Kolbi and Movistar.

- Expat Dave

Hi Dave...you seem to be the expert on these matters! How much does cell service that includes the US cost in Costa Rica?

We make no phone calls from the phone service to places outside Costa Rica.

All our long distance calls are made via whatsapp, magic jack or skype. Skype works the best it seems but sometimes whatsapp works great too. Weird thing about whatsapp - it works fantastic from here to New Zealand but not nearly as good to the USA. Go figure. You need wifi to use these except for Skype you can use their skype-to-mobile service and it's not that expensive but not free either.

For video calling my wife uses Facetime on her ipad, and skype has it as well but I don't use the video, it can screw up the quality of the call if you have limited bandwidth, plus I don't need to see the people I'm talking to on the phone.

I use mostly whatsapp to send free texts, audio messages, photos and videos to my friends. It's truly fantastic for communicating those ways. Like I said, for calls I think skype and facetime are the best.

If you have a World Clock on your phone you can see what time it is easily where you are calling to. If not you can surely get a free app for that.

I figure there must be a good cheap long distance phone service or app that actually works without wifi but I have yet to find one. If someone can recommend one that would be great.

Thanks for the info!

The best most economical way to communicate with people back in the US is by installing the app, Magicapp on your phone.   It costs $10 per year.  Once you pay, you select a phone number from magic app’s list.  People can call this number and it costs nothing.  You may call any US number and it costs nothing.   The best thing is that the quality of the call is very good, especially compared to other apps like  WhatsApp.   WhatsApp is great for texting but my experience is it has a lot of interference and dropped calls.  I have not experienced any of those problems with MagicApp.

If your phone has data roaming this app works on a golf course or anywhere else.  When at home it uses WiFi.

Sporto505...Do you have to have a MajicJack at your property or can you just purchase the MagicApp separately at $10/month to work with your cell phone? Also, do the people you speak with in the States have to have the app as well?   Thanks, Marty

While I know nothing about MagicAPP, I do know that MagicJack requires a good internet connection/speed to work properly....and the speed varies throughout the country.

I have found that if you have a Facebook account, you can use Messenger for free.  This is how I contact my children and friends.  I tried to keep my Verizon account by just keeping the chip taped inside my phone; however, the charges added up to over $200 every month.  International calls are costly as well.
You can also use Skype but it comes and goes.  Messenger is what I recommend.
Star

You do NOT need the magic jack.  that was only for land lines.   the MagicApp is solely for mobile phones.

And the fee is $10 per YEAR !!   good deal.   I use Kolbi for my CR carrier so there is  no need for any thing from a US provider.   gk

The people you call in the US do not pay anything.  For people who call you, I have been told they had to dial a 1 plus my area code and phone number, but I don't know if they called from a land line or cell.  I suppose if they call from a land line that might be a long distance call.  but if they call from a mobile there should not be another charge although this last conclusion is a guess on my part.

If you are calling with a Kolbi chip then you will need to dial 001 before any US number even toll free.  It is not cheap so I try to limit my US calls.
Star

Thanks boss! This is exactly the logistical stuff that I'm trying to work out as I prepare for expatriation!!

Now I'm confused! OK...Kolbi chip for CR calls and MagicApp for US?

yes, the magic app is ONLY for calling US numbers or for US numbers calling you.   if you wish to call any local CR number you will want to dial direct from your CR number, whether it is a kolbi, moviestar or claro sim card.    "Ssmith338 is referring only to the option of NOT using a magic app or else he does not live in country and does not know of what he speaks.   one only uses the app to call US numbers or have US numbers call you.

sporto, I want to know if magicjack app for the phone still does not allow you to turn it off, if it automatically opens itself so it's on all the time? When I tried to use it I found that it insisted on my having it "on" all the time so I uninstalled it. Shame because I would like to have it as an option on my phone.

But got rid of it for that reason. I don't like any app that stays on all the time and won't let you turn it on and off as you please. I don't mind if I don't get calls on it when it's closed, I still get the voice mail. But I want the option of turning it off.

One other thing I don't like about magic jack. I get a lot of spam or sales calls on it (not a lot really but enough to be a bother, maybe one or two a week, sometimes more). It has no way of blocking numbers so the same ahole will keep calling until he gives up, or sometimes I'll get fed up and pick it up and yell at them and tell them either remove me from their list or I'll report them to the FTC.

Also, it may depend on your internet connection, I'm not sure but I have the magicjack actual unit that goes into my computer and I've noticed it does not in fact work as well for me as Skype does, that's skype-to-skype or skype-to-mobile, both.

However in the past I have used magicjack at a friend's house and it worked fine. May depend on what area you are in.

Also as to whatsapp, sometimes it works Great as a phone and other times it does not. I have a friend in Australia and when we use whatsapp it's like a landline - perfect! But when I use it to the U.S. it is sometimes very good and sometimes lousy. Go figure.

Hi SanRamon:   First, I currently use magic App on an iphone.   I don't  know if it can be turned off or not.  I do close the open app along w/ any others I have used and they all close.  My phone has never told me I have an app running in the background so I can only assume it is in fact closed.   When I install it on my samsung I will post if I have any different problems. 

You use the terms magic jack and magic app interchangeably but they are two different applications.  Magic jack is used with a land line.   Magic app is used as an app on a cell phone.  They are different so I am assuming you mean the same thing but if not, then I need clarification on your meanings.  Years ago, magic JACK, was a small electrical devise one plugged into a wall socket and phone jack.  And my memory is that there was some thing that was installed on a PC, but I can't remember.  But this is not anything like that.  MagicAPP is solely used on a cell phone.   

As far as sales calls, or spam,  I do not get any of either one.   Nor is there any thing on my computer.  It ( the app icon and application ) exist solely on my iphone.   I recently bought a samsung 6 and intend to install magic app on it too.  but that means it will have its own phone number provided by magic app.  My iphone has a sim card and phone number via Kolbi for Costa Rica.   I also have a sim card and phone number for the US, that I switch out when I return to the US and vise versa.  But I also have a separate phone number that I get from magic app and it works in both countries w/o problems.

I hope this answers your questions.

sporto505 :

Hi SanRamon:   First, I currently use magic App on an iphone.   I don't  know if it can be turned off or not.  I do close the open app along w/ any others I have used and they all close.  My phone has never told me I have an app running in the background so I can only assume it is in fact closed.   When I install it on my samsung I will post if I have any different problems. 

You use the terms magic jack and magic app interchangeably but they are two different applications.  Magic jack is used with a land line.   Magic app is used as an app on a cell phone.  They are different so I am assuming you mean the same thing but if not, then I need clarification on your meanings.  Years ago, magic JACK, was a small electrical devise one plugged into a wall socket and phone jack.  And my memory is that there was some thing that was installed on a PC, but I can't remember.  But this is not anything like that.  MagicAPP is solely used on a cell phone.   

As far as sales calls, or spam,  I do not get any of either one.   Nor is there any thing on my computer.  It ( the app icon and application ) exist solely on my iphone.   I recently bought a samsung 6 and intend to install magic app on it too.  but that means it will have its own phone number provided by magic app.  My iphone has a sim card and phone number via Kolbi for Costa Rica.   I also have a sim card and phone number for the US, that I switch out when I return to the US and vise versa.  But I also have a separate phone number that I get from magic app and it works in both countries w/o problems.

I hope this answers your questions.

Thanks for the info. Yes I meant Magic Jack for cell phone (Magic App) and Magic Jack for computer (Magic Jack). There is actually a newer magic jack that you can just plug into a well outlet (but still requires a computer/ ISP), probably works on wifi.

Well it sounds like on your iphone it does close when you want it to so that's great. Let me know how it works on your android if you don't mind. I don't want to mess with re-installing it only to uninstall it again if I can't close it down when I want to. (It will appear in your list of open apps, and when closed down it will start itself up again when it finds a wifi connection or something, I believe is how it was working with mine.) It was annoying because I'd be doing something else and suddenly it would switch over to magic app loading itself...

Thanks again for the info.

New topic

Expatriate health insurance in Costa Rica

Free advice and quotation service to choose an expat health insurance in Costa Rica

Moving to Costa Rica

Find tips from professionals about moving to Costa Rica

Travel insurance in Costa Rica

Enjoy stress-free travel to Costa Rica