living there for extended periods of time is pretty easy. Finding work can be somewhat difficult. Inexpensive places to stay are very easy to find once you get there. The best deals are not online. Where in Costa are you trying to go?
Get your base tan down then use 30 factor sun screen. I'd always bring plenty of rope, getting the most out of 4x4 rental gets risky. Stay at cabinas vista hermosa. eat Casados. Do buy guaro. It a remedy for scorpion and caterpillar stings,(I also heard it's anti venom for Fer du Lance). Go 2 weeks after easter for major deals. It's been almost 8 years, but the traffic authorities would sit in shady areas and step out to stop you. If that happens, have everyone point towards the opposite direction, say AHHHHHHHHHHH then keep hauling ass. I you get stopped, you're only required to show your drivers license, so you don't have to roll the windows down. there used to be a check point between Dominical and Playa El Rey. They accept gratuities.
Saw this already, but seriously, don't eat the street meat...had a really bad experience!!! Take it slow, respect the locals and they will tell you everything you need to know. And bottled water. This will be your first of many trips, I'm sure.
Also, if you are interested, I post a daily VIDEO surf report from Santa Teresa. Check it out to get you excited. Surf is great this time of year...it's been really clean. http://www.BarefootInPublic.com/surf-report
Just got back from pLAYA nosara and Playa Hermosa de jaco. the wave in hermosa is by far a better more serious wave. suppppperrrrr punchy wave. go to corners if you can ( in hermosa) the food is totally better, me and my buds crushed cheese tortillas on day trips for energy. The breakfast to get is the tico breakfast, rice and beans, eggs, and plantains soooooooooooooo gooood. if your looking for somewhere cheap to stay, Rancho Grande, def the place to stay, Brian, the owner is the man and you can hear the waves in the morning. Oh yeah and the dog, Gustava, who is the rancho grande dog- is too legit too, he'll go check the waves with you in the morning. haha have fun bro! PURA VIDA!
If you drive at night seriously, watch for people walking along the side of the road. Lots of places have (or had) no street lights. Also, buy a Trits (best ice cream sandwich) and if in Tamarindo and the casino is still there play the slots for me. winner!
if in Hermosa then Vista Hermosa is my choice, awesome lunch and dinner. can't go wrong with a casado. stay away from Backyard for food, it takes very long to get your order (even by Tico standards) and its pricey. if you have a car and want to go opposite way of Jaco, Los Alemendros in Esterillos Oeste (10 min drive) has awesome Carribean/Costa Rican food.
does anyone have any tips on goingto costa for a long time, like possibly finding work down there and a place to rent for a gringo and live as cheaply as possible
It is illegal to give a job to a foreigner if a local can do it, so legitimate jobs are difficult unless you are a resident. There are a lot of call centers and online gaming operations in the central valley that require good English.
Won't find many cheap places in the touristy areas. You can live super cheap so you could go down there with some spending money and just camp or stay in dirty places for about $10/night, but finding work to stay for more than the money you bring allows would be hard, but not impossible.
Bring a tent and some money and see how long you last. Good camping in Dominical and Santa Theresa, at least about 10 years ago, not sure now. Would not suggest camping in most places if not a campground, unless it is super remote or you don't mind increasing the risk of theft significantly.