Jan 10 2012

Paul’s Monthly Tip to Live for Less in Costa Rica: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

In the States, one of the service businesses that’s recession-proof is beauty and barber services. Everyone needs to have their hair cut (okay, unless you’re bald) and since long hair is not the fashion, most people go to the beauty salon or barber on a regular basis. The same is true in Costa Rica. Ticos may live in a modest home, but when they walk out the door, they are clean, neat, and well-coiffed.  Beauty is very important in the culture. Most women are always styled and color-coordinated; and the guys’ hair is usually styled and gelled.

For men: I get a haircut and a beard trim about every 4-6 weeks. My barber, Jose, who works in a beauty salon, is excellent – very meticulous, thorough, and deliberate. Good grooming is important and Jose knows it. He always trims my eyebrows, the hair in my ears, and even nose-hairs. (God knows why men grow hair in all of these weird places when they get older.) And then it’s on to a very exact beard and moustache trim. He trims above the lip, below the lip, below the nose, gives my beard a great line, and grooms my cheeks with fine clippers. My hair-cut costs $4 and the beard-trim, $1, plus, there is no tipping. The price is the price. In the States, men’s haircuts cost more. I used to pay about $10 to my local barber and, unfortunately, had to change barbers three times my last year in the States. They just wouldn’t listen to what I wanted. So what is your barber’s price in the States?

For women, the savings are even greater. My wife, Gloria, gets a haircut and color only $24 total. Her hairdresser, Janeth, is excellent, and in my view, the best she ever had. Her style is very today. And when she gets a pedicure, it ranges from $16-$24, depending on who does it. Previously, in the States, the cost for a cut, color, and pedicure in a Salon would be at least $120. We know many expats who have paid even more than that in the States.  Here, hair is really a bargain.

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