San José has one of the most modern water filtration systems in all of Latin America, water is potable and normally tastes quite good. However, there are those, including many Ticos, who do order bottled water.
There are companies who will deliver to your door on a weekly basis. Initially, you will have to buy a dispenser (about $6) and leave a deposit for the plastic bottles (about $10 each). It helps if someone who speaks Spanish well makes the appointment with the vendor. Five-gallon bottles cost a little under $2.00.
Hot water heaters are expensive, so generally the definition of “hot water” in a house means the house has cold water everywhere except the showers. A small electric heating device attached to the showerhead heats shower water.
Some of the rental houses have a hot water heater, but it is usually limited to houses built or used by previous tenants from other countries.
I attended the Institute in 2006 for a month when I was studying abroad in Costa Rica
through the Latin America Studies Program (LASP) with Anthony Chamberlain.
My courses at the Institute were an invaluable help for me as I transitioned from learning Spanish in the classroom setting to speaking with native-speakers. I still remember many of the things I learned from those classes.