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Hi Lucy,


Nice to hear from you. Hope you and hubby are staying warm up in the Carolinas.


After reading the article at the link you supplied I decided to reply and offer my perspective . . .


Once I got my Pensionado Residency some years back and began staying in CR for extended periods I began to refer to myself as an 'expat', which is short for 'expatriate' –not 'expatriot', as some have tried to misconstrue.


The etymology of the word is from the Latin 'ex' [out of, from] + 'patria' [country, homeland] and I never associated any racism with the term, sorry.


I will continue to use the word 'expat' as I have been doing all along, as a non-racist term.


Anyone living outside their native country, for whatever reason is, generally speaking, an 'expatriate'. The word is used both as a noun and as an adjective.


And while I am also a US emigrant and a CR immigrant, I still like the term 'expat' better.




Paul M.


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I agree with you Paul,


The author, Mr. Koutonin, who is also the editor of the web site where his article is posted, is offering up his own bias and putting it out there as some kind of reality we should all just accept.


And what does he offer; what does he cite as evidence, to support his fantasy based conjecture?




Anyone can write anything and put it on the internet.


The fact that he's the editor adds no credibility to what he says, on the contrary, all things being equal, it is less credible since there is no dissenting opinion found on his web site.

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I think you can see by my tagline where I come down on the whole "expat/immigrants" thing. I prefer immigrant because for me it embodies my intention to assimilate into Costa Rican culture and my commitment to to the country beyond simply being somewhere to hang my dollars until someplace 'better' comes along. The term 'expat' for me has always implied being a consumer of culture more than a participant in it, and someone who identifies themselves by where they used to be rather than where they are.


I'm going to leave the issue of the relationship of these two terms with the politics of Race and economic power alone in this forum. I started to write about that issue, but came to realize that the possibilities for misunderstanding and ire in a forum like this were probably grater than any benefit to be gained from the discussion.

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I always refer to myself as legal immigrant/guest in Costa Rica. Expat was not a word in my vocabulary. I first heard this word reference from an American so thought it was an american thing. So that word never comes to my mind when referring to myself. I don't mind which word immigrant or expat people use. I shall stick to immigrant. I hear many people with no residency referring to themselves as expats which does fit "living out of their homeland". i prefer legal immigrant for myself as more defined than expat. Only my personal opinion.

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Very nicely said, Carol. You make an excellent point about immigrants (legal residents who have immigrated) vs expats (those living outside their home country... legal resident or not)... A good distinction. I will follow your (and Induna's) lead on this...

Edited by CMinCR
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The legality issue is irrelevant to the terms expat verses immigrant.


Generally speaking, natural-born citizens of the host country tend to see foreigners living and working in their country as "immigrants", not "expats" (regardless of the legality issue).


Or put another way, the term "expat" as a manner of speech or concept is rarely if ever expressed by natural born citizens of the host country in referring to foreigners or non-natural born citizens living in their country. They tend to use the term immigrant.


It (expat) is a term more often used either by those who are referring to themselves or their group while they are away from their home country, or is sometimes used by those fellow citizens of the home country (of the expat) referring to their own fellow citizens who are away from the home country but may have some intention or right of returning at some point in the future.




The author of the linked article, Mr. Koutonin, fails to account for the non-racially based uses of the term as noted above and mistakenly attributes the differences in usage to



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lucybelle, interesting article, but I don't agree with the premise. I think that regardless of who you are, if you're not planning to return to your home country, you're an immigrant (or emigrant...). If you are planning to return or just aren't sure, you're an expat. You skin color or country of origin, imo, has nothing to do with it.


My father, may he rest in peace, was an immigrant. There was no question whatever that he was never going back to his home country, and he never did, not even as a visitor. For me, I visit the US, am still interested in what's going on there, but CR IS my country, and I care deeply about it and its culture and people. But that's not to say that that precludes my ever returning to the US. I just don't know. So in my mind, at least, I am an expat. It's not a matter of finding a place I like better. I'm not looking, and, frankly, I don't care. I love CR. But if something happened to my spouse, would I carry on here? I just don't know. I simply can't say, "never," so I'm an expat.


And I know that, for example, for induna and eleanor, they seem themselves as immigrants.





ps: but we do have CR wills and have made plans for cremation, although the notion of renting a crypt for 3 to 5 years and then having our remains swept out also holds some appeal. Everything is temporary, nothing is permanent.

Edited by salish sea
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Ignoring all the racial byplay of the article... actually ignoring the article... I just like the distinction Induna introduced.


I believe what struck me was that "immigrant" identifies with a particular country (Costa Rica for us)... while "expat" just means someone who isn't living in their home country...


I could be an expat from the U.S. who lives in Aruba but is on vacation in Costa Rica. I'm still an expat... If I'm an immigrant to Costa Rica there is no question... I live in Costa Rica.


Plus, a legal immigrant has legal residency. An expat is a person living somewhere, legally or not, outside their home country.


I like the clarity of the one over the other...

Edited by CMinCR
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Plus, a legal immigrant has legal residency. An expat is a person living somewhere, legally or not, outside their home country.


I like the clarity of the one over the other...


I agree with your post.


But the legality aspect is really irrelevant to the terms.


Regarding the term immigrant:


One could be an illegal immigrant or a legal immigrant; legal resident or illegal resident.


Both are immigrants/residents


Regarding the term expat:


One could be a legal expat or an illegal expat (as in a fugitive on the run from their home country).


Both are expats



Costa Rica is humorously known as the land of the "wanted" and the "unwanted."

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You're absolutely right TC. Legal and illegal of each apply.


From my perspective the (legal) immigrant vs the (legal) expat is still a nice distinction. One shows intent or association with the host country. The other just indicates that the individual doesn't live in their home country.


That's what I found attractive... host country-based vs individual status-based... "I'm proudly living in Costa Rica" as opposed to "I'm proudly not living in my home country."


Only my own feelings, I'll stop commenting now...

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