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The question I get asked frequently (not by Costa Ricans) is "What is it with you and Costa Rica?" I tell people that I visit Costa Rica frequently and it's a beautiful country and the people are beautiful. How do you answer this question?:rolleyes:

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I'd explain to them that they can stay where they are presently, living with credit cards, debts, snow, congestion, and just general horsepucky associated with living in a so called "civililized" society! Let the chips fall where they may.

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The question I get asked frequently (not by Costa Ricans) is "What is it with you and Costa Rica?" I tell people that I visit Costa Rica frequently and it's a beautiful country and the people are beautiful. How do you answer this question?

Saludos Laurita,

 

To answer your question:

 

I tell them that I like the food (gallo pinto -and bananas that taste like they SHOULD), that I like the people (Ticos -and some of the Expats), that I'm there to escape from the oven-that-is-west-central-Florida in summertime to somewhere that stays in the mid-70s most of the time, and that I enjoy the rainy season in the tropics. I also make a point of teling them that CR is not for everyone, that it is a great place to visit, but that living there long-term can be quite a challenge compared to they are accustomed to back home.

 

Hopefully those explanations manage to dissuade some folks from coming to tiquicia, leaving more of it for the rest of us who appreciate it for what it offers us and who aren't wishing every five minutes that it were more like 'back home'.

 

So, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it . . . !

 

Cheers!

 

Paul M.

==

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newman and Paul,

 

Love the clever responses. I make a note of those responses.

 

Yes, Costa Rica is not for everyone.

 

Laura K

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I actually don't get asked this question a lot, I supposed because people already assume I'm weird, although also because many assume that as a gringo I am here for the hookers. (Many Ticos assume this too.) This is frankly one of the real downsides of CR. Many assume that gringos are just skirt-chasers, so guys at least have to deal with this and other stereotypes. Some of the other stereotypes, prevalent among gringos too, is that you jumped bail or walked away from debts or are otherwise an irresponsible creep. As the saying goes, the expats here are usually "the wanted and the unwanted." There are a lot of negative assumptions, actually, and you have to know this going in. In fact, it is even a little unusual in my experience to be a legal resident. The vast majority of gringos I know are not. So you start out with people assuming the worst about you.

 

However, to turn to the positive spin of the question, for me money is a major factor. I tell people in the US that instead of waiting for the company to outsource my job, I outsourced it myself. (And frankly I think I should get the same tax deduction a company would get if it outsourced me.) Everything is NOT cheaper in CR than it is in the US, but important things are. My housing costs in the US were double what they are in CR for about the same thing, I pretty much had to have a car in the US which I don't have, want, or need in CR, and my heath insurance is easily $250 less a month in CR than it was in the US. Meanwhile, I pay about $1.50 for a beer in a bar in CR, no tipping, when with tip the same beer would have cost me $3-$4 in the US. Whenever I add it up, it's just obvious that I would have to earn a lot more money (enough more to pay the taxes on the extra needed too) in order to live in the US. This makes no sense to me. I guess for someone who makes good money in the US and likes to do that, it's OK. But for me, making more money was not pleasant, so why bother?

 

Next is the weather. It's not perfect in CR, but it is a lot better here than where I was in the US.

 

Third are the people. I have been here long enough (and am cynical enough) not to trust Latino friendliness. It is often false. However, even after you know this, it is still nice to have people be pleasant to you. So it is superficial? Big deal. At least it is friendly. I even note that the panhandlers and the like are friendly. Ordinary things, like a trip to the grocery store, are just more pleasant here.

 

Fourth is the relative stability of the government and political culture. People in the US sometimes think I'm in some jungle backwater. Not true. It's a pretty decent place. As with the friendliness, you learn not to trust the government and in particular learn that the bureaucracy is a nightmare. However, on the whole it is actually a nice country politically too.

 

Last are the more subjective things. I don't want to get off on US-bashing, but I am fed up with the arrogance of that culture, as well as its relentless work ethic. They really think they're the best and are always pushing themselves and others to work harder, then blaming those who fail for their failures. It gets real old to me. In CR I feel that I get a genuine middle-income perspective on the world, which is more reasonable. CR is really a mecca for immigrants from all over, so I talk with Chinese, Nicas, Colombians, Cubans, Turks, you name it. I like this perspective. Mind, I am an American, and at turns proud of that, but I never feel that the genuine pluses of my country are disparaged. However, we do dispense right away with the "greatest country on earth" rot and understand that "opportunity" (the American Dream) sometimes turns foul and leaves people hurting. I find the perspective on the world here refreshing. In fact, just reading La Nación I see it. The international coverage of La Nación is far superior to any newspaper in the US, I believe, and US news is covered too. It's a nice perspective.

 

I do not believe that CR is the "greatest country on earth" either, and I think if I were younger I would push on. Just me, I really like aspects of Nicaragua for instance, but at the same time figure that's a tougher challenge. My feeling is that CR is among the more decent and pleasant places to live, once you total it all up, so I'm not budging.

 

Oddly, what people in the US ask is whether I will return if health care reform passes. This was, for me, a major factor in my decision to leave, since I couldn't afford my health insurance premiums and could only forecast increases until I was in bankruptcy. I felt that I had no choice other than to leave the US for this reason alone. But the notion that I would return if all the sudden Obamacare passed and gave me a meal ticket is crazy. It's even arrogant. People in the US feel that I'm chomping at the bit to return and will if the government there gives me affordable health insurance. Well no. Returning is not on the radar. It looks like Obamacare is dead in the water, but I wouldn't care if they gave me free health insurance up there. I have no interest in returning for more than a visit. It's just nuts the way gringos think. They think that everybody is clamoring to live there because it is "the greatest country on earth." That's not me or most Ticos either. We like it here, even prefer it. There are good things about the US, that's for sure, and I wish my countrymen well, but I have no desire to return there to live.

 

I will add that I think you have to move here and stay before you know--and six months is not long enough. When I first moved, in stages of increasingly-long stays, I was as apprehensive as the next person. A lot of people, myself included for awhile, try to make it a hybrid life. We hedge our bets because we're not sure. ARCR has some data, and I think it shows that a whole bunch of gringos move back after a brief spell. I'm sure that many get here and find that it is not for them. I'm though anymore almost the opposite. I wish now for example that I would have sold my house in the US rather than renting it, since dealing with it is a hassle and I don't even like to return for the once a year or whatever it is when I have to deal with it. Heck, now that I think of it, it's been 11 months since I've been in the US and I have no desire to go soon. I probably need to go back this June, so will, but it's a hassle. I'm OK here.

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Kenn,

 

Thank you for your insight on the USA and Costa Rica. I learn a lot from you.

 

Glad Costa Rica is working out for you.

 

Laura K

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I will add that I think you have to move here and stay before you know--and six months is not long enough. When I first moved, in stages of increasingly-long stays, I was as apprehensive as the next person. A lot of people, myself included for awhile, try to make it a hybrid life. We hedge our bets because we're not sure. ARCR has some data, and I think it shows that a whole bunch of gringos move back after a brief spell. I'm sure that many get here and find that it is not for them. I'm though anymore almost the opposite. I wish now for example that I would have sold my house in the US rather than renting it, since dealing with it is a hassle and I don't even like to return for the once a year or whatever it is when I have to deal with it. Heck, now that I think of it, it's been 11 months since I've been in the US and I have no desire to go soon. I probably need to go back this June, so will, but it's a hassle. I'm OK here.

Kenn,

 

I want to respond to your paragraph above with some comments based on my visits of many years to Costa Rica.

 

I (continue to) agree with you and many others that a person cannot know CR very well without staying there for an extended period. Because of not being able to do that, many people don't fully understand what living in CR will actually be like. The old saw, "Living in Costa Rica is different than vacationing there," is ever so true. That is why there is so significant a percentage of people who move back home after being in CR for a while. One must adapt to stay satisfactorily, and if one cannot it's then kind of a no-brainer that you'll prolly head back home!

 

Before I applied for and received my Pensionado residency I had been coming to CR for more than 40 years. Granted it was only every two or three years and mostly for three weeks at a time or fewer, but it served to gradually dissipate any culture shock I would have had by coming down, boom, and staying. And being a Spanish major in college further mitigated any culture shock. I am convinced that being able to communicate well -or at least somewhat- in the local lingo is instrumental in allowing one to more quickly adapt to one's new surroundings abroad.

 

Like you I found it valuable to have come to CR in dribs and drabs over an extended time, and even now I continue bouncing back and forth between the two countries. Not because I wouldn't be comfortable living in CR, but because I still have good friends in Florida and there are things I have not yet decided to give up, like professional live theater and decent access to books and movies at the drop of a hat. I wouldn't -and definitely won't- miss the cold weather we experience. And I do have decent medical coverage from work that I retained after retiring. But other than those several things, CR offers me almost everything I need or want.

 

But until I retired and was able to stay in CR for three to four months at a time, so I could set up an apartment, get into a routine with daily and monthly bills, shopping, and other activities, and begin to make some friends and acquaintances, I could not see or feel that subtle difference of being in CR on a long-term basis. (I was essentially still vacationing because I was still working.) Costa Rica definitely offers up a more relaxed pace, made the more noticeable when I go back to Florida where everyone is essentially running to catch a train that is leaving the station.

 

So for now this 'hybrid life' as you put it is serving me quite satisfactorily. I don't know when I will make a permanent move to CR since, for now, bouncing back and forth has its benefits. I own my home in Tampa and like it that way since I no longer have relatives in the area to stay with and if I 'd sold it I could not afford to rent even an equivalently small house (660 sq. ft.) to stay in for the times I am here.

 

And doing the same, basic, everyday things in CR is noticeably less expensive than doing the same things in Tampa. And of this I am referring to being retired, not gallivanting all over every day , rather staying in and reading or working on the computer, doing chores, maybe a little gardening, preparing my own meals, watching a little TV, more reading, and maybe having dinner with a friend a couple times per month. So as long as I am able to afford paying the bills at each end I'll continue to bounce back and forth.

 

And, truth be told this, for me, is still a trial period for living in CR even though I have been coming to CR for over forty years. It is just now a more 'hands-on' trial period, allowing me to steep myself in everyday things and activities there. So far it has worked pretty well and if I didn't have the things in Tampa that I want to continue doing, I'd be more inclined to make the permanent move south. Costa Rica still is not home, but it's getting closer to being so.

 

Cheers!

 

Paul M.

==

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Mi Tica novia and I are in the process of setting ourselves up for living in both CR and California. The ability to travel freely between the two homes is very helpful. I think it will be like Paul says, a vacation in both places, and when we need to be in the other place for awhile, we can. And our luggage is always full of food and things unique to the place we just left!

Edited by ciclista

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Paul and ciclista,

 

My family and I will be living in Costa Rica and the USA, too.

 

My husband is not ready to live in Costa Rica full time and that's OK.

 

Laura K

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The question I get asked frequently (not by Costa Ricans) is "What is it with you and Costa Rica?"... ...How do you answer this question?:rolleyes:

My experience has the complete opposite. So many of of my friends, co-workers, etc. have friends or family who have retired to or visited Costa Rica the no explanation has been necessary. I guess that Costa Rica's reputation preceeds me.

 

:D

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!Mark!,

 

I'm glad the people you come in contact with appreciate Costa Rica.

 

The people who ask me the question have never been to Costa Rica. I hope they visit Costa Rica soon.

 

Laura K

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