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Crime in Costa Rica

January 6th, 2007

I get a fair number of emails asking about crime in Costa Rica… so maybe it is time to cover this topic once more.

Crime here, it is getting worse and I have no problem saying so. It is certainly different than when I first stepped off the boat. Saying that though, the crime is pretty well confined to two areas: San Jose (the city), and areas where tourists congregate. It is NOT country wide.

This is true for the US as well. A small town in Iowa is NOT the same as life in LA.

Increasing also are the areas where North Americans tend to congregate… “Gringo Enclaves” such as Escazu or Santa Ana are reporting more and more crime.

I find this pretty amusing (the irony, not the crime) that Gringos moved there in the first place to be comfortable living with other Gringos. They perceive safety (in numbers) living behind those gated communities while not actually having to deal with the “natives”. They do not want to learn Spanish and have no desire to integrate into the Latin culture. That is fine and is their right!

This, however, lets the bad guys know where the (real or perceived) wealth is located and the most convenient locations for robbery and home invasions, the two most popular pastimes! They actually moved TO a targeted area!

The irony here is that those North Americans who do NOT live in the enclaves, but rather live in any of thousands of other areas NOT known for a Gringo population almost never report break-ins, robberies or for that matter ANY crime at all! In fact, in ALL the years I have lived here, not once have I heard of a crime committed against a North American family living in… oh say… San Isidro for example. Oh I am SURE there has been of course… I just never heard about it!

However, I know a ton of people who live in areas like San Ramon, Cuidad Colon, Grecia, Zarcero, Athenas and so on who NEVER have problems. Many never even lock their doors and still leave their car keys in the car!! A bonus! Their cost of living is a fraction of what it takes to live in an enclave!

The difference??

These folks came to Costa Rica for the reason they WANTED to integrate. They WANTED to learn the language and they see the far-older Latin culture as what it is… something special. As they can speak a bit of Spanish, they make (Tico) friends and those friends then watch out for each other!

My wife and I just had dinner last week with a couple (Barb and Wally) from Canada who bought a finca in Perez Zeledon. Ask THEM about crime. It does not exist for them except on TV and La Nacion.

So if there is an answer… or a lesson… examine why you are coming here and what are your intentions.

If you want to enjoy the expatriate lifestyle to the max by learning a foreign language… immersing yourself and your family in a wonderful culture, want little (or no) problem with crime, consider NOT hiding out. Rent or buy something in an area inhabited by Ticos. You will not be sorry.

However, if you want to rent or buy a home or condo in one of the enclaves, live in San Jose or in high crime tourist areas like Jaco or Tamarindo, well… you made the choice… now accept what goes with that choice. You will be at a far higher risk of crime.


It is also possible you just LIKE to live in the city! If so… learn to deal with the every day crime and violence exactly as you would if you lived IN Miami or Chicago.

102 Responses to “Crime in Costa Rica”

  1. Mary Jane Piazza on January 8, 2007 12:42 pm

    One of the best written and honest pieces I have read on crime against foreigners in CR.

    So saddening it is, that people who live in glass houses in the States have moved to CR expecting the government to provide “tourism police” for their lifestyles of excess.

    Such tourists/expats should do their homework into the CR mentality and realize their culture is based on “sharing,” not accumulating, and that “sharing” might mean anything from your extra 4 wine glasses to your unguarded laptop if you are not generous in spirit and soul, and put that out into the universe.

    As a recent and somewhat reluctant land purchaser in CR, I wonder how long can we expect Ticos to construct and clean our dreamhomes and resorts built on their granddaddys’ land, without the teensiest bit of resentment and envy? What about our superior attitudes and overuse of their frail resources? Are we not changing their generous, loving mentality by our very footprints? How long can our colonialist fantasy to on?

    Petty crime is the just tip of the dog’s tail. As a solo traveler, to stay safe in a foreign place means to be as polite as they are, even dress, eat and worship where/as they do. As much as possible, live as simply as our standards will possibly allow, verbalizing thankfulness as one’s daily mantra. We have chosen to be in the land of “PURA vida”– now live it.

    Unsolicited remarks offered up by your newest reader, Mary Jane Piazza, Richmond, MA. I hope you will reprint your blog entry in the Tico Times as an editorial.

  2. Ryan on January 9, 2007 9:03 am

    I’m an American originally from Colorado living in San Ramon, which you mentioned in your posting (and definitely not in one of the gringo communities). It’s true that the crime in CR doesn’t seem too bad, although you do notice that pretty much every house in a city like San Ramon has bars on the windows and sometimes a cage on the porch. Whether or not there is crime, there is at least a perception among Ticos that there is crime, and many people I talk to are afraid of their house getting broken into (possibly with good reason, as many of them have had their house broken into already or had stuff stolen). It’s just an observation. I still feel pretty safe, really.

  3. Elisabeth on January 11, 2007 10:50 am

    I understand from a radio announcement that there was a recent beach stabbing of a couple from Toronto . It was a robbery and I just wondered where that took place. Elisabeth

  4. Chris on January 13, 2007 5:16 pm

    Everything that I’ve read about the crime in Costa Rica always indicates that it’s petty crime. Most of that petty crime happens around San Jose and bigger tourist areas. Every time I’m in San Jose, I always use common sense, just as if I’m in downtown LA or NY. I almost always feel safe in all parts of Costa Rica.

  5. Tim on January 14, 2007 9:39 am


    Mary Jane wrote in her comment:

    “Such tourists/expats should do their homework into the CR mentality and realize their culture is based on “sharing,” not accumulating, and that “sharing” might mean anything from your extra 4 wine glasses to your unguarded laptop if you are not generous in spirit and soul, and put that out into the universe.”

    I find this comment to be VERY interesting. While I have lived here for a several years and visited for years before that, I have NEVER seen nor heard that comment. In fact, I find it profound and I really need to ponder it to see if I agree, though for sure, MJ may be on to something and I just never “got it”.

    The window bars are often written off as decorative in the Spanish tradition. Some of this is true of course, but the crime in areas outside San Jose is almost never violent. They are crimes of opportunity… leave it out and you can lose it. That is why I find May Jane’s comment so interesting. I need to bounce that off my Tico family and others.

    As for Chris… sadly, crime was seldom violent in SJ or other locations, but that IS changing. It is no longer none violent, though still far less than any large US town. My wife has had her share of problems while in San Jose (see: http://www.hisfault.com/2006/01/20/maria-got-robbed-yesterday-again/)

    Thanks for all the thoughtful comments

  6. hector "el bambino" on January 30, 2007 9:35 pm

    cOSTA RICA SUCKS. I was robbed in broad daylight. it sucks. I heard about 2 guys getting shot for a cell in Jaco. Oh yeah never ever stay at the Outback Hermosa in Playa Hermosa, not only do the beds give you a rash that wouldnt go away, but i saw a big ass rat in the bathroom!!

  7. Josh Martin on January 30, 2007 9:43 pm

    Right on Hector!! Seriously Costa Rica is a great place, and no more dangerous than any US city, and completely safe if you stick to less touristy areas. I second the notion about the Outback Hermosa, the Owner seemed like a weird sexual deviant, besides that place is an overpriced dump. Spend the extra money and stay at the Backyard Hotel.

  8. andy thomas on February 6, 2007 1:56 pm

    where are the multitude of good golf courses in cr?

  9. Estaban on February 15, 2007 2:26 pm

    As much as you are telling people to open their eyes and look further than the gated communities (I live in Santa Ana!), I think you need to open your eyes and see that there is a lot of crime in CR and the victims are not only gringos.

    You are right that most of the crime is not violent outside of San Jose and the tourist areas, but it exists at levels similar to the USA.

  10. syreeta on March 2, 2007 6:21 am

    Hi there, Ive just joined today because I am thinking of moving to costa rica. I spent 3 months there when i was 19 and now that i have finished uni (Bsc Animal Science) i am hoping to move over. to say i fell in love with the country would be an understatment! i am from england and then moved to ireland before going to Cr and only there did i feel truly at home. i said i was going to live there and now my search has begun. ive obviously got alot to do, like find work (in animal conservation/research/teach english), find a plot of land to build on etc!! so any helpful info would be greately received. id also like to say, i agree that you should really look at your motives for moving to a new country. too often do i see the english going to places and not even trying to speak the language or integrate into the community. the people respect you for it and soon you too will be a part of that wonderful community. x

  11. Steven Burns on March 16, 2007 2:53 pm

    I don’t know who wrote the main article but I get the idea he resents the owners of nice properties within the gated communities here in Costa Rica.

    He’s supposed to be writing an article about crime and ends up talking about whether the gringos like to integrate or not with the local culture! Then he glorifies some rural areas of the country as if the Ticos from the urban areas were not worth meeting. And then he incorrectly refers to the gated communities as if they were owned by gringos alone.

    Yes, gringos do buy a lot of these properties but a big percentage of the owners are Ticos (like me) and sometimes they are from Colombia or other countries altogether.

    Yes, don’t let my name mislead you, I am Tico. Born and raised here, in Costa Rica.

    With that said, we rarely hear from any violent crimes around the gated communities and most of the crime is petty crime as some other people already pointed out.

  12. Cy Bolinger on March 17, 2007 1:12 pm

    Being a retired (published writer) and journalist, and living all over Europe for many years as an ex-pat, I always have made the observation that “ugly Americans and their ways” make “…certainly things ugly!” here they abound. This is true in London, England, Paris, France, Mexico, DF and I’m certain applies to Costa Rica.

  13. eric "Grand Dota" on March 23, 2007 3:15 pm

    I find this blog and the comments from everyone very interesting. It is true that the author of this article started on crime in Costa Rica and possibly steered the wording to unjustifiably put a negative connotation on gated communities. But what did not come across for me and what everyone should know is that crime is everywhere. The Bad. I don’t care where you are, if there is opportunity there will be crime. Some of you only see the crime as petty crime and only in some areas. Open your eyes. The Ticos know form every crime, petty theft to crimes against kids, land embezzlement to the rape of the land and much much more. Tico on Tico, Foreigner on Foreigner, Foreigner on Tico on Foreigner so on and so on. Everyone suffers.
    The Good. I know and everyone that has even tried to talk with any Tico knows that they are one of the loveliest people on earth. I have never had an experience where the Ticos did not offer anything and everything (including there homes and food) they could offer to help any situation have a great out come for me. If you are a person of love you will find people of love and you will take care of each other. It’s true I have a Costa Rican nick name “Grand Dota” and if you truly know Costa Rica you know de Dota. I am honored that the Ticos gave me this name. Get to know the people and they will get to know you, just be yourself and you will earn Pura Vida.
    Peace and love
    G. Dota

  14. Steve Newsom on March 31, 2007 8:25 am

    Have been considering Costa Rica as my second home made two trips central Valley and drove the noth pacific coast.Playa Hermosa Inn was excellant found price for food was as much as in USA.
    Was thinking of San Jose area to start my home search open to suggestions want a mild spring climate.Crime would be a concern but I live very close to L.A. and can deal with using common sense.I have always found South american culture and people appealing tired of being an A personality would love to learn language but will admit I am not very good at studing. But have been blessed with other attributes.

  15. JT on April 6, 2007 9:41 pm

    Friend was robbed of cell downtown @ gunpoint. Called police happen to see car drive bye while talking to police. Police stopped car with NO PLATES talked for 5 minutes let car go without search and police also drove away without telling victim what the hell is happening just left him….amazing. Well it is safer than El Salvador.

  16. Dotti Merritt-Tone on April 11, 2007 1:41 pm

    My husband and I have been to C.R. 4 times. I know this does’t make us experts, but we have done alot of homework and reserch. on our 2nd trip we had made up a list of 11 towns we wanted to visit in the lower central valley. we found the town of Grecia to be our town. The climate is perfect for us,low crime rate(most houses dont have the bars and razor wire)and the people are wonderful. we have found the costa Rica land office. Jeffeny and Russ are very honest and the prices are right. Russ is a C.R. citizen,speaks the language,knows the laws and takes great exception to any one trying to screw us citizens. I have seen him in action!! Anyway what I am saying is do your homework. The crime in San Jose( and why would anyone want to live there) isn’t any higher than say New York or L.A. Do your reserch and find the perfect town for you

  17. Cy Bolinger on May 7, 2007 8:30 am

    We are a -soon to retire- couple (in our sixties)who have plans to relocate to CR and live there forever! We have gone to great lengths to speak to newspaper publishers and many other pundits about the situation of living in CR on $30,000 per year. We get a very mixed review. The biggest turn-off is that we want to rent first and purchase in a year or two (probably in the San Ramon or Naranjo area). Most everyone encourages buying “…quickly before the prices get higher!”. Then, we find out this person is really in the business, either directly or indirectly of selling tours, real estate and other services –usually for big bucks. Now, we are very confused and about to blow off the whole CR idea. We’ve lived abroad in Europe and never had problems. We believe in speaking the language and living among the natives. Again, we seem to get very mixed reviews about living in a local Tico neighborhood, that “we’ll surely be robbed.” The importance of living in the midst of Americans is greatly stressed. We note that the places where most Americans are concentrated are the most expensive and often followed and robbed, but the land sellers say that’s not right. We are concerned about transportation and will need to purchase a car when we get there. As you know, relocating to CR is not easy and appears to be getting more difficult. It seems that we Americans have muddied up CR with high prices and developments! What is this doing to the Tico culture? This is another turn-off.


  18. Tim on May 7, 2007 1:22 pm

    Well I am not sure what help you need.

    I have written extensively in this blog and on TheRealCostaRica.com about all these subjects.

    I know a TON of folks living here for $10,000 per year. I can’t say how you will fare at $30,000 but I think quite well indeed.

    As for buying, I recommend renting for a year to see if you like it and will be able to handle the culture.

    In fact, I have never been given a valid argument that to buy a home here ANY TIME is very smart. You get no tax breaks, you either tie up huge amounts of $$$ or pay silly interest rates (which are not tax deductible), then if you decide to sell, you may have to wait a year or two to dump the place.

    After many years here I STILL rent. If I want to move, I can (and have) with little effort. My $$$ is safe in the USA and the interest more than pays my rent.

    I may someday buy some land… maybe in the mountains… who knows. But at my age, I still see little reason to heavily invest in property.

    In reading what you wrote, it appears you “got it right”… so why listen to idiots who tell you to go against your common sense?

    Good luck

  19. William on May 17, 2007 7:04 pm


    I agree with you on everything aspect, accept for the fact you think your “money is safe in the U.S.”. Please take a look at the worlds economics and where the U.S. stands against the growing nations of India and China. I’ll give you just a small insight. China has a population of over 1 billion, of that more than 300 are millionares. That is equal to the population of the U.S. The U.S. has no money, more than 45% of all the bonds are owned by foreigners. The U.S. on a daily basis is out sourcing every type of job there could be. All of the fortune 500 companies from the U.S. have already setup there plants outside the U.S. The U.S. has no wealth, what it has is a paper debt to other nations. The majority of well known financial advisors (Robert Kiyosaki to name 1) will tell you to start holding your money in Gold or better yet, change it into Euro’s. Most this information can be found at most Ivy league college research centers and by watching and reading world econimics from resources outside the U.S. I was born in the U.S. and it does not feel good to quote these things, but if you do some research you will find that the U.S. is one of the last places you will want to keep your money in the coming years.

    I would like to go on and on, but I have to many things to do and I never post to these pages. A freind recommend I read soemthing and here I am making an opinion. Pura Vida!

  20. Cy Bolinger on May 23, 2007 8:12 am

    Many thanks to Tom and Tim for providing realistic views, particularly Tom’s commentary on our attempts to relocate in Costa Rica. We are looking forward to moving down there, but what a hassle it seems to be!

    I hope to bring several sporting guns to CR and am told that the CR red-tape on guns is fierce! There are a number of gun shop/dealers in San Jose. I refuse to believe that it’s as bad as it sounds. Please tell me I’m right.

  21. Tim on May 23, 2007 9:25 am

    Actually, as I do not own a gun, I cannot reassure you.

    The basics are 1. You need to be a resident and I believe (but am not 100% sure), that this means a permanent resident.

    You also need to visit a psychiatrist and must take an psychiatric exam (in Spanish) to test your mental stability.

    I do not think that is a lot of red tape to go through to own a weapon.

    I am curious though. As hunting is almost non existent here, why bring them at all? (unless you are shooting skeet which IS done here).

  22. Cy Bolinger on May 23, 2007 11:01 am

    Thanks for your reply!

    I shoot skeet and trap, so does my wife, so do 3 of my daughters and their families (now grown). All also target-shoot in private gun clubs with quite expensive rifles and hand-guns; I shoot in competition. Are the gun shops in San Jose and other CR places selling only to non-hunters and people who do not engage in shooting for sport other than skeet? I’m definitely a gun-control advocate, but then, as Emerson said, “Any excess is a defect…” Here in the US there are far too many guns, especially military-like weapons, and, most assuredly, people who NEED psychiatric examinations for gun ownership abound.

  23. Tim on May 23, 2007 11:12 am

    Ahh OK, but sadly, I am just not the guy to answer this. Go to http://www.therealcostarica.com and do a search for ‘user groups’, then join a couple and make some posts with your questions. Someone will know. There are some true anti gun (for any reason) nuts down here, so expect some flack.

  24. Ligia on June 14, 2007 12:54 pm

    I am a costa rican from san ramon and i live in colorado i love costa rica and i know the crime is getting higher and higher and the police dont do much, so thats when we have to “linchar” those..people. I own a house in Costa Rica and i got robed once,and that is enough i got myself an automatic gun and when i hear something in the cafetal a start shutting and that took care of it, obiously the gringo ambience is more provocative and we all are affective by this.Crime is getting higher in the world, its the sad realty..

  25. joe on June 15, 2007 6:35 am

    Hi folks, I have been going to Costa Rica for the past 11 winters and it has definitely gotten worse. For example, in 2006 there were over 70 bus robberies. The over building is rampant. Consider this, Jaco is building condo highrises and the town has no fire department or sewage system. This lack of infrastrucure is country wide. I am sorry to say that I could never recommend this country to my older friends. It isn’t the paradise it use to be.

  26. Victoria Mattice on June 24, 2007 1:30 pm

    My older sister along with her husband and three young children recently moved to Costa Rica and i worry about them getting mugged or even one of the children getting stolen. I trust that they’ll be smart and pay close attention to the kids but theres this awful feeling i get, i think some thing may happen to them, i mean going on vacation and actually living in Costa Rica are two different things!

  27. james on July 8, 2007 3:44 pm

    I bought some land between San Ramon and Naranjo last year. I have been back to San ramon twice since my first visit and each time, I have felt more comfortable. I curently live in Miami and will retire to the property in 5 years. We are fluent spanish speakers and I would never consider living in any gated community.

    All these opinions about crime in Costa Rica are coming from so many different people who, in turn , come from so many different situations. Crime and expectations of crime vary. A tourist from a midwestern suburb is going to have a different profile and attitude than a tourist from Miami or New York City. But one thing is for sure, crime is on the rise everywhere on the planet including Costa Rica. At the same time economies are becoming more intertwined in the world, societal plagues like crime is also becoming more prevelant everywhere. The world is shrinking. We are all becoming more and more alike, more homogeneous. Does anyone think that paradise can really be walled off from the world? The small part of Costa Rica that I have become somemwhat acquanted with still looks and feels like the closest thing to paradise I have seen. It is certainly better than where I am right now and probably will be for a good while longer.

  28. Tim on July 8, 2007 6:11 pm

    Nice well thought-out comment.


  29. Michele Tennant on July 21, 2007 3:48 pm

    Even the Cops are criminals! This scam has me seriouslly pissed off.

    For the third time the local police have come to my
    mothers home trying to ‘steal’ money! The first time
    they came by, my mom and her husband were staying at
    the house. They are very nice and often naive. The
    police from the town of Cobano showed up on their door
    saying they had a call in Montezuma (in the opposite
    direction from Cobano) and they didn’t have enough gas
    and need to fill the patrol car. Mom gave them 20,000

    When she told me I flipped out. My husband’s
    father, William Carranza, is a traffic cop and knows
    how the money for the police and traffic cops works
    and they have no lack of funding for gas. My husband
    was also very angry. We told her not to give them
    anything else.

    They showed again the next week for the same reason my
    mom had told them previously that she was a member of
    TGIF and we might be able to help. The wanted to come
    to a meeting. (My husband was trying to figure out how to get their badge
    numbers and catch them on tape.) My mom said she’d be
    happy to help if she could have an official document
    with their names and badge numbers. They suddenly had
    some where important to be.

    Well I have been living in her house with my family
    for 9 months now. Three days ago as I was leaving the
    house to take my daughter to school I found two police
    standing outside my gate. I asked them (in Spanish)
    what they needed and they started talking about fuel
    and mentioned my father in-law William. This confused me and
    as my husband wasn’t home I called him on his cell
    phone and handed it to the cop.

    The cop told my husband that he needed gas for the
    patrol car and that William Carranza had suggested he
    ask us. He obviously thought I was my mother (which is
    stupid because she is 60 something).

    My husband pretended he didn’t know who William
    was and said he’d be happy to help if they wen to Paquera to meet him.
    While they were turning around to leave my husband
    called back. He can make three way calls on his phone
    and had his dad on the other line.

    I passed the phone to one of the cops and William listened as my
    husband asked again who suggested you come by our
    house and what is your name. When the cop had finished
    his lie my father is law let him have it and called
    him several name I will not repeat her.

    These cops were from Paquera, my husband’s home town.
    The next day I warned the people at the Remax
    office where I work. I found out from our
    secretary that they had come by the office too. They
    said since the boss wasn’t there could she give them
    money and have him pay her back. She said no way!

    Then I read yesterday in La Nacion (I think) that a
    police officer was in trouble because he ran out of
    gas during an arrest. He was being repremanded
    because as the cheif of police stated there was no
    reason for this. They are given 10,000 colones a day
    for gas. Five for the morning and five for the afternoon.
    This is for those who patrol this area in San Jose.

    The reason these cops in my area are taking money is
    for personal gain and nothing more. They were also intimidating
    a local Gringo who owns a bar into giving them Johny Walker
    blue label until we convinced him he could actually get in trouble
    for giving booz to a cop on duity.

    Crime is one thing but when the police try to steal
    from you that’s just insane!


  30. Michele Tennant on July 21, 2007 4:21 pm

    I read a few more posts and it is not just gringos in afluent eareas that get robbed.

    I have been living in a small community in Costa Rica for three years. First in Paquera,, now in Tambor. I am well intergrated. My husband of two years is Tico and his father comes from a family with thirteen children. My children attend public school and we all (now) Speak spanish.

    When my Tico brother in-law was staying in a small home in Paquera, (A town where he’s lived most of his life) someone snuck into the house through the bathroom window while they were sleeping. This guy stole a rice cooker full of rice, two frozen chickens, a well pump and some tools. Everyone in he area had been robbed of something or another (bikes, tools, car parts, food) and most were pretty sure who it was.

    Reports were made to the police who did nothing. (Aparently if they steal something worth less than $500 nothing is done) My brother in-law set a trap a few days later he left his bike in the yard and waited behind a tree with a pellet riffle. When the guy showed up and tried to take the bike he jumped out pretending it was a real gun. When the guy tried to run he wielded the gun like a bat and cracked the guy upside the head. He must have swung hard because the guy turned up for medical attention at the clinic that night.

    This did not cure the man or his desire to steal and after more thefts the neighbors began having meetings to see how to solve the problem. I attended a few myself. There was the problem of the thefts but also the problem of the cops who were doing nothing.

    A month later I learned that a large group of men from the community went down to the ferry doc and met the thief as he was getting off the ferry. He had spent the day in Puntarenas selling stolen goods. They beat the crap out of him and sent him back to Puntarenas.

    For several weeks he stayed away. When he tried to come back again, they beat him up again and put him back on the ferrry. The message must have sunk in the second time because he hasn’t come back and the neighborhood has been crime free since.

    Unfortunatey the locals had to become vigilantes to solve the problem and the police did nothing to help. But the Ticos took care of the problem in their way.


  31. Michele Tennant on July 21, 2007 5:08 pm

    Just incase you thought my posts meant that I feel costa rica is a dangerious place to live, I do not. I feel safe in the town were I live and use caution when I go to the city as i would in the US. I was a small town girl in California and I am a small town girl here too. Granted the town here is much smaller. My children who are 12 and 9 attend public school. I never fear they will be attacked or kidnaped and I feel much safer leaving them home alond here than I ever did in California. When they get off of school they walk a short way on the main road to the real estate office. They know to stay to the side of the road and the trafic is usually minimal.

    The locals keep an eye on the children too. They know who they belong to. The other day as I was leaving the house to pick up my daughter from school since she got out early and had called from the pay phone I ran out of gas in the drive way. (The gage is broken) I wasn’t sure how to get a message to her so a I called the secritary at the office, who called the owner of the grocery stor near the school and he went out and told her what had happend and to walk to the office and wait for my husband there. In Tambor and Paquera they still believe it take a village to raise a child. If a child were playing alone on the beach and a strainge man were to bother them three mothers would chase him off.

    I walk on the street at night without fear. The only crime I worry about is petty theft and we have a yard full of dogs to scare off would be robbers. We know our neighbors and look out for each other. Most violence that does occur is domestic. (Not that I condone it, but I married wisely so I’m not affected.)

    Who ever it was worried about their sisters kids getting kidnaped should just relax. Course I’d give a kidnapper three hours with my son before they brought him back and begged me to take him. (Just kidding folks, he’s just really stuborn.)

    But seriously crime is an issue but I have never feared for my safty in the town were I live. I wouldn’t leave my car unlocked with my laptop on the front seat but that just common sense.


  32. Charles on July 27, 2007 12:17 pm

    For Cy and all,

    I have many Tico friends. Some live in the city areas, some in the country. To address the two topics on this blog, first, let me say that you would be missing out on your life’s adventure Cy if you don’t give living in Costa Rica a try. With your income, you will have a very nice lifestyle. One Tico friend who had worked in the United States for many years has retired back to Costa Rica with a little more than half of your income and has enjoyed a nice life. He owns land, his home and oftens travels throughout Central and South America and back to the U.S. for vacations.
    Besides the cost of living, skip the gated communities and live among the nicest people you will ever meet. Enjoy all this country has to offer and look for the best in everyone. And the cost of fresh pineapples and all fruits and veggies will even make it that much more enjoyable! My local store in the U.S. sells a Costa Rican pineapple for $5!

    Now, second, of course, as everyone has noted, not everyone you meet will be your friend. Criminals exist everywhere on the planet. Is it really safe in the U.S? Stories abound everday about crime, we also have car alarms, burglar home security, pepper spray, guns, full jails, high murder rate, tv shows about criminals, kidnappings, etc. in the U.S. and there are many barbed wired cities in the U.S., similar to many other countries, including Costa Rica.
    I have friends from other countries who tell me they think Costa Rica is safer than theirs. Alas, some of my Tico friends have been robbed this year, in the San Jose area and out in the country. The robbers had guns in the city but not in the country. Again, crime is everywhere as I can tell you of the time my home was broken into, my car a few times and some friends whom were mugged and we think we live in a safe U.S. city.

    So, do your best to be as aware of your surroundings as you would anywhere you reside, learn Spanish if you have not, attend the local church, reach out to the community you elect to reside in, maybe meet other non-ticos as there are many around and enjoy your next adventure in life.
    Oh….and leave the guns at home. :-)
    Pura Vida!
    Tico Chuck

  33. Bill on July 27, 2007 3:52 pm

    I live near Nashville,Tennessee USA.I have owned a house in a rural area for 31 years and it was burglarized many years ago by a neighbor boy that lived in a rental house.No one has lived in the house for the past two years and there has not been a burglary.The house contains furniture,computers and a big screen TV.The USA is not all crime ridden.when people leave home they do not have house sitters.I have only been in CR one time for two weeks. A truly beautiful country with nice,neat people.To James who owns land in CR but lives in Miami-Is there a CR law that will give your land to a squatter?This law discourages absentee ownership.

  34. Tim on July 28, 2007 7:14 am

    There is no law that gives your land, but existing law does give squatters a right to live on your property permanently if they can prove they have lived there for a period of time… 1 year I think… but not sure. it is for sure not like a month! There are also many ways around this to protect the land owner.

    Most absentee owners just hire someone to visit their property once a month for a look. Costs almost nothing.

    Now I suppose if someone buys land in a foreign country with the idea of never returning to visit, then maybe it is best that the squatters use it! :)

  35. james on August 7, 2007 4:10 pm

    I visit my land twice a year and pay a local guy a monthly amount to keep up the grounds and to watch the place. When I expressed a concern about squatters, my Tico lawyer told me “There are still many people in Costa Rica who fear jail.”

  36. Casey on August 27, 2007 3:07 pm

    Anyone who thinks Robert Kiyosaki is anything more than another of many “financial advisor” scam artists obviously has no ability to do their own research let alone think for themselves… Sorry, I realize that’s in response to a months-old post above, but had to get it off my chest.

    Anyway, really appreciate the comments above about the crime situation in CR. Taken all together they give a very balanced and common sense assessment. Being one who always tries to “integrate” even on short trips to any foreign country (otherwise, why not just stay home?), I can attest to the side benefits of that kind of orientation making you safer (or at least feel safer).

    Of course, it only takes one time as a victim to (at least in the short term) sour one on humans and for others to use such incidents as an excuse to inflate their own fears. This is life, however, good and bad, and one should accept it that despite our best efforts we can have bad luck. Keep your head up and put all this in perspective with the other good (and bad) aspects to life in a foreign country and you’ll do OK.

    If you are simply looking for a way to avoid becoming a crime victim, … well, … you’re probably not going to be successful, IMHO. I mean, jeez, if you’re a US citizen your own government is stealing your resources right now, not to mention your children’s, grandchildren’s, etc.


  37. veronica on September 5, 2007 5:48 pm

    The comments and information on this site are a real eye opener. My husband and I (both in our 30’s) are talking about the possibility of relocating to another county to experience a different lifestyle and a new culture. We live in beautiful area of Canada but want to experience a new way of life. After doing some homework it is apparent we will have to invest alot of time and research our options before we make the move. Our problem (if you want to call it that) is we will have to work to support ourselves as we are not retiree’s. This is a great resource and a fantastic website!

  38. Cruiser on October 11, 2007 3:06 pm

    The fellow that runs this site has done a great job and the technical aspects of his information are accurate. I am a member of the ARCR and retired to CR three years ago. I don’t agree with his personal views of Costa Rica, probably because I am not in business here or married to a Costa Rican. Every persons point of view, depends on their individual situation. I am telling you how it is from a retired foeigners perspective.

    I agree with the folks who say it depends where you live in regards to the types of crimes being committed in Costa Rica, but in the North Pacific the crimes are serious, violent and getting worse.

    Don’t let anyone fool you, Costa Rica is a bad place for retired people. You are totally on your own. No help from Police, Ticos, the government, no one.

    This country is suited for young folks, surfers, tokers and snorters. It’s no place for honest people.

    In every town in Costa Rica, on just about every house you will see bars. The bars are for one reason: If you don’t have them you’re getting robbed, period. Home invaision is a past time in Tamarindo right now, today October 11, 2007. Shootings, muggings, disappearances and dengue fever is out of control.

    If you want to live behind bars and if you don’t want to go anywhere, because if you do you’ll get robbed, then come on down to Costa Rica.

    TicoGrande is right, rent before you buy if you come here, because you will be packing your stuff and heading home sooner than you think.

    As for bringing firearms here, forget it! Last thing we need in Costa Rica is another gun the criminal can use on their victims.

    One last thing. I don’t live in a gated, guarded community or in gringoville and where I live, in Tico land, we all get robbed, Canadians, Americans, Ticos, Nicas, evryone gets it.

    Oh and just one more thing: Don’t bring your dog, they posion dogs here! For the dogs they don’t poision, well those dogs wish they were poisioned, because in Costa Rica dogs are treated poorly.

  39. cindy h on October 14, 2007 7:46 pm

    In response to Cruiser, there is one group that you left out, this country is absolutly not suited for a single woman moving here as an expat. I find your assesments completely accurate. I live in a tico neighborhood, low profile, my own security, but crime is not isolated to expats, thieves prey on poor Costaricans as well. Who wants to live in a country where you cant put lights out on Christmas, your at risk of armed robbery when putting out your trash from a locked gate, my dog was murdered, every Tico, bar none has had a dishonest agenda when doing any work on my property. This has gone on for almost 3 years. Some kind of paradise…. I’ve had enough. I wont even visit this country again.

  40. frank gerath on December 6, 2007 7:23 am

    is there work in cr for me i am 47 and have 3 kids and wife could i buy a small apt complex and run it you talk about crime in the cr i live 22 miles from phil pa talk about crime its all over the place hoods gangs high taxes a goverment that is about to fall let me otta here frank

  41. Tim on December 6, 2007 8:28 am
  42. Emilia Davila on December 27, 2007 12:10 am

    Totally agree with Cruiser and CindyH above. The violence, crime, introduction of drugs and addiction to the once safe wholesome streets of CR, along with all the jobless Nicas, columbian drug lords have overtaken this one peaceful nation. It wasnt long ago that the president won the Nobel Peace Prize and that this country was considered the Switzerland of Central America. The police did not arm themselves, etc, etc, etc… Sorry but the bottom line is that Costa Rica was so quickly overtaken by this crime wave, which increases more and more on a daily basis, that it simply cannot keep up the criminals are winning. There are barios where the police wont even set foot, they are too afraid they are neither equiped or enough of them to face these thugs. The head of the police recently resigned saying that he has had enough. Not enough funding for the arms they need to keep order and the numbers of men. Yes, there may be crime in the states, however, we still have law and order. Something, unfortunately, this beautiful lost paradise cannot grasp or catch up with. I feel safer anyday on the streets of New York City, Boston, LA than in downtown San Jose where the police choose to look the other way, sometimes becuase of their own safety! Its not fair to lie to people who want honesty. Costa Rica simply is not a safe place, yes you can lose your life or that of a loved one!

  43. Avery Marie on December 29, 2007 2:37 pm

    Wow, this sure is discouraging…After doing much research, we recently put a down payment on a gated community, under construction, in Jaco. Our visit to Jaco this month was nothing short of wonderful and we decided to act on our desire to retire in this climate.
    Now, I read these mainly negative posts and I am wondering if I have made a bad mistake or if it is usually the people who want to complain who post here.

  44. Tim on December 29, 2007 2:47 pm

    Jaco has serious issues and while some of these comments are a tad over the top, for the most part they are accurate. Between the crime and the pollution of the beaches, Jaco really needs to fix these issues.

    This is why, for about the 12,000th time, I tell people DO NOT BUY PROPERTY IN COSTA RICA UNTIL YOU HAVE LIVED HERE AT LEAST NINE MONTHS!!!

    In addition to probably paying too much, you simply have not seen the many many locations without pollution and/or crime.

    Anyway… good luck!

  45. Jan Stark on December 30, 2007 3:22 pm

    My husband and I are planning a 2 week trip to CR in May 2008. We will be renting as car and spending most of our time on the Pacific North side, heading south along the coastline for a few of our days . I have read all of this blog and am getting a little worried for our safety. I/we are trying to learn a litle Spanish but have never been too good at picking up languages. Is it safe for 50 something folks to travel up and down the coast? We plan on staying at moderately priced hotels. Do these provide safe parking and sleeping accommodations.
    Any help would be appreciated.

  46. Steve on January 10, 2008 12:55 pm

    I have family living in Jacó, my 72 year old brother and his wife and they love it. So, I decided to go for a visit. From the first few hours the contradictions grew, most obvious were the burglar bars. My first visit was for a week. I liked the place, the locals seemed nice but I didn’t speak much Spanish and so it was shy looks all around and sticking close to my folks. When I came back to Florida I began studying the language in earnest and got a handle on it. I decided to go back to do total immersion for a month, living with two different Tico families, one in the country near Grecia and the other in Heredia, to experience life in a college city. Both families were great, each in its own way, both had in common a genuine warmth and decency, both worried over their kid’s education, were concerned over what kind of life would be there for them. Both families lived behind bars, locked gates, both stressed to me to not go out by myself at night, especially in Heredia. In Costa Rica, they say the innocent live in jail, the criminals are outside and free. Back in Jaco for a weekend I was invited to a party, my family’s expat friends, a group of talented caring people, bright retirees. One couple had a little finca in the country where they were living the dream, raising charming little CR horses, enjoying the flora and fauna. Recently the charming wife was ganged raped in her home. The couple have sold the finca and moved back into town, to stay for how long, I don’t know. On my previous trip a couple of years ago I met another couple, friends of my family. The wife had been robbed in her town house in a gated community, the men were workers hired by another expat to do construction, climbed up and over a high wall and terrorized her for hours, finally leaving with all they could carry. The Tico’s blame the Nicaraguans, the Colombians and really believe it. Recently a Nicaraguan man was mauled to death by guard dogs on a public street and no one even tried to stop it. The man who ownes the dogs said that’s what they are for. He was not fined. Sorry, I thoroughly enjoyed being inside the fold of native Costa Ricans but I can’t help seeing the trouble there and most all the Tico friends I made agreed it was getting worse and the prospects are not good. Recently a huge tax increase on ocean side property has added to the feeling that resentment of locals has reached a new level. Taxes need to be raised, but gradually, not suddenly higher by sometimes several hundred percent. My family there seems philosophical about the risks, hires security and so on. Not for me. Too bad, it’s a tough problem for all.

    My two cents,
    Steve in Florida

  47. Tim on January 10, 2008 2:53 pm

    “Recently a Nicaraguan man was mauled to death by guard dogs on a public street and no one even tried to stop it. The man who ownes the dogs said that’s what they are for. He was not fined.”

    Ummmm not quite. This took place on private property while the man was in the process of robbing the bodega (warehouse). It is true the police did not stop it. They (the police) have been criminally indicted for not taking action. The owner was not able to control the dogs and asked the police to intervene. The man was Nicaraguan and illegally in CR.

    As for crime here… it exists. People come here because they either do not want to pay the high taxes in the USA or perhaps because they can’t afford to do so. Either way, those high US taxes pay for police and emergency services as well as schools, etc.

    You CAN NOT have it both ways!

    You can not expect US services and pay the almost none existent Costa Rica taxes. One way or another, you ARE going to pay.

  48. Steve on January 11, 2008 9:59 am

    Here’s a less sanguine take on the fatal incident, from a piece in “Le Monde Diplomatique” by
    By Raphaëlle Bail (the rest of the essay is of interest, read it here


    “Open season

    Relations have deteriorated since the end of 2005 when Costa Rica responded to the flood of immigrants by passing new legislation in imitation of the United States. Costa Rica’s new president, the 1987 Nobel peace prizewinner Oscar Arias, is not a member of the party that introduced the new law. He described it as draconian and suggested that it could transform the immigration police into a Gestapo.

    The legislation, like that currently being debated in the US, would create new barriers to legal immigration and declare open season on illegal immigrants and those who house or employ them. To be genuinely effective, these measures require human and financial resources that Costa Rica does not possess.

    It is possible to see this legislation as a token response to the anger of Costa Ricans, which has reached fever pitch. One night in November 2005 the owner of a workshop 30km outside San José set his two rottweiler dogs on a young Nicaraguan who was thought to be breaking in. The police were called, but just watched as the dogs killed the man. Film of the incident led the television news, and Costa Rica’s first hate crime worsened tension between the countries. Several months later, amid the bright flowerbeds of La Merced park, where San José’s Nicaraguans meet every day, a young immigrant told me: “What happened that day really scared us. We were used to racism, but to die like that, it’s too horrible. People in Nicaragua are afraid too. One of my cousins has decided to go to El Salvador instead: it’s less dangerous and she doesn’t need a visa.”

    The speaker was 28 and has been in Costa Rica illegally for five years. He does building work in the provinces and comes to see his wife and son in San José every weekend. Like many others, he is happy to have a son born here: “That way, he has Costa Rican nationality.”

    Costa Rica, like the US, has a serious problem with illegal immigration. So far neither has found a human solution.

  49. sal dilanjian on January 13, 2008 11:30 pm

    I was in Costa Rica 40yrs.ago,just like in the States crime was almost unheard of.So the societies in the world have gotten much worse.On the other hand in Southeast Asia crime is low,because of a strong police force.Panama has a strong police presence and is much safer than Costa Rica.To deter crime most arab countries have public executions.So humans will steal or rob,unles they know the their actions will get them locked up for many years.So drugs and guns in Costa Rica should be dealt with severe punishments.Teenagers,should be released next day for a crime

  50. Abdiel Malavasi on January 15, 2008 12:37 pm

    I agree that there`s crime in CR, but come on! if you go to the beach and leave your brand new camera on the sand you can get robbed in US, France, UK or any other country, it`s just a common sense matter! some others are in spring break and are drunk or have taken drugs in the early morning and go to dangerous and lonely places, what are they thinking?!! I also know about girls that are parting and take with them to their place guys that don´t know and meet the very same day, how are they not supposed to get robbed? . I`m tico, work in Tamarindo Beach, i have a while living here now and i can tell that most of the time the tourits ARE NOT the victims, they BECAME victims by themselves.

  51. Tim on January 15, 2008 3:39 pm

    I agree with this. It is good advice.

  52. Cods on January 26, 2008 9:29 pm

    Sounds to me like you not only need a gun but a conceiled handgun law too. A few rounds of 000 buckshot out of a 12 guage will protect you and your home. A .45LC on your person will protect you on the street. Both will make them think twice especially if they know anyone they approach may be carrying. The castle law is a wonderful and just law ! I work in some rough high crime places and have seen and experienced plenty. Not since the right to carry law and the expanded castle laws were past. I carry a big .45 and while it is conceilled it is very obvious it is there and what it is. No one has approached me nor my coworkers. It may be crude but trust me, you won’t be mugged or pick pocketed. I have been to CR before and loved it in 2000 and really thought about a move as I am retiring soon but after what I have seen here the crooks,police or locals wouldn’t like us and our ways of protecting our lives and property and we would protect them !

  53. Brian of Valle Azule on February 11, 2008 11:36 pm

    I read most of the emails. Crime is everywhere. A California legislator Ron Perata was car jacked in broad daylight and over 20 people were killed by gun fire in the bay area last Saturday night.
    The people of Costa Rica that I have met are the honest ones. The crooks have been from Holland or the US.
    If you are stupid and leave yourself exposed, you will be robbed anywhere. New York safe? You are kidding. The cops told my wife she was not holding her purse tight enough and they were surprised we had not been mugged.
    Miami, on our last trip I saw more bars on homes and big dogs in Miami than in Costa Rica.
    We have two properties in CR. In the Tambor area and in Guapiles.
    Have we had problems, sure. but nothing worse than the US. Most US homes have electronic security and hired security guards in gated communities, Laguna Beach CA.
    Crooked cops, some are crooked in every community.
    Costa Rica has to invest in police as we finally did years ago. I have many Tico friends that I trust with my family and my property. I know some Ticos that I would never trust with my trash, just like the US.
    There are people all over the world that are good and bad.
    In CR you need to be wise and careful, just like any where else in the world.
    Ask the 20 churches in England that lost their copper roofs over the last 90 days due to the theft of the copper roofs.
    Be safe.

  54. MiMi on March 15, 2008 12:24 am

    what are the boat harbors like? are they high crime areas also? my husband and two young children are planning trip to check CR our via sailboat. are there still pirates out there? if so, where are they? are the beaches really getting that dirty as i have read? i thought Costa Rica was supposed to be the “proper” of the Latin countries? i am grieved to read about the criminal injustice that sounds to be running rampant. so sad.

    are Christians targets also? I know religious crimes are on the uprise also. I have two young children that I love very much. I would hate to jump out of the American melting pot into the Costa Rican frying pan of fear and crime!

  55. cape cod mike on March 16, 2008 7:19 pm

    I lived in CR for about 6 months in the late 70s….living the surfers dream. Have always wanted to return and thinking seriously of buying a building lot in a gated golf community. Just one question……..why would companies like Ritz Carlton, One and Only, Four Seasons, etc invest so much in an area that is so bad that once a person visits they will never return….just a thought.

  56. jaik on March 20, 2008 5:56 am

    im from russia but born and raised in middle east amman jordan. after living here i n amman for 37 years(all my life) here is some of the latest crimes i read in local news papers offcourse the ones not known by the public are much more horrible, new born babys thrown in plastic bags in or near garbige containers, old man dies in hospital doctors and head of hospital arrested invistigation for cause still going, 5 yrs old boy missing for 3 weeks now last seen playing in the street infront of his house. half million$ stollin from money exchange shop in zarqa city 20 k.m from amman . actually lot of bad things happen that are much worse. i have a little girl almost 5 yrs her mother cuban im divorced, i,ve been doing some research on costa rica and with all its ups and downs i feel its a nice place i will give it a try this coming june, in few months time but i like to find a place with locals if i can rent a room or little place. every where you go theres good and bad you have to deal with it and find a place for some peace of mind , some thing i truely need these days.

  57. jaik on March 20, 2008 6:01 am

    my girl is coming with me for this trial trip. is that a good idea?

  58. Karen on March 27, 2008 9:11 am

    Back in 2005 my husband and I (with our 5 year old daughter) decided that we would try a move to Costa Rica. We did all the research that we could humanly possibly do. We even spoke with a C.R. friend in the US for advice as to where to go, etc. We had visited C.R. once before in ’96, never San Jose, only the northern coast and the area around Tabacon and we loved it. However, the moment we arrived in C.R. the second time, we could tell how things really have changed for the worse. We were warned at the car rental agency ooutsie of the ariport about crime and that the latest trend was about thieves following you while driving and the moment you stopped at a light or sign, they would slash the tires of your car, wait for you to stop to change the tire. Once you stop to change the tire, they move in on their crime and rob you of all of your belongings. Well, we read the warning and did not think it could happen to us, but it did on the second day we were there. The crime did not conclude itself because we stopped to change our slashed tire in front of the entrance to a business with armed guards in the front. We knew we were being followed so we drove until we found a spot we felt safe to change our tire (we didn’t care if we broke the rim or anything else)! That same day, we drove back to the airport, called our travel agent in the US, cancelled our tickets (had to pay a fine for doing that) and flew back to the US. I will not recommed C.R. to anyone. I think the dream is gone, humans have ruined it, just like they have ruined everything else. I rather deal with all the uncertainty in the US than to live in a lawless country. Paradise is only in our heads (we learned this the hard way). There are many other problems in C.R. besides crime; poor infrastructure, kidnappings, etc. etc. It is not worth it. Just to think of what could have happened to my family for making such a crazy “adventurous decision”. And no, C.R. is not any better than Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua or Colombia. I have many friends from all these countries and the reality is that all these countries are plagued with the same identical problems. The title of C.R. being the Switzerland of Central America is deceiving and not a reality at all. Lastly, it is not cheap, the prices are comparable to the high prices in Miami. Good luck to you all.

  59. MiMi on March 31, 2008 1:16 pm

    sounds like it doesn’t matter whether you are Christian or pagan-crime see’s opportunity and not faces, huh? does anyone know about the harbors though, for sailors? i have heard that Tambor is nice, is that true? or is the whole country corrupt?

  60. Brooke on April 10, 2008 11:09 am

    I have yet to go to Costa Rica but I am planning on going to Tamarindo Beach to learn to speak spanish. After reading some of the comments from above I would get my hopes up about that “yes..this won’t be bad at all!” Then there were some comments where it is making me think twice about going. I am from North America and even a few members of my family who married into the Spanish culture tell me not to go to Costa Rica because it’s as if I would be a moving target. After reading that Tamarindo Beach was a big crime spot because of tourism I’m not sure if I would go. I have already traveled to Europe and Costa Rica is yet another stop on my traveling list but I just need some pointers on what to do so if I do go I emerse myself in the culture without getting lost,robbed, or scared.

  61. Tim on April 11, 2008 6:31 am

    Not sure why you would pay the slightest attention to anyone’s opinion who doe not even live here… but

    Just use common sense when traveling and there will be no problems.

  62. soflodoug on April 11, 2008 8:38 pm

    All of the stories are believable and most likely true. I lived in cr for 9 months. I spent the first 3 getting my house robbed and the other 6 collecting from ins insurance,however i was lucky I sold my house in 2 weeks!
    Dont worry about buying property in cr you can always sell it,there is always another sucker coming off the plane.
    However for the more cosmopolitan person who doesent want to live with the “poor people” too close check out panama,great prices,no realestate taxes for 20 years and prices of televisions and much much more 1/3 to 1/2 the prices of costa rica.
    In Costa rica use your common sense to the utmost and trust your gut at all times,sure some people are friendly but costa ricans are not used to americans as panamanians are,and the cultural differences can drive some people crazy,like me,but I like the more relaxed feeling of the culture as I am single and love the beautiful women.
    But again I think the big issue is not to live too close to the poor people,or you will get robbed.
    Tint the windows of your car dark as possible and just go about your business like you know what you are doing. If you have questions about panama let me know I am a licensed realestate professional and own property in pamama and I may even invest again in costa rica soon.

  63. sean on April 12, 2008 8:12 am

    I recently returned from CR on a two week trip. We spent time in San Jose and Jaco. Common sense and street savy is a must if you are going to visit there. At first I reserved a car for my trip, but then was advised against it. There are taxis everywhere and they are very cheap, most times under 2.00 including 4 passengers. Rental cars are a bullseye for thieves.
    There aren’t very many good maps of Costa Rica so if you’re not sure where you are going I would hire transport. I hired a taxi for a 100.00 to take me to Jaco from San Jose and it was well worth it. Once in Jaco we walked everywhere, or hired a taxi for about 1.40. I probably wouldn’t take my wife and daughter next time I go unless we stayed in nice hotels which are expensive. There is 24 hour armed security at the nicer hotels.
    I wouldn’t advise walking around at night alone, but it isn’t necessary. Remember this is a third world nation! The police aren’t going to get your handbag back if it’s stolen. So don’t take your handbag outside! I’ve been told that in Jaco the police won’t even write a report if the theft isn’t over 1000.00. Don’t wear jewelry or expensive watches. Costa Ricans are simple people. Try to blend in a little. Don’t be flamboyant and bring attention to yourself. And don’t look like you are lost.
    I would apply all the same rules to visiting New York City. Actually I percieved a much higher threat of danger whenever I visit New York.

    I can’t wait to return to this very beautiful, magnificant, wonderful and exciting country!

  64. Tim on April 12, 2008 8:52 am

    Finally… someone who “gets it!”

    Everything he mentions falls under the “common sense” category… though I disagree CR is third world… more like second world. Bangladesh is third world :)

    Nice comment.

  65. jaik on April 21, 2008 12:28 am

    can any one give a comparison between venezuela and costa rica regarding cost of living safety and the locals.

  66. m j on April 23, 2008 6:46 am

    My college age son and a friend are coming to CR to work on a charter fishing boat . Im not for it but you cant stop them. Any thoughts?

  67. Tim on April 23, 2008 7:15 am

    Well… all depends on how mature is your son and of course how bright he is. I know a fair number of college age kids who act very mature and act intelligently and use caution and common sense. On the other hand I know of a ton of 50 years old men who behave like teenagers.

    I presume he knows that he absolutely can NOT work here legally which places him in the position of being arrested at any time. If he is deported he will be barred from re-entering CR.

    Beach areas in general are higher crime areas which usually does not affect adult travelers as they are not stupid enough to be walking on the beaches at night or on the streets at 2 AM after closing a bar.

    A 20 year old though may think he is bullet proof (figuratively!) and sadly, many have the common sense of a artichoke.


  68. Andie on May 3, 2008 3:25 pm

    Wow! There’s a lot of differing opinions here.

    I spent 9 days in CR this last February and loved it. My boyfriend spent a month and a half and loved it so much he decided to buy a small condo in a gated community for vacations. We spent the bulk of our time in Jaco (we also travelled north & south of there) and although it most definitely is a party town, it was still lovely and fun and we had no problems whatsoever. We even had a rental vehicle with no troubles. Taxis were cheap if we went out drinking. We spent the late late evenings back at the condo – not wandering around town to get mugged :o) This gated community, though small, is half part-time gringo and half full-time local Costa Ricans. Almost all are friends of ours and it was a wonderful place to stay and spend time in CR. I felt very safe, and our friends watch the place as they are full-time residents!

    There are still a ton of places that do not have barred windows, as opposed to Cruiser’s post in December 2007:
    (“In every town in Costa Rica, on just about every house you will see bars. The bars are for one reason: If you don’t have them you’re getting robbed, period.” ).
    My boyfriend’s cousin has lived in CR since he was a child & currently lives in Guanacaste in a small town with his CR girlfriend and child and doesn’t see many problems there. Most of the houses in that town do not have bars. The people are friendly and neighborly, and he knows many of them well. He rents a home and it is very inexpensive. His life is not overly lavish but he has all the necessities and most of the simple luxuries that we all have – he’s not poor, by any means!

    I’m not saying that there’s not crime. But for crying out loud be intelligent about travelling.

    I wouldn’t necessarily recommend renting a car, although we did. It is quite expensive, the maps aren’t very good, and GPS isn’t always helpful. The driving is about the only fast thing in CR, and if you don’t really really pay attention, you could get in an accident as people don’t often follow what we consider to be basic traffic rules (ie: they pass on curves and stop for no apparent reason) ;o) Buses and taxis are so cheap anyways.

    I don’t know…just don’t let other people’s few bad experiences scare you away from visiting CR, if that’s what you want to do. I loved it and will be coming back every year!

  69. Cy Bolinger on May 4, 2008 3:23 pm

    Having occasionally submitted comments for The Real Costa Rica blog, here I go again. Just returned from San Jose, Wednesday (the 30th) and, while ever so slowly, braving customs at the Houston airport, I mused about “thoughts Costa Rican” to my lovely wife. They need addressing (those thoughts, that is)! We were returning from our final trip to find a house and make the all important decision on where to permanently live in tiny little Costa Rica with a big heart and “Pura Vida”. Well, it was not an easy task (finding a place to live) after all, there are so many truly beautiful parts of this country, the choice is very difficult, but one thing we were certain of: –no gated American communities, or enclaves, or too many other newly built places around San Jose and bunches of fried chicken franchises, Burger King and Mcdonald’s, playing to the all time fat-ness of Americana. Aha! I finally discovered the foibles of what’s growing like a cancer in Costa Rica. Simple. It’s us Americans. If you don’t believe me, check out the hordes of Americans filling up the hotels, restaurants, all the touristy places and then deciding maybe it would be a good idea to just move down there where things are cheaper! It’s becoming scam artists’ delight, hawking wares of everything from American builders and developers, blog-site list hustles (not “The Real Costa Rica”), tours, residency services, services for nefarious junkets to gambling places and even “oldest profession in the world” brothels. It’s all about the DNA or life’s blood of scam artists all over the world. Greed and suckers, by golly! Real suckers! and, who’s a better sucker than another American? We have many friends all over Costa Rica who complain about too many ugly Americans in the land of “Pura Vida”. I hate to say it, but many of those friends are either jealous about not being innovative enough to get into the “hustling” acts, or, too naive to realize they/we are victims of our own undoing, and sitting ducks –just waiting for the slight of hand of our own kind, better still, Ticos who are at the top of the learning curve of having Americans figured out. How can we blame this rapidly growing discord in a country of refinement, beauty and all of the good things? We really need to look in the mirror.
    Cy Bolinger

  70. Walter on May 18, 2008 9:56 am

    To the owner of this blog!
    Sir, I find the following comment very offensive and I think you’re absolutely delirious.

    The owner of this blog wrote: “I find this pretty amusing (the irony, not the crime) that Gringos moved there in the first place to be comfortable living with other Gringos. They perceive safety (in numbers) living behind those gated communities while not actually having to deal with the “natives”. They do not want to learn Spanish and have no desire to integrate into the Latin culture. That is fine and is their right”

    First of all you’re wrong. You and any other American who thinks they can come to Costa Rica, not assimilate the culture, not learning the language which is Spanish and spewing the “right” to not integrate? Pal, I have every right to retaliate against comments like this because I’ve lived in the States for 13 years straight.
    Every year that lived here I heard how if we, the immigrants, wanted to be Americans or American Like, we had to abide, assimilate, learn and integrate to the American lifestyle. Not doing so would render us, undesirables.

    Well, I’d like to slap the concept in your face now. I’m going back home and after being a proud American Like immigrant, I’m proud to say I paid my taxes, obeyed the laws, assimilated the culture, improved on my English, and socialized with the locals. It wasn’t out of options, I had no choice.

    As I type, I can’t stop thinking of how I will make sure the same nonsense I endured here doesn’t spread in my beautiful Costa Rica.

    If you, or any other American wants to go to Costa Rica, you will have to abide by our laws, learn our language, assimilate our lifestyle and not doing so doesn’t constitute your right!

    What makes you better than us Costa Ricans who come to your country to do as you say and have you not do as we say? What are you out of your mind?

    I will absolutely dissagree with any gringo or any other NON COSTA RICAN CITIZEN wanting to come to my beautiful Costa Rica to do as they please. Costa Rica is not your ground to do as you please sir nor it is your playground.

    As immigrants you will be treated as such, exactly as we immigrants were treated here. You gave us, we will give you, you granted, we will grant, you provided we will provide.

    Don’t forget, that there are immigrants here in the United States who are going back home filled with knowledge, wealth, skills and with a taste of the American lifestyle and we will make sure, the same way we were treated here in the states is the same was we will treat you there, in Costa Rica.

    God bless everyone! Not just america!

  71. Estefan on May 20, 2008 4:11 pm

    Walter, it would appear you just never bothered to read anything written by this blog owner or, like so many people these days, you simply chose to take words out of context. Your comment is not only 100% wrong, but if you really are Costa Rican, you have lived far too long in the USA.

    Did you not get it that he was telling people how dumb they were to live with a bunch of other “Gringos” as opposed to living in a Tico neighborhood where they could lean the language and adapt?

    To wit:

    “First of all you’re wrong. You and any other American who thinks they can come to Costa Rica, not assimilate the culture, not learning the language which is Spanish and spewing the “right” to not integrate? Pal, I have every right to retaliate against comments like this because I’ve lived in the States for 13 years straight.
    Every year that lived here I heard how if we, the immigrants, wanted to be Americans or American Like, we had to abide, assimilate, learn and integrate to the American lifestyle. Not doing so would render us, undesirables.”

    What are you talking about?

    First, this blogger has written at least twenty times that foreignors living in Costa Rica absolutely must learn the language in order to enjoy life here and to fit in to the culture. They must respect the laws and if they do not like them, they should return to the own country. How you possibly could get anything other than that indicates that you surely have trouible undertanding plain English!

    “Well, I’d like to slap the concept in your face now. I’m going back home and after being a proud American Like immigrant, I’m proud to say I paid my taxes, obeyed the laws, assimilated the culture, improved on my English, and socialized with the locals. It wasn’t out of options, I had no choice.”

    Good for you! That is exactly what this blogger has said ANY foreigner must do to live here and enjoy it. How you got anything else from his posts is beyond me.

    “If you, or any other American wants to go to Costa Rica, you will have to abide by our laws, learn our language, assimilate our lifestyle and not doing so doesn’t constitute your right!

    What makes you better than us Costa Ricans who come to your country to do as you say and have you not do as we say? What are you out of your mind?”

    If someone is out of their mind buddy, it is YOU.

    1. American does NOT mean Gringo. ANYONE from north America, south America or Central America is AMERICAN. Maybe YOU meant North American? In any case, I have never seen this blogger say anyone did not have to obey laws in Costa Rica. What nonsense!

    2. There is no law here that says anyone has to learn Spanish much less assimilate the culture. Costa Rica is a free and democratic country and makes no such demands on foreigners. Some people do, some don’t, but there is no law that says it is required. Why speaking Spanish is not even required if a foreigner applies for Costa Rica citizenship. Did you know that?

    The guy who writes this blog and the main web site state clearly that learning Spanish and appreciating the culture is something that should be done if ANY foreighner want to truly enjoy life here. He constantly tells people how their lives will be more enjoyable if they do learn Spanish, but make no mistake, it is not required by anyone much less the Costa Rica government.

    He stated:

    “They do not want to learn Spanish and have no desire to integrate into the Latin culture. That is fine and is their right”

    He is correct! That is their right. If they want to live with a bunch of other people from their country and never do anything to to join in, that is their right. There is again no law that says different. Go to New York, Chicago, LA or any big US city and you will find whole neighborhoods where there is no English spoken, they have their own newspapers, TV and radio stations. That is their right just as it is here. I am glad you learned and tried to adapt, but as you well know, you did not have to. You chose to in order to fit and perhaps make a better living.

    “I will absolutely dissagree with any gringo or any other NON COSTA RICAN CITIZEN wanting to come to my beautiful Costa Rica to do as they please. Costa Rica is not your ground to do as you please sir nor it is your playground.”

    Where did he say that??

    It is unbelievable that you read his words yet understood not one thing he was trying to say. In case you have not kept up with the enormous increase in violent crime here, let me send you a message. It is not the North Americans that are the problem. It is foreigners the large majority of whom DO speak Spanish and have no respect for Costa Rica.

    A larger number of criminal every day are Ticos and are gang members.

    The foreign criminals do not care. Many brag that if caught, and they are all the time, and are deported, they just come back the following week. WHy? Because Costa Rica seldom jails them. The just deport them and back they come a few days later because Costa Rica is easy on criminals, especially foreign criminals.

    I have lived here for almost 20 years and I have never once read about US citizens hijacking cars, murdering people, robbing tourists or anything else like that.

    Also, I visit my home near LA and travel frequently to the US. There are no laws there that say anyone need learn English. In fact there are areas where nobody speaks one word of English. California schools are faced with this all the time.

    I read your comment twice and for sure, you have no idea what you are talking about. Maybe if you really are Costa Rican, you are referring to a Costa Rica from many years ago. Belive me, that Costa Rica is gone.

    I will not say I agree with every single word this guy writes, but of all the web sites and blogs on Costa Rica, this is only one that never disrespects the Costa Rica people and never tries to sell out Costa Rica. He speaks bluntly and tells the truth, and over the past several years, I know of only once where I did not think he hit the nail squarely on the head. He tells people what they need to know if they plan to live here.

    You sir, just have no clue about what you are writing about and if you have one ounce of class, you would post a retraction comment so you do not look so foolish.

  72. Tim on May 21, 2008 7:46 am

    Well I guess since I have such a strong defender that there is no need to reply to Walter directly :)

    But I will suggest that Walter read my numerous posts here and in the http://www.therealcostarica.com web site on this topic.

    While Estefan is correct about there being no laws making it a requirement to learn Spanish or far that matter to learn anything about Latin culture, to live in a foreign country and make no attempt to learn the native language and the culture is, in my mind, just rude and demonstrates a lack of respect for the host country. I know when I lived in Chicago, a place known for its ethnic neighborhoods, it really irritated me that so many people could not speak one word of English. They did not even try but they sure enjoyed the benefits of living there.

    In any case, you pretty much did miss my whole point Walter, but no apology is necessary. I did notice though that you do seem to carry a LOT of emotional problems about Gringos in general and your experiences in particular. Probably learned behavior while in the US. You need to get back here. The US is fouling up your life. Tim (Blog Owner)

  73. Judi on June 1, 2008 9:49 pm

    I’m not an expert, but have been to CR twice in the last two months. Once alone and once with my 20 year old daughter. I rented a car both times and drove extensively (but, I am from West Virginia originally and the roads in the mountains there are similar). The GPS from Budget was tons better than the one from Avanti. I managed to get everywhere I wanted – even all the way to Montezuma and back.

    As a woman traveling alone once and with my daughter once, I felt safe enough – maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. But, I’ve lived all over the US and traveled plenty. I can say that I felt alot safer in Costa Rica than the last few times I went to NY City or when I’ve had to go through a lockdown because of ‘gang activity’ where I work.

    At the same time, it didn’t seem as safe as my ‘high end’ neighborhood in the Denver suburbs – but I didn’t expect that. People were pretty friendly, encouraged me to try out my little bit of Spanish, spoke slowly so I could understand them, and even the policeman that stopped me for speeding just gave me a warning ticket. All in all, I had good experiences and loved the country because of the people, weather, and beauty of the landscape.

  74. brian on June 6, 2008 6:11 pm

    resaerching CR / looking at a opp to train these overwhelming gun ownerships down there in proper use and handling with personal protection activities.
    um` my first seruios look at the CR to get away from the u.s. effect and am finding why the ownership issue is up.
    i have always thought and wondered about S.A. argentina, CR , but am not retired or really have that type of steady income . so working part time to live free was the goal . now, with my experience with instruction i found a possible money avenue , but lost the other . peace – leave me alone – forget about it all . let ca. sink ? exile and intergrate with simpler peoples with out stress, image or ego – be eco , ect….
    now, what`s goin down there sounds to be a change that can be nipped in the ass!(crime) should and has too. if any one would like to properly fill me in or is already connected down there , knowing some people or travel companions is good if this opp works out. i also could work something out for those already down there that may have some security concerns-

  75. Cy Bolinger on June 7, 2008 9:55 am

    I have read and re-read the disgust of Walter’s post (May 18), taking pot-shots at you and, I guess, since his post is right below mine (May 4) even me! When I first read the Walter message, I blew it off thinking he was reading too fast, drinking too much and got his reply mixed between other posts. Not! I read it again this morning (including Estefan’s great reply) and I wonder if Walter’s post is representative of people misunderstanding people? While this character deserves a bunch of descriptive adjectives for making bumbling and untrue remarks about you and “The Real Costa”, I believe he just might be a finely tuned and misguided fellow who represents a coterie of intellectual pygmy-type blog-readers. I refer to “The Real Costa” web-site on a weekly basis and even more often. I simply can’t trust other Costa Rica blogs and sources and I absolutely know the truth is in “The Real Costa Rica”.
    Cy Bolinger

  76. Tim on June 8, 2008 2:39 pm


    NOW what do I say?? Thanks!

    To put it in perspective, the RCR web site gets over 30,000 visitors monthly from nearly every country in the world that has Internet availability.

    This Blog gets about 10,000 visitors monthly. Between the two, I get 200-300 emails weekly.

    This year, Walter was only the second person to say anything negative.

    If only two folks are unhappy out of that many visitors, I am not going to get too worked up over it.

    BTW, the other negative emails were from:

    1. a real estate guy who did not like me telling people to wait and check out CR before buying and telling people only to buy from an agent who is actually a Permanent Resident i.e. legally here. Many, many are not!

    2. Some other people who did not like my Post on satellite Internet and telling people how it is illegal here (unless purchased from ICE/RACSA. Odd! They were in the satellite sales/installation biz! :)

  77. Holly on June 19, 2008 12:12 pm

    Encontre mucha informacion util en este blog. Voy a Costa Rica en Septiembre por tres meses. Voy a estudiar en el region de San Jose- Universidad Veritas. I’ve been studying Spanish for 5 years now, so I am really excited to actually be going to a place where I can fully immerse myself into the language and culture! If anybody has any stories etc. about studying in San Jose or just any tips, it would really please me! I’m super excited but also un poquito scared.

  78. amanda on July 7, 2008 12:47 pm

    Question: I am moving to CR soon and I can’t seem to find out if renter’s insurance exists. I don’t have very much stuff, but it would be a burden to have to replace my computer and such without insurance.

    Does anyone know if renter’s insurance (particularly against theft) exists in CR? or does anyone have any experiences with it?


  79. Jaime on July 11, 2008 9:00 am


    I first visited Costa Rica as a 19-year old student in 1991 with a study-abroad group. I returned to study again in 1993, a trip which solidified my fluency, giving me near-native proficiency.

    In 1998, I begain bringing my own students to Costa Rica and have done so ever since. This year, 2008, was an eye-opening experience.

    Petty Theft in Costa Rica is not just a problem. IT’S AN EPIDEMIC! Petty theft is a profession because it is not punishable by law under $500.00. Criminals have nothing to lose and at least your camera, purse, or back-pack to gain. San José is not safe at night. Anything goes. It’s almost a lawless society without consequences. Almost everyone has a story about being asaltado o robado. Avoid Downtown San José completely. Go no further than the Museo Nacional and the vendors immediately in front of the museum.

    Yo amo Costa Rica porque es parte de quien soy, pero: if you go, you better be alert, never let your guard down, and pretend that you belong there, radiating confidence. If you are fair-complected, blonde, red-headed, or obviously “American,” you are a walking target so do everything in your power to make others think differently. If you are a student, I wouold not carry a back-pack. Even if you only have books, los ladrones are going to thing you have something else. Just carry your books.

    Speak Spanish, adopt Tico customs, be polite, but internally be vigilant and thinking about the “what-ifs.” Avoid “crazy-looking” people, and always be on the look-out for suspicious types. Develop a plan as you go. Look for stores to enter for safety if needed or just until a supicious person is out of sight.

    Sadly, this is now the reality of life in San José for everyone. I am only referring to life in San José. TRAVEL BY TAXI AT NIGHT! NEVER WALK AT NIGHT! DON’T GET DRUNK OR STONED! You will only diminish your control and make yourself an easier target. Stay in control!

    Costa Rica holds some of the most beautiful places on earth so it is worth experiencing. If you can avoid spending time in San José, do so. If not, be smart.

    Fuera de la capital, Costa Rica lives up to the praise of the past.


  80. Paul on July 26, 2008 8:27 pm

    I’ve been to Costa Rica and it is VERY beautiful. Not to mention the pretty women. Or course you have to be careful, as in any place on Earth. I did witness a theft at a busy market in San Jose. Some guy pulled an earring right off a woman’s ear and ran away! But that was the ONLY bad thing I saw on that 3 week trip. And I went by car from San Jose to Jaco to Tamarindo. IE – almost south to north on the west coast. Yes, the roads are bad in parts, but I expected that. If I intended to drive much in Costa Rica I’d own a jeep. But HERE is the real problem. I was looking for a place to buy. Maybe a place overlooking the ocean. Two MAJOR problems came up, and maybe Tim can elaborate. 1) I found oceanfront/view real estate to be almost as expensive as in the U.S.. Half a million dollars just for a view lot. 2) Costa Rica, as far a I know, changed the laws recently. NOW, a foreigner cannot own property in Costa Rica freehold. They own a LEASE!!! This is a huge and terrible development for foreign buyers and current expatriates in Costa Rica. Mexico pulled the same stunt not too long ago. I don’t want to buy a lease… I want to own my property outright. The other thing I heard is, again like Mexico, they have banned development within a certain distance of the shoreline. Meaning all these folks who own lots on, or overlooking, the ocean in Costa Rica can no longer build on them! This is what concerns me most about places like Costa Rica, Mexico, Brazil, etc.. They can change the rules AT ANY TIME. It is their country, not yours. You will always be just a foreigner. In Mexico they took coastal land from foreign owners and did not even pay them. Tim, any thoughts on all this?

  81. Tim on July 27, 2008 9:24 am

    Sure! Hell, I have thoughts on everything :)

    1. Oceanfront property in Costa Rica has gotten very expensive and for one simple reason. Like oil, there is a limited quantity and more and more buyers. Just that easy. People are paying ridiculous prices because they believe it will be gone next year. Silly really. It is also why I suggest over and over DO NOT BUY LAND IN COSTA RICA UNTIL YOU HAVE LIVED HERE AT LEAST NINE MONTHS TO A YEAR. If you do, then I can almost promise you that you will overpay by about twice because you just do not know anything and are therefore at the mercy of those pushing real estate.

    2. There have been no changes in these laws nor are any expected. Nobody, not even a Costa Rican, can buy beach front property in Costa Rica and that law has been around for decades. I suggest you read this:

    Costa Rica protects oceanfront property so it can never be closed and sealed off to the public, Costa Rican or tourist. I think it is a great idea, and as no one has EVER owned it, there has never been anyone who “lost” their property rights. Far different from all the countries you mentioned.

    Go over the stated distance from the ocean (200 meters) and you can own ANY property in Costa Rica with one exception; No one but a Costa Rica citizen may own land that touches any Costa Rican international border eg land that lies against the frontiers of Panama or Nicaragua.

    Hope this clarifies!

  82. Paul on July 27, 2008 12:25 pm

    Good information Tim. Thank you for the reply and sorry for posting all these questions under the wrong blog area. I thought this area was a general forum. I agree that protecting the oceanfront makes sense. I also agree that there is no substitute for actually living in a country. I saw a lot in my 3 weeks there, but left with as many questions as answers. So 3 weeks can really only give you the pespective of a tourist. Thanks again, and as the drama continues to unfold here in the U.S… too many depressing things to list… places like Costa Rica are looking better all the time!

  83. Paul on July 27, 2008 1:01 pm

    Since this section is a blog on crime, let me add one thing on that subject. I have lived in 7 countries – China, Canada, Australia, Singapore, U.S., etc. – and many cities too. Crime has been a reality in all of them. I guess Singapore had the lowest crime rate only because the penalties are so severe. They will cane you for even low level crimes – leaving permanent scars. It seems to work. That aside, you just have to be aware of your surroundings. Also, DO NOT show off. Try to blend in. When I lived in Hong Kong, a woman had her hand chopped off just to get her gold bracelets. So show off at your own risk. Understand that in any country comprised of rich and poor, you drive a Ferrari and wear a Rolex at your own risk. Personally, I believe in having a very nice, upscale, house. However, when I walk out the door, I blend right in. That’s how I like it. I’ll spend all day in jeans, a t-shirt, and flip flops. I never did enjoy wearing suits anyway! So that would be my tip to everyone who travels… wherever you go, try to blend in.

  84. John Bundles on July 27, 2008 3:27 pm

    Jaime, if you think petty theft is bad, have you heard of the $1.5 billion that vanished. The Taiwan government gave that as a donation for the Costa Rican government to build housing for the poor. A few weeks later the President and his crew (Alababah and the 40, well you know) betrayed the Taiwanese government who for many years had always been loyal to helping Costa Rica. Costa Rica shut the door on all future relations with Taiwan and welcomed China. The prostitute jumped in the sack with whoever offered the most money. Recently, it has been discovered that the Taiwanese $1.5 billion has mysteriously disappeared. So what else is new here? The petty thief is nothing compared to what goes on behind closed doors. Stick around and and I’ll have a lots more to tell. Digest this first. If you need documentation, I can provide it.

  85. Tim on July 29, 2008 8:48 am

    Ummm… to be accurate here, let’s make that 1.5 MILLION, not billion.

    And just a side note really not to diminish from your comment… all that money from Taiwan was not a freebie. Because of those “gifts” prior administrations did not enforce the fishing laws and allowed Taiwanese fisherman free reign to fish Costa Rica waters. This has caused a HUGE decrease in the sport fishing industry, raised the price of seafood, etc. Doubt this? Ask any sport or commercial fishing company who has operated here for more than ten tears. Used to be that Costa Rica was THE place for the world’s sport fishermen!

    No more.

    When it comes to Costa Rica, it is always important to look for the side NOT so obvious to the public.

  86. John Bundles on August 7, 2008 9:05 pm

    I wrote on July 27, 2008,”Stick around and and I’ll have a lots more to tell.” Well, I didn’t think I would be back so quick and much less did I expect to be reporting something that just happened to me. I just went to Panama on Tracopa bus. When we got to the border crossing and everyone got of the bus, everyone left their backpacks and small bags on the bus. It is a common practice at all border crossings. Usually the only baggage that is checked by customs is the baggage under the bus. Well, it wasn’t until I got to Panama and into my rented room that I opened my backpack and my camera was gone. I presume everyone else (all the passengers) that left their bags on the bus got something stolen also. I’m so mad right now that I could kill. I’m leaving this 3rd world toilet and never coming back. It’s just not worth it. You can have all the beautiful beaches, nature, etc. I prefer going where people aren’t so low life.

  87. Tim on August 9, 2008 9:00 am

    I am sorry this happened, BUT there are MANY travel advisories including mine the The REAL Costa Rica web site to NEVER leave valuables unattended. NEVER… even for 1 minutes!

    Truly, this is Foreign Travel 101.

  88. Robert on September 27, 2008 6:52 am

    How dare you to write this kind of blogs? I don’t go around saying “America is a conutry full of whores, mean people, and white boys which like havin s*x before marriage…”. If you think Costa Rica is a piece of crap that’s your thought, you don’t need to insult someone’s country. And for your information, most people of your FAT country think Costa Rica is quite a perfect place to travel. If you don’t lke the streets, you shouldn’t concentrate in the bad things, but in the GOOD u should. Please don’t continue writing in this blog, visit places like Limon or Conchal or even Fossil Land which is a beatiful and exciting place to travel. There is this tour which you do hiking, you go trough rivers and waterfalls, and at te tend of the tour you slide on a 500 m slide. ENJOY COSTA RICA!

  89. Evan Patey on October 17, 2008 9:55 am

    Well, I find it interesting to hear about opinions of crime in CR by people who have never actually experienced it. I have lived in Costa Rica for over 2 years. I don’t wear bling and I speak spanish and pretty much try to blend-in…. except… I have blond hair. Anyway, I was mugged a group of street kids in San Antonio de Escazu. I live in Escazu and always considered it very safe to walk around, as opposed, to my former digs in Chicago. Well, it finally happened to me. I know of gringos that have been mugged just like me. Once it happens to you, it will certainly change your opinion of the state of crime in Costa Rica.

  90. Jim Bundle on October 28, 2008 8:19 pm

    Looks like one of the leading magazines doesn’t seem to care much about Costa Rica. I guess that just confirms all the negative news I’ve been been reading and also personally witnessing. Of course, a sweet talking realtor will never tell you about this article or the millions of other commentaries in the letters section (click search this site) of http://www.amcostarica.com


  91. Eric on January 7, 2009 8:29 pm

    Tim (et al),

    Thanks for putting together such an informative site. I run an internet site myself with thousands of members and can appreciate the ongoing effort. Everything I read from you here seems thoughtful and concise, a veritable “voice of reason” as it were.
    My wife and I and 4 other couples are renting a villa in the vicinity of Quepos for a couple weeks later this year. We are more than aware of the “Ugly American” issue everywhere and take great pains to be as unobtrusive, gracious and grateful as we can be wherever we go.
    I have read a lot here regarding petty theft and crime. I do agree with you about common sense and not turning yourself into a walking opportunity but how does one not let that impact the vacation?
    For instance, I am an ex-professional photographer and do enjoy taking photos with a digital SLR. Normally when traveling I keep it in a backpack and pull it out just to shoot photos, but when I read here about just wearing an expensive watch can “mark” you, won’t my pulling out my camera just to take a picture “mark” me as well? everyone in the group has at least point & shoot cameras and I wonder if using them will make us targets?
    Our “group” has been going to the Riviera Maya the past few years and this year decided to try something different in coming to CR. Realistically can you or anyone else tell me if my walking the streets of Playa Del Carmen (also something we wouldn’t do at night) is any different than walking the streets of Quepos? I have done the research on crime statistics, but as you well know statistics are either lies or damn lies at times and it’s tough to ferret out the truth. Thoughts?
    Thanks for your time! :)
    Eric (and the gang)

  92. Tim on January 10, 2009 11:54 am

    You are marked simply because you are a tourist. The camera means nothing.

    Don’t overreact… just use standard caution as you would if walking around any major city in any country.

    Use brains and you will have no issues.

  93. Kyle on February 1, 2009 7:26 am

    I’ve been travelling around Costa Rica for 3 weeks with almost no problems until I arrived in Jaco. Once there I drove our rental vehicle up to a couple cabinas in the north end, parked on the street and left my friend in the car to watch it with all windows down while I ran to check the prices, my friend got out to stretch whilst watching the car still from 10 feet away, then a local came up from behind him and asked him how much the cabinas cost…in the 5 seconds my friend looked away from the car to talk to this guy someone had gone on the other side of the car and pulled my backpack out of the window! While I was extremely angry at first…mostly at my friend for falling for such a stupid scam and for not rolling the windows up before he got out I gotta say Costa Rica has been good for the most part…even though my stolen backpack was worth over $1500 cdn to me along with my passport and all that jazz. The police were not very helpful at all, which was expected and the embassy was a whole other hassle. It’s all just material items I will have to work hard to get back…it does make a vacation seem not so worth while though.

    Anyhow, if anyone ever sees a dark green “Dakine” brand name backpack floating around feel free to send me an email…or just laugh. I try to think that the contents of my bag will feed a poor family for a couple months…or get them the drugs they want to ignore poverty.

  94. Esther on April 19, 2009 12:58 pm

    I’m thinking about San Ramon for retirement – my questions are mainly about utilities – electricity, water and sewer system…..also garbage disposal just came to mind. Please tell me if there is sufficient hot water for showering, etc. Can you use an instant hot water heater….or are there gas and electric options?

  95. JVana on April 26, 2009 10:59 am

    I dont really have an option and soon our family will be relocating to San Jose. I had an impression of quite low crime country and when I read the posts I feel terrified. Mostly because of my young child. I guess it will be quite difficult to blend in the sense that I am tall & fair skin & green eyes & blonde hair woman from Eastern Europe.
    As I understood just my looks will be the mark for dangerous encounters.
    I do worry a lot where to rent a place so my child is safe as safe he can be. Please advise on locations around San Jose.
    I would love to blend with local culture, learn their ways but now I cant really understand how it can be done if walking is already the danger..
    On the other hand I really dont want be living “in the golden cage”.
    I am really concerned. Please advise.

  96. Tim on April 28, 2009 9:10 am

    So don’t live in San Jose. Read this: http://www.therealcostarica.com/moving_to_costa_rica/where_to_live_costa_rica.html

    and the rest of that web site.

  97. JVana on May 1, 2009 12:38 pm

    As I said I dont have an option therefore there was no need to tell me not to move :-)
    Thank you for the link. I read it couple of times. I was asking for more information on specific locations around San Jose, maybe type of rentals (condo, apartments, house..)

  98. Meghan on May 22, 2009 3:06 pm

    First of all, great site Tim. I have been reading it since before I moved here to Costa Rica, and since I have lived here.

    Reading all of the thoughts and opinions of so many people, it just goes to show you that EVERYONE has their own ones. I am living in Cajon, near Grecia, and have been since April 8th of this year, so not long.
    I have felt very safe walking in town, and made some friends there….the people are amazing. If you ask someone where something is they usually don’t just point, they actually WALK you there!

    So I was extremely dissapointed when my purse was snatched right off my shoulder last Saturday in the park. Granted I was there at night, but I was with a local Tico friend, so I thought I was safe. But heck, even he didn’t see it coming, and was so concerned (and probably embarassed about one of his own stealing from me) that he took me right to the police station. They weren’t any help, even knew who the woman was that took it…apparently some homeless woman who does it ALL the time. But my friend was very helpful and stayed with me right up until I could go home.

    Another plus is that my passport was found in a garbage can by another Tico, along with my notebook with important information and telephone numbers. He called every number in the book looking for me, the Canadian Embassy, and even my parents. He did everything he could to get my passport back to me, and that alone is something to almost counter-act the theft itself.

    My point is that there is crime everywhere you go, no matter what country or culture. There is no way I would feel safe living in ANY big city in the States, heck even Vancouver is going downhill fast, with gangs spreading their violence everywhere. Vancouver is (or WAS) one of the safest, cleanest cities in the world.
    And as far as the comment about the home invasions and gang rapes….THAT happens everywhere too, unfortunately.

    One last thing, about the police “enforcement” in the U.S…well wake up and smell the coffee people, the police in the States are becoming so “enforced” that they are “enforcing” their way into peoples homes without a warrant or anything, and tearing peoples homes apart looking for “things”. One story comes to mind about a poor 82 year old woman that got her house broken into by the POLICE!!

    So unfortunately I have to say it again, no matter where you go, crime and corruption are everywhere.
    So just like anywhere else, the importance of using common sense is unmeasurable.
    And if I have the choice of being robbed in a beautiful country like Costa Rica, or some slimy nasty street in a polluted and stinky city….I’ll take Costa Rica, thank you.
    Know what I mean?

  99. Tim on June 13, 2009 12:14 pm

    Sorry you got robbed… Parks at night are never safe, with or without a companion.

  100. Bodhi on June 16, 2009 12:27 pm


    If you actually live here you know that you can be killed for your shoes in broad daylight almost anywhere that isn’t very crowded.

    Costa Rica is a worthless %^^^hole of a country that only gets worse day by day…..unfortunatley I have two Costa Rican sons who are 10 & 11 years old…..If I didn’t feel obligated to stick around and protect them from the worthles tico culture and try and help them to be in the minority of Ticos who do not smoke crack everyday I would get the %%^&&* out of this worthless terrible godawfull country.

    P.S. Illiteracy here is 65% at least government proaganda about 90% literacy notwithstanding…..65% of Costa Ricans are not literate enough to read the daily newspaper………..

    Sad, Sad situation….25 years ago this was one of the most advanced and literate, and all around sane countries in the western hemisphere………but no longer and probably never again.

    Now…….Well come on down and see for yourself.

    Bodhi Marshall
    Quepos/Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

  101. John on July 19, 2009 4:00 pm

    In this regard, it seems that Cuba has much less crime issue than many countries, including China. This is from my own limited experience and much reading as well.

  102. J0HN on October 21, 2011 1:39 am

    retirig soonng is there a community where black north americans would find possible learn the language,culture and be welcomed? or need for heighten concern about safety. my pension above
    costa rica requirements, really interested
    in moving there comments

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