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March 27th, 2008
Good day faithful readers. Here is another addition of “My Readers Write” Here you will find a few emails that ask questions not covered in The REAL Costa Rica or this Blog.
As some of these were sent more than 5 weeks ago, I do appreciate your patience. I am just bombarded with email and even though I am selling one of my companies, I am just buried in work.
If this stuff interests you… read on!
You have lived in Costa Rica for some time I guess. Do you follow politics in the USA? Do other Americans living there follow what is going on here? What are your thoughts? Do you still vote? Who will you vote for this year?
I cannot speak for others living here. I am sure some do, and others don’t. There are both Republican and Democratic organizations here and they can assist with everything from information to registering, including how to vote from Costa Rica. One thing I have noticed is that the US looks different from afar. Maybe it is just the perspective of not being there every day. I get emails ALL the time telling me people are coming to CR to get away from the USA, George Bush, a possible President Clinton. Silly. Nothing changes. IN any case, as so many people seem interested in my views, though for the life of me I cannot understand why… I wrote something on my personal Blog covering moving here, expat life, changes and finally my political thinking for 2008. If you wish, Click Here to read it.
Hello, I have a simple question that I cannot find reference to in the blogs, forums or other sections of your web site. On your title page you state that “About 40% of those who move to Costa Rica leave within one year!” and I am unable to find facts or figures to substantiate that claim elsewhere on the internet. I do not wish to be part of that percentage and therefore wish to research it’s causes further.
Well then I am not sure you looked too hard as this is covered many times both here and on the RCR Web Site. Anyway, the source for this information is from numerous sources such as ARCR, residency lawyers, and most recently (less than two months) the person who arguably moves more North Americans to Costa Rica then all others combined. Even I was amazed when he told me that he is now moving BACK to the USA more than half of those who moved here. Truly, I care little what is stated on other web sites. RCR is about what is real here, not trying to sell Costa Rica or minimize issues. I would think for example the realtors and builders here would not want people thinking too hard about what will be their survival rate.
So why do people leave? This has not changed since I arrived here. Well maybe one new reason, so here they are:
- People move without first LIVING in Costa Rica for at least 9 months, and preferably longer. The worst are the ones who read about CR as a paradise, then up and sell everything and move here. At least once per month, I get a sad story of someone who actually bought a home or property without ever setting foot in the country. DUMB! Some visited CR as visitors for a week or two or ten… and came away with the really idiotic notion that the tourist Costa Rica is anything like the REAL Costa Rica. Everything changes once you live here. Every single daily task or chore is different. Some love it. Many do not. You must be willing to adjust. Are you? A-Types, as I have said often, will assuredly need therapy before living here.
- People come here for a simpler life. They have issues about life in the USA and think CR will be the answer. For the vast majority, it is not. Do NOT leave your home country thinking all will be good here. It is not. There are issues and many will affect you. You cannot not run away from yourself. If you are unhappy in your own country, I firmly believe you will be unhappy here.
- Couples come down here, especially older couples and think all will be well. They (usually the wife first) start missing the kids and grandkids. They miss being there for births, deaths, proms, communions, and a zillion other family affairs. They think the kids will come and visit, but they underestimate travel costs and the ability of their kids (usually working and busy with their lives) to come here. They find once a year is just not enough. I have had many women tell me they felt isolated, not enough friends, nothing to do. Not speaking Spanish complicates everything socially.
- Younger couples come with kids as they read that Costa Rica has a fine educational system and the highest standard of literacy in Central America. This is true! What is NOT understood is that the public schools here are is sad repair. They have NO money. No computers, no pool, no sports (or few) other than soccer. No after school programs. So they think “We’ll send them to the English schools”, which while they certainly offer more, are generally no match for any decent suburban school in the USA. They are also VERY VERY expensive!
- People come and immediately buy a home. Two things happen. One, they buy in the wrong place as they have no idea about the hundreds of great places to live here. Then, of course, as they know nothing, they overpay for what they do buy. They are unhappy, want to move but can’t find a buyer and finally just sell out at a loss.
- People buy into the concept that you do not need to speak Spanish to live here. Big mistake. You really do need to speak it, and if you do not learn it, you will feel isolated and lost. You also miss out on the entire Latin culture.
- Associated with this are those who come here and get ANGRY because nobody speaks English except where tourists congregate. The VAST majority of CR does not speak anything but Spanish.
- Cost of living is getting higher every day. Newbies come here, immediately buy a home near other North Americans, and then are amazed at how enormously expensive is Costa Rica. No, it is not expensive. You just moved into an area where the prices are inflated beyond all reason as everyone knows to live there you must be rich… right? Escazu is a prime example of this, but then so is EVERY tourist spot or any other location selling mostly to North Americans or foreigners. There are many, many beautiful (and SAFER) places to live in CR, but I promise you will never find them until you have lived here for at least a year and made many mini-excursions around the country.
Truly, this list goes on and if you do your homework, you will find many other posts I have written on this.
By all means DO come here! It is a wonderful place. But here is my advice. Make no changes to your life that cannot be “undone” by making six phone calls or less. Do not buy property until you are 100% sure you want to live here. Finally, do not presume that you will be the exception.
Lat, before you come, read this fine article. It is critical for all those thinking of moving here.
I enjoyed your website and really liked the candid information. I am planning a trip to Costa Rica. I am hoping you could enlighten me as to how an interracial couple(Caucasian woman African-American man) would be perceived and responded to in San Jose? Is there a better part of the country to visit?
Wow. Great question! Not sure an old white guy has any business trying to answer. I’ll try. The quick answer to the first question is… you will not even be noticed by the Ticos (Costa Ricans). Interracial relationships are common here, and while not as common as non interracial couples, I see them certainly every time I go to San Jose or for that matter any larger populated area. As I am forced to think about this, I guess I do not see them as often, in fact rarely, in the country. Saying that, I doubt anyone would take notice there as well. Might be looked at as strangers, but not because of racial issues. Now as for the other visiting tourists? I expect the same as you are viewed now… but who cares? Screw ’em. You’ll never see them again anyway.
Costa Rica is odd. While there certainly is some bias, it is nowhere as profound as in the USA… or at least the USA I left some years ago. My wife commonly refers to her Black coworkers (mostly women) as la negra, and this is common face to face and in social circles. Be very clear… this is NOT a slight of any kind. It is just how they speak. Instead of “Mary told me”, it might be “La negra said ” and this is while Mary is at the table! They do not seem to mind, but what business would I have trying to determine if a black coworker was or is offended by a white Costa Rican? Finally, remember that CR did not participate in the slave trade nor to my knowledge ever used slave labor. Therefore I guess the environment here is not as toxic with resentments.
Anyway, come and enjoy and travel wherever. You will not have problems and you will be welcomed.
My husband and I are planning on moving to Matapalo. We have six children 15, 12, 8 and triplets that are 2. Is there any English schools close to that area? I am a grade school teacher in the USA and my husband was a high school teacher. We are concerned with our childrens education as well as socially adjusting to the change in culture. It would be much easier on the children to begin meeting friends that speak English first then learn Spanish.
I am fairly sure there are no English schools there and if there are, I hope you have planned for HUGE costs so they will probably attend public school. Also, I HOPE you have traveled here extensively (living here) for 6 to 9 months at least) BEFORE making this huge move. Unless you know and consciously understand what you are subjecting your six children to, I would urge you to reconsider. I also hope you have read the section on the public schools in the main web site and understand that the public school your 15 year old will attend will not provide him with the credentials to enter college here OR in the USA.
Why would you personally not own property for yourself in Costa Rica?
I think the best way to approach this is why would I?
First, it is dirt cheap to rent a home here. Rents of $260.00 per month are not uncommon in lovely areas like Grecia, San Rmon and a hundred others. Second, is very easy to buy here but VERY difficult to sell property. This ties up capital needlessly. I can move any time I wish. Freedom.
There are no tax advantages when buying. Interest rates are quite high. I have no family or young kids. Just my wife and I. Property values are falling here in CR. There is too much building going on and those who bought in most beach areas and around San Jose have seen their property value fall. Yeah, you CAN get lucky and double your money, but those are the exceptions and not the rules. I have money in numerous funds in the USA earning 20% every year (yes this year too!). My money is available and I know of no property here increasing in value by 20% per year.
I do little or no maintenance on the home we rent. What I do is paid for by the landlord. I am long past the fixer-upper stage in my life. Been there, done that. Prefer to relax!
I could go on, but you get the point. Part of our culture is home ownership, but past a certain age, with no local family to leave it to, (and certainly my kids would find a home in CR more of a problem than a blessing), I see no reason whatever to buy here. Younger couples with families… maybe. Me? Nope.
You and others like you need to stop covering up the fact that Costa Rica is a place of transit, origin, AND supply of young women and girls sold into sexual slavery-human trafficking. It is disgusting that you and others like you living in Costa Rica would ignore or downplay or pretend that this crime isn’t happening right under your noses! How can you extol the natural beauty of Costa Rica while ignoring the intense suffering of those Costa Rican girls sold into sexual slavery? You are not even human! You need to expose these crimes being committed in Costa Rica or you become part of the problem, if you are not willing to stand up and tell the truth, then shut your site down. It is an utter disgrace what’s happening in Costa Rica. And it is even a bigger disgrace to “whitewash” such a crime, how can you be so blind to such human misery?
I get these from time to time, and of course I wonder the obvious:
Can you read? If so, did you? Have you ever been here? Where am I ignoring or downplaying anything? What “girls sold into sexual slavery-human trafficking” are you referring to? While I am sure it happens, that has never been a problem in Costa Rica. Where did you get that?
What “crime” am I whitewashing? In fact, what crime period? Prostitution is 100% legal here. I do not encourage it. I write about it as that IS part of the REAL Costa Rica. It is not my place to tell a sovereign country how to run their country. Nor, madam, is it yours. That is the major reason (not G. Bush) that people from the USA are disliked. They try to export their ethics, values, opinions and judgments on other countries and people. Often, as now, these are absolutely wrong!
The intense suffering of those Costa Rican girls that you write about clearly shows your ignorance. They are not slaves and do what they do because they make a ton of money. In the beginning, it is possible they had no other options, but I can assure you there are no pimps or others holding them captive or telling them what to do. They are “suffering” all the way to the bank! After a very short time, most have the money to change their lives if they so chose. Some do, some do not. Make no mistake though, they are NOT poor girls.
Finally, you write, “You need to expose these crimes being committed in Costa Rica or you become part of the problem…”. As these are not crimes, I would look pretty stupid exposing them. Possibly as stupid as you look writing such a totally ignorant and uninformed email to me.
Your apology is accepted.
That’s it for this edition. See you next time. Comments welcome (except from the bonehead who wrote that last email).Filed under Costa Rica, Schools in Costa Rica | Comments (21)