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This is Really Irritating!

February 23rd, 2009

podI get a lot of email as you might imagine.  The vast majority (well over 99%) of the comments are positive and pleasant.

On occasion though, I get a comment that really frosts my Twinkie.  This happened last night and I responded… but then I stewed about it all night!  The comment and my reply appear below.  I guess what really bothers me is that I spent a huge amount of time writing The REAL Costa Rica and then more time keeping things current both there and here on this Blog. I then get an email from someone who implies that I whitewash Costa Rica.  I know, of course that there are people who do not agree either with my opinion or my rather blunt style of writing.  Others love it as they really want to KNOW about this country, and they are concerned (rightfully) that they are not getting the facts from other sites that really do nothing but promote Costa Rica. I love living here but as I have written about 20 zillon times, this country is not for everyone. It is right for ME, but only you can decide if it is right for YOU.  Anyway, if you wanna listen to me rant a bit, read on. Her quote is exact.  No corrections or changes.

I have been in Cosata Rica now for almost 4 months..you web page very general and not realistic. I sat in room with 9 other people with similar crime experiences. Yes, CR was a nice place to visit and live once…but not any more. Since you like so much would you like to buy a house…we are selling and looking for a safer place to live.

Dear Person Commenting:

It is pretty clear that you did not spend much time at ALL reading the web site or this associated Blog.

Had you done so, you would have discovered that I cover the crime issue here VERY thoroughly and pull no punches.  I also publish nearly all crime related comments even though I am pretty sure that quite a few of them are fictional as those crimes never seem to be verifiable.

Further, you would also have read that I would NEVER buy property in Costa Rica whether there was crime or NO crime.

In fact, I tell people time and again to live here for at least a YEAR before even considering the purchase of property.

Nobody has ever made a good case to me for buying here at all, especially if you are over age 55 or so.  Younger people, maybe… but older folks?  There is no financial or logical reason to buy here when rents are dirt cheap and your money is safe and available. I can relate at least fifty stories of people saddled with unsellable property because they bought too soon and paid too much.

Had you spent ANY time reading the web site and/or the Blog BEFORE you arrived 4 months ago, you would not have to worry NOW about selling property you should not have bought in the first place!

I am truly sorry you are not happy here, but as I also state CLEARLY; over 50% of those who move here return home within a year and I urge people to do NOTHING here that cannot be “undone” with 6 phone calls or less.  I also can promise you that all the real estate will not be gone in a year, regardless of what some realtors tell you.

While I am sorry you are not happy, I am not at all sympathetic as it is clear you either came here totally unprepared OR you read all my warnings and chose to ignore them..  Either way… good luck.

To those of you thinking about moving here, by all means come and enjoy Costa Rica, but please read more than how wonderful is the weather here or how nice are the Ticos. This is a foreign country with different laws, traditions, cultures etc.

You will have no idea whatsoever if Costa Rica is for you until you have lived here at least 9 to 12 months, and that is regardless if you have lived in another foreign country. If you love it.. great!  Buy something.  Spend that money! Invest! Build a new life. Put down roots. Make Costa Rica your home!

But if after 9 to 12 months you discover Costa Rica is not right for you and you simply cannot live here for any reason, then just board a plane and return home with some great stories to tell, an adventure under your belt, and most important,  and NO financial loss.

59 Responses to “This is Really Irritating!”

  1. Tim on December 6, 2009 9:40 am

    Sadly, your issue is that you came here 100% unprepared. It is common.

    1. Anyone who buys land or property here without living here for at least one year is just plain STUPID and deserves to lose $$$. 60% of those who move here leave within one year and those people ALWAYS pay too much, buy in the wrong location or open themselves to fraud.

    2. You are 100% incorrect regrading Ticos, but I am 99% sure that a.) You have not learned Spanish, a requirement to fit in, and b.) your exposure to Costa Ricans has been in clubs, bars and on the street. Further, as you do not speak the language, you just hang with other North Americans in those same locations.

    3. Yup… there ARE people who had residency issues, but I know of NOT ONE who had issues who did their homework, contracted with a GOOD residency attorney, and learned the process BEFORE starting it. Just common sense. I know at least 700 people who never had a issue, including my sister who came and received her pensionado residency in 7 months. Costa Rica is perhaps the easiest country in the world where you can live legally.

    Yup… I am sure there are bad cops. Thank God there are none in other countries.

    Again, it appears to me that you hang out in doubtful locations, probably never even applied for residency (or you would not have made such a silly comment), and have had dealings with the police on a “professional” basis. I have never had to deal with the police in my many years of living here.

    Finally, your comment about cheap sex? I guess that pretty much tells readers where you do spend your time.

    NOTE: For readers who do NOT want surprises and who do not want to be in the 60% who leave, my tour prepares you for everytning, good and bad,that you will encounter here.

  2. don derkach on February 9, 2010 12:45 pm

    Great web site! Took a Caravan tour of c.r. last year. Our tour guide said tourism was the number one industry here so I can’t understand why the huge potholes on the main roads aound Arenal and other places are tolerated. Manuel Antonio state park was decrepit and hard to get around. Our bus driver was exceptional and a gifted driver. Had to be. Roads are terrible. Parts of the country are pretty but it is shocking to see what passes for middle class homes and the bars and coils of razor wire over the businesses in San Jose. Traffic is horrific. If tourism is so important costa rican officials have a lot of work to do. But, overall it was a good trip and Caravan did a fine job hustling us all over the country for eight days. Hotels were excellent and we took some dancing side trips to Castro nightlub in San Jose and Fiesta casino in Alajuela. I even won at roulette. Whoever reads this, remember c.r. is still a third world country and if you visit be very careful but also be gracious to the people.

  3. Brian on February 16, 2010 5:39 pm

    The post that started this thread really does not surprise me, as Costa Rica DOES put on a good tourist face, but is very different when you have to operate in the REAL Costa Rica. I’m lucky enough to have married a Tica, and when we are of the right age, able, and the kids are OK, we’ll likely move down from the States, but I know better than to try to live in CR year round. I have been down there a bunch of times, we have a family support network, we bought land close to Dominical, and are basically set up to go when we’re ready, but I am aware enough to know that I’m Type-A, so Tico life takes getting used to. I see and hear people all the time that relate their horror stories of trying to move to CR, etc., and it comes down to being unprepared and trying to live an unrealistic dream. I know enough to admit that I’m a New Englander, and I fully intend to spend the warm part of the year here in CT for the rest of my able life. I’m still youngish, so we’ll see – I might decide to enjoy the weather in CR anyway. Bottom line – what you said was good advice, Tim. You HAVE to check this place out for a while before you go selling your house in the States, it may not be what you expect. If you can deal with the differences, which I get used to one by one, it’s a heck of a place that offers a lot, but you’d better do your research, and SPEND TIME ON THE GROUND, it’s the only way. Thanks for a great site, Tim!

  4. Ed Cowell on April 17, 2010 9:15 am

    First, let me say this is a great site and I really appreciate all of the comments and opinions. I will retire in the next few years and I am trying to decide between CR and Belize. My thoughts on CR is to rent a room from a CR family. Has anyone done this for a long time period ? My thinking is it would be safer, easier to meet locals and cheaper. I lived in Panama when I was in the Military many years ago, so I understand the culture and all of the issues discussed here.
    Again, thanks for the great site, Ed

  5. marsha m williams on July 17, 2010 7:45 pm

    OMG! what a wealth of info this web-site offers.I’m a single female, and plan on moving to CR.I plan on getting very involved in the community. Learning the lang exc. What I need to know Will my laptop work, do I need to purchase a cell phone their? I am wondering if there are a lot of singles. Not looking to hook-up, just to meet new folks. I want to rent in the mountins and drive to a beach.Am thinking about Ochjal. Not sure I spelled that correctly first. Any advice would be welcome.


  6. Jane on September 12, 2010 7:13 am


    Check out Lisa Valencia’s site. She is a single woman who moved here in ’07 and is living the life with her eyes wide open to the ups and downs of the culture. She might be someone you can relate well with, being single; she responds quickly to posts. Check her out at: http://www.travelexperiencecostarica.com/

    Good luck!

  7. mike taylor on September 20, 2010 10:02 pm

    I really enjoyed reading your blog. It really looks like things in CR have not changed much since the days I was there. I went to CR from 1970 to 75 and it was great.Then Money’s Worth magazine printed some articles on CR pointing out the costs and benefits and all the guys from Florida began rolling in. After that it was all down hill for me.
    But I kept going back hoping it would return to its
    former self but it never did. So in 1980 I moved to Asia and I have been here ever since. Now the handwriting is on the wall for guys like me in Asia.
    The white man’s good times in Asia are about gone and there are only a few places left in the world before the Big Crash happens. That place is not CR
    but for me, once, CR was the greatest little country in the world.

  8. Doug on November 19, 2010 9:00 pm

    I am in the USA and am investigating a move to CR.

    Your site is excellent, but a couple of things keep cropping up without complete explanation:

    You say that 50-60% of people who move here return to the USA within a year. But you don’t explain the reasons specifically. There are indirect explanations on other topics regarding crime and people being late with everything, but could you please mention and detail the basic reasons you know of that people leave the country?

    I have taken to consulting Craigslist and emailing those who are selling everything and moving back the USA…….polling the flee-ers so to speak. I just started and will report my results as they come in. Also, I find that most things on Craigslist are quite expensive. The furniture seems to be the old USA prices before everything was imported from China. And cars, holy hell, they are very expensive. I click onto the cost of living in CR and I get the “bird who saved the dog.”

    Thanks for a great site Tim, and thanks in advance for any information you may have regarding the ones who leave and the cost of living.


  9. Mikey & Diana on May 25, 2011 7:57 pm

    We are in the process of moving to Costa Rica in August. We have traveled back & forth from Southern CA to CR for the past 14 yrs. Living in CR for 1 yr & traveling around the entire country 6 times from border to border & coast to coast taking chicken buses, hitching rides, living with Tico families and everything in between. We are moving there simply because we are inspired by the culture. Everyone has a calling we believe in following our dreams and doing what we love. We love CR…yes it isn’t for everyone…you must use common sense, a positive attitude, coupled with “street smarts” We don’t know exactly where we will live as we will let the place chose us. Kinda funny…we concern ourselves with the “what if?” not realizing once we arrive everything has always worked out…mas tranquillo…
    Thanks for all the information!