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Questions from Readers

October 24th, 2006

This is part of my continuing posts answering emails I receive from readers. Here are some more that I thought might interest you.

From a mom with kids…

Q. What would be your advice when traveling to Costa Rica with a 1 year old? I have spoken to her pediatrition (sic) and there are really no suggestions. Should we have certain meds if she is bitten or comes in contact with a plant and puts it in her mouth? My husband and I are also considering the thought of living in Costa Rica with small children. Any advice would be helpful. Thank you.

A. You would use the exact same common sense things as you would at home. No shots are required but of course they should receive all the normal childhood inoculations + tetanus.

It would be impossible for you to bring medicines for all the things that COULD happen here. You don’t even have them in your own home! If she got ill there, you’d go to a doctor or hospital. Same here. Depending on where you live, the medical care is quite satisfactory.

Also, a one year old should not be anywhere near biting animals, snakes, whatever, in the first place. We don’t have wild animals and reptiles running in the streets. As for bugs? If out in the daytime, she should use a repellent if possible. There are many safe ones for kids. It would be highly unlikely you would have toxic plants in your home any more than you would keep poison ivy in you home.

Living here with small children is nothing special. Ticos do it all the time. Unless you are living out in some rain forest or a swamp, life here is exactly as it is now (for kids). Eat, sleep, play, keep ’em out of traffic, watch them at the malls, take them to MacDonalds.

Q. Is there any limit on the number of properties that a foreigner can buy? per year or certain time limit? I was wanting to move my family here, a wife and child, to really try and live a much simpler, cleaner life (pura vida). However, there seem to be many obstacles to this dream. Any advice? We were hoping of buying a small home, fixing it up and selling it, and maybe do this a few times. Is this possible? Many thanks.

A. There is no limit on the number of properties you can buy and own though you cannot buy certain properties if they border a foreign country. I am sure there are a lot of “fixer-uppers” for you. The bigger problem is your residency status. You cannot just come here and live without proper residency, so make sure THAT is in order first. Finally, as always, I STRONGLY urge you NOT to just pick-up and move you and your family. Here are some suggestions for a happy transition:

  1. Remember that about 40% of the people who move here do NOT make it, and return “home” within a year.
  2. Do NOT be dumb and think the above statistic does not include you…. that you are somehow “the exception”. To do that indicates you might be less intelligent than a box of grapes.
  3. Do NOT do anything during your first 6-9 months in country that cannot be “undone” with a couple of phone calls. Do not sell the farm to come here. The expatriate lifestyle is NOT for everyone. Think if you can really live without those grandkids, your kids, local malls, your best friends, etc
  4. Costa Rica is NOT an easy country in which to live. I love it. You may not. It is NOT the panacea to all those things that make you crazy where you now live.
  5. Do NOT come here if you need to work. Pay is very, very low compared to most other countries (like 10-15%) and working here without proper authority is illegal and disrespectful. Want to bring $$$ and open a new business? Do it! That is legal and there are a zillion opportunities around every corner.
  6. Do not think for 1 second that life here will be better or different because there is no Bill (or Hillary) Clinton, no George Bush, or whomever you currently hate and blame for the problems in your life. Do not think that life is “simpler” here (unless you plan to retire, live away from everyone, and spend your days reading in a hammock) To believe that is just about as dumb, maybe dumber, as believing #2 above.
  7. If you come, explore the country. Take time to travel. It is smaller than West Virginia, but holds a ton of secrets.
  8. Do not believe about half of what you read on tourist websites. Believe about two thirds of the travel guides have to say. They have their agendas which is fine. The book or web site Costa Rica is not the REAL Costa Rica.
  9. Do not plan to enjoy this country to the max if you cannot Spanish. If you plan to own or operate a business, this goes double!
Q. I want to invest $60,000 US in a costa rican bank for residency, I have heard I will I earn a $1000 per month in interest? Is this just a scam/rumor. If not, what will be the apx. interest earned on the $60,000 US.
A. Whoever told you that is smoking rope. I wish it were true!

There are TWO interest rates here for bank deposits (CD’s). The dollar rate and the colon rate. The colon rate appears MUCH higher as the currency here is depreciating about 12% per years. Here is a chart as of TODAY for BAC San José, a private bank.
Colones Dólares
Gross Net Gross Net
1 Mo 10.59% 9.74% 2.22% 2.05%
2 Mo. : 10.59 9.74 2.22 2.05
3 Mo 11.41 10.49 2.71 2.50
6 Mo: 11.68 10.75 3.31 3.04
1 Year 12.50 11.50 3.31 3.04
Thus, a $60,000 CD in dollar would earn about $164.00 per month. There are some private investment houses that pay more, but you will need to do you own investigating.
Q. What are Costa Rican women like? How do they compare to American women?

Oh boy… I have a baaad feeling about this question. I am so happy my daughter in in the US does not read this blog! I am sure I will come across as a total pig. I also expect this post may get more comments than in my personal blog when we discussed laxatives. The worse thing here is that this is not like answering the guy about interest rates. This is personal and based on my life an my opinions. Ugh. I feel like I am going to bury myself. Opinions OK??? Like feet! Everyone has ’em. Everyone thinks their don’t smell.

Oh well, she asked! (yes, the writer was a woman).

Women in Costa Rica… and perhaps Latinas in general are, in my opinion, are about 250% better than the women in the USA. I think this is because the women in the USA got lost trying to find themselves. I think they got so tangled up in feminism and women’s rights and being resentful over perceived inequalities that they simply forgot how to be themselves and what is relationship is supposed to be between a man and a woman.

Women in the US seem to want to minimize or even remove the differences between the sexes… I think is just nonsense. Can’t be done, and I am pretty sure, people shouldn’t try. I do not believe that the sexes are equal. They are better than equal, each bringing the other what is needed.

Conversely, the men in the US seem to get tangled up trying to understand what is politically correct and thus spend a huge amount of time trying not to tread too heavily when around their partners. Before I left, I saw so many men just not knowing how to act around their partner. Stress was everywhere.

The US workplace was and probably still is a disaster with all the tiptoeing around. The result is that nobody acts “normal” any more.
I never really noticed these things or even much thought about it when I lived in the US mainly because I had no other frame of reference. However, when you get here and you start to date the Latinas, it just smacks you in the face. Hard. The women here treat the men so differently. It makes the man just want to do more and more to make the woman happy. Please don’t read this as thinking Latinas act like the women from the 30’s. Not at all true. They just seem to effortlessly make their partners life more… pleasurable! More enjoyable to live!
Certainly the women in Costa Rica are as liberated as their US sisters, maybe more so and are certainly a huge force in both politics and the work place… but somewhere along the line, they never forgot the basics of being… well … women. They seem to have a different set of priorities heavily involving the family and their relationships with their partners. They seem to be far more involved in the success of those relationships. They seem to handle jobs and relationships easily and without the constant tensions and undercurrents that mark so many relationships in the US. There is certainly less tension.

This is not to say that the women here are subservient. Far from it. They just seem to take the male-female relationship to a higher and more mutually satisfactory level. They seem to understand that relationship, and they handle it.

My hero… my wife.

My wife left her huge (12 kids) dirt poor family in a small town near Limon when she was 17 years old. Folks, this was UNHEARD of 30 some years ago in Costa Rican culture. She then traveled to San Jose (alone) to get her undergrad and Masters degrees. Also unheard of. She paid for this herself! No help from anyone. You cannot imagine! You simply have to understand that women just did not DO this sort of thing back then and even now, in 2006, it is almost unheard of!

She has worked at Calderon Guardia for more than 30 years, and has built a strong life and career, raised two kids alone after her first husband died, and now has to deal with me… but I can tell you that not a day goes by that I do not await her return home. She makes my life wonderful and to the best of my abilities, I try to do the same.

She is no wallflower my wifey. She accepts no crap from me. But the relationship I have with her is so completely different than any I have had. She is 100% woman and 100% my partner. She is also my hero in many ways.

Yeah… Latinas rule!

7 Responses to “Questions from Readers”

  1. Natasha on October 24, 2006 1:10 pm

    Thank you for your reply I thought it was delightful and very enlightning for the mind.

    Thank you.

    Re:Q.What are Costa Rican women like? How do they compare to American women?

  2. John wisenstine on October 28, 2006 1:11 pm

    I would echo the ideas put forth by Tim plus add that because these women here serve their husbands and families ( not subserviant) they get more in return. They never ask first what is in it for me, they just give, and as a result I give more than I ever gave in my two marriages in the states. Womens lib has hurt more women in my opinion than it ever helped, more today than 20 yrs ago when at its heday. Unfortunatly whith the advent of us commercials and tele shows thyis is changing and I fear that soon the women here will be as messed up as those in the states. If you doubt my comment about messed up just compare the suicide rates, the rate of heart disease, the rate of drug abuse, the rate of psychotherapy and the rate of divorce for the women here and the women in the states.

  3. The REAL Costa Rica Blog » Blog Archive » Central Bank Changes and the Effect on Currency Exchanges and Interest on October 29, 2006 7:35 pm

    […] Questions from Readers […]

  4. Diane on January 2, 2007 11:24 pm

    Hello there,
    My name is Diane and I have a boyfriend in
    Costa Rica. We dated for 6 months and then
    lived together for 6 months while he was
    in the States. He asked if I would visit
    him this Spring. I have never traveled
    before and am understandably nervous.
    I am a suburban gal, born and raised, and
    he comes from a farm family of 15! I’ve
    been looking around for sites of what Costa
    Rica is really like, i.e., people and culture.
    Most web sites are all tourist based. If things
    work out, I might live there someday,so I am
    understandably curious. Mostly, I am afraid
    he will leave me for those fabulous Latinas!
    I fully agree with the above comments because
    I work with many Latinas and I completely
    adore them. I also speak half decent Spanish.
    Although I was a hippie in the 60’s, I am
    certainly no feminist. In fact I love to be
    a woman and for men to be, well…men. Any
    comments or encouragement would be welcome.

  5. Tim on January 3, 2007 1:41 pm

    Well http://www.therealcostarica.com certainly gives an accurate picture of CR. Read it!

    Good luck on your relationship… and be very scared of the Latinas. Costa Rican men are pretty much not known for monogamous relationships.

  6. Karl on January 28, 2007 11:22 am

    I too read about the $60,000 deposit for residency, but I understood it differently. The $1000/ mo. would mostly be a return of capital , so at the end of 5 years the balance would be zero. Seems to make sense as a way of guaranteeing solvency for those of us who have savings but not income.

  7. Thad Shaffer on January 19, 2013 10:51 pm

    I do understand and believe what you are saying. I have alway’s wondered why it was so hard to have a relationship here in America. I have never been married or had a good relationship, and I am 51 years old! So maybe that is why I am looking outside U.S.A. I just got on Social Security because of some accident’s I had, and thinking about moving to a place that is warmer and has a different spirit. I was tought Mormonism. But have change to Catholicism. Is there a place for me there? P.S. In about 8 months I should have some money from my Mom’s house, that her kid’s are selling.