View Full Version : Ex-Pats in Costa Rica- I need the Straight Dope
03-13-2003, 08:05 AM
My mom and and her husband (former Marine and Mechanical Engineering Professor) are looking at moving to Costa Rica from the US for their retirement. They are going down to visit soon. However, their primary contact down their recently passed away so I am looking for the inside information on life for Ex-Pats down there and the relative state of the Country.
Any other good sources of information or sites would be great as well. The problem for me is that I do not know much about the country, so its hard to distinguish accurate information from the crap or outdated fluff.
Employment wise, I believe my Mom's husband has been told he has a job whenever he comes down in the University system.
Information on the stability, safety, heath care system, economy, and general damn good things to know are much appreciated.
Thank you in advance for your help!
03-13-2003, 10:24 AM
All I can provide you is my own brief experience there back in 1996 which isn't all that current. Of all of the central and South American countries I have been to, I have to say that it is the most 'American-friendly'. Based on people I met on the street, I would say the country may be as much as 20-25% ex-pats. I've heard the country is very well suited to retiring Americans and most everyone I met spoke a fair amount of English as my Spanish is quite rusty these days.
One thing I was particularly struck by was how honest people seemed. I realize this is just perception, but outside of the capital, San Jose, you just sort of blend in, and I didn't feel like people were 'out to get you'. This, compared to my experience in Columbia. I have to say, the movie 'Romancing the Stone' is a VERY accurate portrayal of that country
03-13-2003, 10:55 AM
I spent a couple weeks working in Costa Rica a few years ago (early-to-mid Nineties, I guess) and loved it there. For the most part the people were very friendly. While there I met a retired American, and he thought his decision to relocate to Costa Rica was the best decision of his life.
Stability seemed good to me, though I'm by no means an expert on Latin American political scenes. I felt very safe the entire time I was there. I walked around at night in all kinds of different areas and nobody really bothered me. I heard the health care system is good, but have no direct experience with it. I can't say much about the economy except that I was rich when I was in Central America and poor when I came back to the United States. Supposedly there is a high incidence of certain diseases in Costa Rica--everything from malaria to hepatitis--and I had to get a bunch of shots prior to my trip down there. The country is beautiful. Supposedly the beach is great (though I didn't get to see it for myself). They do some strange things with the condiments on hamburgers. Like Yarster, I noticed that the people seemed pretty honest compared to many up here. Unlike Yarster, I had some difficulties in the language department (I don't really hablo espanol, or whatever); however, I still almost always was able to make myself understood eventually. There were some pretty rough looking areas in San Jose, I thought. Those giant damn beetles were pretty freaky. The jungle's pretty loud in the morning. Mostly though, it seemed like a nice place.
I would like to go back to visit. To live there? I don't know--if I spoke Spanish, I would certainly consider it. I liked some of the communities down there better than, say, Little Rock and Chicago, though this is definitely a YMMV statement.
Best wishes to you and your folks!
03-13-2003, 11:04 AM
While my travel to Latin American countries is limited compared to some, Costa Rica, IMO, is about 20 years ahead of the rest of Central America, and most of South America. VERY friendly people, open to tourism, very concerned about natural resources and keeping pristine countyside in itís natural state, amazing biodiversity, stable government and ecomony, increasing multi-national investments. There were incredible tax benefits for US Ex-Pats some years ago, and a good base population was created. Costa Rica has a literacy rate which rivals or beats the US, all children have public schools, with English lessons. The abolished their standing military and took those resources and applied them to education and national infrastructure. Each citizen has free e-mail. No cites for any of these claims, unfortunately, but I go there for business about three or four times a year.
03-13-2003, 11:15 AM
My in-laws recently had a similar decision to make and chose Belize. They live in a sleepy little oceanside town (Placencia) and so far, love it. It's one of the few areas that ocean side property is still "affordable" for many North Americans.
As for the differences between Costa Rica and Belize, sorry.
03-13-2003, 11:37 AM
From what I hear, it's very much like the US, only a smaller, less affluent scale. One interesting thing is that they have no military.
03-13-2003, 11:54 AM
The Tico Times is an english language newspaper in San Jose aimed primarily at expats.
03-13-2003, 02:20 PM
I would like to thank everyone who has posted so far, your help is very much appreciated! This is just another reason why this is such an awesome Board.
03-13-2003, 02:54 PM
Since you're asking mostly for advice and anecdotes rather than hard facts, I'll move this thread to IMHO.
We only spent a couple of days there on the beach at Jaco. I agree with all the the statements about the friendliness of the people and the beauty of the area. The remark about the hamburger was correct, but don't tell them you don't like their hamburgers. There are many sites you can go to that contain lots of good information on Costa Rica. One thing I read before going there was that the food was not very good. I disagree with this and loved the fact that all the restaurants were open-aired. The climate on the Pacific side is great, but I understand that it can be muggy on the Gulf side. The Gulf side was where there were some tourists murdered a few years ago. San Jose is 6,000 feet above sea-level, which may take some getting used to. The roads are passable, but driving is definitely an adventure. There are no shoulders to the roads and driving over the mountains can get very scary, especially since they have lots of fog. I never saw those beetles, but they have crocodiles in their rivers (not alligators).
:) When arranging for a rental car make sure they don't book it in San Jose, CA
vBulletin® v3.7.3, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.