Expats need to tone down rhetoric over living here

Mr. Plumley pretty much sums up what I would say about the gentleman from Puntarenas who painted such a dark side to living in or visiting Costa Rica. I would like to add a few things, however.

1. Crime is not directed just at foreigners as is suggested. When I lived in the U.S., I had security in my houses as did most people. No, it was not a wall with electric wires, but it was for the same purpose, just a little more sophisticated. I like my wall. It not only keeps the bad boys out, but has allowed me to create a peaceful and serene environment inside as well. I agree, the judicial system needs a lot of work here but there is more violent crime committed on a weekend in one major U.S. city than in Costa Rica in a month. Anytime the economy tanks, the crime rate goes up and I would suspect that most crime is drug-related. If the U.S. did not have an insatiable drug appetite the crime rate everywhere might go down.

2. Mr. Plumley hit it right on with his assessment of Panamá. Yahoo wrote an article about five cheap places to retire. Three of the five were in Central America, and one was a town in Panama (a small town an hour from Panama City). Yahoo allows replies to its articles and many people wrote in saying if you want a cheap, safe place to retire, do not come to Panamá.

3. Yes, in Spanish the word Gringo does mean double the price. But not to all Ticos. A lot of expats get gouged because they come here expecting (and sometimes demanding) to live like a king on the backs of the Ticos. They build big houses, flash around a lot of money, talk a lot and isolate them from Costa Rican culture, looking for expat communities and joining English speaking clubs.

Most Ticos are honest, good, hard-working people who will treat you the same way in which they are treated. I live with a Tico family (their son is my godson, and I am considered his abuelo) and we live as a family. We have embraced each others culture and language (although my Spanish still sucks, but I try, and that means a lot to Ticos), I have wonderful Tico neighbors who will come to my aid anytime I need them, I have avoided so called English-speaking groups but not necessarily English-speaking people. We often joke about me (old Blue Eyes) not doing any negotiating for work or services. Tico to Tico works very well. Much better than Gringo to Tico.

4…Cost of living here pretty much evens out. Gas is high and products imported and transported by trucks are subsequently high. I pay much less for utilities than in the U.S., and the property taxes are much less here for a comparably sized house (yes, I did look up current property taxes where I came from in the U.S.).  And if you build and live in a luxurious house, you pay a luxury tax, which is still less than what you would pay in the U.S.

Do not come here expecting to live well just on your Social Security and Medicare (which does not cover any services outside the U.S.). Excellent  private medical care is a fraction of what it costs in the U.S., but if you do not have private medical insurance that covers costs in a foreign country, you are left with Caja, which could be a problem, or out of pocket expenses.

Some of these disgruntled expats need to tone down the rhetoric. There are two sides to everything, and people thinking about visiting and living here need to hear all of it, not just the opinions of angry, unhappy people, which. after many years, I have found to exist everywhere. Move on to your next promised land. Leave those of us who find good things about Costa Rica alone. Purs Vida.

James Clarke

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