Expats who responded to a news story Tuesday disputed the idea that failing to make friends is a reason foreigners leave Costa Rica. But they did go for different reasons.
The news story gave the opinion of a local retailer who sometimes is involved with departing foreigners. He said that being unable to make friends was the second most cited reason expats leave. The first was the cost of living.
That brought a strong response from Doug Arthur, formerly of Berlin de San Ramón de Alajuela. He was writing from Arizona. He said his No. 1 reason for leaving Costa Rica after seven years here was because he and his wife were tired of being robbed.
“Regarding your assertion that we Americans cannot or do not make Tico friends, we made many Tico friends that we miss every day and will continue to do so,” he said.
Victoria Torley, the A.M. Costa Rica garden columnist who lives in the Nuevo Arenal area was equally emphatic that finding friends is easy here. She said:
“. . . in Arenal there is too much to do! Three expat breakfast “meetings” weekly (you will be asked to peoples homes to visit and swim), groups for bridge, poker, walk/run exercise, multiple yoga classes, garden club, cribbage, farmer’s markets, food fests, village festivals, English church, Spanish lessons, kayaking, windsurfing lessons, Ladies of the Lake (social/charity group), garden tours, birthday parties and parties “just because,” grow your own food, individual and community trips to spas or whale watching, beach is 2 hours away. . . . Just thinking about it makes me tired.”
A Golfito expat said that “most of the Gringos in this area came to buy Costa Rica. I came here simply to live in Costa Rica. I treat all fairly, pay a bit more to my household help, and feed them lunch. They work by the job, not by the hour….”
Phil Baker, who wrote a book about Costa Rica, checked in with his opinions:
“Most Ticos have so much family around
them. They need or have no room for friends, Tico or Gringo. They may go to bars with other Ticos but rarely depend on individual friendships for emotional support or company. Ticos find company easily as most are eager to talk unlike, let’s say, Southern Californians. Small talking to many people is their idea of friendship. Americans may think it’s superficial. I find a beauty in it.”
A Santa Domingo expat said he stays in Costa Rica because of his girlfriend. Otherwise “This country is unbelievably expensive! I don’t know how (save for the use of credit cards), that the average Tico family can afford the basics, much less any luxury items!”
Arthur added that there are “unbelievable restrictions on acquiring the cédula, driver’s license or any other documents to remain legal residents. It’s clear that those Costa Ricans in power do not want us there.”
Legal changes have put the burden on expats who are seeking residency to continue to leave the country every 90 days to keep their right to drive here current. That was not the case before passage of the 2010 traffic law.
A.M. Costa Rica and its companion Retire NOW in Costa Rica have stressed that there are many places to find English-speaking friends here. But the newspaper may have been less clear in suggesting places where expats can meet Costa Ricans.
One such event is from the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud that offers zumba for seniors from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Mondays and Fridays in October at the fair grounds at Parque la Libertad in Fátima de Desmparados. In fact, the ministry and its Consejo Nacional de la Persona Adulta Mayor have extensive programs for seniors all year long.