Moving To and Living In Costa Rica. The Dangers and Pitfalls.
Costa Rica, a vacation paradise for vacationers only
The Truth finally Told
Too many people visit Costa Rica and then think their life will be one big vacation if they move down here. Well, I've got news for you. Costa Rica is an OK place to vacation but a poor selection for living. When you vacation in Costa Rica most of the Tico's are very friendly but that's mostly because they want your money. The following info is what I gathered over 2+1/2 years of living in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica's single scene
Single men, doubly beware! I've heard too many stories of women marrying gringos just for a relocation to another richer country or for alimony payments once they divorce. Yes, Tico's (natives of Costa Rica) think of gringos as walking wallets. They really think we are all rich. I personally had a female friend who I'd known for 7 months and she took me for all she could the first chance she got. She cleaned out my checking account by forging my name and walked with $6000. (1.5 years later she is still free after marrying a gringo and moving to the states. no justice exists in Costa Rica.) Luckily I had more money elsewhere. But my landlord here (from Canada) says that happens all the time. They get your confidence over many months and then steal everything they can the first chance they get.
Costa Rica's attitudes toward gringos
Since there's so much sex tourism in Costa Rica most latinos automatically think you've come there just for cheap sex. So none of the middle or upper class latinos want much to do with you. Even though you can convince them you're not a sex tourist, they still don't want to associate with you for fear of what their friends might think. And the poor latinos will associate with you just to take advantage of you financially. Generally I found living there very lonely.
Costa Rica's quality control(?)
And Costa Rica peoples second biggest negative attribute is that they lie like crazy. They have no stomach for conflict and so will always tell you whatever you want to hear just to keep you happy in the moment. Like many different types of indians these Costa Rica people are very in-the-moment and don't (or can't) think about future situations that their present actions cause. They are also dull-witted and incompetent. Heaven help you if you try to run a business down here and want Costa Rica people as employees. You can tell them exactly what to do for 5 times in a row and right in front of you they'll still do it their way. There exists no stubbornness like what latinos possess. The other day 56 people were injured and 4 people killed due to some incompetent highway worker who didn't lock some machinery 'arm' from being able to move. It swung out over the highway and killed a trucker instantly and then a loaded bus crashed into it.
Costa Rica's import situation
Import taxes here are 100%. Yes I said 100%, which means that all imported goods cost twice as much in Costa Rica as in the USA. A VCR that costs $120 in the States will cost $240 here. And anything you have shipped to you has to be taxed which is almost never less than $100.
Costa Rica's dissatisfied gringos
Rich gringos move here and then everytime you talk to them they do what I'm doing here which is only complain. My landlord, who is an isolated positive thinker, is the only gringo I've talked to who says he likes it here.
Costa Rica's internet connection
Yes you can be connected to the internet down here but it's hard to get 'on-line' and you pay both for on-line time and telephone time. (Even local calls are billed.) My monthly bill from RACSA (the government monopoly supplier of internet connections in Costa Rica) is $35. And connection speed is so slow some web sites are useless to you.
Costa Rica's polluted food
The evil pesticide companies in the USA sell outlawed pesticides at a low price to the farmers here. They are outlawed in the USA because they are highly toxic to humans also and cause cancer. But the farmers here buy it because it's cheaper. They don't care if you get DDT poisoning. I've eaten vegetables here that caused an immediate reaction in my throat because they had so much pesticides on them. It seems the farmers spray too heavily or too frequently. Costa Ricans are typically very immature in their thinking and do things you'd only think children would be capable of. A friend of mine knows two people who returned from Costa Rica after just a few months with pesticide poisoning from eating the food here.
Costa Rica's downtown
And then there's San Jose, the most polluted city I have ever seen. Old buses and cars with all pollution controls taken off are continuously spewing out tons of dark exhaust fumes. I try to never go there but there are many essentials which are only available in San Jose. If you like to wait a lot then you'll enjoy driving in San Jose, Costa Rica. Traffic jams galore and believe it or not there is no main highway loop around the city. You have to go right through the middle of it! And the roads have lots of potholes due to the government stealing most of the money designated for road repair. And parking, yeah right. This is a small town turned big (~1.5 million people) and there is little parking space to be had. And if you park somewhere that isn't gaurded then you may return from shopping to find the car gone.
Costa Rica's thievery and lack of security
There's so much theft here it isn't funny. Women who go to San Jose go without jewelry or they hide it in their purse. I know of a woman who had her earrings ripped right out of her ear lobes! ouch! One time a friend of mine left her sweater on the back of a chair in front of Taco Bell in the mall for 5 minutes. When she returned it was gone and no one knew anything about it. And you will never see so many security bars around houses and guards outside stores and banks with loaded shotguns in any other country. One guy wrote this about Costa Rica: "2 years ago a thief put a gun to my wife’s head and stole her phone and laptop as she was leaving her office in San Jose. I bought her a new phone, which a thief stole from her 3 months later while she was on public transportation. Last year, two thieves accosted my daughter and her boyfriend as they returned home from a date. They put guns to their heads and demanded their phones, wallets, watches, etc., and this was in a good community in San Pedro. Nine months later, 2 thieves on motorcycles stopped my 21 year-old daughter on the streets, held a gun to her head and stole her Blackberry. I guess one could compare Costa Rica to Baltimore or Detroit, but I would never visit either of these cities because of the crime. There are hundreds of decent cities in the U.S. where one can be completely safe. But over the years I have come to absolutely HATE Costa Rica because of the crime. The perps will use any form of transportation to come to your neighborhood to bring you harm, and the police are a joke. The criminals are looking for you despite how you may dress-down to look like a poor Tico, the criminals don’t care – they will hunt you. BTW, I am a Gringo, but my family are Ticos…they know the tactics to avoid being spotted – but they still get attacked. And the cost of living is priced for wealthy foreigners…the Ticos can’t afford common products and services. A Burger King Whopper will cost you $8.99 – for the burger only. But Costa Rica has a great public relations firm that portrays the country like a paradise. It’s not. Drugs is a real problem and they don’t have an army to protect them from drug lords moving in from both sides – Mexico and Colombia. There is smog, and it’s frankly not as beautiful as the U.S. (I’ve visited 44 states). Don’t move to Costa Rica unless you like living in constant fear, danger, and with jail bars on your windows, doors and garage door." More
Costa Rica's coastal areas
Some people move to the beaches but I think they are doubly crazy because retail goods there are almost nil and it is very hot and humid and the mosquitos carry the Dengue virus.(sometimes fatal). So they wind up travelling to San Jose anyway to buy things they need.
Costa Rica, land of poisonous metal
Michael Kraidy of the U.S. Organic Fruit company: "Here in Costa Rica they have the second highest rate of stomach cancer in the world. Currently, one of the incorrect explanations for this phenomenon is that cows are eating a noxious weed which poisons the milk that people drink. However, Japan has the highest rate of stomach cancer in the world and they don't drink milk or eat dairy products. The common tangent between the two countries is overworked soils that are volcanic in origin and high in metals (especially aluminum)."
I myself had a hair mineral analysis (which is reflective of mineral levels in all body tissues) after one year of living here and it showed an aluminum level of 4 times what is considered toxic, and a toxic level of lead. Also, the fish and salt of this country is high in toxic metals because they come from the Nicoya Peninsula which is where most of the rivers, which are polluted by industry, dump into. Conclusion: Costa Rica is a great place to get heavy metal toxicity from the metals in the food and water and air here.
Costa Rica, parasite haven
The Chagas parasite which causes Chagas disease is a greater threat than AIDS in central america where it is the #1 parasite problem. 11% of people in Costa Rica are infected with it! Chagas usually attaches to heart muscles which it then eats until one day the heart muscle ruptures which kills the person. 18 million Latinos have this and it kills 20,000 people every year. This is of course only one of many parasites here waiting for you, their next dinner. I myself have battled with protozoan parasites ever since I arrived.
Summary of dirty Costa Rica
So if you like pollution, traffic, bad roads, thievery, high import taxes, high prices, incompetence, lack of security, parasites, and few friends if any, then Costa Rica is the place for you! Visit the beaches (on the west coast) or the active volcano Arenal but don't for your own sake move here! One time when I rode my motorcycle to the beach I was stopped by a police officer who required payment of about $18 to prevent him from writing a big ticket (for a fictitious charge according to my lawyer later) and impounding my motorcycle. You know things are bad when even the police rob from you.
Costa Rica, the rich coast
On the bright side, except for 4 very rainy months (July-Oct), the weather is great up on the plateau and the women are very pretty (although snobbish), and the land is beautiful. But all things considered, my advice to you is don't move here.
ps- if any of you reading this are Costa Rican and you don't like these words, then do what you can to change your corrupt country instead of wasting your time getting mad at me. For a good first step, stop voting for one of the two status-quo candidates for the presidency when you can vote for someone of an independent party who will confess to how bad the government is in Costa Rica. (Costa Rica ranks high when it comes to overall corruption according to independent entrepreneurs. see http://www.cipe.org/ert/e28/ifce28.php3.) If you are a gringo and think that I'm just spoiled or just hate latinos, well you are very wrong. I am just a realist and report things as I see them. I still live amongst latinos (in a different country now) and my workers love me because I care for them and help them whenever they ask for help. So don't make bad assumptions about me because I tell it like it is. Truth is the hardest pill to swallow. Tourists are generally treated very nice so people who have visited there and didn't have any bad experiences could think badly of this page. I understand that. But this page is about living in Costa Rica for years and years, not just visiting.
This page was created solely for the humanitarian purpose of making the untold story of Costa Rica known. Click here for my perspective on other latino countries. I'd also recommend you go to escapeartist.com and do some research on living in Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland if you don't want to live in a third world country.