5/6/2010 11:38 EST
Hi everyone, hope you are enjoying every day of your life.., I am and I have a 29 year old knowledge of Costa Rica
I have been on this and other forums, plus reading CR newspapers, and see allot of fresh questions about transitioning to Costa Rica
... and how Gringos are treated here in Costa Rica.
the 1st answer, is it depends entirely on the Gringo...
Think about it, what a gross generalization... As if a 70 year old retired cop from New York city is going to bring the same attitudes as a 40 year old architect from Victoria Canada...everyone is different.
fyi, I am originally Canadian (Vancouver) 6 ft, 200 lbs, pale blond, and I am so "white", I am pink, and when the sun hits, VERY pink :-)
So if there is a poster boy for a Gringo in Costa Rica (and the opportunity to be treated badly based on "how I look") , I'm it....
Guess what..I LOVE COSTA RICA, and Costa Ricans, and feel lucky and blessed to live here.
Now, is Costa Rica perfect? No..
But does Costa Rica and the Costa Rican people and culture offer a better "balance" then what I experienced anywhere else I have lived?
with out a doubt (for myself and my family) the answer is Yes. But now it's You and your time to learn and decide..
Understand, you will hear stories that seem contrary to my outlook, so this is just one opinion, but you should consider what is it that makes some North American who move here LOVE Costa Rica, and other hate it
It's obviously not Costa Rica that changes, it can ONLY be the attitude and experiences and expectations of the newcomer to Costa Rica then define their experience here.
My background is simple, my 1st visit to CR was 29 years ago, in 1981, and on that 1st trip, I met a Tica who worked at the local childrens hospital, second visit in 1982, spent more time here with her seeing the "real" Costa Rica, and third visit 6 months later, went with "respect" to meet her family and ask for her hand, married her and took her to the Canada, and later moved down to the US.
At that point, I had no understanding of what Costa Rica was or had to offer, (except the best fishing I have ever experienced. :-)
But, between 1981 and 2001, I visited Costa Rica with "my Tica" yearly to visit our Costa Rica in-laws and "immediate family" of 50 nieces, nephews, etc.
The 20 years from 1981 to 2001, lived in southwest US, Western Canada, Europe, England, Hong Kong (and Mexico for a year)
Because of the annual family visits to Costa Rica, every year I had a 2/3 week example of the way my Costa Rican nieces and nephews acted around family and friends, compared with North American kids of the same age, and how Costa Ricans treasured friendship, multi-generational family involvement and a focus on enjoying life, and enjoyed LIVING day to day, so I decided to try living and raising my family in Costa Rica, as the family values and outlook on life seemed far better then what I was witnessing "up north".
The key here is that I experienced the country, the different areas, the people, the culture, BEFORE MAKING A LIFE CHANGING DECISION.
I did not come here because the condos or land was cheaper, or the weather was perfect, or because the taxes were less or non existent, or the opportunities for true entrepreneurial business building were greater..all those things were fringe benefits.
Anyway, we moved here from Canada "forever" shortly after Sept 11th, 2001, with my Tica wife (who learned English while "up north") and my 3 very blond Tica/Gringa daughters.
I've been in the Real Estate Development Business since, with all it ups n downs the last 8 years, and I've been all over Costa Rica.
I unfortunately only speak " pretty good Spanglish", enough to communicate wherever I go, but embarrassingly not totally fluent, still working on it.
my 1st year here, I lived both in Jaco and San Jose, and I had small items stolen from the exposed back seat of my Montero, once in San Jose, once in Jaco.
I would NEVER leave something exposed in the back seat in Los Angeles or Vancouver or New York, or any other major City in the world.
So that was an inexpensive lesson, not of the "crime" in Costa Rica, but that I was acting stupidly.
Never had any crime problem since, nor has any member of my family.
My 3 blond Tica/Gringa daughters were born and raised until 2001 "up north" in an upper middle class affluent North American lifestyle.
So before moving here, I reminded them of 4 rules:
#1. The "Golden Rule", treat others with the same respect, patience and kindness that you would want shown to yourself, no matter what...
#2. The only reason they had more $ or better cloths or education, was an accident of "where they were born", NOT because they are smarter and better then Costa Ricans
#3. You are visiting someone else's home, don't tell them how to run there house, the analogy is that we are "guests" in this "house of Costa Rica".
#4. If you see something "broken", don't whine and complain, NO ONE LIKES WHINERS, so get involved..roll up your sleeves and actively help fix the problem
After almost 10 years here, all 3 are in public schools/university's here, (not "English" Private schools), and my oldest also has her own business and a Tico "boyfriend/husband to be".
You could not get them to move back "up north" for anything,
On a personal note, the 1st 3 years I was here, I was offered over $100,000 in signing bonuses and generous salaries/stock options just to move back up north
to work for 1 year with some of my old Canadian or US business associates to get different businesses going.
Not only did I decline, but told them the answer was the same "NO" even if they tripled the financial incentives, so they would stop pestering me.
My Life is no longer about $ as the top-only priority... it's only money
My full time job for the last 8 years is dealing with North Americans (Canadian and US Citizens) wanting to move to Costa Rica,
retire, buy property, build, live the good life in the tropics.
So I deal with these issues every day., questions of what to expect,
what it's like here, cost of living, is there crime, gun ownership, infrastructure issues and questions, education, lifestyle, tech/communications here, racism, bigotry, taxes, legal system, and then even the simplest questions, like "how do I bring my cat"..
all revolving around the question of "will Costa Rica be good enough for me to be Happy moving there"
You know what I tell them? I tell them it depends more on THEM then on Costa Rica
SLOW DOWN to get to know the culture and people of Costa Rica before they buy any property and move to a completely different culture
How can a seemingly intelligent "modern" full grown adult, who has never spent 1 month "living in the REAL Costa Rica" (not just spending time in a resort or gated community), make a decision to invest $100,000 to $400,000 (average) and sometimes over a $1,000,000 or more, and retire/live in a country they don't even know they like?
For me, watching the escalating political, financial and cultural melt down "up north" makes me feel lucky and blessed for the opportunity to live in Costa Rica.
and then once making the decision to move here, I spent the time talking with Costa Ricans of every generation and financial status, to LEARN from their Wisdom.
Have you ever felt that the North American Culture has truly "lost their way", culturally, socially, politically and morally?
I moved here because of the culturally, socially, political and moral "wealth" that Cost Rica offers, and any financial advantage or benefits are just icing on the cake...
Go spend time, not as a tourist, but sincerely as a visitor and guest, with a a 90 year old Costa Rican Campesino in Nicoya or Sardinal or 100 other small towns, and visit with a 90 year old healthy, strong, active, working man, who works his Finca" Farm/Ranch 9 hours a day 6 days a week at the age of 90, and has the same 83 year old wife that he married 66 years ago, and has seen the world thru non North American eyes since 1920, and watched "little" unimportant Costa Rica evolve into the only stable economy and democracy in the region, stay out of wars, be a guiding force and active promoter of peace in the region, and develop a culture based on Family Values, Friendship, Humility, with no military industrial "machine" to drive/enslave the economy, and with long term government policy's reflected in the constitution that have created one of the highest educated, healthiest, longest lived people in the world.
That old Costa Rican at 90 years of age can teach you allot
But...YOU'LL NEVER KNOW if you go live in a walled gringo enclave or high priced Florida/California style resort, not wanting to Lower yourself" to get out with the people and become a good Costa Rican...
If someone is looking to move here JUST because it's cheaper to live (main priority) THEN DON'T COME DOWN.
Cheaper land or condos or lower cost of living or nicer weather DON'T MATTER if you do not like the culture and people and the normal "day to day" life.
Keep one thing in mind..
Travel the entire world, and if you are looking at "generalizations", no nationality get's the cold shoulder in any country of the world,
like saying "I'm an American", (really should be saying "I'm a US Citizen", but that's another paragraph). That was the way it was 30 years ago, and it's only gotten worse.
You think that is a coincidence?, or a bad reputation fairly earned by a few too many "Ugly Americans"?
makes you think...
And those fleeing the insanity up north have the "arrogance of ignorance" (and rudeness) to tell the people in this country they "have a better way".
I mean, lets face it, the "american dream" died in the late 60's up in the US, the average US Citizen I speak with is so bitter and angry at life it makes me sad, but they don't understand, fleeing to Costa Rica is a privilege, and learning how Costa Ricans made smarter decisions over the last 50 years then the US has, as well as Canada, and are happier, more content people for those decisions, is something a newcomer should passionately want to learn.
But often their fear, arrogance, ego and complacency keep them locked away with others of their kind in gated communities, complaining and ridiculing the very people they should be learning from and thanking for the "opportunity" to have a second chance outside of the growing insanity up north.
When someone rolls into Costa Rica with their "I'm better because I have more $" attitude that I see every month, and clearly, by their actions, facial expressions, and general "I only want to live with other gringos" nose in the air disrespect, and show that they have no love for the local Costa Rican people who's country they are a GUEST in...
How do you think the average Costa Rican feels when you act like that....., these people are very well educated and have excellent radar for that type of attitude.
There are many wonderful, humble, grateful North Americans that have visited, spent time getting to know the locals, learned Spanish, and feel the same as I do.
SO... if your Costa Rica experience has not been pleasant, or you talk to others who moved here and have nothing good to say, ask if you or they LOVE Costa Ricans,
their culture, habits, and day to day way of living, BEFORE moving here and bought property.
If the answer is NO, then maybe you came here to take advantage of the financial end of the equation, (nothing wrong with that)
but never gave a thought to the people and the country and culture you were moving to.., just not important...and now they complain about how they are treated here...
Remember, just one opinion
PURA VIDA-COSTA RICA!
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