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An Expat Talks about Living in Tamarindo Beach, Costa Rica

Submitted by harawayne

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Tamarindo Beach

Describe how you "dreamed" expat life would be before you moved overseas. Please provide as much detail as possible.

When I began the search for our ex-pat paradise, things were a bit different than they are now. I imagined a laid-back, small town atmosphere with inexpensive eateries, good weather, decent medical care and lots of ex-pats to socialize with when the mood struck. An American style home near the beach for less than $150K,native cuisine,music and culture to keep my post retirement brain active.

I imagined squeezing fresh juice in the morning, swimming every day and exploring the different areas of my new home country. Building a new home, decorating it with native crafts and having "hammock time".

How has your expat experience met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?

Almost everything has materialized in one way or another but you must develop patience, a sense of humour and realize that being preemptive or ahead of schedule will only cost you money, not save it. We do wake up with sunshine most every day even in rainy season, I love the Ticos we have gotten to know albeit there is a feeling that you are an ATM machine to some. The beaches are beautiful and the nightlife during tourist season is terrific with live music, fiestas and great restaurants if you avoid the tourist traps.

We have traveled extensively and I am constantly amazed at the beauty of this country.The government is mostly engaged, people vote and there are many cultural activities around the capital and even in small towns like Guyatil, Villareal and Bagaces.

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How has your expat experience NOT met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?

Costa Rica can be expensive and now that the colone to dollar ratio is much less favorable, gas and food are about equal to the US. There is a 13% tax on almost everything, a 10% tip is added to the dining tab on top of that and gas is about $5,00 gallon. Housing at the beach has not recovered to pre-crash prices but is still very high thanks to US and Canadian investors. There is very little personal responsibility among Ticos and maintenance is unheard of. The roads can be very dangerous at night with pedestrians, bicycles and livestock using them as walkways. Policing is very lax and security can be a do it yourself endeavor. Although we never feel threatened, there is crime in the large cities and we prefer the quiet of a small town. The rain is a deluge at times and humidity is constant.

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