What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Describe how you "dreamed" expat life would be before you moved overseas. Please provide as much detail as possible.
When my boyfriend decided to build a house in Costa Rica and we made plans to move here we imagined paradise, long sunny days filled with beaches and fishing, nightlife and a new group of friends to spend time with being a mixture of Tico's and expats. I imagined touring the country and seeing exotic rainforests, cascading waterfalls and mountains cutting the sky. I was excited to eat new foods, learn a new language, shop twice as much for half as much and get in perfect health from the pure water and Pura Vida lifestyle.
He bought with a developer that advertised the development since 2008 as a five star luxury secluded gated community with hotel, spa, sports courts, maids, concierge, restaurant, juice bar, and organic gardens. He got an email in August 2018 saying our house was complete, we ordered all of the interior furnishings and contents and by mid January were on our way!
How has your expat experience met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?
Costa Rica beauty is exactly how I imagined and the people are friendly, quite safe, lots of expats and a variety of things to do.
How has your expat experience NOT met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?
More expensive, very touristy in the popular areas, legal system is daunting and difficult for expats.
When we arrived to Black Beauty (google location) project called Turquoise View things quickly began to unravel. Our house wasn't done and the contents not in the home. There was no gate, dirt roads and NOT ONE amenity. We never had a maid in three months and all of the appliance manuals were in another language. We had to stay in temporary housing for a few weeks and then I went back to US to wait for completion. I flew back two weeks later but house still not done and only some contents purchased. Nightmare dealings with builder and purchasing representative, excuses and "ghosting" as well as bad news after bad news. After moving in to our unfinished, half furnished home, no further work was done except a railing on our stairs over a cliff as we demanded for safety! Internet hookup took months, no one could provide answers to our questions and we found that what we ordered to furnish our home and what we received were very different. Our dream was turning into a nightmare.
If wanting to build in a gated community in Costa Rica make sure you have an experienced attorney to assist you and you do lots of research on the company! Things do take time and although the house is two years late, way over contract price and not what we expected, you should be prepared for the legal journey and costs to finish your project and protect your investment, and living alone because it is not what you expected from the initial sales pitch and brochures.
To balance our disgust and relieve our nightmare temporarily, we visited the playas near us, the restaurants, stores and areas. This was a wise choice! Beaches in Nosara are beautiful! There are a lot of restaurants, shops, services, activities and expats! We met some new friends, both ticos and expats from US. One couple has been there for over 20 years and never learned the language but didn't feel they needed to. The people of the area are a mixture and as with anywhere there are good and bad. I am enjoying learning the language, exploring, eating the foods especially the fresh fish and the pure water! I feel better, look better and love the sun and fun! The rainy season is RAINY. We travel to our other homes during this time and visit family and friends and spend time in San Jose. San Jose is great for shopping!
We are still learning but the most important things I found was do learn to at least communicate with the language! Uber will be difficult without it! There are many homes for sale and rent, and gated communities aren't usually what they advertise! I have yet to find one that is actually what they market. Owning a home is very expensive and you have to have a plan for when you're not here. Better to buy a home done and meet the neighbors, form a group to watch out for each other. Have an attorney to help you navigate through real estate, residency, and the laws. Be careful with realtors, use a reputable, well known company and interview them!
Health care can be a shock as it is very different, even some ticos get supplemental insurance. Get a post office box for mail, enjoy the fresh food markets, be responsible at the beach and remove your trash! Make friends and insert yourself in the culture. If you try to live your home country life here, you will just pine for home. It is not as cheap to live here as some say, it is actually more expensive if you bring your lifestyle with you, so another reason to immerse in the Pura Vida lifestyle.
Costa Rica is wonderful, beautiful and everything you imagine if you prepare and protect yourself. I also recommend registering with the embassy of your country when traveling, and having their numbers should you need help.
Whether it is a dream that turns out to be a pleasant or daunting reality is up to you and how you navigate your plans to and while here.