Thursday, April 6, 2017

Why they leave - Our Life in Costa Rica

Yes, people really do leave paradise 

(My) Top Five Reasons Why People Leave Costa Rica
1- Pura Vida can be an acquired taste

While Pura Vida is the unofficial slogan of Costa Rica, (or at least the country’s collective philosophy), this laid-back attitude is one of the main characteristics that draws many expats to the country. Yet it’s also one of the ones that frustrates (North) Americans the most.
There are many, many things that are different here that you must get used to in order to survive, ranging from the poor roads and infrastructure to the weather. Once you have lived here for a while these differences can become nagging inconveniences to the point that some people no longer feel it is worth making the sacrifice for. They would rather return home to what has been most familiar to them. 

2 - Cost of Living - 
Things may not turn out to be as cheap as you thought they would be. The cost of living in Costa Rica has been steadily climbing. I am finding it a bit more expensive myself mostly because we often take taxis (when we should be taking the bus). The cost of a taxi from our house into town is $10 one way while the bus is less than 80 cents. Often we have mistimed the rain during the rainy season and end up calling a taxi, or it's too late at night (last bus to our ridge is at about 6:30 pm) maybe we have too many groceries or bags from shopping to haul on the bus, maybe it's Sunday when there are only 4 buses all day OR sometimes we are just plain lazy! But, those costs add up. Also we could cut down a bit on some of the U.S delicacies we like and stick to the basic Costa Rica foods. Our electric bill is running about $105/mo when many other people pay $20-$40. We have the luxury of a dishwasher and washer and dryer. However so far these costs are still far less than what we paid in the US so it is not that big of a deal. The main problem is that if you are NOT retired you will more than likely need work to make a living and since you cannot work here (unless you have your own source of income from a job back home, etc) many younger people find that these costs are too much and end up going home or moving to a different country where they can live more cheaply. 

3 - Health
With healthcare costs skyrocketing in the states (and uncertain at this time) there are many people who retire prior to the age of 65 and relocate to Costa Rica because of the low healthcare costs here. For some of those people once they turn 65, they choose to return to the states where they are eligible for Medicare. Others who are using the healthcare system here sometimes return to the US if they are diagnosed with an illness that they feel they would be better served to have treated in the states. Unfortunately as the baby boomers age, very often we might also have elderly parents back home who need our care or who may become ill and require a caregiver.

4 - Missing the Grandkids and Family
This is a big one! I know of several people who have returned to the states because they miss their families (especially their grandchildren) more than they thought they would. This is also a hard one to judge ahead of time because many come thinking that they will be comfortable making periodic trips back home or having the grandkids come for a visit. After they are here for a while, they find that they just don't want to be this far away from their families and they return to the states. 

Below is a photo of my only grandchild. She is expecting my 1st great grandchild in Sept. 

5 - Personal Reasons, including lack of sufficient Due Diligence and Leaving was Always the Plan
Sometimes people leave Costa Rica because they have become disillusioned. The Costa Rica laws and bureaucracy are often difficult to maneuver and very time consuming, either in day-to-day life or if trying to build a business here. Often the way things are conducted here just don't make sense to us. 
Perhaps Costa Rica was right for them, but only for a time. Things change and people’s needs and desires change. We know people who came here to live with a specified period of time in mind.  Once that time is over, well then it’s time to move on to another adventure in another place, or it’s time to go back home. For these folks it’s just another move because for them...It was never about the destination, it was always about the journey!

We all come to Costa Rica with big hopes and dreams. Will we be here forever? Unless you have access to a crystal ball that I don't have, we'll just have to wait and see!
All we can hope for is to live every day we are here, to be true to ourselves, try to be part of the community, and to be hopeful for the future.

  1. Be flexible and curious in the face of new information and ways of living.
  2. Don’t buy anything, at least at first.
  3. Don’t complain. When encountering behavior that is frustrating, give it the benefit of the doubt
  4. Assume good intentions and wait to be proven wrong.
  5. Losing your temper and blowing up at the underpaid, overworked immigration employee or customer service representative will get you nowhere.  A deep breath, a polite “gracias,” and a smile can work wonders.
  6. Learn Spanish.
  7. Be proactive about getting information, getting involved and getting help
  8. When feeling a little depressed or frustrated about life in your new home, remember that it is a temporary condition and you will get through it.
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  1. Nice post, Devon, considering life in Costa Rica from Different perspectives, and without judgment. ☺

    1. Thank you. One never knows what will happen so best to leave all options open.