“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

― Frank Herbert

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Costa Rica


My brothers and I once considered relocating to Costa Rica.  It's a beautiful place, with nice people and it's largely unspoiled. There's a big American expatriate community there, but that doesn't mean you have to live with everybody else.


I'm not a big fisherman, but they have many miles of unspoiled, undeveloped coast line and I wouldn't mind going out and sitting by the water in the evening.


A modest home near the water is not expensive. You can buy something like this place for less than the price of a mid level new car.  If you want a villa with tile floors right on the beach, most people could afford that too.  The cost of living in Costa Rica is amazingly low , and you can transfer funds from North America to Costa Rica without difficulty.


The beaches in Costa Rica are better than those in North America.  No greasy, sun tan lotion covered tourists, playing loud music and generally being obnoxious.


The pace of life there is slow.  Taxes are minimal.  Nobody cares what you do as long as you don't bother anyone else.


The local people are friendly. They like North Americans because most of them make a living from the expats, one way or the other.



I dug out the file from my home office that I kept when we were researching the move down there. Talked to the wife on the phone, she is ok with living in Costa Rica, as long as we wait til she can retire (4 more years), but we could go ahead and buy something down there and I could spend part of the year there "getting settled" so the move down would be easier later on.  Talked to my younger brother, he can't go down til his son hits college age, about 6 years away. But he's up for the move.

43 comments:

  1. That gives you just enough time to brush up on your Costa Rican Spanish.
    Recently had a long talk with an American who lived there for a number of years. Great place. Inexpensive to live there. Friendly people. However, anything not nailed down will be stolen -at least that's what he claimed.

    Also talked to people who fly down there to get dental work done. Modern clinics but with so low a price it more than pays for the plane fare.

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    1. My spanish is pretty good, although I haven't used it much in some years.

      That kind of problem, theft, doesn't worry me much. I'm careful.

      It seems like a nice place to retire to. I can afford a lot more down there, than I can here. Don't know what their citizenship requirements are, but I'm looking into that. I know I can live there on a guest visa but would prefer to stop paying taxes in North America if I can. Previously I looked into real estate prices,etc, in a cursory fashion but now I am looking at the details.

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  2. My best friend just sold his Fathers place in Costa Rica, said he will never step foot in the country again.... it's all what you make of it. If you decide to make the move it would be great to read about your adventures getting everything ready!

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    1. Can you elaborate? That would be useful information. My wife has five more years to teach before retirement, but I could relocate down there as soon as I dispose of my place here.

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  3. beginning to sound good...much better than the third world country of florida.
    husband loves costa rica and parana, brazil.

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    1. Is there a particular location in Costa Rica, near the beach maybe, that he likes?

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    2. he liked the central plains, heredia and alajuela and the capital city.
      didn't care for the ocean areas.
      can someone who likes beaches and has more current info give harry the info he needs?
      thanks.

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    3. I've found some folks who are living down there, so far only one person is not happy and I think they may be doing what a lot of older people who move here do. They come from some place they were not happy, and immediately start trying to change their new location so that it's like the old one. I can't figure it out.

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  4. I've thought of doing that. I just couldn't figure which country would be best. ie where money would go further east, medical, and require a minimum amount of income from the U.S. to be an expat living there. And of course the biggest question, which one will have most stable government?

    Love the idea though.

    Wade inNW Florida

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    1. Costa Rica is very stable. I have spoken with people living there who could not praise it enough. The main drawback seems to be North Americans moving down there who want to convert it into little Miami, so I am looking for something nowhere near large settlements of expats. None of the South American countries appeal to me, and most Central American countries are banana republics, but Costa Rica seems ideal.

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  5. G'day Harry,

    Yes, I am still alive! I have to admit that I had to look up Costa Rica on google, I had an idea it was in South America but could not be sure. Looks nice from the photos and you would never have to worry about winter again, how would you go moving some or all of your "toys" down there?

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    1. Sgt, if I go down there I won't be able to take my weapons. Everything is a trade off. I think I would gain much more than I would lose by relocating.

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    2. In that case if you would like to repatriate some Lee Enfields to their country of birth I can certainly help you out!

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    3. Sgt. Wish I could do that. Too bad you don't live on the mountain top next to me , you could watch this place for me and I'd keep it. But if I shove off I'll have to sell it I guess, as my son isn't coming back down here no matter what I say.

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  6. Harry, I had been considering a move to Central America when I retire as well. Northern Panama actually, to the northern highlands where it isn't too humid. A few American expats there as well. They have a new pensioners visa there, if you spend 1K a month you have permanent citizenship. Already speak Spanish, you can hire a maid to cook and clean for dirt cheap, so what's not to like?

    One of my problems relocating is of course the Mrs: "We would be too far from the kids" she says. Well, they have to learn to be independent someday I say.

    My ideal situation looks like this then...summers in Montana living in a small cabin in the hills, and winters in Panama. Yea, I'd better start saving.

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    1. I talked to my kids and they are ok with all of us going to Costa Rica. Turns out my daughter knows some people her age already living down there. I just assumed it was mostly retirees but it seems there are a lot of twenty somethings who see no future here and are getting out of the country for places with better prospects.

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  7. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)


    I was looking at Nicaragua myself. I have friends that were born there and have relatives there.
    Harry, you can always come to Texas. We do things a little different out west.

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    1. My brothers went down into Nicaragua. They said it was rough as a cob, soldiers everywhere, and the locals weren't friendly. They also said the infrastructure was pretty close to non-existent outside Managua. I've got a bunch of pictures of Nicaragua they took, reminded me of the Patrol Boat going up the river in "Apocalypse Now."

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  8. You'd be up near Costa Rica if you were in Northern Panama. I have to check into tax laws, I don't know how Costa Rica works it, but I'm told that taxes are not a problem there. My kids will probably be living in Canada, I am going to spend the money to try to get them Canadian citizenship again. Last time I lost a huge sum because the Canadian immigration lawyer was a crook, but maybe I'll have better luck next time. It would be worth the cost to provide them with citizenship in a decent country, and they don't want to go to Central America.

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    1. lived in canada for a short while.
      do it yourself!
      go into internet and see what each province needs.
      if my daughter had not sickened and received her 4 year degree, she would have gone to whichever province needed an engineer. these are sometimes tough jobs that canadians won't take [say in the north] but it gets you in and gets you citizenship.
      after the 'indentured servitude' you are free to go where you will.
      each province has a list of these jobs. if you qualify you go to the head of the immigration line.

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    2. Deb, my kids lived in Vancouver for three years on student visas. Immigration is controlled by the Canadian federal government. Although there is a standard set of procedures for Asian immigrants (mostly Japanese and Korean), Americans are required to hire a Canadian immigration lawyer. I hired one according to their law. He turned out to be a crook, and we later found out he had numerous complaints filed against him for doing what he did to us, .i.e. taking thousands of dollars from clients and then not following up with the legal activity to get the visas.

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  9. I know a retired USAF Major who lives in central america. I guess he loves it. But I have never asked about cost of living.

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    1. Rob, it's cheap. I know a guy and his wife who live down there, they basically bought a place and just live off their combined social security checks. Here, they'd be eating dog food. There, they manage a decent existence.

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  10. Hello Sir,
    you did not publish my yesterday comment . Was something wrong about it or were my questions too private ?
    BTW Costa Rica is a beautiful country but the beach sides are not as empty as you suppose. Many many tourists there all over the year.
    Nadine the French girl

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    1. Nadine if you sent a comment and I didn't publish it, it's because I didn't see it. I have to sort through around 100 comments a day, including spam, and if they are anonymous it's really hard, because that's how spam shows up in my email, as coming from anonymous. So probably I deleted it with a lot of those messages that say "Hey, I love your blog, you are a brilliant writer, it's excellent, you can visit my blog at www.goatropers/buymystuff.com"

      Are you really from France? What part? I spent a lot of time there from 1982 to 1985 as I was living in Naples, Italy and my wife likes France, so we vacationed there.

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    2. Yes I'm French and live in Paris. I wrote yesterday that I felt a bit troubled concerning your posts and the answers of your friends. You got such an apocalyptic vision of our world and seem to wait for the end. I'm from a family with a long long freemason tradition and so what you describe is not what we believe in. I wondered if you have friends outside , inviting each other and if you can still smile and be happy. I spoke about all the opinions and purpuses raised by your blig to my father and his reaction was similar to mine. Nice that you like France . I very often spend my summer holidays in Toscany. Beautiful and so good food.

      Nadine the French - yes- girl.

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    3. We used to stay in bed and breakfast places in Paris. I loved the Hotel des Invalides. I have a whole set of books , in French, on miitary equipment and dress through the ages that I bought at the Army museum there.

      Paris is (or was, thirty years ago) like Disney Land for adults.

      I am almost 63 now. America has changed so much it is hardly recognizable, and not for the better. I am also Southern, which means I am part of a separate culture, at odds with much of what goes on now. It is as if I was from the Vendee in 1793.

      Survivalists are people who make an assessment of the state of their society, and try to prepare for calamities which may occur and threaten their families. I have been a survivalist since 1986, when I left the U.S. Marine Corps and moved into the woods. My experiences in Lebanon in 1982 and 1983 showed me what can happen to a society in a very short time when it implodes.

      Hurricane Katrina, and the appalling lack of action on the part of our government to alleviate the misery in New Orleans shook many Americans out of their apathetic belief that whatever happens, the government will take care of you. We know that is not so. More, as our own government becomes more totalitarian and repressive, even the most obtuse begin to wonder.

      America is changing from an essentially capitalist state to a socialist state. To a European, this may seem innocent enough, but many Americans don't want the government involved in their lives or telling them how they must live. The country is divided into ethnic groups now, just as the Balkans were before the last series of wars there. Now people only care about how much they can grab for their own group, and they care nothing at all about the country as a whole.

      We owe a national debt we cannot possibly pay. Our money is worthless, backed only by people's faith in it, and how long can that last as the government sells billions of dollars worth of bonds it can't redeem, and prints billions more dollars to keep the banks solvent. How long can it be before we are in the same situation as Greece, and who will bail us out?

      I keep to myself, Nadine. I have since my military service ended in 1986. I am happy that way. I do have associates, like minded people I communicate with, but I am more comfortable in general living on my mountain top. Not all survivalists are like me, in fact the vast majority are not, in that respect.

      I'm very happy up here. My animals are my companions, and my ferrets in particular are good company. I am not good company for people, I have a short fuse and do not suffer fools gladly. As you can imagine, I am not a good "mixer."

      The French in general seem very social, so I suppose maybe my life style sounds odd. I'm sure it does to some of my American acquaintances as well, but we try to live by "to each his own." So if I have some eccentric characteristics they overlook them.

      I will try to keep a careful watch for your comments. When they are anonymous they get mixed in with spam, and I admit sometimes when I am tired, and I look and see long rows of anonymous comments, most or all of which are spam, I get in a hurry to delete them and I've lost good comments that way before. If you look back through the blog you'll see some post with me bewailing that fact.

      I wasn't being ugly about wondering if you were really french and a girl. You know how the internet is, anybody can be anything or anyone they want and you never know. But I believe you. ;-) I enjoy your comments.

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    4. Hey Harry,

      (captiancrunch)

      Good reply to the French girl that who actually seemed nice.

      The only part you left out was how we will go from Socialist to full tyranny and how that did not work out well under the British.

      Also, there is repressive law enforcement and a whole litany of abuses by a large central, all power surviellence government 'Hell we were even caught spying the French and Germans government and hacking their leaders cell phones in the past year.

      I'm embarrassed to be an American.

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    5. I'm angry to be an American under a government run by people like Obama and Boehner, Clinton and McCain. That's why I'm giving consideration to moving out again. I'm don't like where things are going and I'm not living under a fascist state.

      Nadine is nice. She makes a contribution to the blog. I didn't intentionally delete her comment. If it wasn't for you, and Troy, and a few other people who absolutely won't open a google account for security reasons (and who can blame you?) I'd lock out the anonymous comments. From an administrative stance they consume too much time and are aggravating to manage. But I don't want to lose the good comments I get that way, even if I have to delete truck loads of spam and hate mail.

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    6. Folks, if the reason you won't post under your own name (ie. google account) is because you are afraid that you will be tracked, then you are wasting your brain power here. They track everything by your IP address. They know (if they so want to know) who everyone is and where they are posting from.

      Avoiding a google account for privacy (anti-tracking) concerns is a non sequitur.

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    7. Matt has a point folks!!!! You're tracked with your IP address, not by your name, or alias name.

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    8. Matt, I'm sure you are right, but it's just an ingrained thing with a lot of people. I never worried about it because I've been writing caustic letters to the Dims and others for years, and because I have an FFL which puts me square in their sights. So I just figured, to hell with it, they know who I am and where I am so I might as well be as much of a gadfly as I can be when necessary.

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    9. Sandy, years ago an acquaintence sent me an encryption program for email, but I never came close to figuring it out and other than him, nobody else I knew used it. I can't even use all the features of blogger, especially all the damned little symbols and buttons, and circles, and followers, and all those bells and whistles. As I told Matt, if they want me they already know where to find me. I wish there was a way to be safe from being tracked but the NSA is a hard crowd to beat.

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  11. Everything you want or need to know about Costa Rica can be found on this terrific site which was once referred to me. www.therealcostarica.com is an in depth site written by an American living there since 2005. There are numerous links on his side bar covering an array of topics from residency laws, real estate, government, health care, moving firearms, etc, etc. Just place your mouse over any menu item and select the topic you may wish to read. He also has a guest book listed where people from around the globe have thanked him for taking the time to create such an extensive blog. I hope you'll take a look since it's well worth your while if you're not already familiar with it. Cheers.

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    1. I sure will take a look at it. My information is somewhat outdated and nobody knows better than a person living in this country how much a place can change in just a few years. Thanks for the information.

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  12. The landscape there looks amazing! It would be a great place to live.

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    1. My brothers spent considerable time down there, made two trips to take a look at it. They liked it and the expats they met there were universal in saying it was safer, cheaper, and more beautiful than the places they had come from. No where is perfect but Costa Rica has real potential for a decent retirement location.

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  13. Harry, my main concern with a place like CR would be lack of constitutional protection. I know the current occupant of the WH and the buffoons in the supreme court have been doing their best to dismantle it. But remember the US of A is an exceptional nation, and not in the way Narcissus and the other idiots think that means. The USA is exceptional because we are the only country in the world that has a Constitution that specifically enumerates and limits the power of the government. So that provides some level of protection to the citizen. Hence the First and Second amendment. That protections do not exist in any other country where the constitution specifies what the citizen must and must not do. And most third world nations do not have clear separation of powers so when some tin-horn baboon with scrambled eggs on his head decides he will change the laws he can grease the way to change from a bicameral to a unicameral legislature in the blink of an eye and squash the pedestrian even more as we have seen in my native Venezuela over the last 15 years. And when that happens us little shleps lose all our assets and are left hanging in the wind and should we complain about it the government responds with a lead sandwich. So do cross your T's and dot your I's before you leap. Do not be seduced by sandy beaches or french lasses. I can tell you from experience that they are often not what they paint themselves to be.

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    1. Michael, Costa Rica has a long , stable history and is probably more stable today than the U.S.

      The constitution doesn't protect anyone anymore, in reality. Between Obama and his executive orders, and the Supreme Court and their "rulings", individual liberty is a thing of the past. You can be arrested now for saying something some libtard sitting in the next booth at McDonald's doesn't like. They can take your guns on any trumped up b.s. charge and when you are released for lack of evidence, for lack of any viable breech of law, you don't get them back. I honestly think you would get more consideration from many third world countries than you do in this one. I remember one of the audits I went through, where a 400 pound black female IRS agent informed me "you don' be nuth'n special."

      As to researching it, my brothers have been down there twice with the particular goal of visiting the possible site for relocation, meeting with expatriate who live there, and generally assessing the situation in Costa Rica. They were much impressed, everything from banking to groceries is easy and adequate. Crime is far less than in Obama Land. Medical and Dental care is excellent. Taxes are low.

      In theory this country has a good system, but the system the founding fathers created has been so eroded and frayed that today it bears little resemblance to what they intended. I think things here are going to get much, more worse as Hillary takes over in 2016. Eight years of Obama, followed by eight years of Hillary, this place will be an apocalyptic nightmare. I don't want to be living here, nor to have my kids living in that kind of society either. So I am bailing out.

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    2. Americans in Costa Rica consists of immigrants and expatriates from the United States to Costa Rica, mostly retirees. According to the U.S. State Department, about 50,000 Americans live in the country.[1]

      American retirees, many of whom are Baby boomers, flocked to Costa Rica’s tropical beaches to retire as they’re drawn to its biodiversity, the political stability, and its cheap health care. The number of Americans who collect their Social Security checks in Costa Rica has jumped 67 percent since 2002.

      "Many Americans have also purchased vacation homes rather than moving lock, stock and barrel, leaving the U.S. behind. They intend to retire in Costa Rica in five years or so and are using the rental income to pay off the property in the interim." from Expatriates in Costa Rica.

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  14. Interesting idea.

    1) You and the Mrs. should take a trip down there. Not to a tourist type place but to look at the sort of places you are interested in living. Maybe rent a house for a month or something? Do it in the winter and bring the family down for Christmas? Next summer?

    2) Obviously (as with most of the rest of the world) modern military weapons are out but what about say hunting rifles, shotguns and some pistols? Especially in a fairly low gun area I would not feel at a disadvantage with a decent bolt gun, a shotgun and a .38 revolver.

    3) Might be like a lot of the 3rd world (no offense) where that stuff is available if technically illegal. An AK with a few mags and some ammo in a hidey hole someplace would be a nice piece of insurance t have.

    4) With the expat thing I always have a concern how well the gringo's will fair in an emergency. It is bad to be of the wrong racial/ social/ cultural group in those times. Especially if they are perceived as being rich.

    5) Whatever you decide it is prudent to get settled into a sustainable (which your current one is not) home to age in before it is an issue. This isn't an issue today but somewhere in the next 5-10 years it probably will be. Maybe that is in Costa Rica or maybe it is a 1 story house on a couple acres with a shop a mile or two from town.

    6) Sounds like a nice place to retire to.

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    1. Ryan,
      I want out of the U.S. As I said to Michael, after 8 years of Obama, certainly to be followed by 8 years of Hillary, why would I stay? It doesn't take a crystal ball to see that the U.S. is on the way to becoming a banana republic, so I prefer to find one where at least my economic contribution is valued. That won't be here.

      I'll probably go down there for a week with my brother when he can get off. I need a break anyway.

      You're right about being in the wrong racial, social and cultural group. I am in that situation right now. I think I would be less so, down there in Costa Rica where the economy is largely dependent on expats. If you get a chance, read Neal Strauss's book "Emergency." He moved to an island in the Caribbean and took out dual citizenship in order to get out of the U.S. and has lived happily ever after.

      One thing is certain. I'm not staying in this country. I tried to go live in Australia in 1996 and they turned down my application for a resident visa on the grounds that I had no skills they needed. I tried to get my kids "Green cards" for Canada, spent $6000 on an immigration lawyer there, and got screwed. But I will make it work.

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    2. Here's a comment from Lisa. She is using a system that doesn't post her comments ( we don't know why) but I manually input them.

      "You are so right on all these points. I spent two weeks there as a teen and I fell in love with the country and the people. It is very inexpensive and beautiful as well. I would love to go back."

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