Are people insane to keep coming here?

Very few of the people “in the know” on moving overseas recommend Costa Rica anymore. International Living has only a little interest while the group at Live and Invest Overseas downright say it is not the place to go right now. And the reasoning is good. Costa Rica banks are compliant with US regulations, the taxation rate is high and the path to residency has the bar raised continually. On top of that the real estate deals that you can get elsewhere just are not as easy to find here any more. And the hits keep coming. The taxes have recently increased for expats, the borders are starting to be more strict on entry and re-entry and regulations on building are tightening in the name of “green”. Funny how “green” means more money for the government.

That brings me to why I’m here. I have been reading International Living for about 8 years now. I have attended a conference with the LIO gang and made acquaintances with them through my foray into Belize from that conference. I got to personally ride in the truck with them when they picked out their lot in Maya Spring Estates in Cayo, Belize. For me, that was pretty much like riding around with a favorite athlete for the day and watch them during their workout. Sit back, shut up and listen. You might learn something.

So why did I buck their wisdom? I am still young and not ready to retire so Costa Rica has some advantages in business. I found a good deal on a property from a local that just wanted to move on with his life. And I love the ocean. Being from Michigan, how can you not love no snow and warm surf.

But why does everyone else continue to come here. The expats that have been here tell them not to. So why? It’s Pura Vida baby! It’s easy to come here. It’s beautiful. They have brie at the store. Brie? Yes, brie. Walk into most supermercados (supermarkets) in Central America and you will see a lot American influences. Coke, Pringles and canned goods are always there. Plus the basics of life here; incredibly fresh produce, rice, beans, bread and local knock offs of snacks and candies. But here in Uvita and many other places even in the newly paved roads areas south of Quepos, you can find “anything”. Shelves of Chilean wines, Budweiser, Johnsonville Brats and even brie and ricotta cheese. Now some of these things are expensive as all get out. But they are available. Even the fine supermarket in Belize, the one, did not have the selection and prices that Uvita has. This sleepy little beach town only has a few thousand people but it has 2 supermarkets packed with everything you need. I mean everything.

Now groceries are not the end all be all. This is just a microcosm of why people come. It’s easy. When they come visit they see white faces, are greeted often by people that speak some English, leave the airport passing a Walmart and Hooters and then become surrounded by jungles, waterfalls and ocean. When it comes down to it, the tourist in a person starts to see ALL the people that have come here before them and an idea forms that if these people can do it… so can I. You don’t always get that feeling elsewhere. I must admit it is almost a bit too civilized for me at times. It’s almost too easy. But then I delve back into my little neighborhood and attempt to speak Spanish more than half the time and task becomes a greater challenge. But that is a challenge I have accepted. At least I can go to the big hardware store and seek out Antonio or Luis that speak good English if I need something I can’t relay. Try that most other places besides Belize. But the hardware store won’t have it or if they do, the plumbing connector like I bought today will not be 26 cents.

So my message to people is this. If you want some adventure, it is still here. If you want it to be much easier, then this is the place. There are ways to get residency. Housing and land prices have come down if you are willing to search a little bit. It still is a foreign country to diversify your assets. The IRS cannot take your house away that you own in a foreign country. And there are ways to use your retirement funds here that are easier than most other places. Why? Because so many people have come before you. And quite a few of them are lawyers. Get it?


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