Costa Rica is without doubt one of the nicest developing countries in the world. It is well known for it natural scenic beauty, its serious commitment to environmental conservation (a big plus) and it kind people. In this article, I would like to discuss a few other items I did not go into in my previous two articles as well as take a look at Costa Rica as a "Plan B" for anyone looking at moving there.
We spent almost all of our time in the small Pacific town of Quepos, some three hours from San Jose. Quepos does not have too much claim to fame, other than the great sportfishing, but even re fishing Quepos is in the shadow of the more famous town of Jaco, the latter being larger and one hour closer to San Jose. Jaco is the home of a spectacular planned community of "Los Suenos", a gated community with a nice marina, a golf course, stone fountains, etc. Everything you would expect for a niche community for the rich. We had lunch at a restaurant in Los Suenos, and so got to take a small look around.
But, Quepos is the town our group knows the best. I provide the below contact information for anyone interested in exploring this area of Costa Rica. Your travel agent will likely be able to give you many other facts pertinent to any of you who may want to visit, but here is what we did.
We stayed at the Mono Azul (Blue Monkey) hotel, right near the edge of the fairly small national park "Manuel Antonio). This hotel is perfectly comfortable and is nested in tropical foliage. We paid $86.00 per night (total, double occupancy) You can see and hear monkeys there... Here is a link to their hotel, the owner's name if Chip Braman, an American:
Chip Braman: <email@example.com>
Our fishing was arranged by the very competent and friendly Felipe Fernandezwho directs much of the fishing from Quepos, here is his email and link:
I had coffee twice at the pleasant El Balcon de Cafe. I only went fishing one day on this trip, preferring a leisurely vacation... This cafe is located on the second floor of its building, and has a nice balcony overlooking the fairly interesting bus station: Coffee in Costa Rica is very good! Some of the best coffees in the world are produced there. And now they keep some of their best coffee there, in the past (as in many coffee-producing countries), most of the best gets exported (Peru is an example of that, most local coffee is not so good in Peru). Highly recommended for a relaxing half hour or so.
I had a lot of leisure time, and sometimes I would talk to locals there in Quepos, taxi &bus drivers, owners of local small business, etc.
Of the eight locals I spoke with, all of them said that Costa Rica's current economy is bad! This was the first time (in about six trips there) that I have heard that. A few commented that tourism was down (but others said, perhaps down only some 5% - 10%). Four of them put the blame of the Socialist president of Costa Rica. I did not have the time nor inclination to explore this further (blaming the left, LOL...), but it fits the usual pattern...
A few comments on Costa Rica as a "Plan B" or retirement destination. There is a fairly large community of ex-pat Americans in various parts of the country (the two largest colonies are in/near San Jose and in the NW part of Costa Rica: Guanacaste). But, I found several in Quepos as well. Quepos is a quiet town, there is not much to do beyond fishing, jungle adventure tours and enjoying the national parks.
Costa Rica is very tolerant of Americans and is a relatively safe place re violent street crime (that is different than Peru, many parts of Lima and the country are dangerous for foreigners). Because of its tolerance and pleasant people (and great weather...), the country for decades has attracted more than its share of Americans, most of them retirees.
But, to get residency in Costa Rica is harder than it used to be: you need either a large amount of capital or a fairly hefty income (I do not have the figures at hand, but it would be easy to get this info via Google searches...).
Costa Rica does not welcome criminals and is not tolerant of extremely bad behavior. Even though there is no army, the police are armed. Violence is a part, albeit relatively small part, of life there. Petty theft is common...
There is a joke (?) among Americans who move to Costa Rica:
Q: How do you get a million dollars in Costa Rica?
A: Go down with two million...
As with every other country, YOU would be a foreigner in their eyes. YOU would have to conform (at least somewhat) to THEIR ways, their food, their customs. And learn Spanish. Even doing all of this, there are Americans who become disenchanted with living there, so you may not want to burn all your bridges back to the USA (like cheating the IRS...). And you, as in all other countries, would be viewed as a "Rich American", and only valued as such... If you become poor, few stay your friends. It takes a lot of time to become accepted by the locals, even when marrying into a good family (although that helps).
And yet, Costa Rica is one of the BEST places to emigrate to (in Latin America)!
Our own choice, of course, is Peru. We have family (my in-laws, very nice) and a company there ("infrastructure"). For a typical "USA upper middle class / lower upper class" member (like many of my readers appear to be), Costa Rica would be a better choice. Peru is poorer and less stable.