Welcome to Tips Costa Rica - this site contains practical advice and valuable discounts for tourists and residents of Costa Rica! We strive to help you enjoy Costa Rica.
My first eBook Things I Love and Hate About Costa Rica is still a work in process. You can read the working copy by entering your name and email in the form below.
“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.” -Ernest Hemingway
Is America in decline?
The concept of American decline is not totally new. One can look back at history and see similar periods of decline and uncertainty such as during the Great Depression, during the 1970′s where we had inflation, gas shortages and a crisis in the savings and thrift industry. Today’s situation is very similar and characterized by the following:
- The decline of the US dollar,
- The rise of large government debts and high deficits,
- The lack of affordable health care,
- The uncertainty of terrorism and global stability,
- The persistent long-term economic hardship; and,
- The controversial trend of the government to raise taxes and take away freedoms.
Let me be very clear, I did not leave the US during the decline. I left in 2006 at the peak of the boom, which went bust about one year later, during the Great Recession. Why did I leave? Quite frankly, there was not one single compelling reason. My career was probably the only thing going well in my life. However, I was in a job that was very stressful and approaching the point of burnout. I traveled for business every week, and really only had the weekends to spend time with friends or family. However, my weekends were often spent alone doing laundry, sorting mail and paying bills.
My Six Month Experiment
I traveled to Costa Rica in 2004 and fell in love with the country. Looking back, I know now that this was the honeymoon phase of cultural adjustment kicking-in. I loved Costa Rica, because the lifestyle was very different than the routine that I was trapped in. People were not constantly worried about money! Costa Ricans do not stress out like us. They don’t live according to financial plans and goals. They just live. Perhaps this is something that I needed. They call this Pura Vida.
I made a decision to make an adjustment to my career, which included leaving my job with a large consulting firm, and using my 18 years experience in technology to work as an independent consultant. I then decided try an six month experiment of living in Costa Rica, to take a break before starting my new career as an independent contractor. I thought I would use this time to build my business plan and develop a strategy. I developed a very detailed tactical plan on how to actually make the move work. I needed to sell my home and my car. This whole process lasted about eight months, but I sold my house at a large profit in 2006. Looking back, this in itself was just pure luck. I had no idea the market was about to burst.
Meanwhile, I had found a nice apartment in the San Jose area, and began chipping away at my business plan. This lasted about one month before my phone started ringing. Yes, I brought my VOIP phone down, which was definitely part of my plan. because my resume was posted on several job sites, with my Chicago phone number. Recruiters started calling me and presenting me with project opportunities. Before I knew it, I was back on plane on Monday’s. This time, I was living in Costa Rica, and flying to the US for work. My first project lasted three months and my second project lasted nearly one year. I was earning a big US salary and had almost no expenses in Costa Rica, so my net margin was high.
After my second project finished in 2007, the economy and housing market began to dive. I was presented with an incredible opportunity to buy a nice home in Escazu. The prices was so low, that I could pay in cash, and be done with it. I decided this would be my offshore consulting office and snapped it up. Six years later, and I’m still living here. The major difference now, is my entire life has been transformed. I met a Costa Rican woman. We are married and now have three beautiful children. Thus, my six month experiment morphed itself into a major long-term life decision.
Tips for Moving, Adapting and Living in Costa Rica
Not everyone moves to Costa Rica with success. Experience shows that over half of the North Americans that come to Costa Rica ultimately fail, and need to return to their home country. Why? Costa Rica is certainly not for everyone. If you like modern day conveniences, rigid schedules and hustle and bustle of modern life, Costa Rica probably is not the right place for you. However, if you are looking to crank-down on the speed of your life, then Costa Rica might be the right place for you.
Tip #1 – Check Your Decision
Are you chasing after a woman that you met on vacation? Are you escaping problems in the US? Do you have an addiction and are looking for a new beginning? If you answer yes to any of those questions, Costa Rica is probably not the right place for you. If you live here it is NOT paradise everyday. No one can live a permanent vacation. You will need to somehow settle into normal everyday life. Depending on your situation, for example you may be retired, then you will need to work on your residency. This will give you many advantages, however, it is a process that can take years. Did you meet a woman on vacation and fall in love? You better double check yourself on this!!! Where did you meet her? Is she a sex worker? Does she have a large number of children that you don’t know about? Is she using your ignorance to take advantage of you financially? Do you have problems in the US? Do you think you can escape those problems by moving to Costa Rica? If you have an addiction, perhaps you can find more economical treatment in Costa Rica, but the move does not remove the addiction. I have known several drug addicts that came down to Costa Rica to get away. In each case, their addiction grew ten times worse. Recreational drugs are readily available everywhere in Costa Rica. If you have that itch, there is no limit, and you might crash very hard.
Tip #2 – Make A Plan
Don’t move down here on some knee jerk reaction. A very common situation is to come down here after a divorce to start over. Slow down your decision. Start working on your budget. Develop your budget in the US and your forecasted budget in Costa Rica. Determine whether you can live off savings or retirement, or whether you will need an income plan. If you need an income plan, what is that plan? Costa Rica is not cheap anymore! A single person might be able to scrape by on $1,500 per month, but you will be living like a Costa Rican. You will not be living like an American at this level and will need to adjust to a small and modest apartment and a diet of rice and beans. A single adult should aim at $2,000 to $3,000 per month to live comfortably. If you have a family, multiple that number, by the number of people in our family roughly. I now have a family of five, and can certainly say that we are not absolutely comfortable unless you follow this exact estimation. My children are in private schools. They have soccer and swimming lessons. My wife takes cooking classes. We go on short vacations to the beach. To me, this is the only way to succeed in Costa Rica.
Tip #3 – Transition Your Life
Depending on Tip #1 and #2, move to Costa Rica. Every time I visit the US, I look at America under a slightly different colored lens. However, one thing is common on every trip. I see people who are frustrated and bored, who live their lives vicariously through television programs. Whether you are trapped in an urban jungle, or stuck in a mundane suburb, American quickly loses its charm, when you step outside, and look inwards. Am I a disgruntled expat? No, I still consider myself to be 100% American. I love my country. I absolutely still vote, pay taxes and watch the news. To make matters worse, I am also a conservative republican.
What happened? I unplugged myself from the matrix over six years ago. I got the heck out of dodge and moved to Costa Rica. Now, I can go to the jungle, mountains or beach on any given weekend. This not my vacation, this is my life. Here is just one example in this video of Manuel Antonio.
I don’t fly to this place. I live about two hours from this park, and can visit it every week. This entire blog is about providing great information to people who are considering a move to Costa Rica. Come on in and we’ll see you on the other side.