Moving and Lost
My fiancé and I are wanting to move to Costa Rica. We are wanting to relax and get away from the busy life style of American Living. We have fallen in love with the what we have read about Costa Rica's weather as well as the culture there.
But we also know that we will have to work for a while. We are planning on having some money with us. All be it not a whole lot, American prices are just to much for us. We are they type that needs the outdoors. We don't need or want the beach out our front door. We are more along the lines of camping, fishing, gardening and crafts. We were looking to the mountains, but the MUST HAVES for us are running hot/cold water, electricity and internet service so that we can keep in contact with our family in the US.
We would like to open our own business of handmade crafts. But we do not know where the best place would be to open this business as well as live. We love the fact of street markets and the fact that we can possibly grow some of our own foods.
Can anyone help us out in this?
First off, suggest you read the info here, for living here legally http://www.costaricalaw.com/Immigration-and-Residency/residency-general-information-and-summary.html
I also suggest you search this forum for the reality of living here... especially if on a tight budget.
- The only thing I can tell you, having lived here for 30 years, is that reading about a country and actually visiting that country are two different things. I would suggest you come and visit, if you see what you like, rent and if you still like it after a year or so of living in various parts of the country - then by all means move to Costa Rica.
- Posted by: hfry26@... hfry26 Date: Sat Jan
> 4, 2014 6:09 pm ((PST))I've lived in this country for more than ten years now, and if I had a
> We would like to open our own business of handmade crafts. But we do
> not know where the best place would be to open this business as well
> as live. We love the fact of street markets and the fact that we can
> possibly grow some of our own foods.
buck for every time I've read this dream (here and elsewhere), I'd be
So here is the advice I give all such dreamers, coming down here with
stars in their eyes about moving to "paradise" to live happily ever after:
1. DON'T BURN YOUR BRIDGES! There are many reasons that 60% of the
people who move to Costa Rica from the United States, end up moving back
within five years, but far and away the number one reason is unrealistic
expectations about the country and its culture in coming down here in
the first place. You constantly hear such nonsense as "Costa Rica is
the Switzerland of Central America," etc., but it's all so much blather.
Costa Rica just simply isn't a tropical Switzerland for anyone with
less than several million dollars to lavish on their Costa Rican
lifestyle. So be prepared to discover that it ain't at all like you'd
imagined, and you need to move back. At BARE MINIMUM, don't even think
about moving here without enough money in the bank to live here for at
least two years with no income at all, because you probably won't have
enough to tell about for at least that long. For this reason, I can't
recommend strongly enough that you come down here on a trial basis -
rent a house for six months in the area in which you think you want to
live, and see how it suits you, see if you can sell your goods, before
you pack up everything and move down. It could save you making a very
2. Starting a business here - any business - is an order of magnitude
more difficult than it is in the States. That is why the competition
isn't as fierce in most market segments here as in the States - the
rigors of running a business here put most new entrants out of business
in short order - the first-five-year rate of failure here is at least
double, if not triple that of the States. Simple businesses that you
can do out of your home with little startup cash are the ones that will
be most competitive and difficult to establish, because, given that jobs
are in such short supply, there is a very strong "entrepreneurship of
necessity" element in the economy here, where people start businesses
simply because it is the only economic opportunity open to them.
Handicrafts are one of the first businesses that such people think of;
hence that market is crowded beyond belief. I am not saying that no
gringos can make it in that market (there have been those who have), but
finding the right combination of products, and the right markets in
which to sell them, will typically take YEARS of trial and error - and
you'll have little or no income during that time. If you're not
prepared for that, you'll find yourself on a plane back to the States,
tears in your eyes, sooner than you could have ever expected.
3. Expect hostility. You are going to be competing with Ticos who are
doing much the same thing, and who perceive themselves as much more
economically disadvantaged than yourselves, and doing it because it's
the only thing they can - so what nerve have you, they'll think, coming
down here uninvited to do it for fun and compete with them for the
economic opportunity for which they are desperate? So there will be an
inherent hostility there, and, while Ticos will typically be unfailingly
polite to your face, they can be (and in your case probably will be)
hostile behind your back - and may even criminally sabotage your
business. Be prepared for some covert hostility at best, and outright
ugliness at worst.
4. If you aren't quite fluent in Spanish, don't even think about trying
to market anything here to the locals. There is a good deal of
hostility towards people who move here but don't bother to learn the
language, and they are seen as intellectually lazy - with good reason.
The locals certainly are not going to buy anything from you when they
can buy a similar product from a Tico with whom they can communicate
freely about it. If you're really serious about this, learn Spanish and
get well and truly fluent in it before you come.
Hope that helps. But again, I would caution you to come down here for
at least six months on a trial basis to get the stardust out of your
eyes before you commit to the cost and inconvenience of moving to a
place that is clearly unlike what you imagine.
- "There is a good deal of
hostility towards people who move here but don't bother to learn the
language, and they are seen as intellectually lazy - with good reason."
I get so tired of reading this. I have been here for 20 months, speak very little Spanish, and have NEVER experienced hostility from the locals. On the contrary, I have made a lot of friends here. They respect the fact that I am an old man who is trying to learn their language, and customs, and they go out of their way to help me. I treat them with respect, and apologize for my lack of knowledge, and they are always happy to compromise. We find ways to communicate, even if it does entail myself looking foolish doing charades.
I have had the same experiences in Egypt and China. If you do not try to come across as an "Ugly American" most people will do their best to work with you.
-- Jim Cottone American Professional Photographer https://singbiker.net
We have been here almost 5 years and I go back and forth to the USA and it has been hard for me to
learn the language. My husband has picked it up quite well. I have a loss of hearing and I has been difficult for me. I can eat,get the the bathroom and say thank you, that is about it.
YES, YES, it would be much better if I spoke more and I would enjoy more the conversations with the Ticos, but our neighbors have enjoyed our company and being here with them on the ridge has brought them a lot of education about the USA and our culture and foods. WE share a lot of customs and foods
and they enjoy that. IF I don't know I type it in to Google translator and they read it and reply. So it has not
been to much of a hassle.
Three families bring us a dish every Sunday to try. I in return make yogurt for them, so they can us it as a starter to now make their own. I also make cookies and cupcakes for them with Choco chips. They love that. At Xmas we had a party for them and I made Egg Nog and Cookies and Banana NUT bread. They wanted the recipe. We some how get along fine with my few words and their few words of English. They love us and we lover them. Yes, there are a few that think the Americans are Rich and live behind the big
wall and hardly speak. But we keep saying Ola. I also bring back school supply for the school close to the house and go to the English Class and spend a day in the class speaking to them. The Tico English teacher really enjoys that I come. I bring some items to show them and make a game in English or Sing a song in English. Fun for them and me. IT also helps the younger generation learn about our culture and about Micky Mouse. I think every Tico Child and Adult wants to go to Disney World. So I bring Pictures, stickers and Disney pencils and Disney Wall pin ups for the Blank Walls in the school. Now, all the kids go
bye and yell out Hello Joe and GeeGee.
The meaning here is to try to fit in and give what you can to help them understand us as much as we are trying to understand them and their ways.
- I applaud Scott B's emphatic section on the need to learn Spanish. I would couch it slightly different terms. I have only been a resident here for several years, but I have spoken Spanish all of my adult life. I am an Anglo who learned Spanish.
In fact, Ticos do resent foreign residents (not tourists) who fail to learn the language. Please note I used the term resent; not hate; not Yanqui Go Home; not Die Running Dog Imperialist. This resentment is almost never openly expressed to foreigners and I cannot imagine it being put forth in English: It's a tough conversation for people to have in Spanish. This is especially true given that many of the English-speaking Ticos Gringos deal with have some personal interest in the foreign community: waiters, guides, taxi drivers, landlords, etc.
I have had the conversation around this topic with nationals more than once and other fluent Americans report pretty much the same information. Ticos, especially those over 30, are loath to offend. It's a talk that requires a good deal of trust. It always gets to the point where the reasons for foreigners not learning Spanish are discussed. There is usually an awkward pause after the statement that it's not just laziness. The hesitant conclusion (not so much with younger folks, they just blurt it out) is that it is a result of arrogance.
I do not go so far as to call it racism, although I understand the position of people who do. I prefer Cultural Imperialism or the American Raj mentality. I see all too many Gringos with 5 or 10 years here who speak next to no Spanish, less than many tourists have picked up from Sesame Street or cop shows. They are retired with all the time in the world, maybe college degrees, resources to buy programs or take classes, etc. They usually have some excuse about having "tried"., but . . . Nonetheless, they expect to be catered to in English by waiters, gardeners, taxi drivers, etc. Many of these people did not complete 6th grade.
Spanish, less than many tourists have picked up from Sesame Street or cop shows. They are retired with all the time in the world, maybe college degrees, resources to buy programs or take classes, etc. They usually have some excuse about having "tried"., but . . . Nonetheless, they expect to be catered to in English by waiters, gardeners, taxi drivers, etc. Many of these people did not complete 6th grade.
>>> I see all too many Gringos with 5 or 10 years here who speak next to no
I was trying not to kick in to this one but so much judgement is going on . . . some of us did actually pass 6th grade, some of us are not intellectually challenged in the normal sense and never saw an episode of Sesame, some of us contribute to the general well being of the neighborhood/schools/recovery of Costa Rican histoire, some of us are the last thing u'd call a Raj (though I'd luv to ride an elephant like my friends in Uvita), some of us are not even a real American (though hold a myriad of passports, cedulas etc) and some of us have a terrible time with languages due to the well known missing language gene (quite common among the English though unknown in Holland and Switzerland). In some parts of London it is accepted as a medical condition though never treated for obvious genetic reasons. I am optimistic that a combination of 3D printers and stem cells will be able to create a cure in the near future as well as make new livers in the bathtub.
Now if we could maybe not judge this clear medical condition too harshly while of course we can still remind newbies that it will make life a whole lot easier if you DO speak Spanish - seems not too hard to do?
Advanced Student of Crummy Spanglish, past student and speaker of nasty French, non graduate of small German school and reader though not comprehender of the Aenied
- I also support what Scott says - my experience is -
for example, when I talk to Ticos using the broken Spanish with a good accent that I do have, many have commented, in a sort of pleased aside - "oh you speak Spanish" . This, to me, indicates that they are happy I do speak their language - and the reverse of this is, that if I didn't speak their language in their country, that it would displease them.
I do see many USAians that act arrogant and supercilious and condescending - thoroughly racist. Sure, most of these are tourists.
I love the Costa Rican people yet am stuck with living in the USA as I am too invested in my activity here to give it up.
It's necessary as a resident to learn at least a basic Spanish. I am 72 years old and am working on my Spanish to the extent I can do most daily business. I will never be proficient but you get credit for trying. Whether they say it or not they resent people who want to live here and refuse to learn the language. Just like in the U.U.S.S.