Since I am in the relocation business I deem it necessary to paint a realistic picture of how things really are here. I try not to sugar coat anything as many retirement organizations and those with a hidden agenda tend to do.
Costa Rica’s saving grace is that you never hear anything negative about the country in the international news. So, the country enjoys a squeaky-clean reputation.
The positives here far outweigh the few negatives. Most of the country’s shortcomings mentioned below will not affect retired expatriates nor will they make Costa Rica a less appealing place to relocate.
As I have alluded to repeatedly in other articles, “The few negatives here are not as bad as those in most countries including the United States.” I would not be living here if I did not love this country, which in a way is an ‘island of sanity’ in a mad and violent world. Costa Rica is still considered tops on the list of retirement havens. Rem
Here is some of the downsides followed be the positives:
World’s most false economy with the currency overvalued. The money almost never devaluates against the dollar. They must have the largest gold reserves in the world to back their currency. Move over Fort Knox!
Out of control government spending and borrowing. That is why the country is in a financial rut with a high deficit.
An inefficient and slow moving legal system. This is to be avoided at all costs. Justice does exist but it is slow.
A disproportionately high number government employees who considers themselves deserving of outrageously high pensions. Some cosmetic changes are being made to address this, but appear to be nothing more than window dressing and superficial. Meanwhile the ‘bureaucrazy’ continues. The worst part is that it is well-nigh impossible to fire incompetent government employees.
Continuing to borrow money despite financial shortfall.
Some polluted rivers despite the country’s effort to sell itself as an ecological paradise. Recycling is in its infancy.
Worst roads in Central America. Although many improvements have been made in recent years. You should have seen it in the old days.
Out of control unions whose employees get paid when striking. New collective bargaining agreements are needed urgently.
An overburdened public healthcare system. The good thing is that Costa Ricans have as high of a longevity rate as many first-world countries.
Some dangerous beaches with few lifeguards. Be careful of the riptides!
An unregulated and tourism sector. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can open a company here. My tour company is licensed but there are many rogue retirement and adventure tour operators. This puts many at risk.
Despite making incredible progress during the last 20 years, having many of the symbols of first-world countries (mall, Internet, new cars products, etc.) and closing the gap between it and more developed countries, Costa Rica remains third-world country in many ways. The good side is that it is a user-friendly country for North Americans and we fit in well here.
Money laundering keeps the country afloat by flooding the economy with dollars. As one government official recently stated, “The country’s economy probably could not survive without it”. This is a world-wide phenomenon. A lot of hypocrisy on the government’s part to try and stop this losing battle just like the war on drugs.
A terrible banking system with Scotia Bank in the forefront. Part of this is the fault of the United States and part is the blame of the Costa Rican banking system for being held hostage by the world banking powers.
In general, very nice fun-loving and warm people. However, most of them think all foreigners are rich without working. Just be careful in doing business here or getting involved in a romantic relationship. The people are takers and not givers and love ‘freebees’. They are also tight-fisted when it comes to generosity.
For a realistic view of the country and to see if Costa Rica is for you, take an introductory tour. Please see: http://www.liveincostarica.com/