Becoming an Expat…Costa Rica

BECR eReader coverWe first came to Costa Rica almost by chance…

It was a foul winter in rural France, the cold just seemed to go on and on and we wanted a break. More than a fortnight.
Friends agreed to house sit and we looked for a destination.

In his working life my husband had travelled widely…but apart from a promotional trip to Miami on Concorde had never visited any of the Americas.
So the Americas it was…the warmer bits thereof.

He had also been worrying for some time about climate change as it affected us in France.
When we were first there you could almost always have Christmas Day lunch outside in a sheltered garden…by the time we were looking for a holiday destination you’d have needed six layers of thermals and a death wish to have attempted anything of the sort.
The summers were rainy and dull, too and there were bursts of extreme weather, both hot and cold.
We needed to explore other options.
He had been thinking about it and came up with the idea that the tropics at altitude would see the least change….so that again narrowed the field of destinations.

So not just a holiday….a recce.

This changed the focus…not just a break somewhere warm…but somewhere we might think about living.
On to the internet to check out residence requirements and, most importantly, affordable and adequate health provision.

I fancied Uraguay…not tropical enough.
Ecuador? Costa Rica?

The flights to Costa Rica were decidedly cheaper….so that’s where we went.
We came, we saw and were conquered.
We bought a house in the country to escape the winters in France and, over time, decided to make the permanent move.

We did our research ‘on the hoof’….but the book whose cover features at the top of the page would have saved us a lot of legwork….and here’s my review of it.

Becoming an Expat in Costa Rica by Shannon Enete

I really rate this book for anyone contemplating a move to this country.
It is chiefly aimed at the U.S. would-be expat – you’ll note this in particular in the sections on tax and education – but the major part of the content has value for everyone.

It covers the usual path…residency, rent or buy, description of various areas of the country, but also takes you through the bus or car decision, the health options and how to move without tearing out your hair.
It is detailed…it lays things out for you.

It gives the author’s personal views, interviews with settled expats and well researched background material and for me it rings true to the Costa Rica I know.

Are there things I would suggest?
Yes, one or two….

Not all Ticos are ‘Angels’ – though a lot of them are: there can be Tico and Gringo prices where these are not clearly marked, and, if you’re buying property or doing a deal out in the sticks, there is the international phenomenon whereby a countryman thinks that if you don’t speak his language or patois you are an idiot and can have the wool pulled over your eyes.
Some can be quite annoyed when you can’t…..

A warning about not trusting someone from your own country just because he or she speaks your language might have been apposite too….the unscrupulous and exploitative expat is also an international phenomenon.

I would have liked a section on San Jose itself….but I’m prejudiced – I love the city and it has some wonderful places to live as well as to visit.

Yes, Costa Rica has greedy politicans intent on running the country into the ground…but tell me where hasn’t!
It is still a good place to live, and this book would be a great help in making up your mind whether it would be for you.

The book is available from Shannon’s own website!costa-rica/cxbx…

She tells me that Amazon have a wait of between 1 to 3 weeks….or by order from Barnes N’Nobles,and is also available in Kindle, Nook and iBook editions.


27 thoughts on “Becoming an Expat…Costa Rica”

  1. I don’t think that being an expat would be for me – despite the miserable winter weather here, and George Osborne (who is the biggest offputter of all). But I do enjoy reading books like this, and I’ve wanted to visit Costa Rica for a long time. The flights I have found have been extremely expensive though – perhaps they are cheaper from France?

    What made you decide to become an expat yourself, out of interest?

    1. The flights have certainly gone up in price since we first travelled out!
      I check on Skyscanner and a couple of other sites before booking but if at all possible I go with Iberia via Madrid.
      I had a cheaper flight via the U.S. last time with Air France…but the whole experience was a nightmare.

      I first became an expat when my family moved to England when I was young….I follow the Bairnsfather rule…if youi know a better ‘ole, go to it.
      So from England to France…and from France to Costa Rica…who knows, one day Uruguay!

      The move from France was yes, a question of climate, but also in the aftermath of appallingly negligent treatment of my husband by the health service….and the endless corruption….and the stagnation…

  2. Being an expat is indeed all it is cracked up to be, in my humble opinion. Although, being born in Ireland, raised in Glasgow for over 40 years, now relaxing and living in Majorca, but frequently golfing in Oxfordshire, I am happy to at last have found a country I can really relate to. The pace is slow, the sun shines and the general feel-good factor is abound.

    Would I return to the UK?


  3. I suppose I qualify as one such, being NZ-born then living in London (mostly) for years., with holiday lets in Italy.
    I’ve adjusted to Australia, but don’t feel at all Australian. We have lived up here(coastal tropics) for 11 years and definitely notice hotter, drier summers. Except for those recent floods!
    The Man would like to see Costa Rica;I’ll get the book for him.:-)

    1. Well, it’s a good book for if you want to move there…but might he be better with a guide book if it’s for a visit?
      I don’t feel Costa Rican…I never felt French….I suppose I just grub along wherever i am…

  4. My idea of perfect weather and wonderful people was Rhodesia, and how I loved it there. Sadly it is now Zimbabwe, and although the weather is still as wonderful the politics are not! Keep well you two, Diane

    1. It is a good place to live, though far from perfect…….and .now that we have the house in Spain that will be the holiday destination. We can meet up with the family and do some exploring…

  5. I simply don’t have the courage to entertain such a big permanent move… although another decade of hiked fuel prices might eventually succeed in driving me out…

    1. It’s much more difficult when you have kids….in the meantime should I send you the mound of cardigans and jerseys we don’t wear any more to enable you to follow the advice of the energy firms as to how to make savings?

  6. Being a warm weather lover Costa Rica is on my list of places I’d love to go to. Not to relocate permanently as we already live in a relative warm climate in So. Calif but rather I’ve heard so many lovely things about it. Thanks for the review, I’ll keep this book in mind if ever we do make plans to go south. Paulette

  7. A good friend of mine had a book published some years ago “A Handbook for Living in Turkey” which was also invaluable and has become a kind of dog-eared bible for me. One of your sentences jumps out at me “the unscrupulous and exploitative expat is also an international phenomenon”…how very true that is!

  8. I reckon you could write a great guide on being an expat in France and now in Costa Rica, Helen, and you wouldn’t miss out the corruption and the con-artists. I’m another waiting to get my hands on that book you keep promising us. I lived and worked abroad for short periods before I married and could easily have stayed, but there’s no way I’d get DH to uproot himself permanently so our peripatetic lifestyle is as far as it will go.

    1. A vos ordres!
      I am having problems in arranging the book…I know what I want to say…but the form is really giving me trouble and i’ve lazily put it aside on the excuse of sorting out the France – Spain exchange.

      But this summer I will do it…I wonder whether to put up a post asking for advice on the form a book should take as a lot of people who comment on here have been with me – as it were – a long time.

      1. Why not? You may get rather a lot of conflicting advice, but you may also get some rally good suggestions. Have you thought of asking Mark of Views from the Bike Shed for advice? He’s the only blogger I know who has had a book based on his blog writings published.

        1. I did ask Mark some time ago…his advice was to publish the blog as such and following from that I wonder whether your idea of a series of short essays might not be a good idea….it would stop me from soapboxing quite so much!

          1. Nothing wrong with a bit of soapboxing where it’s justified, but I agree that variety is best. Humour, irony, keen observation of people and events, and yes, anger all feature in your writing and make it so very readable and memorable. You’ve written so many remarkable posts over the years that I’d have thought you’d be drowning in material, with selection and arrangement the main decisions to be made. Your longer posts are essays in themselves.

  9. I’ll go back and re read …I’ve made some categories but have a problem getting the content to hang together without it looking like a jigsaw.
    Have hideous suspicion rather more hard work might be the answer!

    1. I’m with Perpetua on this. Every post is a story in itself and as such I think a book with each chapter being one of your posts, would be a good read. In fact you could probably produce several books on this basis. Maybe look for a theme and then gather together posts which come within that theme, and put it together that way? Not sure if that makes sense?

      1. I started by putting themes together and then tried to make chapters….but it became a bit stodgy…Perpetua’s idea of essays strikes me as being a good way to go about it and I’ll dig out my old notes and start again.

  10. Costa Rica sounds a lot like the african countries I have been to/lived in. I think fitting in there will not be too hard 🙂 The art of bargaining is one that every expat should be an expert in. Lovely post, thanks!

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