Before moving to Costa Rica – consider the people location
Everybody knows that in buying a house, it is all about location. The physical location is most vital, but what about the “people location”?
If you are considering moving to Costa Rica, it is critical to plan. There are people who “stick a pin in a map, roll the dice” and hope for the best, however it is recommended that thought and planning goes into the decision.
Consider the “people location”. It is difficult to understand the culture and subcultures of a town or neighborhood. As an expat, it is essential to take into consideration the people who you will be interacting with every day.
The principal given reason for moving to Costa Rica is “lower cost of living”, and that is true (with caveats). In general, it seems that there are three very broad groups of expats. To be able to find the right people location for you and your spouse, belonging to one of those groups will help you adjust after moving to Costa Rica.
These people location groups are not absolute, there is a crossover, and blending of the groups, however one will dominate. The groups shall be labeled the “Escapist, the “Transplant” and the “Adventurer”. In considering a place to live, one should try to identify which group fits best and research where they are located.
The Escapist group
The “Escapist” group is maybe the largest of the groups. They largely moved here for the weather, although there are factions that are “political refugees”, primarily from the U.S. The political refugees are easily identified as they always direct the conversation to politics. This faction will ebb and flows like the tide. The “Escapist” weather factions tend to be seasonal, although some are here year round.
There are abundant smiles in this group as almost every day in Costa Rica has beautiful weather. The downside of this group is that many will return ‘home” if they feel the weather does not offset the everyday challenges that are experienced here.
The Transplant group
The “Transplant” group is common in the large expat enclaves in the Central Valley. They usually will be found in groups of like-minded people. Services are such in these areas that there is not much need or interest in blending in with the local culture or learning the language. Their desire is to transplant where they came from to their new home. This group is most comfortable within their own circle.
The “Transplants” are the fastest growing group, much as it has been in desirable retirement areas in North America and Europe. In their opinion, they have the best of both worlds. A possible negative can be resentment from the locals.
The Adventurer group
A smaller group is the “Adventurer” group and more difficult to locate since the amenities have become more homogenous in the Central Valley. They chose Costa Rica based on their research of people, history, and of course the natural beauty of the country. In short, they relocated here because Costa Rica was Costa Rica. In many cases, they have lived in Costa Rica for numerous years.
This group will either already know the language or be serious about learning it. They can be found engaging locals outside of “normal” bilingual circles. The downside with this group is that it can be frustrating to change and adapt a lifetime of cultural behaviors to their adopted country.
You’re a guest
Costa Rica is a small country; however, there is something for everyone. The Ticos are reserved but welcoming people in general and have an openness that is fading in Europe and North America. Regardless of the group or reason for relocation, it is imperative to respect their customs and culture when doing business or socializing.
Thanks should be given to the Ticos for being generous enough to share their beautiful country.
About the writer:
Michael Elder is originally from South Carolina in the U.S. He spent 33 years as a territory sales manager for the world’s leading commercial kitchen equipment manufacturer. The last 28 years as Territory Sales Manager for South Florida, and the Cruise Lines with numerous accounts in the Caribbean. Michael now lives the quiet life with his wife and two cats outside Atenas.
I DO want to remind our readers that we appreciate any referrals you can send us. I know you all meet people on the plane, in the supermarket, at yoga, at the gym, at the Blooms ladies club, at the potluck organized by your community. Please remember the GoDutch Realty agents when you talk about your home in Costa Rica, when you meet someone who wants to purchase one, we appreciate it.