When I first started reading
about International Living (IL) and specifically these types
of events, I was under the mistaking impression that only
"high rollers" attended. You know the type... wealthy,
world travelers, the socially elite etc. While some of
the attendees do fit into this category, I was very happy to
see the majority were made up of simple, non-pretentious
While the two and a half day
event was entitled "Live and Invest In Costa Rica,"
the attendees seemed more interested in LIVING here rather
than INVESTING. Perhaps, like me and Fran, they had
little with which to invest and were seeking shelter from
the financial storm in which they were drowning back home.
The event kicked off on
Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 PM with introductions by Jackie
Flynn, Publisher of IL magazine and Central American
Associate Editors Dan Prescher and Suzan Haskins.
Dan also served as the event's Master of Ceremonies and
Taskmaster and was responsible for keeping everything
rolling along with near military precision.
Fran and I were the last
speakers on this, the first day of the event. We were
scheduled to speak from 5:30 to 6:00 PM, just before heading
next door to the first of two vendor sponsored cocktail
Our first presentation was
entitled, "We Found The Good Life In Costa Rica" and
retold the story of how and why we choose Costa Rica to be
our new home. In the same vain as our videos and
newsletter articles, we try to tell it like it is, straight
forward but with an entertaining flair. There is no
sugar coating and no hype in what we say. We are
not here to sell the attendees on moving to Costa
Rica or to sell the dream of expat life. In fact if we
do push an agenda, it is quite the opposite. We try to
get our point across without stepping on too many toes in
the process. But if we do... so be it!
I'd like to say that the first
presentation went off without a hitch but (unfortunately) it
did not. Thank goodness Fran was by my side, with
microphone in hand. When I lost my way or started
adlibbing and not making a point, Franny was able to reel me
back in by cracking a friendly "Fran Slam" and getting me
back on point. I have to admit, we do work quite well
in that sort of a ying yang environment.
I solo'd for the second
presentation on Thursday, the Conference's last day.
Once again, I drew a great time slot, being the last
speaker before lunch. So with a full house and
everybody's stomach's growling, I was able to pass on my
wisdom regarding "The Gold Coast of Guanacaste - Why It
Should be On Your Radar Screen."
Since our presentations are
known for their simple, straight forward appeal, my talk on
Guanacaste was not going to be any different. While I
have a low tolerance for sales people who stretch the truth,
I managed to get in a few jabs at those who manage to
distort the facts in order to make their point or sell their
the case when I began talking about the state of home sales
and rentals in Guanacaste. It seems the developers and
real estate agents are pumping and hyping how home
inventories are getting much smaller and how NOW is
the time to get in before it's too late. One
presentation even referred to investing now in Costa Rica's
Southern Zone because the new airport, "soon to be
completed," would send home prices soaring.
FOR THE TRUTH: Well, here is the problem.
The airport that is "soon to be completed" hasn't even been
started. In fact, the land needed for the airport
hasn't even been chosen or purchased. There are
several pending environmental impact studies which stand in
the way of any further progress being made on an airport in
the Southern Zone. So when someone spews forth this sort of
misinformation to a bunch
of people eager to invest their wealth in an offshore
enterprise, I get really pissed me off.
I will say the overwhelming
majority of the presentations were spot on. I
particularly enjoyed (and appreciated) listening to the
honest commentary of Roger Peterson, a local attorney
and author of
The Legal Guide to Costa Rica. Roger's
straightforward, common sense approach to understanding and
working within Costa Rica's somewhat complicated system was
refreshing and very engaging.
A significant number of expat
speakers were on the agenda this year. Aside from me
John Collins from
Ojochal (pronounced O-ho-chal), talked about how he
moved here and started a home furnishing business,
Ventana Home Furniture.
Ben Hill and his wife
Jill came here from California after closing down their pool
construction business. They now live on the beach in
Nosara where they built and run
Costa Rica Yoga
Juan Sostheim, a native
of Chile, moved to Costa Rica after a very successful career
in the food services industry to start
Rancho Margot, a
fully self-sustaining, carbon neutral nature retreat near
Jan Tilston's story was
one of adventure having given up practicing law in Toronto
in favor of Pura Vida. Not satisfied with just
relaxing, she and her husband Greg decided to design and
build a small boutique hotel that became
Hotel Vista Pacifico
in the Central Pacific town of Jacó.
and his wife Jackie came to
Costa Rica with a great dream and vision.
Unfortunately they ran into a few snags along the way.
Now five years later, all of that is now behind them.
Wanting to give back to the community, Mike is working with
other expats and local Ticos in the
Central Valley town of San Ramón to bring together
the two communities. Mike's
Alliance is quickly becoming the model for what
neighborhood associations should strive to be.
Fran and I particularly enjoy
the social aspects of these events. Getting out,
meeting the attendees, asking and answering questions, gives
us the opportunity to make new friends, improve our lives
and hopefully influence others before it is too late.
What we have come to learn is
that there are tons of people, just like us, hard working stiffs
trying to survive in horrendously challenging times.
What we can't afford to do is make catastrophic mistakes
with our limited resources.
Just to let you know, Fran and
I will again be speaking at the next International Living
Conference. This time we will be doing it at the Red
Rock Casino and Resort in wonderful Las Vegas Nevada,
October 6,7,and 8.
view the ENTIRE photo album in Facebook,