Is My Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

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Over the last few months I have received three (count 'em three) emails from people who have accused me of being overly negative as it relates to my view on (our) life in Costa Rica.  Four people have UNSUBSCRIBED from Boomers Offshore.  One of those even accused me of being "a foul mouthed, Obama loving, heathen."  I also have a Facebook Utility that is able to identify the 9 FB friends (out of 1165) WHO have DEFRIENDED me.  So what does this mean?  Am I negative or am I fair and balanced.  READ ON...

Recently, one email accused me (in a round about way), of being a "glass half empty" sorta guy.  Maybe they were right, but in my opinion, those that make claims like that are generally people that only want see the good and refuse to recognize anything that may detract from their quixotic vision

So what the hell do these two things have in common?  Well for starters, we don't believe in sugar-coating life here.  Lord knows, there are already enough people who do that.  If we think something is good and worth mentioning, then we say it.  And if something is screwed up, we call it like it is.  I know people who can't and won't do that, but that's the choice these deniers made.  I've made my choice.

To put this into a clearer perspective, our tour services were recently retained by a couple who are contemplating potential expatriate retirement.  Just as we did (nearly five years ago), this couple was doing their due diligence.  They wanted to learn more about real life in Costa Rica, not the heavily tainted rhetoric one reads on popular expat websites, blogs, forums or glossy magazines.

Having spent the better part of a week introducing them (first hand) to Guanacaste, local doctors, vets, pharmacies, grocery and hardware stores as well as several full-time residents, our tour guests got a real flavor of what life is like living in this part of Costa Rica.  I stress "this part" of Costa Rica because life in other areas can and will vary greatly.

Because they were flying home out of (SJO) San Jose airport, and had some extra time on their hands so we encouraged them to visit other towns on their way back to the Central Valley.  We even introduced them to other expats so they could glean additional personal insight of their life experiences here in Costa Rica.

Upon their return to the States, the couple called to thank us for our hospitality and to tell us how much they appreciated hearing the stories and opinions from other expats.  Most opinions were favorable and very appreciative of the honesty portrayed.  However, they were able to quickly discern fact based opinion from hyperbole.

Now keep in mind, having my ego irreparably crushed by critical emails does nothing more than inspire me to be more prolific.  As you have read in past newsletters and videos, I have little respect for those who mislead.  In fact, for those who do mislead (and you know who you are), for you I have a high degree of condemnation and disdain.

COSTA RICA IS CHANGING

In the 4 1/2 years since we began our due diligence and subsequent move, we can see that the honeymoon phase of our life is drawing to a close.  Does that mean we are giving up and returning to the States.  HELL NO!  What it does mean is we need to live our lives smarter and to develop a Plan B strategy in the event the honeymoon is over and divorce is the next logical step.  OK... for you lazy or speed readers out there who digest every third word... to be clear, Fran and I are NOT getting divorced.  I was referring to our life in Costa Rica! :-)

When we moved here on March 31, 2009, it was always our plan to reevaluate our lives when we were eligible for Medicare - seven years away.   Remember, the primary motivation for us moving offshore was to seek out a place that offers quality medical services at a significant reduction to that of the United States.  Costa Rica, for us, was that place.  However, now we are convinced that the quality of the healthcare one receives here is totally dependent on where one lives.  Quality and availability is not consistent throughout the country which makes your decision as to WHERE to live even more critical. 

My single biggest advice to those contemplating a move here... if you are suffering from any form of chronic illness which requires a hefty amount of ongoing medical attention or considerable physical limitations in mobility, you should strongly reconsider options other than Costa Rican retirement.  Yes, the cost of medical services are much less than what one would pay in the US.  However, emergency medical care can be very iffy and assisted living and hospice care is non-existent.  So just ask yourself, "What am I going to do if my chronically ill spouse is hospitalized or worse, passes away?" These are questions you need to ask yourself BEFORE you decide to move here.

SO WHY THE HELL ARE WE STILL LIVING HERE?

Up till now you may be asking yourself, "why in the hell are we still living here?"  Prices here are skyrocketing, petty crime and home burglaries are on the rise, the roads are loaded with pot holes, it's hot, the inefficiency is enough drive one to drink and a call to 911 may or may not yield any results.  While all of these things are true, we look at the totality of our life experience living here and pat ourselves on the back for the decision we made 4 1/2 years ago.

  • The thing we love most about life in Costa Rica are the people.  They are friendly, honest and caring.  You help them and they will bend over backwards to help you.  There is no bigger thrill for me than to have one of my English students come up to me on the beach and say "Hello Mister Andy, how are you?"  While we have not yet integrated into more private, social settings with Ticos, there are venues (mostly the beach) where we are recognized by the locals and do engage in friendly conversation.  And in the rare event we go to the beach without our dogs, even the guy who watches our car always asks us where are Upe and Ashka?

  • Yes it is hot and so far the month of April is living up to its reputation.  But bottom line, Fran and I are beach people.  We were born on the beach and spent our entire formative years running barefoot on the sands of South Florida.  So it was only natural that we sought out a similar retirement location having spent nearly the last 35 years living in anything but a tropical environment.  Playing on the sand or jumping through waves with our pets is something we are able to do unabated here in Costa Rica.  Try doing that on most beaches in the US.

  • Our stress level is significantly lower since we moved here unless you had the opportunity read my Facebook rants during the 2012 Presidential Election.  :-)

  • Our overall health is better because we are eating more fish, chicken and fresh vegetables.  The only canned veggie we have in our pantry is canned corn.  CR corn is used mostly to make tortillas and not good for general eating.  And lastly, Fran's allergies only emerge when  she visits the States.  Pura Vida.

  • Just as we gringos are a source of comic relief for the Ticos, the Ticos and their crazy processes can be great source of entertainment for the gringos.  This can be a good thing unless you are massively Type A.

I will have to admit, I do get my panties in a wad when dealing with assholes.  And by the way, in the 4+ years we have lived here, I have yet to meet a Tico asshole.  We have encountered very little surprises during the our time in country and I attribute that to doing good and thorough research, being inquisitive yet skeptical and challenging damn near everything told to me by someone who sounds like they know it all!

IN SUMMARY

Believe what you want.  Fran and I have met and talked to hundreds of people who are contemplating a move to Costa Rica.  Many are doing so because they watched House Hunters International or got sucked into the false vision by being told you can live like royalty on only $500 a month.  Others will look beneath the slick veneer of the Costa Rican hype and seek out the truth.  I'm not saying that the purveyors of Pura Vida are lying to you... they are just not disclosing the full truth.  If by telling you our experiences and revealing the good, bad and ugly of Costa Rica is being a glass half full guy... then I am guilty as charged. 

People coming here need to do so with their eyes wide open or else you will wind up returning to your native land disgusted, dejected and really pissed off.

If you would like to reply to this editorial... please fee free to email me.  Just realize, if you do, I may reprint your reply for all to read.  I have nothing to hide and nor should you.  If you disagree with me, have the guts to stand by your words.



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