Living in Costa Rica

Why treating Ticos like shit is not right

Why treating Ticos like shit is not right Yeah, I know, I shouldn’t use bad language and I apologize for the French. But with a title like “why treating Ticos like shit”, I knew I would get your attention. And indeed treating Ticos like shit is not right.

Why not? Well, everything you do when you live in Costa Rica, should be like any good and decent guest behaves.

I often see Ticos who treat the Nicas the same way. For those who don’t know what Nicas are, they are the people who come from the country next door, Nicaragua. They come here to work hard and earn a living, trying to get a better life.  So we should treat them well too, don’t you think so?

On the other hand, we are different than they are, aren’t we? We know everything so much better. We are better educated, smarter and have a lot more money. They, the Ticos, are uneducated, stupid and poor.

11 Free Apps that will make living in Costa Rica easier

10 Free Apps that will make living in Costa Rica easierMany of us now live with our phone in hand, all day long. Even a lot of us who live in Costa Rica. Some fanatics even do so at night. 

When you are retired, your phone stops being important to you, or it’s supposed to. Your desktop, or your laptop give you all the necessary connections to your family back home, right?

Facebook is one example of technology, which stopped being technology to many. My 83 year old mom is on Facebook, all day long. That is because it’s her connection to the world, her kids and grandkids who all live in other countries. Her friends and cousins live in Spain, Australia, Belgium, France, the US, Canada, England, Germany, and Costa Rica. 

Isn't it cool to have 115 friends from all over the world that you can stay in touch with when your 83 years old? Yeah, my mom is very international and if you are living in Costa Rica, I’m sure you are too. Or you might be as soon as you move away from your family, looking for a better, warmer and exciting life in Costa Rica.

7 Ways to deal with bad neighbors in Costa Rica

7 Ways to deal with bad neighbors in Costa Rica

Those who follow my weekly blogs and saw the title “7 ways to deal with bad neighbors in Costa Rica” for sure now expect a solution to the problems they have with bad neighbors. I know, I usually have solutions for a lot of things that happen to you when living in Costa Rica, this time it’s not going to be so easy but let's make the effort.

I have a bad neighbor myself. In my case, I’m lucky to have a bad neighbor who is never there. When she is, she yells at me across the fence whenever I send her a complaint by email. Thank God for email…. 

My neighbor’s problem is that she doesn’t pay any attention to her yard. We have a mango problem and a termite problem I can’t stop. But my problems with my neighbor are not for today’s article. Today, we’re going to find ways to deal with bad neighbors in Costa Rica. 

Before we get started on that, you need to realize that you are the foreigners, invited to live in Costa Rica, as long as you behave. You, the foreigner, needs to adjust to local customs and not the other way around. 

16 Stupid Things Gringos living in Costa Rica do all the time

16 Stupid Things Gringos living in Costa Rica do all the timeThe first thing that I should do, in case someone misunderstands the term “gringo”, is to explain who are seen as gringos in Costa Rica.

A gringo in Costa Rica is anyone who has a lighter skin, hair that is lighter than black and speaks Spanish with some kind of accent, or no Spanish at all. That means, that even I, who has been living in Costa Rica for 35 years, am still called a gringo even though I speak fluent Tico Spanish but with an accent.
Now you, a gringo, are living in Costa Rica and learning to adjust to your new lifestyle and your new home country. To be able to live in a new country, for sure you’ll make mistakes by saying the wrong words, by doing something that is not customary in Costa Rica and will be frowned upon by the locals or by making a serious mistake when buying property (I am a real estate broker, in case you didn’t know). I want to warn you about those mistakes, the stupid mistakes, so you won’t make them. Don’t be surprised you think I’m talking about you.

Are Costa Ricans proactive or not?

Are Costa Ricans proactive or not?One of the most difficult things for me living in Costa Rica and in adapting to the Costa Rican culture has been the pro-activity of the locals, the Ticos. If you wonder, yes I am still trying to adapt to a different culture after 35 years, as there are certain habits that are really difficult to adapt to, for me at least.

Just in case anyone might think I’m negative or complaining, I’m not. This is just a simple statement, so you’re aware of it, can adjust to the reality and so you can take the necessary action when needed. So the question is “are Costa Ricans proactive or not?”

I recently did some consultancy for a Costa Rican company where some employees are foreigners and some locals. After a month or so, I had over 600 emails in my mailbox and it was growing fast. The reason for this ever-growing mailbox was that nobody was taking any decisions and hiding others. 

On some of those emails, there were 6 or more people involved and everybody would just answer yes or no to a suggestion but nobody would come with a solution or another suggestion and even less take the lead on a discussion. It clearly showed here that Costa Ricans are not proactive, unless they're put under pressure.

Pura Vida is a red thread through society in Costa Rica

Pura Vida is a red thread through society in Costa RicaCandies and a short memory run like a red thread through society in Costa Rica, they call it pura vida. Pura vida is part of living in Costa Rica and you better get used to it.

What is that all about? Well, its done to call your attention. This is Dutchlish, as a variety of Spanglish. 

A red thread that runs through a story means in Dutch, German and quite a few other languages that it’s a common theme, a repeating theme that runs through a story or in this case a society. If the man upstairs would have just decided not to allow the tower of Babel to be built, life would have been so much easier on many of us.

Pura vida makes Costa Ricans the happiest people in the world.

So that red thread, that’s what it’s all about today. It’s the repeating theme. Once you live in Costa Rica, you’ll soon understand that the red thread is called pura vida. Once you understand that, you will be able to make sense of so many things that happen in Costa Rica, it’ll scare the hell out of you!

Should I stay or should I leave Costa Rica for a lower cost of living?

Should I stay or should I leave Costa Rica for a lower cost of living?Many of you know that the cost of living in Costa Rica has gone up a lot in the past few years. One of the reasons is that The Costarican government decided to stop with the mini-devaluations in 2006 and move over to a system of exchange rate bands that has kept the Colon on the same value since then.

Exporters are suffering with the bad exchange rate but more and more companies for the US and other parts of the world are still getting installed in Costa Rica, even though the social security system in Costa Rica is expensive and adds onto the labor cost and operating cost of a business.

Procomer, the Costarican entity for commerce promotion, publishes that Costa Rica has 4.6 million people, with 4,600 products exported to 150 countries. In 2014, we exported $11,304 billion in goods, $6,341 billion in services by 2441 exporting companies. It is also true that quite a few Costarican industries have moved to Nicaragua because labor is cheaper there.

Is it true that everything is Costa Rica is more expensive than elsewhere? Why are foreign industries moving to Costa Rica and local Industries moving elsewhere? Is life for a retiree or expat better elsewhere? Should you stay or leave Costa Rica and go back where you came from?

Discover how to cook the different Tico vegetables with imagination

How to cook Tico vegetables with imaginationThanks to Ardon, a client for so many years and someone with a passion for reading my weekly blogs, I now felt an obligation to write about cooking the different Tico Vegetables. The problem is that I don’t know anything about cooking; I’m too busy writing blogs. My wife Dany does all the cooking and I do the eating.

The second problem is that I like Dutch food too much and Dany does all she can to cook all those weird Dutch recipes. Because of that, we don’t really eat a lot of Tico food in our household.  On the other hand, Dany’s cooking shows that if you can cook Dutch food with Tico ingredients, you can cook anything with them, with a little imagination.

When living in Costa Rica, you should not forget what burgers and pizza taste like but you should give the local Tico food a shot too. Most vegetables are grown on the slopes of the volcanoes on the north and north east side of the Central Valley. For that reason, Tico vegetables grow not only faster than they do elsewhere; they are usually a lot tastier than elsewhere.

Living in Costa Rica on a pending residency and legally drive your car

Living in Costa Rica on a pending residency and legally drive your car If you decide to settle down and start living in Costa Rica or are giving it an extended tryout, you’re going to have to leave the country every 90 days for a bit of time. I previously mentioned this awhile ago, that within any government, sometimes the left hand and the right hand don’t always agree.

The Costa Rican immigration department says once your application for legal residency has been accepted it is your right to be living in Costa Rica without leaving for as long as it takes to get your “cedula de residencia” (the official legal residency card).

Very true, but with the other hand, the Costa Rican transit authority says that your visa stamp on your passport validates your driver’s license, which in turn also keeps your Costa Rican automobile insurance valid. Costa Rican visa stamps are good for only 90 days and are renewed upon each re-entry to Costa Rica.

Therefore, you’ll need to exit every 90 days so that you can return through immigration, get your visa renewed and continue to drive and be insured here legally. (If you plan to walk or only take taxis and buses, you’ll never have to leave once your residency application is in process.)