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Why Costa Rica is top Retirement Destination for Xpats!



Costa Rica is a small country of 6 million people in Central America located between Nicaragua and Panama. Because Costa Rica's cost of living is about 1/3 the cost of living in the US, many people are retiring to Costa Rica. Taxes are a fraction of what they are in the US, there is no capital gains taxes in Costa Rica, in fact Costa Rica is Known as the Switzerland of the Americas. You can get a full time maid for $200 per month; there is an abundance of organic fresh fruits and vegetables all year round because of a temperate climate averaging 74 degrees.

I live in San Jose and I have no air conditioning or heating. I just have a lot of screened windows and keep them open and get fresh air 24 hours a day. It's much healthier than having an air conditioner running and of course much cheaper since as of today you don't have to pay for the air that you breathe. But I am sure there is some major corporation in the US trying to figure out how they can get a patent on the air and then charge a fee for it. In fact there are a number of Oxygen bars springing up in the US where you can go and breathe oxygen for 20 or 30 minutes and they charge $10.00 for that. You have none of that in Costa Rica since you have fresh clean air.

Consequently, Costa Rica has the most Americans living here per capita than anywhere else in the world and the number is growing every year. Aside from the fact that the cost of living is low and the country is absolutely beautiful, the most valuable asset in Costa Rica is its people. They are lovely people who are gentle, kind and have strong family ties. Their favorite expression is "PURA VIDA", which means the pure life. The Costa Ricans love their family and they also love the Americans (Gringos). They have established Catholism as the official language of the Country. So you won't have any law suits being brought by the ACLU because there is a nativity scene around some government buildings. However, they are a very tolerant people who respect others preferences and so there are many other religions practiced here as well and that are welcomed.

Many huge American companies such as Intel, Hewlett Packard and large call centers have major operations in Costa Rica. Costa Rica has a very good education system and a higher literacy rate than the US. So they have a good educated labor pool for the many companies that are relocating here from around the world.

So for all of the above reasons, Americans feel very comfortable here and now call Costa Rica their home. I am one of them and can tell you that I would never consider living in any other country. I was born in the US and grew up there, but after living in Costa Rica for five years, I would never go back. When I do go back to the US to visit family and friends, I can't wait to get back to Costa Rica. There is just a sense of freedom here and joy in living with simply people who love and appreciate simple family values. By comparison to the people in the United States the people in Costa Rica are poor, but they are rich in spirit. I often say that people in Costa Rica have nothing, but they have everything. When I made that comment to someone, their comeback was, "yes you are right, in the US it's just the reverse, their people there have everything and yet they have nothing".

It seems every day in the US you hear of horrendous acts of violence that is shocking to the core. Senseless mass killings and all types of unimaginable crimes against innocence children and the American people. Senseless shootings in schools, universities, shopping malls and even in Churches. You just don't have that in Costa Rica, it just doesn't exist. Yes there is crime like everywhere else, but not to the degree that you see happening in the US.

I mentioned above about having a real sense of Freedom here and I want to expand on that a little more, since it's a very important factor. When I am in the US I feel like I am living in an Orwellian big brother society. This war on terror has people living in fear. It seems to me when I am in the US there is just a lot of paranoia, if fact I find myself getting paranoid. I am at the airport and over the loudspeaker they announce the threat level is orange today and don't leave your bag alone. If you see anything suspicious report it to the police. I go to the bank and have to fill our papers for simple transactions because of the Patriot Act and for Homeland Security. I think to myself what has happened to the land of the free and the home of the brave?

I think back to the late 1960's and ponder how much things have changed. Let me tell you a little story that will dramatize that point. I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in a big Italian family. I was at the time in my earlier twenties living in Philadelphia, Pa. and I was working with the mayor of Philadelphia Frank Rizzo, who was an Italian American and was the former police commissioner. Philadelphia had a lot of problems with crime and they still do, so Mr. Rizzo insisted that I get a gun and a license to carry it, so I did. One weekend I drove with some friends from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to visit my family. I then was to fly back to Philadelphia since my friends were going to stay longer. Inadvertently, I had left my gun in my bag. So when I got to the airport I walked to the gate and asked to speak with the Captain.

You didn't have to go through all the security that you do today you just would walk up to the gate and board the plane. The Captain came out and I told him that I had a gun and had a license to carry it and showed it to him. He told me no problem, just take the bullets out. Now think about where we have come from that time to where we are now. They are body searching 90 year old great grandmothers and herding people like cattle through ever tighter security. Oh by the way, gas was selling for $.29 cents per gallon at that time and parents didn't have to mortgage their homes to send their kids to college.

Here in Costa Rica I have the same feeling of freedom that I had in the late 1960's and I love that feeling. I also love the fact that beach side property in Costa Rica is selling for 1960 California prices. I love the sense of family the Costa Ricans still have. I feel the beauty of the people and the country all around me and within me. I can buy fresh organic fruits and vegetables every week that are grown 52 weeks a year in Costa Rica's temperate climate at a fraction of the price you pay in the US. Health care and dentistry is a fraction of the price as well. Taxes on my beach home at Las Olas Beach Community in Esterillos Oeste is $200 per year. I have a full time maid that cost me $200 per month. And if some day I want to go into a retirement home, it will be a fourth of the price as in the US and will be staffed by caring and giving Costa Ricans. So this is why I, along with 200,000 other Xpate Americans now call Costa Rica their home now and it really and why more are coming to retire hear every week.
Victor Vendetti.


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