Bad Things About Costa Rica

Costa rica have an affordable public transportation system.
Costa Rica have an affordable public transportation system.

This article is based on the feedback I have received from some of the foreigners who live here and does not reflect my beliefs. It is important to remember that the positives outweigh the negatives when we talk about Costa Rica. I think it is important to share both the good and bad about Costa Rica on my monthly relocation/retirement tours.

I respond to the negatives below in parenthesis.

  1. The driving (not that bad because the drivers can be courteous and show good manners at times. There is a lot of road rage and many deaths in the U.S, so it is important to keep things in perspective)
  2. Crime (more than before but nothing when compared to the other countries in Latin America i.e. Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala)
  3. Foreigners who take advantage of their own (this problem has increased because of the Internet, unlicensed real estate agents and Costa Rica attracting its share of unsavory characters, carpetbaggers and outcasts. Check out who you are dealing with.)
  4. Bureaucracy (it is also bad in other countries including the U.S. where it can be even worse)
  5. The rainy season, especially October (There is a lot of sunshine and warm weather during the rainy season. This is unlike the U.S. and Canada)
  6. Long waits for attention at public hospitals (Not all the time. The medical care is good at a fraction of the cost of the U.S. There is always the private system which is also affordable when compared to its U.S. counterpart)
  7. The country’s immigration office is a mess (This statement is true but things will change in the future)
  8. Hard to get phones (IN some cases….hopefully with privatization this will end)
  9. Hard to return merchandise in stores (Yes, this is true in some cases but not impossible since there is an organization that protects consumers)
  10. Lax immigration (True…many people stay here illegally for years. There is a new immigration law scheduled to go into effect to help put an end to this problem).
  11. Lack of regulation in the tour business (There are many tours operating without government approval and licenses)
  12. A lot of stray and undernourished street dogs (This is sad. I know a lot of people who have adopted street dogs. Bless them)
  13. Salad bars are lacking (very true, but you can always buy vegetables at a low price and make your own salad)
  14. No good Mexican or Chinese food (Tin Ho is the only good oriental restaurant in the country and Mexican restaurants leave a lot to be desired)
  15. No bike lanes (true but there may be some in the future)
  16. Steep custom’s duties on imported items (try to buy the local versions)
  17. Expensive cars (true but you can always use the country’s affordable public transportation)
  18. The locals think all foreigners are rich (in most cases they are when compared to most Costa Ricans)
  19. High cost of living (Not true. One thing is to come here as a tourist and another is to live here full-time. Once you get settled and know the ropes you will find it more affordable than the U.S. If you try to live like you did in the U.S., have expensive habits and buy a lot of imported products the country will be expensive.
  20. Books are overpriced (yes, but there are used bookstores and you can order from Amazon without much duty)
If you enjoy my blog, please share it with your friends. I hope to see you on one of my tours!
To learn more about living in Costa Rica sign up for one of Christopher Howard's award-winning Relocation/Retirement tours. For all of the details see: www.liveincostarica.com
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19 thoughts on “Bad Things About Costa Rica”

  1. Purchase of food. I look at what the costs are in the US and compare. Can you help?
    Milk $1.57
    Home 3/2/2 1600 sq ft. $200,000. cLEAN, NICE AREA.
    Police protection? Is it safe?
    If I make $100,000 US do I live as a pauper or a king, or something in between while in Costa Rica?

  2. If you can continue to make $100,000 while in Costa Rica, you can live very well. Much better than in the States. It really depends on your lifestyle.
    If you are a gambler, high roller and like to eat out in expensive restaurants, you may have problems.

  3. you neglected to mention the slave trade in Costa Rica. true its small compared to other slave trades but its still a problem

  4. When I visited CR six years ago we were in San Jose, a very nice hotel. I don’t recall any negative observation or experiences. But that may be because I had a vacation home and investment property in Mexico. Is Costa Rica as dangerous, or corrupt as Mexico? I’m traveling to Costa Rica this June 2010 and will live there a year. If it’s like I remember it I will most likely stay. I’m 50 and need a better quality of life than the U.S. is offering now.

  5. The positives here far outweigh the negatives. However, I think it is important that people know the downside before they make their decision. No Costa Rica is not nearly as dangerous or corrupt as Mexico. There is no comparison. I have lived in both countries.

    Costa Rica offers a great lifestyle for Americans. We have more American residents per capita (proportionately) than any country outside outside of the U.S. They can’t be wrong.

    My tours are the perfect introduction to the country.

  6. Hi there!
    I’m a Turkish who lived many years in Australia and travelled extensively.I speak excellent English-French-Turkish and have many years of experience as ”?nternational Relations Consultant”.?s moving to CR.a wise choice,is it hard to get a work visa? Thanks lot

  7. Costa Rica can be a wise choice depending on what you want to do here. There are opportunities. Generally speaking the most successful foreigners have web-based businesses. However, you really can¹t work within the country unless you have a work permit or residency with permission to work.

  8. Went on the tour presented by Chris Howard,it was a great tour and saved me a lot of money. I will be moving to Costa Rica this summer.

  9. I am tired to hear all te grumbling of Americans or Canadians that move to Costa Rica….I am an American that lives in Cuidad Colon,Costa Rica. I still work in the middle east on rotational basis so not a retirey,,,my wife is Tica…this is my country now…when I left America it was for good…people complain of the crime…mostly Jaco area…so any tourist area in the world has high crime…even Diseny land in Florida…oh…you here someone got robbed in the RED Light District in San Jose,,,is this supposed to shock someone when only you are their for drug dealing and use of prostitue!!! Some old lady gets here purse taken while sporting to show all the gold and diamonds see can where…ah…come own…if you act like you have good sence and treat people with respect…you will recieve this in return…stop bashing my country…if you do not like please pack your bags and go home,,,you where probaley big complainer there to…

  10. I am from Costa Rica, and I share many of those opinions, and yes, I bet other countries could be worse. However, why should we (Costa Rican people) feel relief of other countries being worse, we should have the aim of being better and work for better life conditions.

    We could do it much much better if we stopped comparing with those that are “under” us and started to compare and aspire to be like those that are “above” us.

  11. I think there are upsides and downsides to every country. I appreciate someone who is honest and tells me the truth, I need that in order to make the best decision possible. With that said, I now have a question…can you live in the Central Valley on $3,000 a month like a middle class couple in US? We are not extravagant, however we know we will not be able to live in US like we do now on our SS.

  12. I do not think the lax laws/regulations is a bad thing. Government licensing a business does not do anything but add to the cost. In CR You can get all your biz licensing without anyone come and inspect anything.

  13. I’ve lived most of my adult life in NYC. I find it hard to believe that CR has more crime, a more mind numbing beaurocracy, or higher prices here. I can believe that being in a new place can make you feel vulnerable. I remember moving to NYC from Missouri 40 years ago. I loved the weather and found the people I met to be gracious and kind. I’m looking forward to visiting again this February and coming back in 2015 to try out retirement in CR,

  14. The sad thing about Costa Rica is that almost every home available for sale to a Gringo is grossly overpriced. The land is selling for double what it’s worth, and the men who construct the homes are being paid peanuts. The builder (Tico or Gringo) is making 100% or more profit on any home he builds, it’s insanity. The true value of a 100 x 50 foot building lot is about $15,000US and the home should be not more than $60. per square foot. If you pay more than that, you’re getting ripped off.

  15. i please need help to find advantages and disadvantages of CR for my project!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thanks to those who help.

  16. I’ve seen a lot of corruption in Costa Rica from expats especially. Locals will do petty crime but a lot of the expats had major vices. Could of just be who I was surround by but seemed to be everywhere. That place can swallow you whole if you aren’t careful.
    Also gossip is such a huge problem there, you can pretty much expect everyone to know your business at all times. Some other things to note, if you need an ambulance ride to hospital they will ask you for cash or not take you. And stay out of Jaco, place is crazy as it gets. It’s a beautiful place, but don’t expect paradise.

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