When I moved to Costa Rica almost 35 years ago to live my dream Costa Ricans were not as well off as they are now. Don’t get me wrong! About one-quarter of the people currently live below the poverty line but as a whole the majority of the ticos have a lot better life than they did in the past. One only has to look around to see what I am talking about. New cars abound. Many more people own their own homes. Most ticos have cell phones and dress well. New restaurants and franchises are found all over the Central Valley. Malls, like the new Plaza Lincoln in Moravia, are the place to hang out for the young people. More and more Costa Ricans now have access to a lifestyle that was only reserved for the rich and wealthy foreigners in the past.
I remember that in the 1980s when I used to travel to the States from Costa Rica, my Costa Rican friends would give me money to buy them things like tennis shoes, portable radios and other items that we not available here. Now you can find almost anything you want. What can’t be found here, can now be ordered on-line and shipped through one of the private mail services like Aerocasillas. The other day I even saw a Mrs. Fields Cookies franchise in the mall. What a teat and contrast to yesteryear. One would have to have lived here in the 1980s or before to realize how much this country has changed. In reality the gap between Costa Rica and the U.S. gets narrower and narrower every year. I used to yearn for goodies and products from the U.S. This is no longer true with all of the changes and improvements that have taken place, especially over the last decade. Recently, I spent most of month of August in the States visiting my sister. While there I noticed that flavored coconut milk in tetrpack cartons was widely sold. I had seen coconut milk or” agua de pipa” sold in the supermarkets here but never the flavored verson in tetrapack boxes. Much to my surprise I discovered the same product that I saw in the U.S. in one of our local supermarkets.
Aside form the material items and improvement in the standard of living I have mentioned above, there have been other changes which have bettered the average Costa Rican’s life and the country in general. For example, the construction of new private hospitals like Cima and Hospital Metropolitano. Older private hospitals like the Clínica Bíblica and Clínica Catolica have completely revamped and expanded their facilities. Public transportation has improved with the coming of commuter trains. More and more young people have access to a university education because the number of private universities which have been built. It is no surprise that university graduates are finding good paying jobs and opportunities which many of their parents didn’t have. No wonder according several polls, Costa Ricans are considered one of the happiest people in the world which is probably partly due to the improvements in their way of life.
Anyone seriously thinking of living or retiring in Costa Rica will also benefit from all of the improvements I have mentioned in this article, for instance the country’s health care, availability of products from the United States and better housing options.