Are gringos nothing more than ATM machines for ticas?

Introduction and disclaimer: A few weeks ago I was asked to write an article on this subject for a English-language dating site about Costa Rican women. By no means is this article meant to demean Costa Rican women but is only intended to paint a picture of some situations that may occur here. Many north american men have found devoted companions who love them unconditionally. However, before getting involved in any serious relationship one should be aware of the dynamics below. My observations are based on almost 35 years of living in Costa Rica, being successfully married to a Costa Rican woman, speaking the Spanish language with native fluency and being immersed in all aspect of the culture.

Are gringos nothing more than ATM machines for ticas?

By Christopher Howard M.A.

In most cases the answer is, yes.

Most gringos who come to Costa Rica end up getting involved with women who are a lot younger. This is frowned upon in the U.S. but widely accepted here. However, there is a price tag involved. The majority of younger women who are with older men are doing it to upgrade their lifestyle.


I really can’t blame them because almost everyone aspires to have something better in life. Usually these women are from lower-class families and have never had the opportunity to finish their education or get ahead in life because of a lack of money. One thing that differentiates life here in Costa Rica from that of the United States is opportunity. In Costa Rica the opportunities that exist in the States are just not found here so it is difficult but not impossible for those at the bottom to get ahead.

A lot of women have been in relationships with tico men only to be abandoned by the guys who leave them to support children by themselves. So what you have are many women with children who have little education which prevents them from getting decent-paying jobs. Also, a large number of women became pregnant as adolescents (33 percent of all pregnancies) and are at a serious disadvantage in the job market. They end up in low paying jobs and have to live with their families to make ends meet in order to support their children. Some even turn to prostitution as a last resort because they can make more money than slaving away in some low-paying job.

That’s where the gringos come into play. If one of these women can meet a gringo to support her, it is like winning the lottery. Single retirees with a pension of a couple of thousand dollars per month or others with a few bucks are a godsend to these girls.

Over the 34 years that I have lived in Costa Rica I have had the opportunity to observe a lot of men get hooked up with tico women. Many of these relationships work out because the women sincerely love the men. On the other hand, other relationships are doomed form the start because the women are only with the guys for their money. But in both cases economics are the bottom line.

I don’t know of any gringos who have received more monetarily out of a relationship with a tica than he has put into it whether the girl really loves the guy or not.

What this all boils down to is an older man meeting a younger woman for a price. In some cases the relationship lasts and the woman get an education, eventually finds a career and a good job and ends up contributing economically to the relationship. However, these situations are far and few between. Also the chances of meeting a professional woman are slim.

My advise is that before becoming seriously involved romantically with a Costa Rican woman, you should be aware of the all of the economic factors involved.

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7 thoughts on “Are gringos nothing more than ATM machines for ticas?”

  1. This is also true for older gay men and the throngs of young ticos and Nicaraguans that are very willing to be with an older partner. ATM, maybe. To many it is the lottery with a long term pay out. Be careful. Does intergenerational love exist? Sure. Just be aware.

  2. Nice article!
    As a Costa Rica woman, married with (a younger) “gringo”; I may say that people should be careful with what they look for, because they may get it!
    There are so many good, mature, professional, smart, and good looking Ticas that can enjoy, and appreciate a relationship with a nice gringo (I know several); that is almost unfair what happens; but sometimes is also because is what the American guy is looking for.
    Just be careful with what you wish for!

  3. and…what about the gringo´s profile…, I had met lots Vietnam War retirees that come to Costa Rica to go on with their addictions to drugs and have babies with ticas and then just leave the country! So Ticas girls must also be careful about the company that they choose, aren´t they? I guess you must be careful in both ways!!!

  4. As a Costa Rica woman living in U.S.A. I have seen quite a bit here and to be honest, gold diggers are everywhere!!! or is this country (U.S.A.) populated with honest angels??? Hmmm not really!!! I met my husband in Costa Rica he is American in his 30’s and so do I. I have my degree and my own career and I wasn’t looking for a provider, I was looking for a partner and love. Unfortunaly it is pretty common for a retired American in Costa Rica to look for country girls younger younger and them and not well educated. They persue a relationship with these women and then they expect miracles. It’s offensive when Costa Rican women are shown as gold diggers, American mature man are not necessarily what I would call victims.. Sorry but I don’t buy it.

  5. It’s so true. In my 14 years in Costa Rica, I’ve gone through many scenarios that bothered me. Seeing a guy about 70 years old eating dinner with a woman who is clearly under 25 bothered me. AT FIRST.

    Then, I thought about it. If a lonely man is with a woman, and they get along, and mutually benefit each other, I have no problem with it. Who am I to tell people how to be happy and live their lives? I don’t judge anymore, and I’ve come to know many couples with large age gaps.

    Good entry. I also agree with Rachel – gold diggers are everywhere. So true.

  6. nice write up, like in many places around the world there are plenty of girls here who are after cash, but there are many more who are honest and looking for so much more

  7. I live in Costa Rica and am a woman from the states. I can see both sides of the coin.
    I see many, many older, very old actually, men from the STates come here and hook up with young women. They end up being the personal ATM. But they are GROWN men and know very well what is going on. Tit for tat, UNTIL the guy is not happy with the situation anymore (I see many women exploit this relationship to the nth degree) , then they guy can just leave.
    It is disgusting to me the way some things are handled on both sides sometimes, but we all “use” eachother for one thing or another in life anyway. (sorry to be glib)
    I see older women with younger men here too and it is all about the sugar mama and sugar daddy here. AND EVERYWHERE BY THE WAY people…

    Also…many people have pride here, most of course. They will not ask you for a hand out.
    But some folks are very good CONFIDENCE men and women. They become your “friend” and edge their way into your life. Gringos and ticos, ticas alike. BEWARE of the ticos that speak English. They gain your confidence right away. WE lose our brains in a foreign country sometimes. They befriend you and before you know it, they either rob your blind, or every other day they ask for money for cigarettes or booze or a few dollars here and there , and it sucks. I HATE LIVING HERE, Cant wait to sell and get out

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