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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2 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!

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