How to be a successful retiree in Costa Rica

Being successful in any endeavor requieres a lot of hard work. Whether we are talking about business or even a romantic relationship, a lot of effort is necessary to succeed. The same is true for retirement in Costa Rica. Just coming here is not enough. One has to take responsibility for making their retirement dreams come true here.

Baby Boomers retirement

Below are some suggestions based on over 30 years of research in the field of helping people relocate here which can mean the difference between success and failure.

  1. Seek and you shall find.
  2. Make an effort to get out and explore the country. Costa Rica is small but there are hundreds of gems waiting to be discovered.
  3. Learning Spanish is of paramount importance. You will always be a foreigner unless you make an effort to learn the language. A whole new world will open up to you if you do.
  4. Try and stay busy. There are hundreds of activities, clubs and events to keep you occupied. All you have to do is look at the weekend edition of the local Spanish newspapers or the many on-line publications in English and you will be able find something to do.
  5. The best candidates for living here are people with pensions or a fixed income. Those who come here to work always end up struggling. In oder to work you will need a work permit or residency free of conditions.
  6. Don’t start a business unless you really have to. Nine out of ten businesses started by foreigners do not make it. Labor costs, social security benefits and workers that do not speak your language will only make life more difficult.
  7. Simplicity is the key. So, adopt a simple lifestyle and try not to complicate things.
  8. Avoid hanging out with the wrong people. Most expats are nice people but there are always a few bad apples. Avoid these people like the plague or you will have a lot of problems.
  9. Don’t become an alcoholic. Many expats become bored and turn into binge drinkers. I have seen this happen over and over again.
  10. Test before you invest. Be very careful when you invest in anything. Always do a feasibility study and check out anyone with whom you get involved.
  11. A lot of expats leave their brain on the plane, drop their guard and do things that they would never engage in back home.
  12. Try befriending the locals but don’t be too trusting or generous. The latter can be construed as free meal ticket and some people will take advantage of you.
  13. Regarding generosity, Americans tend to be very generous to the point of being stupid.
  14. Do not try to change the country. You have to adapt to things the way they are here.
  15. Do not ever criticize the Costa Ricans. This is their country and you are a guest.
  16. Do not try to cut corners like bribing people to get things done. This will usually backfire.
  17. Do not always compare the country with the way things are back home. It is sad to her Americans say, “We do it this way at home which is much better.”

There is a lot more advice I could give you but the above should cover the basics and help you have a good life here.

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