'Deciding where to retire is much too important to be left to chance. My wife and I have been researching the advantages/disadvantages of living as retirees in a number of States in the US in addition to a number of other countries (we currently live in California). Originally from Scotland and Ireland, we ruled out our home countries due to the miserable climate they both experience. Our research indicated that Costa Rica was worth inclusion on our shortlist. It seems to have so much going for it - friendly people, wonderful climate, reasonable cost of living and an abundance of excellent housing stock at low prices.
This brings us to Christopher Howard. His retirement tours seemed a great way to get an in-depth look at the good, the bad and the ugly in a short time. Christopher claimed to be an expert in Costa Rica and all it can offer retirees. An easy thing to claim, more difficult to prove! As my wife had prior work commitments, I took the tour on my own. I chose the inland tour, as I couldn't see us living on the coast due to the higher humidity (three years living in Florida had been enough). Although I imagine that his Combination Beach Tour is excellent judging from what I experienced while with Christopher.
You can check his website www.liveincostarica.com for the full itinerary I enjoyed. Presentations by Immigration experts, ARCR (Association of Residents of Costa Rica) Board Members, Lawyers, Realtors for renting and/or buying, Relocation company, Learning Spanish, US Embassy services, Culture, Health Care, Dental Services, Insurances, Tax issues, Banking and Investment and, very importantly, presentations by Expats who had taken the plunge and moved to Costa Rica. These people were very informative, giving the best and the worst of their experiences. I was also taken on two full days of tours around San Jose and some of the smaller valley towns (Atenas and Grecia), seeing examples of housing and given an idea of prices that I would be expected to pay to buy/rent in these areas. Visiting stores, Farmers' Markets and even a hospital were on the itinerary. An especially enjoyable treat was a Spanish lesson in a beautiful boutique hotel (Hotel Posada el Quijote) given by Wagner who owns a local language school http://www.spanishforexpats-cr.com. Attending a performance by the Costa Rica Philharmonic at the magnificent Teatro Nacional and a wander round the Mercado Central will live long in the memory.
I went home with a comprehensive idea of just what it would mean to retire to Costa Rica. There is no way I could have achieved this under my own steam. Christopher Howard speaks Spanish fluently, has an easy-going attitude, a great sense of humor, a comfortable familiarity with the local 'Ticos' and he was able to open doors that would otherwise have remained closed to me. He helped place Costa Rica at the top of our retirement choices.
I have no hesitation in giving a wholehearted recommendation of Christopher and his Retirement tours. Apart from his knowledge of the country - he's a genuinely nice guy. Pura Vida!
As an aside, I can confirm that this testimonial is genuine, non-solicited and that I have no link with Christopher other than attending his tour'.