Even though Costa Rica does not have all the “safety net” programs of the U.S. (though free medical care & education), plain ol’ regular daily life for Ticos (and most expats) is easier here for the poor than in the states. (And that is even with CR having the highest cost of living in Central America.) I’m first motivated to say this because of the latest article in the “Live in Costa Rica” blog:
Also because I know that there are people from the States living here on no other income than their monthly Social Security check. A person can live solo here on a thousand dollars a month, though very simply. For residency (like Green Card in States) you must prove income of at least $1,000 a month. I think it would be much more difficult to live on that in the states! (And by the way, I meet that requirement by having my SS Check auto-deposited in my Costa Rica bank account. )
In fact there is a whole website & tour/conference program here entitled Retire in Costa Rica on Social Security. George supposedly shows you how to do it. (Disclaimer: I have not participated in his tour/program but like his concepts and his Intro Video!) On his site he quickly refers you to another blog/website that I know from experience helps you with specific budgeting: Retire for Less in Costa Rica. I highly recommend their newsletter/blog as the best for someone retiring here on a tight budget. It just may be my favorite newsletter on retiring in Costa Rica!
Remember that a large number of Ticos live here on less than a thousand dollars a month (even families). They do not travel somewhere every month like me nor have some of the luxuries I have, nor eat out in restaurants, but they are very happy and live productive lives in one of the happiest countries in the world. And like me, most have no car! 🙂 That is one of my biggest savings and helps me to afford my monthly travels, thanks in part to affordable public transportation!
I do not talk budget/expenses much – not the focus of my blog – but it is the purpose of the two blogs linked above. If you are concerned about affording retirement in Costa Rica, you must subscribe to the Retire for Less in Costa Rica blog/newsletter and check out the social security one.
Then come experience the tranquil life of adventure and happiness in the land of Pura Vida – Rich or Poor! 🙂
The Feature Photois a current shot of the fading graffiti on the wall behind our public college-prep high school, Colegio Liceo Atenas. It may not have been intended to represent poverty, but it seems to fit for me. 🙂 The phrase written to the left of the face, No dejemos que los niños pierdan su sonrisa. is roughly translated: “Let’s not let the kids lose their smile.” And the schools along with the Catholic Church work hard to help those in poverty, especially children. I find happy children in the poorest neighborhoods I walk through. As my grandmother used to say, “In life you do the best you can with what ya’ got.” 🙂 And that is . . .
I encourage you to follow the above link to his original article and maybe get acquainted with his blog. BUT, I wanted to “update”or add my comments to the list in dark red thathe copied from Tico Bull below:
The following list is a generalization, though, so obviously doesn’t apply to all Americans and Canadians.
Not being able to pay a bill by mail (send in a cheque). In the past, you had to go to a particular business to pay a bill, now it can be paid online or at the bank or supermarket, but no check in the mail. Through my local bank I have all my regular bills “auto debit” paid automatically except my rent because my landlord uses a different bank.
Not being able to receive mail at your home, six days a week.
Not being able to send mail from your home, six days a week.
There is periodic home mail delivery in Atenas (and some other towns), but if you are not home the carrier will often just stick it in the gate and wind can blow it away, thus I have a moderately priced post office box for my mail address to avoid worrying about being home when the mail carrier comes. Plus I have a U.S. Address in Miami through Aeropost.com for some mail which I pickup at the Aeropost office in Alajuela when I am notified by email. Going there on a free bus.
Not having Amazon Prime. Similarly Netflix is hugely different here with not nearly as many movies included because Hollywood wants each country to pay some outlandish fee to “license” the showing of their movies in that country. Here you get lots of Spanish language movies with a limited number of usually older American films plus lots of TV shows and fortunately a lot of nature shows, Nat Geo stuff, etc. Some of it is in verbal Spanish with English subtitles available, though more is in the original English with Spanish subtitles available. My personal default setting on Netflix CR is verbal English with Spanish subtitles which helps me a little in learning to speak Spanish.
Knowing that even if you order something online, there is a good chance that someone in customs will decide they want it and confiscate it. Using a service like Aeropost.com for internet orders solves that problem as they walk it through customs and have insurance on your orders. It is expensive, but most of the cost is the customs charges or import taxes. Worth the cost to me. I order everything on the internet sent to my Miami address at Aeropost.
Having to pay very high import taxes on any package that gets through, including items confiscated out of it. Import taxes & Sales Taxes are high here, but there is no income tax nor much property tax, so it kind of evens out for most people.
High priced cars. I have no car here and walk or use taxis locally and buses to other towns which are free or discounted for a senior adult. I go to Alajuela regularly by bus totally free!
Towns and villages that have either dirt or gravel roads. This is changing rapidly! i.e. Atenas Central is all paved, though a few rural roads out of town are still gravel. “Backwoods” or out of the way places are still not paved and the popular tourist town of Monteverde is one example, but they are paving the highway to there as we speak! 🙂
The necessity to have very good home security, either through iron bars at the windows, high walls, dogs, security guards, or all of the above. Americans and Canadians typically don’t wall their properties; dogs are pets; and enjoy large, plate glass windows with no need for security bars over them. I’m in a “gated community” called Roca Verde with an entrance gate and 24 hour guard service and we rarely have a problem. I’m in a “casita” or little rent house on the fenced & gated property of a big house and I have no bars on my windows and no dog and have never activated the built-in burglar alarm. I used to leave everything open and unlocked even at night, but one evening someone walked into my house while I was there and grabbed my cell phone and left. That and a backpack being taken from the floor of a touristy sidewalk cafe in Puntarenas my first year here are my only two robberies. Common sense helps, like I lock my doors by nightfall now and hang on to my backpack.
The need for women to hold their purses at all times, never putting them on a bench or a chair beside you or it might get stolen.
The assumption that if a repairman comes to your home, he will speak to the man of the house, rather than the lady of the house—even if she knows more about what needs to be repaired than her husband. This is changing now with so-called chauvinism frowned upon by all generations, especially the younger. There is a high respect for women and all older people.
The extreme caution one must take before letting someone (repairman, employee, new acquaintance) into your home because he/she might come back and steal from you later.
If something is accidentally left somewhere, you can know that someone else took it. There is no going to lost and found to see if the item was turned in. Depends on the place or people there. I’ve returned to a business for an umbrella left and it was still there and once briefly left my wallet and got it back.
Each culture is different. American and Canadian culture has a few things that other cultures view negatively. But there are always reasons behind cultural differences.
As an Italian, for example, we are loud, especially among a group of friends. Americans and Canadians love their large personal space. Costa Ricans and most Latin Americans can’t understand stand. Nor Europeans for that matter.
In addition, the majority of Americans, Canadians and Europeans have a level of personal honesty and integrity not always seen in Costa Rica, despite Ticos adopting much of North American and European cultures. An example of that is eating at a mall food court, but ladies won’t hang their purse or he his backpack on the back of the chair.
Living in a home with huge windows with no bars is unheard of, unless living in a gated community, but even then it won’t be surprising that someone will put up bars. For example, as I write this, I am looking out of my big glass window onto my yard, about 30 meters from the street. The window has bars, but I refuse to put up razor wire on the metal fence. I have dogs.
In closing, generalizations can be helpful, but they need to be understood for their limitations. Each culture has beauty if you’ll take the time to look, adapt and adopt the “pura vida”. Maybe his most important statement!
Much of this sounds like a typical “negative American” who criticizes everything not American and thus really has no business living here. Most of the above is true to some degree, though the dishonesty and thievery by Ticos is greatly exaggerated and in my small town I find almost everyone to be honest and very helpful to or accommodating of foreigners. And remember that you are the foreigner, not them. 🙂
It is essential that one adapt to the local culture when they move to another place anywhere in the world and recognized that it is yourself that is “abnormal” not the locals. You try to speak the language and go with the culture and they will love you and help you in every way possible! I’m amazed at the many Americans who in the states expected Mexicans and Cubans to learn and speak English there, but they don’t even try to learn Spanish here! They become “The Ugly American” of the 1958 novel by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer. 🙂
The featured photo today has nothing to do with the article, but I liked it and never found the right place to use it in all my reports on Xandari. It is a Rufous-capped Warbler peeking around a leaf in the Xandari Gardens. Now my post on both negatives and positives of living in Costa Rica 🙂
This last month we got a new tax in Costa Rica, as if we didn’t have enough, the “Value Added Tax” was passed by the legislators to replace a 13% Sales Tax on a limited number of items which in essence just expands the sales tax to almost all items and even services now, still at 13%. For example, my National Healthcare Insurance fee (based on my income) was 13% more this month with the VAT as was my meal in a restaurant last night. The Costa Rica Star English Language online newspaper had this article: Crazy New Tax Laws in Costa Rica That you Need to Know About. And remember that this is on top of one of the highest import taxes (Trump would love) making cars very expensive here. BUT, we have no income tax and one of the lowest property taxes in the world. So, maybe it evens out?
Yet Christopher in his “Live in Costa Rica Blog” had this to say recently with his biggest specific complaint being the economy of Costa Rica:
It really boils down to your attitude towards locals as an expat. One reason I liked Costa Rica better than Panama for retirement is because the retired Americans are not quite as segregated into English-speaking groups here as in Panama, nor is the country as “Americanized” as Panama, but unfortunately we do have segregation here too and some Americans who never intend to even try learning Spanish. (I’m not very good, but I try daily.)
Now as one who also tries to stay positive I cannot complete this article on negatives without at least two positive! 🙂
Two stories of interest for anyone considering a move to CR or any other country: (1) About a man who came 50 years ago as a Peace Corp worker and still lives here and (2) Another useful article on “Why move to Costa Rica?”
This link takes you to the online English Language Magazine, El Residente, for the organization Association of Residents of Costa Rica, ARCR that has articles like these in every issue. It is free for members and if thinking of moving here, I encourage you to join ARCR. They will be your biggest help when you finally take the big step! And that’s another positive! 🙂
Now that link should take you directly to the article but if it doesn’t, then note that it is in this month’s or June 10, 2019 issue of the Newsletter from my friends Paul & Gloria: Retire for Less in Costa Rica which link should take you to the issue of their newsletter with Rob’s article. Just scroll down to the article. And by the way, if you are seriously considering a move here, you need to subscribe to Paul & Gloria’s newsletter for so much of the little nitty-gritty practicalities and also to learn how they save money much better than me.
The Evans’ did not use ARCR like me and did a lot of other things differently. It will inspire you if you are one of my readers considering a move here. Check it out! There are many different ways to get here! 🙂
For anyone considering retirement or otherwise living in Costa Rica, be forewarned that you must learn to live with the 300,000+ species of insects here on this land bridge between North and South America (with insects from both continents!). The featured image at top is of two “Jewel Bugs” or “Metallic Shield Bugs” I photographed in Corcovado National Park. Below photo I made this morning of a “Leafcutter Ant” on my terrace carrying a flower petal (bougainvillea) instead of a piece of leaf, which is common.
Many of the insects that pester me seem to come in waves; like just before rainy season the little long-winged fliers that dropped or left their long beige wings all over my bathroom, or the first two weeks of rain was the invasion of houseflies (which Deep Woods OFF doesn’t seem to affect!), and right now there are hundreds of tiny little black & green beetles on the walls, around the lights and all over me! I even got one going down my ear the other night – ugh! They don’t bite, but a bother! Too small to photograph.
My biggest deterrent to the many kinds of bugs are the Geckos that live in literally every room of my house and I think eat most types of insects. From my first day here I have tried to photograph the larger insects (some are just too tiny) and you can see my collection in the gallery named INSECTS CRunder OTHER WILDLIFE in the main gallery. There are more than 100 species of insects in my gallery and especially interesting or unusual are those in the sub-gallery Other Insects, like the above Jewel Bugs, many of which I have not been able to identify. And all of which serve a purpose in the cycles of life. Of course the most popular sub-gallery is Butterfly & Moth (81+ Species).
A Break From Blogging
For regular readers, I assume you have noticed several days without a post. Sometimes I just doesn’t feel like writing and/or in this case got focused on my old photos again as I am slowly adding them to my galleries, particularly the Pre-Costa Rica TRAVELgalleries. It is a slow and labor-intensive process that eventually I will complete. I uploaded all of my international trips first and now working on USA trips from the most recent going back. Then comes the most, Tennessee travels. And most of these are after my retirement began at the end of 2002. I have been blessed to have seen so much of the world and get to know so many cool people!
Sunday afternoon I was a part of the Board of Directors meeting for the local children’s home, Hogar de Vida. The rest of the board seemed surprised and appreciative that I am the first person to include the children’s home in my will. But I am not a very good board member because I am not fluent in Spanish, in which all business is carried on! 🙂
Otherwise I am “Living Slow” as my sloth T-shirt says!
A fast approach tends to be a superficial one, but when you slow down you begin to engage more deeply with whatever it is you’re doing. You’re also forced to confront what’s happening inside you – which is one of the reasons why I think we find it so hard to slow down. Speed becomes a form of denial. It’s a way of running away from those more deeper, tangled problems. Instead of focusing on questions like who am I, and what is my role here, it all becomes a superficial to-do list.
Based on United Nations statistics, a group ranks countries on the amount of good they do for the people living there, called the Good Country Index. You can see on the list that though not at top (like those Scandinavian countries) Costa Rica is the highest ranking Latin American country and of course ranks higher than the United States. 🙂 Photo above is one of my shots from the 2018 Oxcart Parade, Atenas.
A few days ago I posted a link to a great birding video made in the nearby South American country of Columbia which claims to have more birds than Costa Rica (maybe).
Also a year or two ago I told about a neighbor who moved her retirement home from Atenas, Costa Rica to Medellin, Columbia. Because of the lower cost of living there, many Americans and Canadians are considering it as an excellent tropical retirement home. Thus I did a similar post in Jan. 2018. If still considering your retirement plans, Columbia is worth looking into.
I’ve discussed earlier here that I seriously considered retiring in Panama before choosing Costa Rica and after a blip of enthusiasm from other retirees and organizations over Ecuador and Columbia and even Nicaragua, I am still happy with my choice of Costa Rica and anticipate staying with it for the long haul! 🙂 And it is easy for me to travel to these other nearby countries when I think it worth the trip.
Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else. —Fred Rogers
I am thinking about a purpose and need for this blog, my goals, and what the 20 to 100 actual readers per day want to see here. (Tell me!)
As I re-evaluate the blog I see it in danger of becoming a personal journal, more about me than my original purpose of “How to Retire in Costa Rica” or now about “Being Retired in Costa Rica.” My retirement hobbies of travel, birding and photography don’t speak to all, but that’s a given.
Beginning this coming weekend, my new “trial approach” is to post only one weekly, quality article on Friday, Saturday or Sunday (flexible day). I will seek to:
Use fewer/better photos with a gallery link for those wanting more.
Try for shorter, easier to read posts. This is already too long! 🙂
Try to include some“inspiration” though not always my purpose.
Try to improve my photography so one photo says it all!
Please Give Your Input — Reader Survey
Use the Comments box below or email saying:
What subjects you would like me to include?
What you think of a weekly approach?
Do you read this for information or photos?
Are your interests (1) Retirement in CR? (2) Costa Rica in general? (3) Nature photography? (4) Travel? (5) Birding? or (6) Keeping up with me?
If your prefer a private message click Contact on top menu to email me.
Even though WordPress websites have photo galleries and I could put all my photos on the website – my original plan – so far they do not have the flexibilities and quality options that I have with my SmugMug.com photo gallery which recently purchased and incorporated Flickr where I also still have a small class-related gallery. https://www.flickr.com/photos/charliedoggett/ I will eventually close it, even though free.
Currently I Have 2 Large Online Photo Galleries
Now back in my first 12 years of retirement in Tennessee I chose to use the online photo gallery called Pbase, which the Nashville Photography Club used. Images I sold in galleries and arts & crafts fairs are there in 5 categories plus all my travel photos by trip, and others. It is a great database type program with lots of sub-sub-gallery possibilities, etc. but not quite as user-friendly or as visually attractive as SmugMug which I chose as my new photo gallery after moving to Costa Rica and comparing several online galleries, thus came Charlie Doggett’s COSTA RICA, which has had only Costa Rica photos thus far.
Move Both Galleries With Website & Blog or Not?
This year when I decided to move my website AND blog to WordPress (from Joomla & Blogger), I really wanted to move all my photo galleries here too – the luxury of everything in one place! And WordPress has that option! But I quickly learned that the more photos I put on this site, the slower it runs! And that is with me reducing the size of most photos since the web does not need large files, but then they are not good for you to download and print if you want. While I upload full-size photos to SmugMug & Pbase that are not only good for you to download and use but they are big enough (except some zoomed in birds) for you to use the SmugMug “BUY” Button and order prints, wall art, etc.
Thus I changed my mind and decided to not move my photos to the new website. Though I will continue to use photos on the site & blog (web-sized), since photography is central to almost anything I do or write about.
One Gallery As a Linked Part of the Website
So on the top MENU of this site is the 3rd item GALLERY, which is a link to my SmugMug Gallery that I want to become my only gallery. And what about the hundreds of photos still on Pbase? Well I started with some of the Family History photos as inefficient little galleries within this website’s articles, adding to the slowdown. Then I decided to move all of those to the SmugMug gallery which is created to handle a volume of pix. That means I have now started my first non-Costa Rica gallery inside my Costa Rica gallery! 🙂
Only the first two sub-galleries are moved now from Pbase and they are both a part of the web pages Family History that includes much more like cemeteries and stories from WWII, etc. While the other two sub-galleries will eventually have their own web pages and likewise include a lot of other information! So lot’s of work still to do here. Keeps me out of trouble! 🙂
More Non-Costa Rica Galleries Coming!
Then I anticipate at least two more non-Costa Rica sub-galleries on SmugMug:
These too will be related to and linked from pages on this personal website. Eventually it will seem like my whole life is reported somewhere on this website. I cannot explain why I have a passion to do this, but somehow I am driven to complete it all long before I die. It is like my passion for nature, travel, photography, stories, my family history and reporting on it all here!
One of my regular activities when not traveling and photographing nature has been to work on the total rebuild of my personal website while continuing to build a collection of Blog Posts or Articles about being “Retired in Costa Rica” which is now at the same location of my website, charliedoggett.net.
I moved my personal website that was Joomla-generated and continuing to give me technical problems to an easier-to-use WordPress.com hosting service. And since WordPress.com started as a blogging platform and is considered by many to be the best for blogs. I transferred/moved my blog from Blogger.com to WordPress.The blog part transferred everything but the subscriptions so that I still have my blog history of the big move to Costa Rica and now with many more ways to find articles about different subjects I have written on, though most are under “Nature” and the “Places” I have discovered here. But there are some practical articles about actually moving here, residency processes, healthcare possibilities, and even some more mundane daily life issues for the followers who are considering a move here.
In addition, as with my old website, there are many “static” (WordPress label) pages about me, my adventures, family and family history as aids to those writing and researching their own family history related to my family lines. i.e. I have several family cemetery inventories with photos, lots of old family photos and reports on family reunions, etc. I also have extensive research recorded on my Uncle Earl Doggett whose plane was shot down in World War II.
For both fun and to get to know me better I have an extensive About Page full of details and fun “Life Stories,” “Biographies,” “Schools,” “Doing Good,” “Art Lover,” “Photographer,” and more! And a lot of fun and interesting history is wrapped up in my extensive research on the ship or Frigate Charles Doggett in the 1800’s with ties the Mutiny on the Bounty, the nickname of “Old Glory” for the American Flag, the American Civil War, Nashville, and South Sea Island adventures! As I approach the end of my life I will have it all documented or reported on right here on this website and along with the failures and disappointments, some great experiences and accomplishments to help me see that my life did have value. And maybe a tiny bit of inspiration for someone.
So, for a boring, rainy day you might want to explore my website which is still being built. The Header Menu or Top Menu could be divided into these three sections: (1) BLOG, (2) LINKED PAGES, and (3) STATIC PAGES
Home – has an excerpt from the most current blog post and I may add some more introductory information there later. I have 8 or so favorite Costa Rica Photos that pop up in rotation here full screen which was how I wanted people to enter my website.
Blog – This is where all my blog posts reside in reverse chronological order, most current on top, going all the way back to my June 2014 emphasis on “The Costa Rica Decision Process” where I debated the pros and cons online and made the decision to move here publicly on this blog. The drop-down menu has “Categories” (WordPress term) and sub categories to help you find the articles of your interest. Plus the right sidebar or right column has several ways to search for articles by category, tags/subjects, and by date.
MY 2 LINKED PAGES
Gallery – My Costa Rica Photo Gallery, “Charlie Doggett’s COSTA RICA” is my pride and joy and located on SmugMug.com which simply has a better presentation than I can currently get within my WordPress site. That could change later and reside on the website, but for now I encourage you to see my images of Costa Rica and for birder friends I have quite a collection of about 270 Costa Rica bird species that is growing! Plus more birds from neighboring countries! – – – For those familiar with my old Pbase photo gallery, it is still up now with all my past commercial and Tennessee photos, travel photos and family photos. But I am slowly moving them to this website in the simple galleries and slideshows that my template provides here, which will help liven up my family and travel articles and will be the new residence of my historical photos, in time!
Bookstore – Since before my time in The Gambia I was trying out different online photo book publishers as a way to preserve my many photos which otherwise got lost in closets, computers, or scrapbooks. By around 2003 I settled on Blurb.com as my book publisher of choice, mainly because they provided me with a free “Bookstore” of just my books that continue to be available for order indefinitely. Here you can see the many subjects and trips I have produced books on and even “Review” every page of every book on your computer. Pretty cool! No pressure to buy! 🙂 These books and the above Photo Gallery are the only places for my photos.
Travel – is where all my many pre-Costa Rica trips will be reported with those photos from Pbase.com, but more than that, with pages on places I lived and about my jobs in these places and just about everything else that doesn’t fit somewhere else on the website! 🙂 I have not started this page yet.
Family– I have started with Family History pages and will work back through both my family or origin and family of marriage, probably first with photos, but just barely started at the time of this post writing. Only Family History now.
His Spirit – In some ways I no longer want to be considered “religious, Baptist or Evangelical,” but maybe “a man of faith” or better yet a “Follower of Christ.” I try to explain this here with more writing than photos, though it seemed to be the best place to report on being a missionary in The Gambia, West Africa, thus one of my most exciting adventures is recorded here with lots of old photos or copies of print photos and some of my best stories! It is still in progress, but a lot already here!
About – Biography, personal interests and hobbies, and the beginning of a collection of “Life Stories” that I hope will be both entertaining and inspirational. I am still in process of writing these! 🙂 It is my personal history and hopefully not too much ego!
Contact– Your basic online contact form and all my addresses and one phone number. At the strong encouragement of WordPress, I removed my email address from this page which they say spammers and bad guys know how to harvest. The form will give you a response on my email and you can collect it that way. 🙂
I’ll try to make future blog posts shorter!
But I felt like I needed at least one thorough explanation of my new website/blog combination. You got it! Contact me with any questions and I try to respond quickly to all comments on blog posts.