VAT and Other CR Negatives

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:

Negative Things About the “Real” Costa Rica

Also from that blog is this interesting article, not necessarily negative, but for a lot of negative/critical Americans it is:

How Difficult is it for Retired Expats to Have Costa Rica Friends?

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!   🙂

¡Pura Vida!


Why did I move to Costa Rica?

Nearly three years ago I started this blog to publicly discuss and seek guidance in what I then called my “Costa Rica Decision Process.” I just went back and read one of those early posts that really sums up my 16 reasons for leaving the U.S. and choosing Costa Rica for retirement written on June 28, 2014:

Click the above title and read the reasons I listed three years ago and you have my answer for today! Oh sure, I could add some things I’ve learned since that make it even better and some things that are more negative than in that list, but overall it sums up pretty well why I came and why I stay. And the list is totally mine, not from some website on retiring in Costa Rica. And yes, I’m really glad I did it! No regrets and I expect to stay here the rest of my life.

A few readers of this blog have written with specific questions and contact me when they come here to check it out. I am happy to help! Nothing in it for me. I’m retired and not selling services. 🙂

Now, I have wondered at what point we get too many Americans, Canadians and Europeans here!? There are a few “Ugly Americans” (Remember the 1960’s book?) already here and they are the ones constantly complaining about something that is not right here in their eyes. When an earlier neighbor was complaining about the relaxed atmosphere and infrastructure and said, “You know how these people are!” I thought to myself, “You need to go back to the states.” In three months he did. This culture and atmosphere is not for everyone! So check it out thoroughly for a good while before you decide to move here! But be sure that many of us love it here!

And for more reasons, just go back and read all the entries in this blog or see my Costa Rica Photo Gallery that I call:  Charlie Doggett’s COSTA RICA  and you will visually see why I love it here!

Why Atenas?

by Tina Newton
This blog post by a friend of mine (Tina Newton) is one of the best summaries of why so many of us choose to live in Atenas. Yes, she’s a realtor and thus some ulterior motives, but I think it is a heartfelt statement and certainly reflects the way I feel about Atenas. And I’ve not been able to put my feelings about this little town into words as well as Tina just did! (And her better photo of the church than I’ve made yet.) So I thank her and share it here with anyone interested.  FYI !

Textures of the Rain Forest

While along the Yorkin River in a Bribri indigenous people village I captured several shots of the forest & its textures.
East of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica


All photos made by Charlie Doggett at the Casa de las Mujeres Yorkin




Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.
Frank Lloyd Wright




Gustave Flaubert

“I tried to discover, in the rumor of forests and waves, words that other men could not hear, and I pricked up my ears to listen to the revelation of their harmony.” 
― Gustave Flaubert, November



The Decision is “Yes”

Most people I’m around already know that, but the purpose of this blog was to lead up to the decision and now future blogging will be on my “Adventures” blog. That is what this will be whether I stay only a year or the rest of my life, everything about Costa Rica is an adventure!

I did a four-page Excel spreadsheet giving various categories of life 1 to 5 points in column for the U.S. and for Costa Rica. I will not attach the spreadsheet. Be aware that even though I was trying to be objective, it is probably still more subjective and my heart is probably leading more than my mind, though I am still trying to be “rational.” In this tally Costa Rica won 76 to 68 which is actually pretty close!


It is nature that has been attracting me to Costa Rica for years and what I loved best about the four times I have visited. Birding, hiking, nature photography is simply better here than anywhere I have been. My #1 reason for going. Because it costs all of my fixed income to live in the States, I have been, maybe foolishly, using savings for these trips, which must stop, thus . . .

Financially I have figured out how I can live for less there (where I like to travel) and save for trips or future emergencies which I haven’t been doing a good job of in the States. Now be aware that my cost of living will be lower there only if I live like a local. It is actually the most expensive Central American country, mainly because of the high cost of imported goods (especially cars). Thus I will try to “eat local” which will cost less and be healthier. Shopping too much at Walmart (which is there) could blow my budget!

Weather is a big trump card for Costa Rica. Atenas, where I am now considering an apartment, was declared by National Geographic as “the best climate on earth,” averaging 72 year-around or always between 65 & 85.

The culture/people is the best I have experienced anywhere, friendly, welcoming, often rated the happiest country on earth, no ethnic/racial conflict, religious though differently than me, educated, conservation-oriented, economically sound, democratically elected government, and a good blend of the modern and the historic. I am a follower of Christ wherever I live and there will be a fellowship of Christians I can become a part of and it could even be Baptist, but may not be.

Super public transportation which will replace my car and another way I will save money.

One of the best healthcare systems in the world with choices of both private and public programs.

Volunteer opportunities abound including IN Bio which may replace my beloved Nashville Zoo and of course schools, church, other conservation efforts.

Language & Stuff are two challenges. I’m in a Spanish class this fall in Nashville and will get in one in C.R. soon after arrival. I will again downsize, getting rid of some stuff and storing the rest for at least a year before I decide on what if anything will be shipped to Costa Rica.

What will I do? Nature photography, more photo books, maybe sell to tourist shops, writing, reading, hiking, helping other people in multiple ways, and finding new ways of worshiping God. I have never been without something to do and always love the experience of adventure. So from here on, you may follow my adventures on my Retirement Adventures Blog. It begins now in preparation for the move. And every once in awhile click on one of those ads on my blog. I get paid a few pennies for every click!  🙂

And remember, I lived three years in The Gambia, West Africa, my favorite place to have ever lived, and it is a true 3rd world country with pitiful healthcare and corrupt government. So Costa Rica will be a real vacation for me! 


Fresh Produce Available Everywhere Year Around
My photo of street market in Puntarenas.

Yeah! I know that is the title of Hillary’s book and I still intend to read it, though now it will have to wait until after my exploration trip to Costa Rica. I’ve read only a part of the introduction but decided I would finish my Ann Patchett book, State of Wonder and some more of these Costa Rica books first. But with this decision looming soon for me, I share many of Hillary Clinton’s feelings on making decisions:

When making decisions, I like her, “follow my heart and my head.” And sometimes my heart wins out over my head, though here I’m trying to use both as you may have seen in this blog.

Hillary says, “All of us face hard choice in our lives . . . Life is about making such choices. Our choices and how we handle them shape the people we become.” And this choice is certainly going to shape who I become for the rest of my life!

I’ve had some friends ask me if I’m out of my mind? Crazy? While other just look at me with that look in their face. One dear friend was concerned about my future medical needs as a senior citizen, thinking of primitive medical services like I had in The Gambia. Hopefully she was relieved when I told her that the modern and efficient medical system in Costa Rica is ranked above what we have in the United States by the World Health Organization and at about a fourth the cost.

Likewise, friends read about problems in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras and think all of Central America is overrun with drug gangs and rampant crime. Not so in Costa Rica! It is one of the most successful and peaceful democracies in the world. It is a well-educated population with near 100% literacy rate. And on the “Happiness Index” it is always one of or the highest ranking countries in the world. I’m checking out all of these concerns very well.

And for those who still ask “Why are you considering this?” I refer to one of my first posts on this blog, June 28, titled Why I’m Considering a Move to Costa Rica. Also see 10 Reasons to Go to Costa Rica, which applies to tourists as well as possible expats. Note that on this list I would substitute nature photography for the surfing. (I might try surfing once, but its not likely to be my thing!) After the trip I will have more refined lists of both reasons to move and not to move. Pray for good choice-making. 

10 Reasons to Go to Costa Rica

One View from a Rainforest Trail
In Corcovado National Park by Me

10 Reasons to Go to Costa Rica is one of the later posts on Chris Howard’s “Living in Costa Rica Blog” could almost all be my reasons for both visiting and moving there. I would just substitute nature photography and affordable living for the zip-lining and surfing.  🙂  Check out his article and continue to watch his blog which is probably the best one on living in Costa Rica! Or if you just want the 10 reasons, I’m copying here:

1. To find happiness

Costa Rica has been ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world, based on its high quality of life, good life expectancy rate and small ecological footprint. The country abolished its army in 1949, and it’s been one of the most peaceful countries in Latin America for the past five decades. The main saying in Costa Rica is “Pura vida” which means the good life – something that people say all the time, with big smiles on their faces. Often when you ask people how they are, they respond with “Pura vida”. It’s inspiring, infectious and incredibly heart warming to spend time in a country that has so much invested in being joyful. The rest of the world could definitely learn a thing or two from Costa Ricans’ approach to life.

2. Eco tourism

I’ve never been to a country that wears its green credentials on its sleeve as proudly as Costa Rica does. The country is one of the top eco-tourism destinations in the world, and it’s easy to see why: over a quarter of Costa Rica is protected land, the government is very active in conservation efforts and the country plans to become the first carbon neutral nation by 2021. Costa Rica’s eco commitment doesn’t seem like tokenism: the local people and guides we met were genuinely enthusiastic about conservation, most hotels have watercoolers to encourage guests not to buy plastic water bottles, and there are recycling bins almost everywhere you go.

3. Birds

Costa Rica has a whopping 900 species of birds, from the incredibly beautiful green-and-red resplendent quetzal (which I was lucky enough to see while zip lining through Monteverde Cloud Forest) to glorious scarlet macaws and 54 species of jewel-coloured hummingbirds. In just over a week of travelling through Costa Rica we saw dozens of species, including the elusive great potoo, the pretty northern jacana and four species of herons. I’ve been teetering on the edge of becoming a birder, but Costa Rica was the trip that took me to the other side: I’m now a committed twitcher.

4. Wildlife

Costa Rica is staggeringly diverse when it comes to wildlife. With half a million species, it’s home to 4% of the world’s total species, which is quite something for a relatively small country. In fact, it’s considered to be one of the planet’s most biodiverse nations. Expect to see butterflies, frogs, (incredibly cute) sloths, snakes, loads of monkeys, anteaters, caimans, bats and iguanas. More rare are the cats: jaguars, ocelots and pumas.

All over Costa Rica there are opportunities to encounter the country’s wildlife, whether it’s going on a canal cruise in Tortuguero National Park under tunnels of trees (which felt like being in the Amazon), or a catamaran cruise with dolphins in Manuel Antonio National Park, or walking through the misty Monteverde Cloud Forest. The best thing is that Costa Rica’s amazing animals are everywhere: monkeys hanging out in the trees outside your room (or even inside your room), sloths sleeping in trees next to the highway and crossing the path next to the park entrance and raccoons coming to watch you eat a post-hike snack in the car park.

5. Forests

What I loved most about Costa Rica was its magical forests, where time seemed to stand still the air was alive with the sound of insects and birds and everything smelled like green. Much of the country is forested with either humid, tropical rainforests and misty, cool cloud forests, which you can explore on guided hikes and by walking on shaky suspension bridges.

6. Zip lining (and other adventures)

Costa Rica is an adventure lover’s dream destination. Just about everywhere you go in the country there seems to be some kind of adrenaline-inducing adventure on offer, from white water rafting to zip lining through forests. My favourite adventure was cayoneering in the Lost Canyon near Arenal volcano, which involved abseiling down sheer rock faces and scrambling through the canyon and jumping into cold poolsunder a cover of huge trees.

7. Beaches

Costa Rica has two coasts – the Pacific on the west and the Caribbean on the east – lined with over 1500 kilometres of beautiful beaches, with sand ranging from cappuccino to icing sugar, flanked by palm trees and rainforests. My favourite beach was in Manuel Antonio National Park on the Pacific side. Not only was it a perfect beach, with a long stretch of white sand and palm trees for shade, but to get there you have to walk through a forest where you can spot sloths, birds, lizards and monkeys – so you get a wildlife walk and beach bumming in one.

8. Turtles

Tortuguero National Park, on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, is the Western hemisphere’s main nesting site for green turtles: during the nesting season (April to October) there are as many as 700 turtles laying their eggs on a 30-kilometre stretch of protected beach. You can hire a certified guide to take you to the beach at night to watch turtles nesting – a truly magical wildlife experience which feels like watching a dinosaur in action.

9. Volcanoes

Costa Rica sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire (almost a Johnny Cash song) – an area of high volcanic activity. The country has 122 volcanoes, of which four of active. The most famous of Costa Rica’s volcanoes is Arenal, which was active up until 2010: it hasn’t spewed lava since then, but it does smoke constantly (which makes for great photos). Around Arenal and some of Costa Rica’s other volcanoes you can go hiking and mountain biking on lush hilly slopes and (my favourite) soak in hot springs. There are hot springs all over the place in the area around Arenal, and many hotels have their own hot springs, or you can go to ahot spring resort and spend an evening swimming around in pools as warm as a bath, drinking pina coladas (highly recommended).

10. Surfing

Surfers love Costa Rica: the swells and breaks are great, water is warm year-round and the surf is good on both the Caribbean and Pacific sides. There are plenty of surfing schools and retreats lining the coasts, especially on the Pacific (where you can find the best waves during the rainy season from May to November.

This blog post was originally published on Duff’s Suitcase.  This article, 10 reasons to go to Costa Rica, was originally posted on the Getaway Blog by Sarah Duff.


— o —

Another reason I am so seriously considering the move is that I plan to expand what little online business I have to give a better supplement to my meager pension and I can do it just as easy from Costa Rica as I can from Tennessee. In fact I have just enrolled in an online class to help me build a strong online business that really works. We will see! But I’m believing it will happen and will include a lot more than me just trying to sell my nature photos. So that could be my eleventh reason to move!   🙂

—2020 DISCLAIMER: Looking back at the above paragraph today made me realize I should say that the online course ordered from International Living Magazine was a big hoax and I quit before finishing, losing money. Yes, some people make money online – but what they were pushing was not for me! I get by fine on my pension and Social Security and have never tried to make additional money since moving here. Live simple!   🙂

Two weeks from today I go on the tour with Chris Howard. I’m excited and now I’m now looking for reasons why I shouldn’t move. I’ll share my list later, but so far more positive than negative. The two-week trip will probably be the decider.

17 Reasons You Shouldn’t Move to Costa Rica

With Tour on Guanacaste Beach

The couple whose website I referenced yesterday has this partly tongue-in-cheek list of negatives they made after one visitor accused them of being too positive about living in Costa Rica. A lot of these have to do with San Ramon where they live which is not likely where I will live, but who knows now?  🙂

Just click this link and see some negatives that could apply to your preferences.

I’m working on my on list which is more comparative to where I live now to help me in making the final decision. I’ll share that later since it is still in process. 

Is God Laughing at Me?

Possibly the most important post I’ve made yet on this Costa Rica decision process is on my spiritual blog called His Spirit with a post titled:

Is God Laughing at Me?

If you are following this decision-making process, I hope you click above and read that one post, my most thought-out post yet.