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A Warning Label for Costa Rica

All of us have seen warning labels on products especially on medications. A warning label is a label attached to an item, or contained in an item’s instruction manual, warning the user about risks associated with the use of the item.

images (5)There are good and bad things everywhere you look in the world an it is just about weighing those two things and deciding which for you carries the most weight. This for me does not just apply to where you live but should be taken in to account in every area of your life. 

Many people including myself have referred to Costa Rica as a tropical paradise in a figurative sense because paradise really doesn’t exist except in one’s mine. Costa Rica has many wonderful things to offer — much more good than bad.

I wouldn’t be living here if I didn’t love this country and believe it was an incredible place to live. For many people Costa Rica and its amenities can be a solution for what is ailing them. However, living in Costa Rica can be a challenge and some precautions should be taken to avoid becoming an unhappy camper.

Below are some suggestions based on my 33 years of living here:

  1. Not everything here works like it does in the States or Canada.
  2. Don’t fall in lust with the country.
  3. Don’t leave you brain on the plane.
  4. Just because someone you meet here speaks English it doesn’t mean he or she is trustworthy.
  5. Give a romantic relationship with a local a lot of time before making a commitment.
  6. Be cautious when purchasing real estate. Brokers don’t need a license here and there have been many cases of fraud.
  7. Have a good trustworthy and above all reliable attorney.
  8. Find a good English-speaking doctor for your medical needs.
  9. Give the country time and don’t make any hasty decisions.
  10. Test before you invest.
  11. Don’t go into business unless you really have to. The rules are different here and the market is very small. Most gringos who start a business don’t make it.
  12. Costa Ricans are friendly but don’t expect to make friendships like in your home country. Family is more important to them and their lives revolve around it.
  13. LEARN SPANISH! It can mean the difference between success and failure here.
  14. Develop a cultural awareness by learning the language, attending local activities, mixing with the people and reading.
  15. Don’t lend the locals money! – Consider it a gift as you will not get it back in most cases
  16. Be generous with your help but don’t be overly friendly. They work for you and are not your buddies.
  17. Don’t be too trusting.
  18. Be careful of people who are overly friendly. They usually want something from you.
  19. Make sure you live in a secure home or condo. Out of the way places in the mountains, beach or woods sound exotic but expose you to problems like resale and possible theft.
  20. Make sure you have the right attitude and above all don’t be an ugly American.
  21. Remember you are a guest in the country.
  22. Respect the local laws.
  23. Respect the local customs
  24. Don’t think you can outsmart the system because the locals are stupid and you are an American.
  25. Stay busy and active
  26. Above all have a lot of patience, cultural tolerance and a GOOD sense of humor

If you are interested in a Retirement Tour Click Here to See His Tours.

Christopher Howard conducts monthly relocation/retirement tours fill in the form below to receive Chrisopher’s free book when you register for a tour and have him contact you personally. For details please see: He also has authored and published 17 editions of “The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica” and other guides about living in Costa Rica. See

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