My first visit to Costa Rica was in 1994 and the word was already out. Endless summers and quick flights were destined to transform this beautiful Central American country and culture into a money pit for middle aged Gringo surfers who felt their life was lacking. It gave them a second home, warm waters to surf, and finally a chance to live the life they missed out on due to their past chosen path of a 9 to 5 career. These luxuries were available to all at a very reasonable price. From the late 70’s to current day the most of coast lines were bought from farming families for next to nothing then sectioned off into developments and sold at first world rates. All with the mindset that growth means more for everyone, but does it really? Visit any coastal area and ask what percentage of businesses are actually owned by Locals from that area and you will be surprised to learn the answer. Small towns often monopolized and dictated by the majority land owners, creating an unstable economy for the real locals of that area. Local food markets slowly creep prices up due to the heavy tourist flow while the real locals do not see any increase in hourly wages. I often wonder how, if I have a hard time affording food in Coastal Costa Rica, what it would feel like being a family of 7 making roughly $2 an hour in 2013.
I am not against tourism, growth, or evolution but I am against greed and unconscious decisions. Before investing anything into a country whose real culture is quickly fading, we invite you to take a minute and learn about it. Try not to give into the “living the dream” marketing delusion. Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful places in the world but if you’re use to flushing your toilet paper, not living with bars on every window, and a lifestyle where there are virtually no consequences for crime we recommend you visit for long periods of time before being greatly surprised of the reality. Sound harsh? Form your own conclusion then.
No matter how you look at it this is Central America. Slow-rolling, simplistic lifestyles, with the desire to live a more meaningful life (Pura Vida = Pure Life) were my motives to move here six years ago. It was to my surprise that one could consume more culture in a visit to South Florida than to living the dream in large tourist destinations of Costa Rica. So what are your motives for investing in Costa Rica? If you’ve made it here we invite you to indulge in the culture, befriend the people, support real local business, and respect Costa Rican Law even if it is rarely enforced. Leave small footprints and you will be okay. Try to transition a city into a similar lifestyle that comforts you and your wealthy friends and you’re gonna have some problems no matter what anyone tells you. After my years living in Costa Rica I have decided one thing. Let the country of Costa Rica decide what is best for Costa Rica, sit back and enjoy it or catch a quick flight back to the rat race and keep dreaming..
So, is Pura Vida dead? I’d like not to think so. The country still has amazing people, places, and things to do but if you come with the wrong mindset you might discover it’s not as friendly as you would like it to be. Instead of being “the Gringo” you’ll always be “another Gringo”. Keep that in the back of your mind and you might do okay but what the hell do I know? [author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://nosarashack.com/wp-content/gallery/mag/me.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Written by Graham Swindell[/author_info] [/author]