4 Bad Reasons to Move to Costa Rica

In my previous post, I blogged about 4 good reasons to move to Costa Rica.  In this post, I will discuss the bad reasons.  I am not trying to discourage potential expats from coming to the land of Pura Vida!  I want to make sure you search within yourself to truly understand your motivations.  If you want to move for the wrong reasons, chances are you will not last one year in the land of Pura Vida.  And I want to make sure you do!

Become Rich

You will not become rich by moving to Costa Rica.  This is a very bad reason to move here, as there are many easier, cheaper, faster ways to become rich.  The average income in Costa Rica is $5,000 USD per year, so chances are that you will not find a job in this country where you will make more money than you did back in the USA.   Moving to escape a financial meltdown is also a recipe for disaster.  If you could not manage your finances in your home country, you will not be able to do so here either.  If you are going through a financial meltdown, then fix that aspect of your life first, before you spend money you do not have on airline tickets, housing, and storage fees.

I would never tell someone to never start a business in Costa Rica, but I would definitely caution them to think about it very carefully.  Drive through Costa Rica and you will see many half-finished, delapidated housing developments, hotels for sale, abandoned restaurants, and other signs of failing businesses.  If you want to come here with the idea of starting a business, you can apply for an “Inversionista” or Investor visa, which is a perk.  But keep in mind that once you establish a business here, it is very likely yours for life.  Selling it will not be easy.  Make sure that you have done your research on the market and income potential.  Embrace the mindset that your business will make you a comfortable living but will not make you rich.   While the cost of living is cheaper compared to the USA, Costa Rica is still an expensive country compared to other developing Latin American nations.  So with the combination of low income, risky business, and higher cost of living, the likelihood of making big bucks here is low.

Follow a Friend, Family Member, or Significant Other

I am a firm believer that in order to transform your life successfully in a positive way, your motivations must be internally driven.  Riding on someone else’s coattails or dreams is not a justifiable reason to move.  Just because moving to Costa Rica (or anywhere else) was well suited for someone you know, that does not mean it is the right thing for you.  I know of a couple of expats who moved here to follow a boyfriend or girlfriend, only to break up soon after the move.  In both cases, the expat stayed in Costa Rica after the breakup anyway.  But I have also seen expats who moved here to follow someone they know, and they moved back sooner than planned.

Fix Your Marriage

You know how some people think that having a baby will fix their marriage and then they have the baby and they realize they are wrong?  But it is too late because you cannot return a baby.  The same can be said for moving abroad.  Moving abroad has been one of the most stressful experiences of my adult life.  In the couple of weeks leading up to the move, I was drinking alcohol almost every night, and I am not usually a drinker.  After moving, our family dynamics changed dramatically.  I went from being the primary breadwinner and disciplinarian to a stay-at-home-mom with a much more laid-back attitude about discipline.  My relationship with my children has become stronger.  Amidst all of this, the relationship between Chris and myself has also changed.  The unintended changes in our roles in the family caused tension between us, but thanks to our honesty and communication, we have been able to weather the storm.  If you do not have a strong marriage, moving abroad is not going to fix it.  Your marriage has to be prepared to handle so many changes and challenges.  In fact, much like childbearing, moving abroad will demolish a weak, unstable marriage.

Solve All Your Problems

Moving to Costa Rica will not solve your problems.  You have to solve them on your very own first.  Even though this country is beautiful, eco-friendly, welcoming to foreigners, safe, and has great infrastructure for a developing country, problems still exist.  People who think that by moving abroad they will be able to escape their problems with relationships, dead-end careers, toxic family members, and negative emotions, are in for a rude awakening.  All of these issues will follow you to Costa Rica.  Fix your life first, then move abroad to enjoy your newfound energy and positivity.

Pura Vida!

What are some other bad reasons to move to Costa Rica?  Let me know in the comments below.

About Noemi Gamel

Noemi Gamel is a physician who prefers writing diverse children's fantasy stories instead of medical charts. She is a geeky nomad, too.
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