John Quam Editor in Chief Howler Magazine Costa Rica

August 2018 Howler Magazine Editorial: I have had several dealings recently with people who are contemplating a move to Costa Rica, wanting to do business in Costa Rica or open a business to work here. Moving here is quite an experience.

I often caught myself saying, “Well, that’s not how we do it!” It didn’t take me long to learn that if I wanted to get something done, it had to be done the way our new host does it. Progress became much easier adopting that mentality. Time is that thing ticking in your head but is only really relevant if you are in an emergency situation, the tides are swelling for surfing, or you’re wondering when happy hour starts for viewing the sunset. I am still learning this.

It is always interesting
that people just want to
move here and open up a business

No, Costa Rica is not your country! It is always interesting that some people don’t consider that in thinking they just want to move here and open up a business. It never occurs to them that, no, you can’t do many things as an alien in this country.

Working happens to be one of those things. I recently had dealings with a company wanting to ship items here. Acting as kind of a consultant, I first suggested that these business people visit a lawyer and get an import license.

Our conversations went something like this, from their initial remark: “Well, it certainly is difficult to ship to Costa Rica and I can’t believe that the customs authorities impose such high tariffs.” They proceeded to give me a U.S. example of shipping from Colorado to the East Coast. I was baffled at having to keep explaining that this is not the United States. Things here are run by Costa Ricans and their rules. I pointed out that the reverse situation exists also … the U.S. and other countries have their own customs control agencies and yes, they tax items being imported.

Costa Rica is not for everyone, and life here certainly has its challenges. But it’s also rewarding to live in such a beautiful place with some of the friendliest people on earth. I’ve never stopped being impressed by how many people go out of their way to assist, never expecting anything but a happy “pura vida” response.

Don’t expect what you are accustomed to in your homeland. It will just drive you crazy. Blink twice, click your heels and wake up. You are NOT in Kansas anymore. Wake up and smell the coffee … and enjoy.

Cautions are still important for tourists and those living here. Despite catching myself often commenting that “you really have to go searching to get into trouble here,” Costa Rica has a seedy underbelly like most places in the world. It may be less prominent, but it does exist.

From my own observation, what Costa Rica has to offer visitors and anyone choosing to live here are the resources of a country still emerging. This is referred to as one of the happiest places on earth. You see it daily in people’s faces and actions as you interact with them. That is not to say that such a happy place is immune to the struggles of life still happening.

In your daily interactions with others, hold on to the attitude that life is good. Smiling and savoring a personal moment might just brighten someone’s day, and yours as well.