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Those who live in Costa Rica, or have recently traveled here, have seen the increases in traffic and the rising prices of rent, food, and fuel. I hear people expressing shock at how expensive it is to live and travel here. I think many of the sources that tout inexpensive living in Costa Rica are not telling the actual truth, or are basing their claims on the less expensive areas away from the tourist beaches and other attractions. 

As people continue to move to Costa Rica, are they making this a better place to live? Yes, probably for themselves and the future of the region. But initially, the impact of growth is not addressing the needs of the locals. 

Gentrification of the area is stressing the locals in their living situations, as well as their daily sustenance. Many of the new hotels and businesses need employees to staff them and are finding themselves bringing in workers from as far as Liberia and Nicoya. This is due to the lack of affordable housing in these areas. 

Generally, the cost of living increases would not be such a problem if salaries increased as well. But this has largely not been the case. Although the discrepancy is being addressed, pay rates have not caught up to what they should be yet.

Has the increase in foreigners moving here affected the country’s global “happiness index” standing? Costa Rica ranked in the top 10 for many years, but now, in the 2023 World Happiness Report, has slid to #23. 

Impressive advertising initiatives promoting tourism in Costa Rica have been very effective. They’ve done a great job of enticing people here seeking a new life experience or finding a so-called “better place to live.” And they found Costa Rica. 

Once you found Costa Rica did the pura vida lifestyle progress? Or has the light dimmed? What has caused this change? 

Have you experienced those looks from the locals that seem to burn through you? I have many local Costa Rican friends and enjoy having discussions with them. However, I have seen and experienced the looks of detest directly focused on the “foreigner population.” It is quite uncomfortable. Generally, it comes from the older generation seeing their pura vida way of life being rerouted.

I kindly tread lightly around these people. Yet I am also engaging and friendly towards them — not ignoring them but also not being in their faces. I see many warm up as they realize that I am known and trusted in many of the places where such interactions occur. It is kind of fun to see the transformation, the next time I see the same locals and they greet me first.

So many comments are being made on social media about how friendly the Costa Ricans are. Do you really think they like you? Or, are they just tolerating you in sort of a business sense? I’m not referring to the true friendships that are made here between locals and expats. My comments here apply more to acquaintances who we loosely refer to as friends. 

I have often made the statement that in Costa Rica, you will only have a few friends who are really friends, and many acquaintances. You will know these friends by their actions. That they care about your well being and you care about theirs shows true friendship.

When deciding to live in a foreign place, you are taking on an adventure that is not an easy one. The norm that we have been accustomed to in our home bases does not exist. We have to create our new normal by accepting our surroundings. We must strive to enhance, but not radically change, the way of life here.

Are you happy here?

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