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Scenario I – The Beach
“The Pacific Coast is breathtaking and the beach is so beautiful.” For someone from Arizona, Texas, Canada or the Midwest US, living on the beach sounds fabulous. Those from the US Pacific, Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico coastlines appreciate the better value.

It is more expensive to buy, build, and maintain a lifestyle in beach communities. Food is more expensive, taxes are higher, the tourists in tourist communities get boring, the salt air physically wreaks havoc on everything, demanding a larger-than-usual side budget for maintenance, repair, and replacement; and lastly, the beach life, even in a gated or planned community, can lend to a sense of isolation with challenging proximity to the “real world.” The beach is a great place to visit, but actually living there is a unique lifestyle for which one should be prepared.

Scenario II – The Country
“The countryside and mountains are sooo getting back to nature. I can buy lots of property at a great price and live among the ‘grassroots’ locals. Even have my own house on top of a hill with a great view, and own all the surrounding acres, at an incredible value, and the pace of city life has burned me out, anyway.

Depending on “how remote” and how far the “real world” and access to goods, services, entertainment, other ex-pats, etc. should be well considered. Everyone who moves here eventually yearns for things left behind. Familiar fast food, current movies, interaction with English-speaking people who share mutual interests, politics, sports, general conversation, camaraderie and culture. No matter how exciting to relocate to a new country, regardless of perfect, imperfect or no Spanish…almost everyone goes through periods of ‘withdrawal’ from a previous way of life. Important to pre-stage back up strategies for survival during those periods.

The country life is just fine, as long as the destination is not too remote. There are many “rural” communities with a nice-sized local town. All of these things should be evaluated before buying and moving. Grow a garden, manage a farm, raise animals, but be sure decent pizza is reasonably accessible, along with the option to communicate periodically with SOMEONE nearby of the same culture and language.

Also, country living may require additional expenses for water, phone, electricity and/or satellite. Roads are dirt and gravel with a greater tendency to erode during the rainy season. 4-WD is almost a necessity in the country. Increased maintenance costs include road and drive repair with annual fresh loads of rock on the dirt roads. Or…add another $14,000 for a 400 linear foot concrete drive. Rainy season landslides can mean an acre or two drops overnight, or at the very least makes for 2-5 days of labor digging out drainage ditches.

Scenario III – Gated Community
“A gated community will be so nice, as all the convenience of a club, amenities, community activities, security and other ex-pats will make the transition of moving so less complicated and “foreign.” Think again. If one has never lived in a gated community there are also disadvantages…board of directors, association fees, responsibility for repairs, assessments, etc. Suddenly someone living in a home that is ‘paid for,’ may incur community fee expenses and increases that suddenly become the size of a mortgage. Difficult enough in the U.S. Other sets of challenges in Costa Rica.

Being “too” protected from the outside world may also take away from the rewards of the experience. As in a private site-built home, it is even more imperative to check out not only the builder, but further the developer, community by-laws, legalities, ownership rights, privileges and responsibilities for personal and common ownership, natural and unnatural disaster protection, insurance, etc. as would be appropriate anywhere. There are bad developers and builders throughout the world. Recourse when problems arise may or may not be easy. The legal system in Costa Rica can be a long, painful and expensive process of time and aggravation with limited results.

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