Jacqueline’s pistol-whipping break-in, along with everything else I wrote about yesterday, is upsetting our apple cart. Not to mention today’s A.M. Costa Rica article about how the I.R.S. is "helping" Costa Rica redefine it’s income tax laws. Because, you know, the U.S. is the expert when it comes to owning its citizens. Apparently, Costa Rica sees this as a good thing.
Back in the discussion of the surprise dollar devaluation against the colón, I totally skipped reporting on the inflation rate. El pais [pie-EESE, country] says it’s 10%. My pocketbook – and those of other expats – say it’s at least 20%. More like 25%. So the $3K/month we live on now will be $3,600 next year. We have yet to find a savings account offering 20%. It’s not just me whining. Pensionados living on fixed incomes as well as plenty of other expats are concerned by these facts.
We love Costa Rica, we love our life here, the quality of which is still better than in the U.S. To stay, we’ll justify almost anything. Money is not the biggest concern. We have to earn a living. If we can’t do it here or an opportunity drives us somewhere else, well, we’ll just have to deal with that. But earning a living is like the Cost of Doing Business factor. A fact of life, not an emotional breaking point.
The pistol-whipping break-in of a neighbor and friend is an emotional breaking point. Look at your kids and your old mom and your three goofy dogs and justify that.
I guess my Costa Rica pink cloud phase is over. This particular event has definitely turned our thinking upside-down, if only for the moment. So much so that Hal and I just tippy-toed around The Discussion. You know, the one about moving.
We HATE to see the violence take this turn. If we stay in this house, we need cameras, more plastic roofing material to block anyone seeing into our yard – which has the added benefit of looking Trailer Trashy enough so we don’t look really rich, and getting automatic combination locks installed on our doors. We can do all these things and not feel anymore fortress-y than we do now. Our house is VERY secure; J’s was not… I could have broken into J’s house.
But that’s not really the point. We don’t mind living in The Fortress. We just don’t want to have to defend it…
Our options are to 1) stay here; 2) move out of Escazú to a less-gringo rich area; 3) move to another country; 4) return to the states. Everything has a price. What are we willing to pay – in dollars, sanity, personal safety – in exchange for the best quality of life for our family?
Moving back to the states would make earning a living much easier, just logistics-wise, if nothing else. The U.S. is still familiar territory; until you’ve experienced culture shock, you won’t understand how deeply those ties bind and pull, especially when something scary happens in your foreign home. Still, we are not so naive as to believe if we moved from Costa Rica to Gainesville, we would not seriously doubt our sanity.
A new country is out for now. For starters, starting over would be hell. And expensive. The learning curve is tremendous. Even if English or Spanish were the native tongue, conquering a new land might be fun in a few years, but not yet. Besides: we aren’t done here.
Moving out of Escazú is a real possibility. I am definitely going to explore that. As long as my maid will come with me.
And Costa Rica, for all those negatives I mentioned, is still a magically beautiful place peopled by interesting, peaceful… people. I’ll bet actual money those robbers were not ticos. If we ran away, we’d be very, very sad.
Honestly, most of my disappointments are brought on by my First World expectations. There are still no mass shootings in malls, schools and churches here. Because SSRIs are not prescribed like candy. It’s a fact that the world is more dangerous everywhere. No IRS here. Yet. We don’t own property so tax hikes don’t affect us.
So… still here. Today. Not taking this lightly at all. Just working to avoid knee jerk reactions while evaluating options and the paying of prices. In the meantime, I’m installing cameras, changing locks. And expanding the Trailer Trash look into the back yard. I am from KY after all. This will make me feel right at home.