Costa Rica seems intent on passing the new immigration bill. A revised version just passed the first hurdle unanimously. The only good thing in the revision was that one can still apply for permanent residency after three years instead of five. As long as you have beaucoup bucks to be able to stay here the first three years. Which we don’t. Au contraire. We are livin’ on faith now…
A major sticking point is whether or not those who have already applied for residency and have their cedula [SAY-do-lah, id], either as rentista, pensionado or inversionista, need to meet the higher income requirements. If yes, we have to move. End of story. “A Broad In Dubai” anyone? (Just kidding – wonder what Dubai’s income requirements are? Probably through the roof.)
As usual, the expats are on fire over at Costa Rica Living. A friend is having his lawyer get a copy of the bill and interpret it for us. Most of my friends here have so much more to lose if this passes and they can’t meet the new income requirements. Think of the flood of property on the market… Life savings and dreams down the tubes.
I am curious about motive. And the future of living in Costa Rica.
If this passes and grandfathers in those who already have cedulas, that would be a relief. However, we would still be living in a country where we are basically only tolerated. Perhaps that is how it is now – some longtime expats suggest this is true – but I’ve never felt that way. Until now.
If middle class gringos can’t move here, what will happen to the real estate market? A few weeks ago, there was a real estate conference here. Ellie said that the tico brokers were unconcerned about the new law, that they were focused on drawing big developers here. But big developers are going to need the gringo middle class to buy their condos. Would an educated gringo buy into a country where their resale value will be contingent on a smaller pool of buyers? Richer, but significantly smaller in number. Said buyers having an abundance of property from which to choose?
Scarcity of a thing makes the price go up. Abundance makes it go down. This includes employees.
It seems to me real estate and tourism are the two biggest “employers” here, tourism including gambling and sex. Gambling and sex will always draw people. But the majority of other businesses (restaurants, movies, movie rentals, gringo grocery stores, gas stations in Escazú, all businesses that cater to gringos) are bound to suffer big, putting ticos out of work. There will be plenty of maids and gardeners from which to choose and those wages will go down. Even though the expats will be richer.
Maybe there are big new corporations building factories/call centers here and offering jobs? Maybe the goal is to kill the real estate market because Costa Ricans see their land being priced out of reach of ticos? Somewhere, somehow, the politics of envy* seems to play into this decision.
From what I’ve seen, the administration has no real interest in preserving ecology for future generations so I don’t see that as valid reasoning for the admin to stomp the real estate market.
For now, we are making contingency plans. Even if we can stay – and that is my first choice – I keep coming back around to “do I want to live in a country that doesn’t really welcome me?”
Plus, I do have increasing concerns about crime. (OK, Adam, you were right.) It seems certain that, as the economy gets tougher, violent crime will increase. It seems to be now. How much can I take? We watch our backs as we pull into our garage. We have a frickin’ gun, which is normal for us. We usually have a frickin’ arsenal. But now, we would not be surprised to have to use the darn thing on another human being. That is new. Our house is locked up ALL the time – dogs in or out. My sons now wear alarm buttons on their belts. How cool is that?
One of our favorite things about living here has been the live and let live attitude. Peaceful. It’s how it felt when we arrived three years ago. Maybe we dreamed that? Maybe we were so anxious to find that, we did. It doesn’t seem like that now.
Our future at this moment is uncertain. That doesn’t mean we can’t have a delicious Thanksgiving feast tomorrow! We have so much to be grateful for: the boys are good, we are all healthy, we’ve had an incredible experience the last three years. And there’s a great big world out there. We just have to keep the door open to what’s next. Pura vida. We’re definitely keeping that!
*The desire for material things, and envy of those who possess them.
one thing you have to realize (and I am saying this from the bottom of my heart) is that a non-citizen is ALWAYS just tolerated in the country where it lives
I could argue the same thing about tourists in the US, a tourist FROM the US is not treated the same as a tourist IN the US, similarly the US goverment sees no problem with the way tourists are treated when they come into the country, even in times like this where any $ coming in ….is good $
I have the feeling that the avalanche of issues we’ve been having with residents (some immigrants and some that claim residence based on marriage to a CR that they have not even met….) are at least part of this tightening in regulations
CR has a very high % of foreigners in already and that eventually backfires in the mind of the common citizen that blames the newcomers for everything
I am actually more concerned about the new transit law (and the increase of ‘bribe’ requests that are going to follow) , 300 dollars for ignoring a stop sign? they will probably need 1 cop for every car to enforce those LOL
I realize after I wrote it, that I shouldnt complain about the US/tourism situation
I have gotten more grief from Canada (in two visits) than from the US (in over 50 visits)
so I guess I should have used Canada as an example for my point about treating people that gives $ to their economy like crap
Well, of course, being the snobby ‘merican, I have the sense of privilege that I should be welcome everywhere. And the propaganda (ads – including CR tourist bureau ads, immigration laws till now, real estate salespeople, tourism books) all promote CR as a place that welcomes everyone. I believed that shit! “Reality for Dummies”
I am for open borders which would curtail getting married to people you’ve never seen. Just no free ride for anyone, immigrant or citizen. Free to move about the world, that’s how I’d have it. Sadly, no one has asked for my opinion.
And yeah: those new ticket fines – whoa. To me, those actually seem aimed at gringos too. If the average tico makes $500 a month and the fine is $300 for running a stop sign…? Who can pay that?
I run all the stop lights (I stop and look first) when driving at night in San José. And I would not stop for a cop until I was in front of a place with a ton of people. Too easy to impersonate a cop here.
I’m just happy that you and your family are safe, and make it out, unharmed. With Winston. 😉
After I left CR, I spent about 8 months in Panama. More of the same. Marginally safer, but a very rude, unwelcoming culture.
Bogota, Colombia on the other hand was fantastic. The people are way more cultured and Americans can (believe it or not) walk around at night, if you’re in a good neighborhood. Even the embassy people were allowed to walk around at night. Although if I had teenage boys, I’d probably consider a different country.
I haven’t been to Chile yet, but if I were to start up the expat life again (and wanted to be in a Latin American country) … I’ve heard great things about Chile.
Greece or Italy might be nice, too?
Hola Sally! Sounds like you all are on the rebound from all the sickness, pura vida! I just have to put in my two cents about Costa Rica from a little bit different perspective. As you know we live in a very small town and it is very different than where you are coming from, so maybe does not even relate. We feel very safe here, day or night. Hannah who is 14 now feels safe to walk anywhere alone or with friends. We have never been robbed nor threatened, (knock on wood)though we do have three locks getting in the house, and all the reinforcements. I do not think that the people as a whole want us out. I believe it is all politically motivated, for what reason we do not know, I kind of side with the Chinese wanting it done idea. For what ever reason the population as a whole do not feel that way and are very nice and our neighbors are great. Now I may be singing a different song in a few months if they try to take my house or something, but for now that is my take and I hope it continues. By the way the spagetti dinner is a great idea and we will see you there. I tried the email for the guy and it did not work so will call and confirm. thanks for your updates!
So sorry to hear your dreams have a nasty dose of reality mixed in. I sincerely wish it was different. You firsthand know that we have our dreams also and you have been nstrumental in having them come true. Our reality has been basically nothing but positive. Wish it was true for you, Hal and the boys. While our hopes are that it will work out, I’m too much of a pragmatist to believe that will be true. Best of luck in continuing your quest, wherever it takes you. Be safe. Happy Thanksgiving.
Finally some coverage of this in the newspapers that we Ticos read
Of course they mention the increase but no analysis as to how many (will there be any?) people will qualify now
They do mention that a new requirement for immigrants is to enroll with the CAJA (Social Security)
That alone is a bummer to me……if I had money and I wanted to get medical attention…..I would do so in a way that would allow me to get attention……say…..in less than a year ROFL
There was a translated article published by the El Financiero posted on CRL. I think it truly answers the reason behind this, basically ignorance and lack of study. It was funny reading the quote “$5000 is nothing to a rentista”. The guy must be high on gallo pinto, true $5000/month is not that much, but $5000 lumped together for a 5 year sum is HUGE. Our close friends has already decided to move back probably by next year, it was a combination of these changes plus being robbed. But here’s something you don’t typically hear, one of the families from my kids school is also planning to leave early next year, what’s surprising is that they’re not even gringos but South Americans. Their reason is the escalation in crime. I’m moving back in a couple of months, but still read your blog once in a while. It has been an interesting experience for me personally, I don’t regret trying it out here. Hasta luego.
Hoping you had a great Thanksgiving. I couldn’t help but think that it may be my last here if things don’t work out. I have a “wait and see” attitude and will deal with whatever they decide when it is decided. I do get the feeling that the world hates Americans.
It’s a shame. What the hell happened?
Hola! Every year while reading the various blogs before we head South I get nervous! I think that’s it gonna get robbed, won’t be the same as the first time(6 years ago) etc. But then we arrive take a deep breath and all is well…as well as things get there!lol. Yes we are just tourists though who stay a month to six weeks. I don’t agree just because they are raising these financial requirements that you are not welcome, I think they may just be making changes that they believe are best for there country. They are not deporting everyone…yet? lol. Now to apply the new requirements to expats already in under the old rules, that would be downright unjust. But I have read that if that is the case there will be lawsuits brought-and i have read a few attorneys state it would be unconstitutional and would be over-turned. I think it’s true that the average Tico just tolerates us some more than others. And occasionally we actually may make a few friends. Either way best of luck! I cannot wait to get down there and lose this pit in my stomach!
It’s been a while since complaining about life in Pura Vida, but here goes. I firmly believe the immigration bru-ha-ha is completely political. I have loved this beautiful country for years. The “about to pass” immigration debacle plays right into the Tico “not give a damn” attitude. This is in addition to dealing, without exception, to entering the digs of ICE, RACSA, Cable Tica and other institutions like banks and retail establishments, especially pharmacias, finding quite polite, but non-caring attitudes and watching a Tico NOT have a longer wait and/or NOT get a hard time and a higher price. For example, most always the pharmacias have their “Tico” prices and “American/foreigner” prices. Charging twice as much is the rule rather than the exception. Buying very simple items like a bottle of Aspirin is a major chore. Then check out the price! Most often medication is vital to retirees. Many retirees are buying their meds from Canada (through Maimi shipping). I’ve lived here for a long time (spending mucho US dollars) going in and out of the country often 2-3X per year and, now that I’m finally paying a lawyer and formally about to finalize my Pensionado status, I’m NOT so sure any more. There are other countries like Panama and even Colombia who really cater to the “yankee dollar”, are polite and appreciate foreigners and much easier on immigration red-tape.There are other countries who
don’t cheat like Pura Vida is getting a widely known reputation for doing.If this sounds like sour grapes, it is!
I am trying to get a handle on just where the “Ticos” see themselves now and where they are going. I read the nation when ever I can and cannot get a real grasp as to what the overall attitude is for the future of Costa Rica. It is possible that Costa Rica is a microcosm of what the entire population of the planet is facing. Questions about prevailing current ideas of economics, relationships, nationalism, wars and rumors of wars, sustainability of resources, population densities and the rest of myriad problems facing the world today. The immigration problem is a scape goat for all the rest of the problems the “Ticos” face. I’ll stop now but would like to hear any other theories on this subject. Thanks.
I have a number of close Tico friends in Pura Vida who freely admit the government is corrupt. Alternatively, they quickly agree that the MAINSTAY industry of Costa Rica is tourism. Second to that is prostitution mixed with gambling. They also concede that Americans and other foreigners get short shrift. Also they express fear that crime is taking over the country. Ironically, many Ticos, an amazing number, are ambitious about learning Ingles. I am getting sick of the contradictions and spending plenty and getting zilch from a country that is broke and trying fearlessly to run retirees and other “money-spenders” off. The cost of living in Costa Rica is increasing and not what it is cracked up to be. The tour-guides and book-writers need to take heed. Recently, I was in Panama, without red tape, also Nicaragua, although poor and run down compared to Costa Rica, is less stringent about crossing its borders. As far as I’m concerned we as Americans have been shown the door. With the probability that the “new law” will pass, the hand-writing is on the wall.
You’re fooling yourself, if you don’t think that Panama doesn’t have red tape. It’s as bad as Costa Rica (as far as red tape), more corrupt, and the Panas aren’t even polite like the Ticos are. Panama is getting more dangerous, too. But it’s still got a long way to go before it gets down to CR level.
In contrast, I was very impressed with the bureacracy in Colombia (for a third world country). Renewing my tourist visa took 15 minutes at the office in Bogota. But let’s face it: It’s not a stable country, either. Once Uribe leaves office, things can get very crazy, very quickly.
At least I am getting a view of what some expats are thinking. I would agree with CRJ about Panama. I did mention that the Chinese are heavily invested in Panama. I find this really interesting of how some peoples opinion has changed so quickly about CR. It is a sign of the times that things around the world are getting very weird. I recommend a documentary if you want to know about banks and bankers around the world. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-515319560256183936
I’m catching up with comments – too darn long! And Panama is too darn hot. We thought about Chile – of all the places we’ve considered, that is the most interesting. For now, we are hanging tight, at least till we know more about this new bill, see if we can get a caretaking job, generate some income. I hear you, Cy. It’s all true. I think it will be all true anywhere after one has been there awhile… as Wolfie points out: with few exceptions, foreigners are suspect no matter where you are the foreigner. I’m watching your video, laffingbear. Onward!
I just found your blog as I’ve been searching for info on living in Costa Rica. My husband is from there, one of my daughter’s has dual citizenship and the other does not just just because we haven’t been there since she’s been born. I’m finding your site very informative. Concerning immigration, do you know anything about foreign spouses of Costa Rican citizen achieving residency? The rising crime is also a concern of mine, so it is good to see some info on that. Perhaps it is not as bad in smaller towns or in rural areas? My in-laws still live in CR but it’s nice to get the gringo point of view. 🙂
I don’t really know how difficult or easy it is to obtain residency for any other situation than mine. I highly recommend http://www.residencyincostarica.com. They are brother and sister, ticos, he lives in the states, she lives here and while we didn’t use them, they come very highly recommended. I’ve spoken to Javier on the phone and was very impressed. Wish we’d used them.
I think crime is much less in the smaller towns. I live in the gringo crime epicenter, Escazú. Just because there are more gringos here and wealthier people live here. How I got to live here is beyond me…
The crime is the only thing that I really really hate about living here. It is a constant worry. Other than that, though, there is no place I’d rather be. And crime or no, I prefer here to the states by far.