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.