Expats Helping Expats in Costa Rica
Hi, it’s Tony here again from HuliHealth. I know it has been a long time since you heard from me but I was recently in my Epifania Spanish Class and encountered 6 expats who were brought to the school on a Costa Rica Tour. I was engaged with the US and Canadian Expats and we started talking about the Spanish program, why I moved to Costa Rica, healthcare in Costa Rica, and that they needed to try the ice cream Trits. I thought, “just like needing HuliHealth to search for the top doctors, there needs to be resources to help expats with a relocation.” I then met the tour coordinator Christopher Howard.
It was 1975 in the United States and New York just escaped bankruptcy through a federal loan, the unemployment rate was 9.2%, oil prices were increasing drastically, the Vietnam War ended, and the US wanted change…sound familiar. Well for Christopher Howard, a junior at UCLA, rather than wait for change to occur, he went out of his way and found the change himself. Christopher was studying Spanish and decided to go abroad to Puebla, Mexico to experience a new culture and further hone his speaking skills, an experience he says, sparked his initial interest in LATAM. After his experience abroad, he felt that in order to truly infiltrate the culture he would need to master his Spanish skills; he continued his studies to receive a Master’s Degree in Spanish Linguistics at UC-Berkeley.
With this newly acquired weapon at his disposal he decided to infiltrate Costa Rica in June of 1980, a time when there was no facebook, no blogs about living in Costa Rica, no Walmart in Costa Rica, and only one English teaching school. When he arrived, he instantly knew he made the right decision. The people were friendly and happy despite Costa Rica’s economic problems, the country was safe, and there was a great opportunity for Christopher to learn and to create a life for himself.
Ninety Percent of an experience is showing up: Christopher showed up and started teaching English at the only English teaching school in Costa Rica. After 8 years of helping Ticos learn English, Christopher stumbled upon a National Enquirer article, “Retire in Mexico for $15 a day”. The light when on in his head, “I’ve been living in Costa Rica and naturally learning the necessities of living here, I should help future like-minded people live in Costa Rica as well”. So without looking back, Christopher decided his venture would be to help open the door to Costa Rica for all those looking for a change. From that moment onward, Christopher began to plan for the future and has since been helping those searching for their Mecca or their new home. Christopher organizes expat retirement and relocation tours in Costa Rica to assimilate how life would be like if one were to move. Besides the willingness to help and answer any questions honestly, included in these tours are housing options, a residency seminar, Spanish language resources, medical insurance options, and contacts for all aspects of life here in Costa Rica from salsa lessons to grocery stores. Christopher’ priority is to help by giving this “crash course” on life in Costa Rica so that those individuals can decide for themselves if Costa Rica is the right place for them.
When asked about why people do not like Costa Rica the underlying reasons are the bureaucracy, not feeling at home or at ease with a new environment, or expecting personal problems or personality traits to instantly disappear. Christopher cautions that before moving you must manage your own expectations and try to imagine your life here because 40% of those who relocate wind up moving back home.
I settled in fine thanks to my Tico friends at HuliHealth and living with a host family. For Christopher he married a Tica and feels at home as a citizen. Christopher advised the top concerns for others that are thinking about moving are, “Language, Culture, Staying Busy, Making Money, and Medical Care.” Our best advice is: try your best to speak Spanish so you can assimilate into the culture which will make you stay busy and even you could start a business of your dreams in Costa Rica. This new adventure for your life will keep your brain active and in good health naturally; but of course if you need to see a doctor, have no fear because the Healthcare in Costa Rica is advanced and there are top doctors who speak English in every specialty. Christopher, like I, moved to Costa Rica to experience a new life, find a place we call home, and to guide other expats in the Switzerland of Latin America.
How are you helping other expats in Costa Rica? I would love to hear from you so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org