8 Reasons Why Americans LEAVE Costa Rica [Why I Left]

8 Reasons Why Americans LEAVE Costa Rica [Why I Left]

The TRUTH about living in Costa Rica: Why do so many Americans leave Costa Rica after moving there? In this video, I explain what causes expats to change their minds about retiring abroad and why I left Costa Rica after 8 years. Some of the initial reasons that people want to move to Costa Rica include the moderate climate, laid back lifestyle, fresh and healthy food, friendly people, beaches, medical tourism, and the low cost of living. But is Costa Rica really a safe and friendly country or is it actually dangerous and expensive? Once they arrive, many people realize that living in Costa Rica wasn’t quite what they expected. Unfortunately, that results in people returning home quite soon after arriving.

After helping more than 500 foreigners move to Costa Rica and living there for eight years, this video explains the top reasons why people move back to the USA and why I left, too, so that you know more about what to expect BEFORE you get there. This is the real and sometimes dark truth about living in Costa Rica. What do you think are the biggest pros and cons of living in Costa Rica? Let us know in the comments.

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00:00 Introduction
00:32 How many Americans live in Costa Rica?
00:53 Why people retire in Costa Rica then leave
1:03 #1 High Cost of Living
3:30 #2 Inability to Adjust to the Culture
5:45 #3 Unrealistic Expectations versus Reality
6:45 #4 Healthcare and Health Problems
7:10 #5 Missing Family and Homesickness
8:20 #6 Crime Rate – Is it Dangerous or Safe?
10:58 #7 Negativity from Other Expats
11:53 #8 Misc Things: Infrastructure, extreme weather, and “too much Pura Vida”
15:04 Why people stay in Costa Rica forever
15:38 Why I left Costa Rica to become a digital nomad
18:15 Why I don’t regret moving to Costa Rica
18:50 Conclusion

Related videos:
* Playlist: What It’s Like Living Abroad as an Expat: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLsTStwiO7jmocNIFUJ3dou4MZ6bYidl-d
* The Best Things About Living Abroad: https://youtu.be/JmE3RuO3wOI
* What I Dislike About Living Abroad: https://youtu.be/ZwxGU1jhPKs
* Costa Rica for Digital Nomads: https://youtu.be/TU313G83EhA
* Nosara, Costa Rica Treehouse Tour: https://youtu.be/fYYJ-hXMFdY
* Tamarindo, Costa Rica House Tour: https://youtu.be/f42-gPWawKQ
* Costa Rica Travel Tips by my friend, Alex the Vagabond: https://youtu.be/Uhe1X6OpoSo

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👱🏻‍♀️ About: Kristin Wilson is a digital nomad, online entrepreneur, and expat relocation consultant who has lived, worked, or traveled in 60 countries over the last 15+ years. In the past decade, she has helped 1,000’s of people move abroad or travel full-time while working remotely.

Kristin is also a writer, public speaker, podcaster, and TV host who has been featured on The Today Show, HGTV’s House Hunters International, Huffpost, Bloomberg Businessweek, The New York Times, Business Insider, ESPN, and more.

🗺 Get help traveling or moving abroad: https://www.orbisrelocation.com/

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NOTE: This video is for informational and entertainment purposes only and is not individual consulting or advice. Please consult the relevant authorities such as your local government, airline, embassy, consulate, and/or tourism providers before booking international travel, moving abroad, or applying for a work permit or work and travel visa.

#costarica #livingincostarica #whyileft


  1. Please for the love of god, unless you’re adamant of going to live abroad beacause you love the culture, please oh lord, do not move there. You’re going to fuck all the locals over. I say this as a Costa Rican that has seen how tourism and norteamericana move here and drive the cost of living up

  2. riddle me this… the butter from dos pinos that is made in costa rica is twice as expensive as the same butter from the same brand sold in panama…

  3. The murder rate in Costa Rica in 2021 was more than twice as high as it was in the United States. Costa Rica is a very dangerous country. Look it up, statistics don’t lie

  4. Good bye darling ! And had have a good life ! If you come back give me a call and we can discuss some ! Have a good time for now

  5. While Costa Rica is a beautiful country and a great place to visit, the cost of living continues to rise because the amount of foreigners moving there. I love Tamarindo and so many places, but San Jose has gotten so dangerous.

  6. "And you realize it’s just another country with regular people, and you’re still you." That one hit hard – going to write that down.

  7. Hi, Kristin! You look so pretty. I enjoyed this video. I retired in 2019 and moved to Boquete, Panama which is, in my mind, practically paradise. But even here, I see ex-pats who leave disappointed or unhappy. I have so much to say but I’ll try to be brief. Boquete was once described as "Latin America on Training Wheels" and I agree. You don’t *have* to know Spanish but I don’t understand why people choose to cut themselves off from 70-80% of their neighbors. You have to see leaving the U.S. as an adventure. I tell Americans that if their idea of civilization is a Wal-Mart, a Starbucks and a McDonald’s, DON’T come to Boquete because you won’t find any of those. You come here to cut free of your comfort zones and learn more about yourself and your ability to cope in new situations. The people here are so friendly and willing to work with you. Panama has changed with COVID, strikes, etc. It was a more happy place then than now but the people still are so helpful and peaceful. Being retired helps me slow down and adapt. My income is U.S. Social Security and two pensions from past employers. I came here knowing what I’d have coming in and what I’d have in costs. In the States, I couldn’t earn enough to keep up with rising costs. As long as I stay healthy and the money holds out, I can enjoy life here without being a burden on anyone. I have friends here through my English-speaking church. The buzzword here is "tranquilo". That’s what retiring in Boquete is to me. Best wishes!

  8. If you leave the US and retire outside the country, you’re not going to be happy for long. Millions of people are trying to get into the US every year. There is a reason for that. Most other countries are great to visit as an “American Tourist” but terrible to live in. Be careful!

  9. In other words, you get what you pay for. There are places in Central and South American where you can live VERY cheaply… but you’re paying third world prices to live in a third world country. It is not easy acclimating to a new standard of living, and it takes time. So you need to have a strong reason for why you want to do it. There’s a high cost to uprooting your life and severing relationships you spent a lifetime building to live in another part of the world. I do think people should do it because it’s very good for people to be exposed to other cultures. But you must understand the cost.

    It definitely helps if your purpose for moving is humanitarian… that gives you extra motivation and gives opportunities to form relationships with the people there. In my opinion, the people are the best thing about these countries and if you go to live in an isolated expat community you’re missing out on the best of what that country has to offer.

  10. It is incredibly expensive. If you want to be "frugal" then there are plenty of places in the USA! The rules for banking and business are mind boggling. While in most USA states a citizen has no such problems. Only a handful of expensive states are over regulated. Plus if you are elderly you get Medicare! The simple act of buying or selling a car requires a lawyer and huge fees. Nobody needs a lawyer to sell a used car in the USA. Plus language is not a problem for Americans in the USA. Texas is a great option. They have no state tax and you get to open a bank account in minutes anywhere in the USA. Yes there are scams anywhere in the world so that evens out. You need to pay USA Federal income tax no matter where you are in the world. That means no tax benefit. Just move to a nice low cost state and take a week vacation to wherever you want 🙂

  11. Hi Kristin. First and far most. I’d like to say, thank you so much for sharing you’re cultural education and experiences you’ve had in Costa Rica with residing there. I’ve been thinking and just started to research living in Costa Rica. You’re videos are so helpful and how you have dissected the entire island from rainforest living to city life living for those who are very extraverted. I’ve never been to Costa Rica, but I look forward to visiting and eventually move there. I will eventually need help relocating and look forward to conversing with you about it! I am a NYC girl! Moved south to Naples , Florida 20yrs ago, now back in the city looking for refuge 😂. I’m sure the crime can’t be as bad as NYC. I’ve always said if you can live in NYC these days, you can live anywhere else…. 😉

  12. It gets old…I would have a hard time NOT driving a freeway, not seeing the redwoods, not seeing the city….It’s beautiful in Cosa Rica but for a visit…then to someplace else….It gets old fast..

  13. any part of the world if you want luxuries you willl pay some extra dollars, gringos go to costa rica and live in expesives zip codes go to fancy places for sure you will pay for it you thought costarricans get things for free? come on you can life cheap in costa rica or US, or europe you only needs to adapt to go lower class places, but you want to go to costa rica and consume everything for free? live as costa rican you will be able to do it in budget, but go thinking you are king you will get broken fast, sorry guys you’re poor even if you thinkg you are noy but can not affort costa rica prices (:

    you have to live on beans if u want to make it
    MEATS are super expensive so is restaurants
    nothing to do all day to hot !
    after you have visited the volcano parks monte verde lalalallalala
    honey moon is over , you will meet up evening with few drunkers you become the same
    be carful of the PURA VIDA PEOPLE they are all after you $$$ nothing else !!!

  15. Rule of thumb, go there rent for a few months , at least 6 , you will know a LOT if you can afford it and really like it….simple.

  16. I’m a native 79 years old, who lived in LA for 30 years.
    UCLA Grad, ex stock broker and US citizen.
    I yearned to come back and retire in my native country.
    I came back with lots of money a marriage and a daughter.
    I’ve been back since ‘93 and every thing that could have gone wrong, did.
    I am very protective of my country of birth, but I am also ver rational, honest and fair.
    I watched your whole video, and at first, I wanted to yell out: who cares why you want to leave, but I stuck with you and found your report, if we can call it that, very fair, and very accurate.
    The crime wave that we are living through brought about by the increase in the drug trade was non existent when I was growing up, but Costa Rica is nothing of what it once was.
    We have on top of every thing you mentioned, murders every day, mostly to settle drug problems of one sort or another, but that does not mean that you cannot get killed over a cell phone, or get raped in one of our beautiful beaches.
    I wish the best in your new adventure and thank for your fair a kind report of the reality of life in Shangrila.

  17. This video is terrifying! I am terrified to move to costa rica. And I am terrified to not move to costa Rica. Oh the conflict!!

  18. Sorry americans for not being developed like you. It’s good that you notice our reality. We’re opened to welcome those who really like the place.

  19. I would still visit Costa Rica but, unlikely to live there for an extended period of time. Very informative! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  20. I was in Costa Rica IF you KILL someone down there and the family is willing to take 10.000 instead of you goijng to jail thats OK ,NO JAIl TIME Money RULES Costa Rica BRIBES work down there lol then again they can say NO we want you to got to jail its JUST that you DO HAVE an Option down there IF the oppesing one agree for the MONEY to let you OFF the HOOK

  21. Central and South American countries are ruled by Dictator’s. You think your experiences are going to be different because your American? Save yourself grief and stop looking for greener grass. **IMPORTANT ask yourself why "thousands" of immigrants, now, from all over the world are"invading America" by the hundreds of thousands to get out of where you want to move to, STUPID. Being honest with yourself. There’s no place like home.

  22. Your video was very interesting. We live in Paraguay. I spent 2 years here in the early 90’s and we returned in 2018. I would not want to live anywhere else, but then again there are people for whom Paraguay just does not do it. We are totally not part of an expat community, and are most likely more Paraguayan than many Paraguayans who were born here.

  23. I have traveled to quite a few different countries and have always immersed myself in the culture. I have always liked to stay in local places because of this. Everyone loves to share their life and experiences. And if you take the time to learn the language, they love that, and will go out of their way to help you. I think that a lot of people go with the mindset of a vacation experience, when instead they should go there for the cultural experience. As a female, you should always take more precautions to not put yourself in vulnerable situations, because you are more vulnerable by nature. In conclusion, I can’t tell you how many wonderful experiences I’ve had immersing myself in the culture. It has been one of life’s most incredible times in my life. Thank you for the share!

  24. Americans drove up the prices.
    Americans don’t want to integrate and leave all their fancy electronics behind.
    Californians probably the worst at rising prices, they do it in every state here at home.
    They put themselves above the locals creating resentment.
    Think I don’t know, I was born down there and lived in 4 different countries

  25. I’ve actually lived in Costa Rica i seen a car jacking I’ve seen groups of 30 children run up and down the streets robbing people.

  26. You mentioned at the beginning that the cost of living 10 yrs. ago was very low but it has increased. Of course there will be increases but this is a 3rd. world country and I wouldn’t expect living standards to be that great. Also, when they do business with that "Rich American" it may lead to higher prices believe it or not. Even here in the states when a landscaper/irrigator, plumbers, carpenters, etc… see a home in an wealthy neighborhood have been know to increase their prices just because the person lives in a larger home. I know people who have lived in Honduras and Nicaragua and it’s basically the same thing. Power turned off for a certain amount of time each day and so. In general the people are kind and nice just like everywhere else.

  27. I love Costa Rica. My family is from there. I was born and raised in So Cal. But we lived inn CR on and off for several years. The last time I visited the family, my hubby and I hired a trusted family tour guide to take us to Arenal, the active volcano. It was beautiful. But the trip back to where we were staying … AAAAHHHHHHHH! It was like a two and a half to three-hour drive! I don’t remember that kind of horror in years past. It was like the 405 Freeway near LAX at the height of rush hour. Thank goodness I wasn’t driving, or I would have slapped a beach!

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