Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy
We think alike. I followed the same path as you and came to the same conclusions--specifically about Costa Rica and Panama. The jury is still out on Mexico.
I first went to Costa Rica in 1973, and returned once more later. At the time I was still pretty good in Spanish. Although I like parts of South America and Mexico, my impressions of Costa Rica were for the most part negative. Some seemed to be various sorts of hustler, trying to sell me whatever. This seemed to be true of many Ticos in San Josť as well as many US expats there.
I didn't encounter or observe any crime. In addition to that plus, another one was that the city was not surrounded by very poor barrios, as many South American cities already were.
I visited an agricultural research station-can't remember what town it was near- somewhere east of San Josť still in the highlands. It was manned by high class people and was very interesting. I also met two expat seamen who lived in or around San Josť with their US expat wives, and in both cases used short wave communications to get their next berths. One couple operated a small coffee plantation and their coffee was excellent.
There seemed to be more than a healthy amount of boozing going on, as well as some innuendo and unhappiness about how the wives occupied themselves while the guys were away. I also met a very together group of Mennonites who ran several dairies around San Josť, and some who ranched up in Guanacaste. Our most enjoyable time was spent with an Afro-Costa Rican couple we met on a bus going down to Punta Arenas. They were from Puerto Limon on the Caribbean side.
Ticos drive just as wildly as most Latin Americans, and at the time at least perhaps worse than Mexicans.
My idea before spending sufficient time down there was to buy a plot in San Josť and make a beach head for a later retirement, but I dropped the idea after looking around enough. Some people told me that I might well return to find my plot already built and occupied by locals. Land was very cheap.
Right now I have a promotional minded relative who is doing residential development down there. Also a long ago girlfriend who is living there with an Australian property sales agent she picked up in Florida. The country seems to be turning into one big gated community.