(Special to the Q) The goal is of this article is to proved cold-hard facts that demonstrate why the ARCR’s monthly seminar is far superior to International Living’s Costa Rica Conference. It is incumbent upon this writer to provide objective information in order to help future expats make prudent decisions when doing their due diligence on relocating here.
1. Now let’s look at the facts. International Living only holds their conference in Costa Rica once a year. Whereas the ARCR’s seminar takes place every month except for December when many of the local lecturers are outside the country due to the Christmas and New Years holidays. This makes their seminar easier to fit into one’s schedule.
2. The ARCR is based in-county with around 30 years experience helping expats with a variety of ancillary services: Obtaining residency and health care insurance, opening a bank account, getting a drivers license, receiving mail from abroad, providing valuable contacts, offering a full-time presence to answer all of one’s questions and providing invaluable and impartial advice. On the other hand, IL has a very limited permanent presence as an organization in the country.
3. The cost of the ARCR’s seminar for non-members is $70 and $50 for members (including lunch both days and coffee breaks). International Living charges far more than for their conference; as a matter of fact over TEN times more. Just contact them and you will see the huge difference in price.
4. Furthermore, only a couple of International Living’s guest speakers have lived in Costa Rica for any real length of time to be truly considered experts on the country. A couple of them are native Costa Ricans and are certainly qualified, but the majority have only lived here a few years or are just visiting as guest lecturers. Except for the Costa Ricans, none of IL’s people speak Spanish with enough fluency to comprehend the nuances of the country’s culture. Indeed they are truly ‘foreigners”and always will be. On the other hand, there are two speakers at the ARCR’s seminar who were not born here but speak Spanish with native fluency and have lived here 54 and 38 years respectively. Both of them are certainly more qualified to expound on the subject of living Costa Rica than International Living’s mostly neophyte guest speakers.
5. In Il’s magazine and on-line daily letters nothing negative is ever stated about Costa Rica. They “sugar coat” everything and paint the country as a fairy tale. Just read their material and you will be hard pressed to find anything bad mentioned . Granted Costa Rica is one of the best places to live in the world but it is NOT utopia or paradise. There are a few negatives here but when compared to most countries our problems are minuscule. At the ARCR’s seminar you will hear the good, bad and ugly from both Costa Ricans and expat straight-shooters who have resided here for decades. Potential expats will find out what to really expect.
6. I find it strange that it took International Living so many years to rate Costa Rica as the number one retirement destination. For years they placed areas like Boquete, Panama on the top of there list. The latter cannot even come close to Costa Rica nor can the rest of Panama. Costa Rica has more places to reside and so much more to offer.
7. Unfortunately, many expats base their decision on the cost of living and not the quality of life. In Spanish we say, “Lo que algo vale, algo cuesta’” which translates as “You get what you pay for.”
8. International Living’s copy writers have even praised Nicaragua as a place to retire. See this link: https://internationalliving.com/countries/nicaragua/retire-in-nicaragua. Again, you get what you pay for. Just take a look at recent events that have transpired in that country. Nicaragua has always had a tumultuous and unstable past with a documented history of confiscating foreigner’s properties. I rest my case.
9. I noticed that IL also offers property tours before and after their conference. They ONLY show a few select properties and projects with which they are affiliated for obvious reasons. Although the ARCR does not offer property tours nor are they in the real estate business, upon request they can recommend brokers who have a much broader selection of properties from which to choose. They do not channel clients into selected projects. Check out their magazine or contact them directly to find a broker.
10. Finally, IL’s Costa Rica conference does have some limited value for those gathering information, but it cannot “hold a candle “ to the ARCR’s two-day monthly seminar or its ongoing services.