From AM Costa Rica today:

Two readers sing the praises of living in Costa Rica

He found American dream right here in Costa Rica

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

 The first 25 years of my professional life were played by the rules taught by my parents, my religion, my schools, and most of all, my government.  For those who worked hard and smart, free market capitalism was seen as a path to a better life in a land where our government promised to be of the people, by the people and for the people.

After 25 years of blindly following these principles came an awakening.  Becoming a CPA to better understand and follow the rules, then a CFO for six different companies led to realization this way to a better life through economic freedom was little more than an illusion. The “fix” was in. 

Then came the economic meltdown of the Carter years with 18 percent interest rates, 12 percent inflation, and 11 percent unemployment.  Haplessly, the average American could only watch as investments and retirement nest eggs dwindled; then disappeared.  Then came the savings and loan crash and bailout of the 80s.  

And where are the savings and loan companies today? The bailout was to save them and pay the money back to the taxpayers.  As they began to disappear, we could do nothing more than watch the deficit explode, inflation grow, interest rates rise with decline of the dollar and our purchasing power following close behind.  Does this have a familiar ring in light of current events in our motherland?

And following close behind was recession of the early 1990s as banks cut lending and credit dried up for almost four years. Remember this one?  

As credit returned, the pendulum again swung too far in the opposite direction.  Can we simply forget the bubble created by easy credit; along with its subsequent crash? Thank you, Chairman Greenspan. You quit just as your policies came crashing down.
As interest rates were lowered, we saw the genesis of our sub-prime mess; created and nurtured by new concepts such as “stated income” where a person need only state what they thought they would earn to qualify for 100 per cent financing.  And few of us understood the “credit default swap” where unscrupulous guardians of our way of life were able to purchase insurance on the failure of a company and force its ruin through stock market manipulation.

 Our entrusted leaders are no longer satisfied with wasting just our work product, they are gambling with that of our children and grandchildren.  As of this writing one in eight homes in the United States is either delinquent in payment or in active foreclosure as our banking and government systems play games to make us believe it is all better.  

We must ask ourselves; “What has changed”? The “Shell Game” is in full swing. Unemployment will be 10 percent by next month. 

My decision was enough of this never ending cycle of economic roulette, to look elsewhere for a place to find and live the American Dream. Was there a stable, democratic government with a history of transferring power without bloodshed? Which held family values in high regard, which was not required to waste its resources supporting militarization, but rather chose peace with its neighbors and the world at large?  Was there a country which protected property rights and rewarded hard work, risk taking and success; without excessive taxation?  

Could this place also provide health care for the poorest of their people, while providing free education for every child?  Could it have a wonderful combination of healthful climate and biodiversity, replete with protected lush rain forests, and be bordered by oceans?  Was there a place where provision of food and shelter were virtually guaranteed regardless of one’s station in life, a place where the people are open, loving and kind, even to the “ugly” Americans who have attempted to soil its resources?  The only answer to these serious questions regarding quality of life came in two words: Costa Rica, where there is abundant health, peace, prosperity and happiness and where I have chosen to live the remainder of my life.  A country populated by the “happiest people in the world”

Is it perfect? Of course the answer is no.  There are growing pains.  There is corruption in government and public service.  There is too much poverty and petty crime, need for a larger middle class, far too much disparity between the haves and have nots.  There is homelessness and begging in the cities.  But, compared to the first 45 years of this life, there is no doubt Costa Rica is the land of opportunity; the new American Dream.  

Since I was privileged to become a legal resident of this precious little jewel of four million kindred spirits, there has been prosperity for me here during a time when the poor citizens of the U.S. have suffered through three recessions and as many wars.  In spite of the economic problems of our homeland to the North, Costa Rica has continued to experience an economic miracle, all of which is in its infancy.  Throughout the world, this little fiefdom is gaining brand name stature for all the things we love and enjoy here daily. The secret is out, creating vast economic opportunities for those who believe and are willing to seek something better in this world and their lives.

Have you lost half of your retirement?  Do you sense there is prospect for much higher losses before things improve at home?  As the cost of living here is less than half that of the United States, a move here now will restore your wealth to the approximate level it was prior to the current economic debacle in the U.S.  Where will you invest what is left of your life’s work?  
Will it be the United States stock market?  You all know the “correction” in coming. How about the U.S. housing market?  Certainly, there are good buys in those markets, but where is the bottom, where is the end of the huge financial burden the government is placing on every taxpayer?  How long will it take to restore the equity which has been lost, if ever?

Can you rely on a money market account?  With certain continued deflation of the value of the dollar, high rates of taxation, soon to be high inflation; the value of your savings will continue to erode at a record pace.  

Our money is here invested in ocean front and ocean view property, and we are buying more as quickly as we can afford to.  Title is secure and can be insured by all major U.S. title insurance companies.  Completion of our transnational highway will come soon and the positive economic impact related to this is immeasurable, albeit certain.   Where else in the world can you purchase a fully titled luxury beach front condominium for under $350,000 or luxury ocean view home for under $500,000? 
Where else can you get in on the ground floor of the new Latin America Riviera?  Where else can one successfully shelter investments and profits?  Where else can one keep a fair amount of their profits?  Where else are property taxes on valuable properties paid in hundreds, not tens of thousands of dollars per year?  

Bienvenido! You are welcome to join us.  There are plenty of opportunities.  First, do your homework; then locate a reputable broker, find a good, honest lawyer/consultant/advisor. These are the reasons we live, invest and prosper and made the leap of faith.  We did and have found the Latin American Dream, right here in Costa Rica. 

Leo D. Plumley 
(formally of California)
Hermosa Beach, Costa Rica

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