Mexico better than Costa Rica?

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    I was going over the latest issue of International Living’s 2012 Top Retirement Heavens. To my surprise Costa Rica is near the bottom in 16th place – out of 19 countries, while Mexico is #3. They take into account 8 categories… Cost of Living, Health, Climate etc. Here are a few things I don’t understand:

    1- The Climate category lands Costa Rica the second to last place, while Mexico sits near the top. We know some parts of Mexico have great year round weather but northern Mexico’s summers are Always very very hot and it’s winters very cold. This past July northern Mexico had record breaking consecutive 120 degree days (imagine that without a/c!). Luckily during this time I was visiting Costa Rica and enjoying a very pleasant 70-80 degree weather, so I don’t know how Costa Rica’s climate is listed next to last.

    2- They also mention that one of Mexico’s benefits is that “with a FM3 visa you can bring your foreign-plated car to Mexico and keep it here”, really? how can IL say this is a benefit when having a car in Mexico with American plates is like being a sitting duck in open season? and they failed to mention anything about the risks involved. There are many towns, specially in the north, where only the very brave dare to go out after dark. And it’s slowly spreading everywhere. Granted, towns like San Miguel de Allende are still “ok” but every time I go to Mexico (even in the south) I feel that the sense of freedom has been lost; none the less I still see many IL’s reports say that Mexico is still safe. If Safety/Crime would’ve been categorized on this report, maybe Mexico would near the bottom. Right now Mexicans are more worried about safety than any of the other eight categories, I think would-be-expats should take this into consideration. When I told my relatives in Mexico that I was considering Costa Rica the first thing they asked was, Is it safe?

    Costa Rica and Mexico are like brothers. I would say that life can be very similar in both countries, but still, I think they should be listed the other way around: Costa Rica near the top and Mexico near the bottom – mainly because of safety issues.

    Panama is understandably listed near the top at #2 but Can somebody help me understand how can the 2012 Top Retirement Heavens have Costa Rica near the bottom at #16 when Honduras is #10, Nicaragua #7 and Mexico #3?

    Latin American countries on the list:
    #1 Ecuador, #2 Panama, #3 Mexico, #5 Colombia, #7 Nicaragua, #10 Honduras #11 Uruguay, #13 Brazil, #16 Costa Rica, #17 Belize, #18 Chile, #19 Rep Dom

    see report here:

    The World’s Best Retirement Havens


    is this one;

    Dear International Living Reader,

    There can be only one “best”. And this is it: The winner of International Living’s 2012 Global Retirement Index…the country crowned top of its class after the level and depth of research that you only get in IL…the one place that offers you the fastest and best chance at a luxurious retirement…while keeping costs low and the family back home happy…where you can quickly settle in…and return to as often as you want and still find something new to appreciate…

    It’s the people, the climate, the charming streets, the healthy lifestyle, and dozens of other traits that makes this country First among the Best Places in the World to Retire…

    Eoin Bassett, editor of International Living magazine, has more details about the winner below.

    Len Galvin
    Managing Editor, IL Postcards

    * * *

    Why This is the World’s Best Retirement Haven
    By Eoin Bassett

    No matter where you choose to live in the country that takes top honors in IL’s 2012 Annual Global Retirement Index, there is no better retirement haven in the world.

    Across all eight of our crucial categories it scores strongly. It outright wins two. And nowhere does it fail to live up to its reputation. This country has the cheapest costs of living, the best-value real estate, and it presents you with some of the most diverse options of any country.

    Live in the colonial splendor of its cities for less than $1,000 a month…buy a beachfront condo for $60,000, with a view of the ocean…explore the country’s lush jungles…live comfortably in thriving expat communities…or with friendly, welcoming locals.

    The special benefits you can avail yourself of as a retiree are second only to those offered by Panama, and they don’t trail by much. You’ll find world-class healthcare at a fraction of the costs back home, along with doctors trained in the U.S. who speak English.

    You’ll have dinner out for $2.50, an hour-long massage for $25…a beer costs $0.85, and if you want to keep busy with work, it’s one of the best countries for an expat start-up.

    You can learn everything you need to know about the best retirement haven in the world…and get the ratings and rankings in every category for our 18 runners-up in our 2012 Global Retirement Index… in the latest issue of International Living magazine.

    Try an International Living subscription for just $1 right now and get immediate access to the 2012 Global Retirement Index.



    In the movie, [i]Notting Hill[/i], the scene in which Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts first meet is instructive. They’re in his travel book store.

    She’s admiring a book on Turkey but he recommends another one because the one he prefers was written by someone who has actually been to Turkey.

    Others have reported some very questionable conclusions drawn by [i]International Living[/i].


    Maravilla has lived in Mexico. I do not recall when but she mentioned this in one of her posts. Perhaps she has recent knowledge of the conditions.

    I have a sister who has to travel to Mexico for business every once in a while and she tells me that she is required by her American employer to travel with body guards while there.

    I have read nothing but negative reports on Mexico. A failed narco state would be last on my list of retirement places. I am sure there are regions in Mexico (Baja?) which are safer than others just as I know for a fact that there are places in Costa Rica and Miami, Florida which I would avoid. But over all, I would put Mexico next to last on my list in this Hemisphere, right above Haiti.


    IL has a long history of telling people where the next hot spot to move to is. i got one newsletter from them that started out with this headline . . . “We told about Costa Rica and what a great deal that was, now we are telling you about Ecuador!” i then wrote them a letter and complained that their “promotion of these countries does nothing but attract people who shouldn’t be living in them, and after they come the prices soar, the fabric of society changes, and then they leave, leaving the rest of us with the mess that was created by all the hype! With your promotion of Ecuador, i predict it will be overrun with gringos and not a very livable place in 5 years — just like costa rica!”

    I still own property in Baja but i wouldn’t live there, and my friends who DO live there travel with armed bodyguards! when i first started going there in the early 90’s it was a sleepy little fishing/artist town, then the LA Times touted it as the next Carmel, Calif and that was the end of that place! i used to go there by myself, then drive up and down the coasts between San Jose del Cabo, La Paz and Todos Santos. i never had a worry or care about driving those desolate roads alone. now i would likely be kidnapped, robbed, or murdered. i love mexico and it would be my first choice of where to live if it hadn’t been destroyed by narcos, rich gringos who support the narcos, and the rampant corruption promoted by the rich gringos. in the early 90’s there was no crime there, people left their houses unlocked, cars unlocked, and while it was still dangerous to travel at night — not because of the crime but because of the black cows that camped out on the roadway that had no lights — generally there wasn’t much to be afraid of. one of my dear friends was kidnapped and held for $1M ransom, but then he was one of the richest people in the baja and a prime target. the rest of us could just go about our business without any worries. as soon as the rich gringos moved in, the crime soon followed, along with the drugs. so there you go — IL really doesn’t have a handle on some of these things, but if any of you want to move to baja mexico, i have a lovely lot i will sell you. . . cheap!!

    All of the above also applies to the Yucatan where i lived in the 80’s. i’m glad i knew that beautiful place before it became the playground for the rich and decadent, because now it has all the same problems as the rest of mexico. sad. very very sad.
    (and if any of you are going to rant about discrimination and the hate in my heart, save your breath!)


    If I was to make my desicion of moving overseas based on this report, Costa Rica would be way at the bottom of my list. Luckily I’m not!

    I’ve also been receiving emails from Kathleen’s Live & Invest Overseas for about a year now. They just don’t mention Costa Rica at all and when I sent them an email asking why, I didn’t get a response. The only time I recall them mentioning Costa Rica is a few weeks ago when they said that if Costa Rica passes some kind of new tax that would affect expats, they would be leaving Costa Rica in a heart beat and that Panama – the country they promote the most – would be a good option.

    I guess when it comes to retirement options, Costa Rica and Panama are like a good sports rivalry, you’re either a Yankee or a Red Sox but can’t like both! Love one & hate the other.


    That’s too bad about Baja, I would like to think it can’t possibly be that bad, but I haven’t been there for 15 years. When I lived in Sandiego in the late 80’s I made many trips to surf there. There was crime but it was pretty petty stuff or cops shaking you down. I think it was the green angels that would patrol as well.

    My ex has a house in Alamos, her father bought it the 70’s. They still use it often and to date have never had any problems with crime. In the past there were very few tourists, now that is a bit of a problem. They are well known in the local community as well.

    My daughter and some friends drove there from LA a few months ago, I was terrified! All went well.

    I have Mexican friends in the surfer community who say the media has over blown the crime situation, Mexico is big and many areas are safe. Personally I would be nervous traveling through Mexico in a VW camper with my wife and 3 year old son the way we did in the winter of 1988.


    of course there are pockets with less crime in mexico, but it is not what it was when you are i were traveling there. rosarita beach used to be pretty safe, but i have friends who had their entire house stripped to the studs while they were gone. i know someone who lives in PV (vallarta) who says it’s fine there, so who knows. was it acapulco where they found a mass gravee of 25 people recently.?? San Miguel and Guanaguato are still nice places, but too expensive now for most expats moving out of the US for the first time. the problem with newsletter like IL is that they make money on real estate sales in the areas they promote. and they really don’t give an accurate picture of the total socio-economic conditions, but they are very good at giving gringos the info that will lure them there — cheap meals, cheap beer, cheap massages, cheap housing. oh, for the good ol’ days.


    “cheap meals, cheap beer, cheap housing, oh for the good ol’ days.” I ‘ll bet those days are gone for good.

    As I have posted elsewhere, I believe that income disparity is a fatal, unavoidable curse and that is exactly what we are discussing here. I don’t know where the tipping point is for each country or each culture. Greece and Mexico may have reached theirs. The corruption, the riots and crime and the narco state are symptoms, not causes. How many gated communities, luxury homes and real estate consumed at high prices will it take to push Costa Rica over the edge? Or will a world wide depression be enough of a catalyst?

    I suppose that the worse things get, the more North Americans begin looking to the south as an escape solution. As they (we) move south, we bring our corrupted credit- consumer culture with us thereby quickening the pace of destruction for a country already put on that path by its own central bank.

    The world economy is an isolated, closed system. In physics, the concept of entropy is that nature tends from order to disorder in isolated systems. We can run, but we can’t hide. Costa Rica’s near future is probably not going to be as bright as its past until a new world economic system is put in place. And that transition is trauma on steroids.


    I see that Chinchilla is vacationing in Mexico. Must be because of the “Low life dreaded Gringos” that have infested her home country.


    Back to the countries on the list, South America is too far for me so I think the best options out there are Panama and Costa Rica. I’ve never been to Panama but I think it has a better Pensionado program and supposedly has more infrastructure. I know not to trust this IL report but it has Panama at the top of Cost of Living and again Costa Rica near the bottom, but is it that much cheaper in Panama? I know Cost of Living depends on your lifestyle and can vary greatly, but say… comparing apples to apples?


    you sure can make some grand assumptions — nobody ever called gringos low life or dreaded, but yes, we/they do bring things to a culture that are not necessarily good. you don’t live here, do you? and i’ll bet you haven’t ever lived anywhere in the world except the US. enough said.

    and where exactly did Laura go? Acapulco? if not there, then someplace ritzy, no doubt, surround by security and ensconced in the presidential suite. good for her. she’s probably seen her entire country,and mexico is beautiful, with great food!


    hey roy — when i hear people say they moved to panama because it’s so much cheaper and they they quote the price of meat (which i don’t eat) and the cost of booze (which i don’t drink) as incentives, i’m kind of baffled. i live on less than $1000 a month here in costa rica and i live really really well (defined by my standards of eating the best food, having a beautiful view, and owning my home without a mortgage). and unless you are in the highlands, you are going to sweat your socks off in panama, and from what i investigated before moving to costa rica, there are little gringo enclaves up there in the highlands but that is not what i had in mind when i decided to leave the US.

    and to ms lewis — according to one report laura went to Aztec land — and then another report said she went to the Caribbean — which is NOT Aztec land so maybe she is in one of those million dollar villas on the coast, diving in cenotes and eating fresh fish!!


    [quote=”maravilla”]you sure can make some grand assumptions — nobody ever called gringos low life or dreaded, but yes, we/they do bring things to a culture that are not necessarily good. you don’t live here, do you? and i’ll bet you haven’t ever lived anywhere in the world except the US. enough said.

    and where exactly did Laura go? Acapulco? if not there, then someplace ritzy, no doubt, surround by security and ensconced in the presidential suite. good for her. she’s probably seen her entire country,and mexico is beautiful, with great food![/quote]

    With all due respect you always post negative things about Gringos as if you aren’t one yourself. You seem to want blame everything bad in CR on Gringos. I think everyone on this forum knows how you feel and what you think of new expats coming to live in CR. If you look in the mirror you will see a Gringa. Yes I have lived abroad but that’s irrelevant and frankly none of your concern. The intent of this post is not to argue with you kind lady but when someone new comes on here and reads such bitterness they might go elsewhere and that has to in some way damage those who advertise on here. Intolerance of others just fans the flames of the problems in the world we live in. Peace.


    when outsiders come to a country that has been hyped as paradise and a cheap place to live and buy up vast tracts of land to develop and sell at a very good profit, it changes the structure of the society, whether you like it or not. i have tried to make as small a footprint on this culture as i can; others didn’t care what happened after they built megamansions, and ran off with the money. i am here for the long haul. and i care what happens to society here and the disparaties that occur, and the crime that ensues. these are facts. not just my opinions. and anybody who comes here, or reads a newspaper, or watches local news will know about these things. i’m not letting any cat out of the bag, and just because i see the changes that have occurred and don’t particularly like all of them doesn’t mean i am bitter. THAT is your erroneous assumption.

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