Man, 71, who left the US to live in Costa Rica hoping to save money reveals his living costs have actually DOUBLED since relocating

An American man who’d spent his life in Albuquerque, New Mexico, decided to retire to Costa Rica nearly a decade ago, only to discover the cost of living isn’t nearly as cheap as he’d believed it’d be. 

Nine years ago, on the heels of a divorce, Gary Keenan, 71, decided to sell his company and move out of the country, resettling in Costa Rica’s Central Valley.

For a while, he was elated at the change of environment, from southwestern urban sprawl to the vast, natural tropics of Central America.

But, nearly 10 years on, it’s became undeniable to him that affording the lifestyle there isn’t exactly as easy-breezy as the region’s idyllic environs.

Nine years ago, Gary Keenan, 71, decided to sell his business and leave Albuquerque – where he’d spent most of his life – and move to Costa Rica (stock image)

Compared to the United States, he told Business Insider his car cost twice as much, groceries are roughly one-and-a-half times more and rents are as high as ever, especially in areas popular for tourists. 

‘I have read several articles in the last four months that actually said these are the countries to live in for less than in the US,’ Gary told the outlet.

‘That is horribly incorrect.’

Born and raised in Albuquerque, Gary practiced law for much of the 1980s before taking over his father’s insurance business and running it for 25 years. 

Gary’s first introduction to Costa Rica was years prior to his move there, on attending a retreat in Playa Zancudo in the south of the country.

In planning his retirement, he fantasized about what he viewed as the ‘easygoing’ lifestyle of the locals.

His initial retirement plan saw him staying in Costa Rica for three years, learning Spanish, then moving to France and learning French.

However, the plan changed after he became involved with someone – and, in any case, he’s still struggling to pick up Spanish.

Despite what Gary says are perceptions about the much cheaper cost of living in Costa Rica, he claimed that prices in the Central American country have never been higher (stock image)

Despite what Gary says are perceptions about the much cheaper cost of living in Costa Rica, he claimed that prices in the Central American country have never been higher (stock image)

Gary pointed to 2022 as the year that inflation caused the prices of things like cars, groceries, and rent to skyrocket in Costa Rica (stock image)

Gary pointed to 2022 as the year that inflation caused the prices of things like cars, groceries, and rent to skyrocket in Costa Rica (stock image)

‘I discovered that neither my desire nor my aptitude was sufficient to allow me to learn Spanish in three years,’ he told BI.

‘In that time, I also met a woman who I am still involved with, so that nipped moving to France in the bud,’ he added.

He admitted that, even now, he still struggles with the nuances of local dialects.

‘I started with a tutor, went to her for a year and a half, but I realized that although I was learning a lot of verbs and their conjugations, I was still not able to understand a word of Spanish spoken by the locals,’ he described.

‘If you are lucky enough to understand Spanish as a general rule, you’re still going to have issues because they drop syllables and speak very fast.’

But, he told BI, he is fluent enough to get around the area and go through the motions of day-to-day-living without issue. 

For the first two years, he’d lived in the small town of Santa Ana on the outskirts of the capital, San José.

There, he’d found a large expat population – but, perhaps as a consequence, he noticed that the town became costlier and more commercialized with time. 

Seven years ago, he relocated to the town of Cariari, known for its golf-related amenities, where he’s remained ever since.

He added that, nine years ago, prices for basic things across Costa Rica were slightly – though not drastically – cheaper than the US equivalents.

But, since 2022, the country’s inflation has caused price points to soar – reaching levels well above those in the US.

Exacerbating this, Costa Rica also has import taxes on good imported from the US. 

This is most apparent in the food pricing, he explained. 

The cost of the cheapest beef per pound, he offered by example, was about $5.50 locally. Beef per pound isn’t that much differently priced in the US, but it’s not significantly less expensive in Costa Rica.

In 2023, he bought a car for $34,000, even though the Kelley Blue Book listed the model as being worth between $16,000 to $18,000 in the US. 

He used to pay $1,000 in rent in Costa Rica but now, his rent is up t $1,500. 

More touristy areas are more expensive, he emphasized.

He also added that security has become a major consideration.

‘If one is going to live down here, they must have close to round-the-clock security,’ Gary mentioned. 

‘There is a lot of opportunity for crime and an unguarded house is a prime target eventually.’

Of course, the cost of living varies drastically as well from place to place, and state to state, across the US.

DailyMail.com has previously reported on the top 10 states people are moving to in search of a lower cost of living. 

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