Did you know that Costa Rica is a really happy place?
Do you see the smile on these faces? They smile because they’re happy people and live in a happy place. Costa Rica took top honors in the latest Happy Planet Index, which reports Costa Rica as
- having the highest life satisfaction in the world,
- the second-highest average life expectancy of the Americas (just behind Canada),
- and a respectably low ecological footprint.
It’s interesting to note that the report states, “The three largest countries in the world, China, India and the USA (all aggressively pursuing growth-based development models), have all seen their [Happy Planet Index] scores drop.” The United States ranked 114th in the index.
Database of happiness
The World Database of Happiness seems to agree, with Costa Rica claiming the top spot in that index, too! It’s nice to see official recognition of Costa Rica’s high life satisfaction, after years of personally seeing the anecdotal evidence here.
Some of the happiest people I have ever seen are some of the Costa Rican farm workers who spend ten hours a day chopping weeds with a “machete”, yet they are singing and joking as they work, then they go home to what many foreigners would consider a shack, yet, there, they laugh and share stories with family and friends.
They may have very few material possessions, yet they know how to truly enjoy life, family, and friends. It’s very refreshing to see! Not that I advocate everyone trading in all their possessions for a “machete”, but it’s a nice reminder that it’s not always our possessions that bring true happiness.
The 3rd world and happy?
So how can people who live in a Third-World Costa Rica be so happy, you may ask? Is it such a happy place as they say?
Well, first, many may be surprised to learn that Costa Rica is NOT a Third World country (it’s classified as part of the Developing World). Beyond that, I would imagine having such a long life expectancy sure helps make one happy.
Costa Rica’s longevity was trumpeted by Oprah Winfrey in a segment about the “Blue Zones” of the world (one being in Costa Rica): hot spots where people reach the age of 100 in great number (and with strength, vitality, and happiness).
The study indicated that “residents of the blue zones regularly exercise, tend their gardens, are active members of their communities, eat delicious food and even have sex!” Now THEY sure sound like happy people!
O.K. A long life is nice, but what else?
Well, how about
- high literacy rate,
- low property taxes,
- strong respect for human rights,
- the fifth-lowest human poverty index in the developing world,
- access to health care and primary education by nearly all,
- the most stable democracy in Latin America,
- one of the most bio-diverse places in the world (with 25% of the country’s land being preserved as national parks and reserves),
- a strong tradition of peace and democracy (Costa Rica abolished its army in 1949, shifting their focus to education,
- President Oscar Arias won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 during his previous tenure as President),
- the economy is relatively stable and diverse,
- an amazing climate (a near-constant 72º F year-round where I live)
- Costa Ricans are very friendly and civilized (although some may question that after their first encounter with Costa Rican drivers!).
So all that must mean that Costa Rica is a perfect, happy place to live, right? Well, no. Costa Rica is certainly not perfect, not by a long shot.
But it’s as close to that ideal as any place I’ve found because it’s a happy place. And that brings a smile to my face!
Patrick Mulheren is our affiliate agent on the “cool side of town”. That means the East-side of San Jose. Talk to Patrick if you’re looking for a great buyer’s broker to represent you.
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