Pondering How Best to Serve Readers - Resource or Experience?

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So many expat experiences, so little time.

Skim to the bottom for recommendations on Expat resources!

Not long ago, I read a review of this blog that got me to thinking. The review was positive, but the reviewer didn't think there was much here about actually becoming or living as an expatriate.

That's fair. A Dull Roar has become, organically, just a place where one might visit to see one slice of the expat experience from a single family's point of view. 

But that does not necessarily make for an in-depth resource for how to become an expat with guidance that applies everywhere for every intention. It's definitely a niche blog in that sense, since, as the home page states, it is mainly about "moving to, retiring in and living with Costa Rica.

I get the implicit point of the reviewer. 

Once the "mechanics" of moving here, obtaining residency, driver's license, paying various "consultants" and taxes are done, my blog would naturally produce posts centered on daily life, culture, wildlife, the weather (egad!), etc.

Perhaps out of guilt for not providing more pithy content, I have been adding a few more nuts-and-bolts articles with practical information (e.g., "The Cost of Owning and Driving a Car in Costa Rica Can Be Daunting"). Shouldn't that make a better mix?

Then, that got me thinking if I should improve the site in other ways too?

For example, should I do as many C.R. blogging "authorities" do: create a large set of permanent pages (rather than less formal posts) that specifically deal with ex-pat hurdles, expat rewards, all the unexpected trials and how to specifically deal with these rather than just how we dealt with them. 

The focus still has to be Costa Rica, because that's what I know, but perhaps I can work in a more general appeal to those considering moving out of their home country, but who haven't settled on a particular place yet. Honestly, it sounds like a lot of work! </wink>

In the meantime, let me direct folks to four additional on-line resources whose orientations range from world-wide to Costa Rica. I recommend exploring all of them plus  the other expat blogs in my right side-bar. The latter list gets updated regularly as some blogs wither and new ones appear that appear to have dedicated authors.
  1. ExpatFocus is a well-known expat resource including sections on finances, real estate, expat forums, a moving guide, podcast and plenty of current articles covering dozens of countries. There is also a job directory
  2. ExpatExchange is similar to ExpatFocus. It has gotten a big facelift since being taken over by International Living. There are per-country forums, current articles, a blog, and has plenty of articles covering the nitty-gritty of living outside your home country.
  3. Expat Blog is now Expat.com and has transformed its original forum-like feel to a slick central resource for about 3,000,000 members. You can find out about expat experiences and track down resources in one central place. It covers nearly 200 countries.
  4. USExpatCostaRica.com  This site has undergone a face lift that is much more attractive and easier to read. It's associated with the Expatriates in Costa Rica Facebook group that is open to new members. My opinion of the FB version has deteriorated over the last few years due to the distracting give and take and excessive RE ads, but the original site is worthwhile.  
As always, I would love to hear from readers about their experiences with these recommended sites, get recommendations for more worthwhile sites and find out whether there are topics or areas that you would like me to personally cover in A Dull Roar.


  1. well written article and good resources

  2. Hi Casey,

    I think some of the best blogs aren't necessarily aimed at expats, but just give us a glimpse about what life is really like in that locality. Still, this post provided some great resources. I also have a blog about life abroad and I also try to cover aspects of retirement abroad that should be considered, but often are not. I also just posted a video about my life in Cuenca. Love to have you take a look! http://enjoylivinginternationally.com/

    1. Very true Ann. Some folks are just curious and others are toying with the idea. A site like yours is a great one for getting a broad view of the ex-pat landscape. That's what I was looking for when I finally decided to take action on my long-held dream. Hope you stop by again!

  3. Casey,

    I have been reading your blog for several years now. Originally, I was looking for a "how to...", but you never really finished some of "threads" you started- i.e.- what car did you finally decide to bring and why...? If you were to go back and add information (from hindsight) to your original blog pages that would be great.

    However, I enjoy reading your blog as it is currently, though it feels in the past few weeks you are writing about more wide ranging issues (medical tourism, etc) affecting not just the area around San Isidro or your travels. And that is great too.

    jim thompson

  4. Hi Jim,

    Wow, great feedback, thank you, and thanks for being a long-time reader. I'll go back through some of the old posts and see what I can find "closure" on. Great idea.

    I'm trying to spend more time with this blog and expand the topics a bit. I don't like for it to get stale and it would if I only wrote about our daily lives all the time. We are more or less "in the groove" now so there's not so many hurdles and puzzles as there were early on. We are planning to do more traveling once we get our cedulas renewed (another story there), locally and to Nicaragua and Panamá. Should be lots of grist for the blog mill there!

  5. Great Blog full of information I will definitely return for more information daily

    Thanks again

  6. Someone complained to me that I wasn't telling people how to get a job in Hong Kong, but I never claimed it was a how to blog.

    It's your blog. You can do whatever you want with it.

  7. I read you have children what are you doing for schooling???
    Potential EX-pat

    1. We have one child here in Costa Rica. Grades 4-6 he went to a private school, but is now in a local public Jr/Sr High. There are 3 private schools here in San Isidro de El General. The Colegios (Jr/Sr High) usually differ in their focus and you can send you kid to any one of them you like. Click on the tag "school" in the right margin to get past posts about our schooling experiences.

  8. My partner and I intend to move to CR in the next couple of years. I have enjoyed reading
    your blog specifically because it gives me an idea what day fo day life there might be like.
    Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks Roberta for the feedback. Don't hesitate to contact me if you have specific questions not covered in the blog. What part of the country do you think you will settle in?

  9. We hope to live in the Atenas area. Atenas seems to be a friendly little town that is rural enough while still being close to the city. We've spent some time there and lliked it very much. Thanks for the offer of further info- we'll probably have questions as we get closer to moving time.

  10. Well, what do you want the blog to be? Is it your story or a service you provide for others? If it's a How-To or even incorporates occasional How-Tos, then you will be inundated with emails for more information. Another thing to consider is that niche How-Tos aren't sustainable unless you plan on selling a service or product to compliment the blog. If someone wants to know how to move to Costa Rica, they will read how to, move, and then not need to come back.
    If you are more interested in developing a community around your blog, then stick with the interesting stories about your life.
    I hope that helps. I've opted for the story route after struggling with this question myself. It's so much more enjoyable to create. :)
    oh also, those expat sites never helped me much. Neither did the forums. In the end, the most assistance came from people on the ground at the moment I needed it, not any research I tried to do beforehand. THings change here so often and every experience is different, you know?

  11. Hi Erin,

    Great insights, thanks! Originally, I was thinking that I just wanted to help people see what I perceive as the realities of life here, good and bad, versus 90% of the glop out there that is trying to sell something. I don't want to sell anything, just not me, and I have plenty of other things to do anyway.

    I also didn't want to go the other way, and make the blog too personal and filled with just pretty pictures. So, I'm trying to add more hard stuff such as the post on how expensive it is to have a car here. You are absolutely right, too, about how things spin on a dime here, so posts about recent changes or trends are probably useful to people as well. That said, my next post is probably pretty pictures! :)

    In the end, this blog is definitely a hobby. Even though readership is slowly expanding, it will never be a way to make money. That's fine, as that would take the fun out of it anyway.

    Pura vida!


Thanks so much for your comment! - Casey