Readers Wants to Know About Costa Rica, I Rant on Costa Rica
I lived in Costa rica for nearly a year as a perpetual tourist and I made friends with both expats and locals. The government of Costa Rica is a corrupt socialist state that will nickle and dime both foreigners and locals to death. Many locals struggle to get by and petty theft is considered normal at this point.
Panama and Ecuador are better places to live if you have a modest income in my opinion. I think it is best to learn the local language and live in a middle class neighborhood if you truly want to live cheaply and experience the country without rose-tinted glasses.