Cosmopolitans are frequently characterized as living and perceiving the world and their environment from a distance. Drawing on ethnographic work among a small group of Western migrants in Costa Rica, we complicate this portrayal in a number of ways. First, we demonstrate that these people think in similar kinds of ways as social theorists: they too are worried about living at a distance from place and are seeking what is, in their way of reckoning, a more engaged relationship with their surroundings. Second, however, we explore the social context and corollaries of these migrants' attempts to bring together a putatively "modern/cosmopolitan" way of relating to place and a "traditional/place-based" way of relating to surroundings. Specifically, we demonstrate how migrant claims to transcend the differences between "tradition" and "modernity" create new forms of social exclusion as they, both literally and figuratively, come to claim the place of "the other."