Pura Vida: Living in Costa Rica
Updated: Sep 30, 2019
She’s an accomplished writer, working on fluency in Spanish, and a long-term animal shelter volunteer and advocate. You may call her adventurous. I call her Mom.
"Costa Rica is full of quirky, artsy, nature-lovers...a bunch of oddballs and I guess I am too."
You were a teacher for many years and decided to move to Costa Rica after retiring. How did you get to this decision?
M first trip many years ago was an eco-tour of the country with teachers and students.
We went white water rafting, explored volcanoes, visited farms, etc. I knew on that first visit that I would always want to come back.
How many times have you visited as a tourist?
I visited once or twice a year for 14 years. My cousin, Julia, lived here so on one of my visits, I started to look at property to get a feel of what was available. Once I retired, I started renting houses for longer periods of time to get a feel of what it’s like to be here long-term. I stayed by the beach in Jaco but ultimately decided that Atenas, just outside of San Jose was the best fit for me.
And then you started house-sitting, right?
Yes, that’s pretty common here amongst the exPat community in particular since people like to travel back to the states to visit family and friends.
You’ve moved in the Fall of 2018. What has it been like to really live in Costa Rica.
I love living here but it isn’t without challenges. Nothing happens in a hurry and nobody is ever on time.
I would go nuts with all the tardiness!
Is the moving process hard?
It isn’t simple or fast. It is probably double what it would take to move somewhere in the U.S. The shipping container with my furniture took six weeks to get here, and then another two weeks for it to be delivered to my house, for example.
Is living in Costa rica expensive?
Costa Rica is shockingly cheap. The meals are so much cheaper and the portions are huge.
The U.S. dollar goes really far so that’s attractive for a retiree.
How do you spend your days?
My newest hobby is bird-watching and I love looking for toucans! This is a whole new world of tropical plants so I’m learning new things about horticulture.
Was it easy to make friends? Yes! I’m in several social groups: a breakfast club, a book club, I take Spanish lessons and sometimes dance lessons. My group of friends love going to see a classic rock band called Flashback.
So it’s sort of a typical of retirement, just in a tropical location.
Most people golf, fish, or play tennis but those things just aren’t me. I like more of an adventure. But I also love to sit outside to have breakfast and coffee while listening to the birds singing in the background. This is still a new phase of life for me that I’m thoroughly enjoying.
What are some things that you love to do when you have visitors in town?
El Toledo Coffee Plantation Tour, LaPaz Waterfall Gardens, Poaz Volcano National Park, and Playa Dona Ana (aka: Monkey Beach) is pretty fun to experience! The farmer's market is right by my house and such a great place to find amazing local fruit and vegetables plus jewelry and little souvenirs. The fresh fruit drinks are out of this world!
La Paz is one of my favorite places to visit in Costa Rica!
And we 100% do not look like tourists in this photo!
Your gigantic camera, sun hat & fanny pack fit right in!
Retirement plus a move to a tropical location must mean changes in your wardrobe.
Costa Rica is so vibrant so it helps me to incorporate bright colors into my wardrobe. The style is much more casual so I wear shorts everyday. And I always have to be ready for rain! And because I wear sandals all the time, I’ve perfected the DIY pedicure. I used to wear really pale colors and now I love orange, hot pink or blue...colors that remind of things you might see in the tropical birds and flowers all around Costa Rica.
You seem lighter, happier.
I felt very bogged down with the same old dull routine in my hometown. I needed a change and I think this was the perfect transition. Costa Rica is full of quirky, artsy, nature-lovers...a bunch of oddballs and I guess I am too.
I was able to get a massage on your balcony right before a storm rolled in and it was heavenly!
A lot of services come to your house here, even a mechanic. What’s so funny is that those sorts of things are considered high-end at home, but very commonplace here.
How long do you plan to live in Costa Rica?
Until I can’t walk up these rolling hills! Maybe 10 years? I don’t think I’ll go back to Alabama but maybe Florida.
Where will you be in 10 years?
I don’t know. Where will you be?
Somewhere near a great retirement facility.
As long as it’s a fun one!
I took Spanish through college so I can get by. Sometimes you tell me obvious things like “bano” means “bathroom.” Can you stop doing that?
Ha ha! Sure! I try to let people figure it out on their own because the people are so friendly and helpful. People here are very open and accepting to foreign people and they love it if you try to speak the language.
Volunteerism has always been important to you. Are you still able to do that here?
I still do a bit of work online for Humane Society of West Alabama but I do enjoy volunteering locally with Animales Atenas. We manage spa/neuter clinics and were able to help 82 animals the last time.
Ok, it’s time to get out of the pool because I see a big raincloud coming our way.
Perfect time for a nap!
Gracias Mama. That’s Spanish for “Thanks Mom!”