Jason Holland

Author Image for Jason Holland

Jason Holland had the benefit of living overseas from an early age. His father was in the U.S. military and later worked for the U.S. government in Turkey, Germany, and Spain. Jason was born in Madrid and, after a brief stint in the States, spent most of his childhood back in Spain, on the southern Atlantic coast near Cadiz. He returned to the U.S. for college, graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in Journalism.

After several years in the trenches covering local news for community newspapers in Florida, Jason was offered a position as a writer and editor with Early to Rise, an Agora-affiliated company offering educational resources for entrepreneurs and online marketers. Over the years, he managed to indulge in his love of travel with trips to Thailand, Singapore, Jamaica, and Costa Rica. Jason now lives in Costa Rica with his family and is International Living's Costa Rica editor.

Jason regularly contributes to International Living's Costa Rica Facebook page.



Video: Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

It’s the most laid-back and least-developed region of Costa Rica. On the Caribbean coast you’ll find no big resorts or hotels, no condo towers on the beach, no big towns. It’s a low-key place where nobody is in a rush and there’s always time to chat with a friend you run into. The area is known for its natural beauty as well. It’s a dramatic coastline of beach and jungle.


A Carefree Beach Life in This Laidback Surf Town

I’m up a bit after sunrise for my daily ritual. It starts with a long leisurely walk on the beach. Something about the sound of crashing waves, watching anchored boats bob on the horizon, and the cool weather before the heat of the day hits…it just puts me in the right mood. I live in Tamarindo, on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast. It’s a small town, popular with tourists, where life revolves around the beach. Surfing, which put Tamarindo on the map in the 1990s, is still huge here.


Restore a Colonial Home in Mérida for Under $200,000 All In

You sit in your courtyard at a sturdy hardwood table, enjoying the first cup of coffee of the day. The sounds of the city waking up are muffled by thick stone walls, as the tinkling fountain next to you provides a soothing soundtrack. A small pool to the side is the perfect antidote to hot days. You’re surrounded by heliconia, ginger, and bougainvillea vines. As you head inside through a tall, arched doorway for a second cup, your eyes pass over the intricately patterned tile floors, the vaulted ceilings with heavy timber beams standing out against the bright-white ceiling, and the dark wood doorframes perfectly complementing the yellow walls.

Costa Rica

The Beaches of Costa Rica’s “Gold Coast”

Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, also known as the Gold Coast, is a tourist and expat favorite. It’s no wonder. It’s the sunniest region of the country. And visitors and residents alike have a variety of communities to choose from: busy resort towns, expat enclaves, deserted beaches, laid-back seaside villages, and more. Life is about surfing, fishing, shopping at charming farmers’ markets (and buying fresh off the boat seafood), and lazing away the day on the sand.

Costa Rica

The Bustling Beach Town of Tamarindo, Costa Rica

International Living Costa Rica Editor Jason Holland makes his home in Tamarindo, a busy beach town on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast. Home to expats from North America, Europe, Latin America, and beyond, it’s a fun and funky locale known for its active beach lifestyle. In this video, Jason shares the charms of Tamarindo like watersports, watching sunset, and enjoying a nice meal with a view of the ocean.


A Festive Patron Saint Celebration in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Every year in the charming colonial city of San Miguel de Allende, in Mexico’s colonial highlands region, thousands of people arrive to celebrate the birthday of Saint Michael Archangel, its patron saint. The feast day is Sept. 29. But the biggest celebrations take place the following weekend.


The Colonial Charms of Mérida, Mexico

Mérida is the colonial gem of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It’s a city of 1 million with a thriving colonial district of historic buildings renovated as private homes, museums, shops, restaurants, boutiques, and more. The centro is safe, full of friendly people…and things to do. This cultural mecca offers a symphony orchestra, opera, cinema, and regular folkloric performances.


The 5 Best Expat Hangouts in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a lot going for it: lower cost of living, top notch medical care for a fraction of the cost of the U.S., bargain real estate, warm weather year-round, natural beauty, tremendous biodiversity, modern conveniences…the list goes on. It’s enough to make you fall in love with this small Central American country.


“I Love My Work…and My Less Stressful Life in Belize”

Dick Walton, 53, and his wife, Dawn, 47, have always loved to travel. And they knew for a long time that they wanted to retire to English-speaking Belize…the tiny Central American country on the Caribbean Sea. But when Dawn had an aneurysm in 2009, the couple pushed up that timetable to escape the stress and fast pace of life in their hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Costa Rica

The Insider Secret For Lowering Your Costs in Costa Rica

I was enjoying a stroll down the beach in Tamarindo the other day—it’s just a 10-minute walk from my house—when a couple, visitors from the Midwest, asked me to take their picture. We chatted, and I mentioned that I lived in town.


Mérida: The Yucatán’s Colonial Gem

I ’m enjoying a cappuccino at a sidewalk café. The tree providing shade is a century old, the church across the way much older. The neighborhood is historic, with restored buildings lining narrow streets for a dozen blocks in any direction. I’m in Mérida, Mexico, in the downtown centro of centuries-old colonial homes, churches, and grand buildings. It’s the third-largest Spanish colonial district in the world, after Havana and Mexico City.


“I Love My Work…and My Less Stressful Life in Belize”

Dick Walton, 53, and his wife, Dawn, 47, have always loved to travel. And they knew for a long time that they wanted to retire to English-speaking Belize…the tiny Central American country on the Caribbean Sea. But when Dawn had an aneurysm in 2009, the couple pushed up that timetable to escape the stress and fast pace of life in their hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


How A Few Hours Online Funds a Mexican Adventure

With several feet of snow on the ground not uncommon during winters in their native Calgary, Canada, Warren Schoff and Rhoda Parent were looking for an escape south of the border. “In 2002, we visited Playa del Carmen and fell in love with Mexico. We kept coming back twice a year. In 2009 we started scouting properties on the Yucátan Peninsula. We liked the lower cost of living and the inexpensive, more personalized healthcare. And there’s a party every weekend,” says Rhoda, who adds they wanted to have an adventure while they were still young enough to enjoy it.


Caribbean, Beachside Living For Half the Cost of Home

“We love the weather, the beach, the people. Nobody cares what your last name is or your backstory. It’s very casual,” say Vicki Lyall of her home in Playa del Carmen, on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Vicki and her husband Scot had been visiting this Caribbean paradise for many years. And it was on a trip nine years ago they happened to stroll by a real estate office.


Solving a Retirement Crisis with Costa Rica’s Low-Costs

As retirement neared, Bob Beavis, 66, and his wife Linda, 59, thought they were all set. Bob’s last job was as a HR director near Dayton, Ohio, which made him eligible for a state pension. He found his job rewarding and he had a plan. He would put in his 10 years then get free healthcare in retirement, with $50 per month to cover Linda, too.


How Mexico’s Caribbean Coast Fulfilled a Business Dream

Just south of resort and tourist-packed Cancún, Mexico, lies the small town of Puerto Morelos. Although there are a few small resorts and hotels, it’s still a working fishing village, albeit with a sizable expat population. Anthony Chalas had never even heard of Puerto Morelos until he was online with his brother Nick a few years ago. He was helping plan the annual vacation he took with his family. Someplace affordable. Someplace warm and with a nice beach.


Stress-Free, Beach-Side Living Along the Riviera Maya

I’m on a terrace, shaded from the bright midday sun by an overhanging palm frond roof. On the plate in front of me: three fish tacos—tortillas filled with fried filets and a coleslaw seasoned with lime and chili. From my perch I can see the tidy town square below where a few locals have claimed patches of shade to stop and chat. School kids in uniform scurry across the plaza in groups. And looking the other way I can just glimpse a sliver of the blue Caribbean between buildings. The sea breeze is light…but enough to cut the tropical heat.


Earning in the U.S. While Living on Your Costa Rican Homestead

After just over a year in their home overlooking Lake Arenal in Costa Rica, Steve, 59, and Prudence Tippins, 50, are loving their new life…and many mornings get a dramatic reminder of why they decided to move. With the year-round, temperate climate, the couple regularly sleep outdoors on their deck.

Lake Arenal

The Unspoiled Beauty of Costa Rica’s Lake Arenal

Verdant hills rise gracefully from the shore, surrounding the blue waters of the lake. No boat traffic disturbs the peace. And the countryside is a mix of farm, pasture, and forest…with homes dotting the hills overlooking the water. Expats have been arriving in increasing numbers, but the development is small-scale and never overpowers the scenery and doesn’t spoil the view.

Lake Arenal

Replacing the Rat Race with Stunning Views and Good Healthcare

“In the U.S., you’re always going, going, going…it’s so easy to lose sight of where you’re headed. Life got too fast-moving for us”, explains Ray Granade. “We always needed to be somewhere, quickly, then somewhere else. It seemed like we were spending an extraordinary amount of time sitting in traffic. Now the longest we wait in the car is usually for a herd of cattle to cross the road,” he adds, saying he and his wife Kim, both 63, also wanted to escape the consumerism in the U.S.

Lake Arenal

The Unspoiled Beauty of Lake Arenal, Costa Rica

In the Northern Highlands region of Costa Rica, about three hours northwest of the capital, San Jose, is Lake Arenal. Blessed with a spring-like climate year-round, the shores around the lake have become home to an increasing number of expats from around the world, including many North Americans. They find a vibrant and active expat community, a small town atmosphere, a rural feel, and peace and quiet. Many live in homes with panoramic lake views.


Chic, Trendy, Easy-Going Tulúm

Time has slowed. I’m squinting from the midday sun. The low roar of gentle waves lapping the white-sand shores all along the three mile-long bay mixes with the calls of seabirds. On the horizon, breakers foam over the reef, contrasting with the vivid turquoise sea. It’s hypnotic…a nearly out-of-body experience. Tulúm, a community of around 30,000 people on the south end of Mexico’s Riviera Maya, tends to have that effect on people. It’s the type of place where vacationers fall in love and the next time they return it’s for good.


Working the Latitudes for a Low-Stress Life

We’ve been everywhere, all over Costa Rica,” says Jessica Sueiro of her family’s travels through this Central American haven. “This week we’re going to Flamingo beach on the northern Pacific, Montezuma on the Nicoya Peninsula, and the mountain town of Monteverde, with the cloud forest.”


The Pleasures of a Beach Business in Costa Rica

Stephanie Gough can hardly believe how quickly the five years has gone since she moved, with her family, to Costa Rica. “It’s kind of crazy that it’s been that long,” says Stephanie, who lives in the bustling beach town of Tamarindo, on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast.


Find Fulfillment by Starting a Business Abroad

On my first trip to Granada, Nicaragua several years ago, I stopped in a small bookshop in the historic colonial quarter, just a few blocks from the main square. It was evident the owner—an expat from California—was a lover of literature. Classics…science fiction…travelogues…histories…and more lined the shelves. As I chatted to him, it emerged that he got started when he was just passing through Granada and, looking to make a bit of extra travel money…he laid books out on a blanket on the street to sell.

Costa Rica

In Costa Rica I Have the Beach Life I Could Never Afford in the U.S.

As the sun set over the Pacific, the silhouettes of fishing boats lined up on the horizon came into sharp relief. Just in front of me, a dozen children clambered through tide pools searching for shells and sea creatures. The strains of reggae from the live band playing at the bar just behind me provided a great soundtrack to this late afternoon on the beach. A friend of mine standing next to me turned and said, “Not bad, huh?”

Peurto Morelos Feat

Fulfilling a Dream on Mexico’s Riviera Maya

After a long career in the restaurant industry in New York and New Jersey, Anthony Chalas was ready for a change. He wanted his own place, where he could fulfill his vision of a seaside restaurant serving Greek food. And he found it on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, in the sleepy fishing village and expat haven of Puerto Morelos. His restaurant, La Sirena, sits on the town square, just across the street from a white-sand beach. Set on the second floor, it allows diners to see the vivid blue sea from the eatery’s open-air deck

Lake Arenal

A Growing Expat Community and Affordable Living in Lake-Side Costa Rica

As I came over the last hill on the road from Tilaran, a small town about 10 minutes from the shore of Lake Arenal, I could see what makes Arenal so special. The stunning lake vistas opened up before me… Most of the land here is forest, pasture, or farm—split by rivers, streams, and rocky waterfalls…natural and unspoiled. And it has that small-town feel, where strangers say “Buenas tardes” as you walk through town or wave if you drive by.


Safety and Security Living Abroad

The 24-hour media machine fuels this “fear of elsewhere.” Footage of revolutions in the streets and masked gunmen stalking the jungle makes for good TV. Footage of people peacefully and cheerfully going to the market, relaxing on their porch of an evening, and doing the sorts of things normal daily life brings, well, that’s not going to attract the TV news crews, is it?

Costa Rica

Best Beaches on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

Costa Rica’s Caribbean is a wild coastline…the least developed region of the country. Small towns and villages line the coast. Jungle surrounds you. The beaches range from dark volcanic sand to golden-hued grains to the powdery white variety. The water is a clear turquoise. And the living is very easy. Take a look at this selection of the best beaches on the Caribbean: the best places for watersports, sunbathing, and enjoying a good book in the shade of a palm tree.


Great Healthcare Inspires a Business in Mérida

It wasn’t until Tina Frewer suffered a serious health issue that she discovered how good the medical care was in Mérida, a city of nearly one million people on the western side of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. After receiving excellent care at Star Médica, one of two top-rated hospitals in Mérida, and attention from the area’s top specialists, Tina was inspired. Why not help medical tourists who come to Mexico for low-cost, high-quality surgeries and dental care navigate the city and the system? As a patient advocate/medical tourism concierge, Tina now connects expat patients with doctors and healthcare facilities through her business, HealthItinerary.


A “Fishy Business” on the Riviera Maya

We enjoy the beach when we have time,” says Joseph Ader of his new life on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. “I love what I do. And I love the climate here. It’s very similar to Florida, which is one of the biggest producers of fish for food and the hobby trade. That’s one of the reasons it’s such a good business here.” As a kid growing up in Pennsylvania, Joseph helped his grandmother with her tropical fish aquariums, not realizing he was setting himself up for his future career.

Costa Rica

Cahuita, Costa Rica – A Laid-Back Caribbean Beach Town

The fishing village of Cahuita on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast is popular with backpackers and eco-tourists thanks to a national park that protects a large swath of jungle and beach. There’s also a charming “downtown” area of brightly-painted buildings containing restaurants specializing in Caribbean cuisine, boutiques, and budget hotels.


Costa Rica’s “Secret” Mountain Town Minutes From the Beach

I turn off the Pan-American Highway and start up a gentle slope. Well-maintained and brightly-painted homes with gardens full of vivid blue hydrangeas line the fences on either side of the roadway. Mango trees, heavy with almost glowing green and red fruit, loom above. Ten minutes later I’m in the heart of the village. There is a picturesque little white church with a tidy park in front. Children in pressed uniforms file out of their classrooms at the school down the road. Passers-by hail me with a hearty Buenas Tardes as they walk by. I’m in Miramar, a small town in the hills about an hour west of the country’s capital San José. It’s just a 10-minute drive from the Pacific coast. That must be why the garlic seafood dish I ordered at an open-air restaurant in the center of town tasted so fresh…and was just $6.50 for a heaping plate of clams, calamari, fish, and shrimp, with sides of salad and French fries.


The Best Beach Towns on Mexico’s Riviera Maya

You’ll enjoy some of Mexico’s finest quality of living for a fraction of what you’d pay in the U.S. or Canada. All told, a couple can comfortably call this paradise home for around $2,500 to $3,000 a month. Simple meals in local restaurants will run you $5 or less. One of my favorites, fish tacos, can be had for $1.50 each in the no-frills beach restaurants. And in stores, you can expect to pay prices similar to those in the U.S. for imported foods, but fresh produce is a bargain…try a pound of tomatoes for 65 cents or two pounds of fresh fruit like mango for $1. There are big savings on property taxes and healthcare, too. And where else can you enjoy life in a two-bedroom condo a stone’s-throw from the beach, in a premier beach town, for under $700 a month rent?


$500 rent in Costa Rica (The Monkey in the Garden is Free)

I stayed in a jungle paradise recently. Every morning I woke up to the sound of toucans and howler monkeys hanging out in the tropical hardwoods around my simple cabin. If you’ve never heard them, toucans have a sort of high-pitched call that’s a cross between a whistle and a laugh. Howlers…well, they issue a guttural roar much too loud than should be coming from such a small monkey.

Costa Rica

A Tropical Beach Home for One-Third of the U.S. Price

Costa Rica’s northern Pacific is a place where you often might be one of a dozen people on the beach. It’s laidback and on a reasonable scale. Small villages. Quiet resort towns. Manageable. Lots of trees and natural areas. Not crowded. The level of development, though increasing, is still very small. And the attention development […]

Costa Rica

Small Town U.S.A. and Stunning Views in the Central Valley

Imagine coffee on your terrace as you enjoy spectacular views of lush green mountains and the valley and town below. Parrots glide overhead as the sun sets over the mountain… A lot of living is done outdoors here in the Central Valley region of Costa Rica. A major draw is the comfortable year-round climate. The […]

Costa Rica

A Cool-Weather Homestead in Lakeland Costa Rica

Picture a kitchen garden, orchards of fruit trees, your own slice of jungle, and stunning lake views… This is the Lake Arenal region, and you can have a dream homestead here with large properties for sale at affordable prices. When it comes to up-and-coming destinations for expat home buyers in Costa Rica, this part of […]

Costa Rica

The Jet Set Are Hot for This Costa Rican Beach Town

On the far southern tip of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula is the tiny town of Montezuma. After hearing it described as a “must-see” from friends and fellow travelers for years, I decided to check out this gem on the Pacific. And I have to say…I think all the Montezuma fans have a point.

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