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.

Archives

Playa Bejuco, Central Pacific Coast, Costa Rica

Escaping Brutal Winters and Relishing a Tropical Beach Life

Weeks with the temperatures below zero. Snow, snow, and more snow. It was a particularly brutal winter two years ago that convinced Jim, 67, and Barb Kohlmetz, 62, that it was time for a change after living in Wisconsin all their lives. Now they jet down to Costa Rica after the Christmas holidays and stay in their home in a quiet beach community on the central Pacific coast until after the spring thaw. As retirees—they were in education for a combined 73 years—they have the flexible schedule perfect for part-time residents.

drake-bay

The Quest to Find the Perfect Beach View For My Hammock

I’ve enjoyed hammocks all over Central America. It’s a way of life in this region, standard home furnishing, and a pastime enjoyed by all. Truck drivers stuck at customs checkpoints string them under their tractor-trailers. Families on front porches take quick naps—nothing puts a baby (or anyone for that matter) to sleep faster than a gently swinging hammock.

Grecia market, Costa Rica

The Typical Cuisine of Costa Rica

Costa Rica cuisine may not be well-known outside its borders. But those who visit or live there soon develop a craving for certain dishes. With a reliance on fresh ingredients and savory seasonings, it’s no wonder. There are nearly 1,000 miles of Pacific and Caribbean coastline, so seafood is a favorite. And the rich volcanic soil means that fruits and vegetables thrive, including tropical varieties like guanabana or chayote not found much outside the region.

Nicaragua

Making Nacatamales, a Traditional Nicaraguan Dish

For special occasions, especially the Christmas holidays, nacatamales are the go-to traditional meal in Nicaragua. Making this delicious dish is a bit labor intensive and a multi-step process—so the whole family gets involved. The basic ingredients are masa, chicken or pork seasoned with achiote, and vegetables and herbs like onions, potatoes, bell peppers, tomato, rice, and mint—everybody has their own version. It’s all wrapped together in a banana leaf and then steamed.

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An Ideal Beach Lifestyle in Tulúm, Mexico

“What would we do in Wisconsin in retirement?” says Lance Koehler, reflecting on his new life in beachside Tulúm. “Go to the mall, shovel snow. Here I love the warm weather, the sun, and going to the beach.” Lance and his wife Jeanette have found more than their place in the sun. They’ve also found their place in the local expat community.

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Rural Lake Arenal: An Active Lifestyle with a Small-Town Feel

The hills are cut with steep, tree-filled river valleys, and peninsulas, capes, and coves mark the lakeshore. At 18 miles long and three miles across at its widest, the blue expanse of Lake Arenal, in Costa Rica’s northern highlands, anchors a region known for its laidback lifestyle. Here, in a place of perennial warm weather and volcanic soils perfect for gardening, you can find the small-town U.S. vibe of yesteryear. And at a highly affordable cost.

Tamarindo, Costa Rica

“Retirement in Costa Rica is Better Than We Imagined”

“I love that our life is so different than I ever thought it would be,” says Pokey Sherman, 65. “I grew up in Pittsburgh. And my parents retired to Florida. I thought, ‘Is that all there is?’ I think the idea of retirement should be to change your lifestyle.”
“It’s a real joy to wake up and come out here and realize what we’ve done,” she adds, referring to their fifth-floor balcony. Their condo is set on a hill overlooking a low-key beach town, verdant forest, the glittering Pacific, surfer-filled waves, and river to the north.

Orosi Valley, Costa Rica

Top Five Things to Do in San José, Costa Rica

When most people think of Costa Rica, they picture white-sand beaches, rainforests, monkeys frolicking in the trees, and clear-blue ocean. And that’s all true. This little tropical country is full of natural beauty.

Ometepe Island, Lake Nicaragua, Nicaragua

The Awe-Inspiring Natural Beauty of Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Set in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, the world’s 19th largest lake, Ometepe Island is an escape from the stress of the modern world. It’s most noticeable feature: the two volcanoes, one active and one extinct, that loom above all.

Island residents live a simple life of farming and fishing. There is no large-scale development and limited numbers of tourists make their way there for horseback riding, trekking in the jungle, eco-tours, and learning sustainable farming practices. You do find some expats on Ometepe, running restaurants or hostels…or farming. It’s still a relatively undiscovered destination.

Catedral Metropolitana, Mexico City

Travel in Mexico City: The Zócalo and Cathedral

In downtown Mexico City, one of the largest in the world, you find a vast open space – the famous Zócalo. Covering 14 acres, it is one of the largest town squares or plazas in the world. It’s the heart of the city’s colonial district, surrounded by historic buildings and pedestrian avenues full of restaurants and shops, as well as government buildings and a cathedral.

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Running a Laidback Guesthouse in Grecia

When you ask Jeanetta Owens what’s the best thing about her work and life in Costa Rica, it’s definitely the location. “I love it,” she says of the peaceful and beautiful town she calls home. “I love the people. They’re so giving, so caring, and so helpful. The people and the mild climate is what drew me to Grecia, and hands down is why I stay. Grecia offers a very tight-knit community where you will not find yourself alone for long.”

Manzanillo-Costa-Rica

Seven of the Best Beaches in Costa Rica

With 912 miles of coastline on both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica has plenty of beaches. And you get a wide variety of looks, too. Some of these beaches are all natural, Robison Crusoe-style tropical escapes that you’ll have all to yourself. You can sit in the shade as you watch clear water lap against the shore on a lazy afternoon. Others are places to enjoy a cold drink in hand, toes in the sand, listening to music and people-watching. There are even large resorts and bustling beach towns with plenty of nightlife.

Brasilito-Costa-Rica

Tranquil Living By the Beach in Costa Rica For $100,000

I’m looking out over the deep blue Pacific. Fisherman with nets wade out into the shallows, flinging them periodically to catch bait fish. There’s not a cloud in the sky, and the water, with the high midday sun, glitters with light.

San-Miguel-Mexico

Exploring the Charms of San Miguel de Allende

I’ve never had a taxi driver refuse a fare before. But there we were, just arrived from Mexico City on the first-class bus (WiFi, reclining seats, air conditioning, etc. for $22) in the charming colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, in Mexico’s Colonial Highlands. And after telling the driver the address of the apartment my wife and I had rented, he shrugged his shoulders and said the roads were closed.

jaco

Beach Resort Living on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast

Costa Rica is known for its lush, wildlife-filled jungles lining deserted white-sand beaches. It’s a favorite photo for the tourism board. The whole country appears wild…untamed. There is a lot of that out there. And having the whole beach to yourself while capuchin monkeys scamper in the trees above is quite a thrill.

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An Active, Comfortable Life on Costa Rica’s Gold Coast

Away from the beach, Tamarindo has great food and a fantastic social scene. We gather at sunset every evening. Because we’re near the equator, it’s always between 5:15 and 6:15 p.m. Groups of friends chat and watch their kids play. Dog walkers nod as they walk past. Surfers pop into the water for one last wave. Bottles are raised as the sun disappears over the horizon.

Costa Rica

The Quiet Costa Rican Countryside

For such a small country, Costa Rica is amazingly diverse as far as landscapes, climates, and lifestyle. There are bustling beach towns, big modern cities, and lush jungles. But throughout the country you will also find unspoiled rural areas of farmland, forest, and charming villages. Life is lived much as it has for generations. If you’re looking for a quiet place with small town values to set up home, you might consider the Costa Rican countryside.

Costa Rica

A Traditional Costa Rican Fiesta

Just about every town and village in Costa Rica holds a fiesta every year. It’s fun for the whole family, with carnival rides, food, music, dancing, and a rodeo. The celebration lasts for two or three days and gets going in late afternoon and goes well into the evening. In this video you’ll get a taste of the fiesta in Villarreal, a small town on the northern Pacific coast.

Northern-Pacific-Coast

Three Laidback Beach Towns on Costa Rica’s Northern Pacific Coast

Although Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast is popular with tourists, there are plenty of small and low-key beach towns where expats live. They enjoy a close-knit circle of friends, boating and beach-combing, great restaurants and beach bars, and quiet, mostly residential, communities. In this video, International Living Costa Rica Editor Jason Holland explores Playa Flamingo…

Merida

Culture, Affordable Healthcare, and a Colonial Home in Mérida For $110,000

I’m enjoying a cappuccino at a sidewalk cafe. 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 Merida, Mexico, the third-largest Spanish colonial district in the world, after Havana and Mexico City, surrounded by centuries-old colonial homes, churches, and grand buildings.

Merida

Colonial Homes in Mexico from $110,000

Expats have taken the lead in the renovation and refurbishment of Merída’s colonial heritage, turning once-crumbling colonial structures into boutique hotels, restaurants…and private homes. But many buyers prefer to buy turnkey properties instead of dealing with construction.

Corozal

Make Your Dollars Go Further in Belize With This Retiree Program

Earl and Gail Johnson have lived in the Corozal District, a retirement haven in northern Belize, for eight years. Corozal is a small town, set on the vast Corozal Bay and just nine miles from the Mexican border. It has a close-knit expat community, with plenty of clubs and social activities.

Mexico

Colonial San Miguel de Allende

Set in Mexico’s Colonial Highlands, San Miguel de Allende is a long-time expat haven known for its vibrant arts scene, strong influences from indigenous culture, historic centro (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and temperate climate. It’s a beautiful little town and there is never any shortage of things to do, from theatre to live music to restaurants of every cuisine. Here is a glimpse of what San Miguel has to offer.

Corozal

Make Your Dollars Go Further in Belize With This Retiree Program

Earl and Gail Johnson have lived in the Corozal District, a retirement haven in northern Belize, for eight years. Corozal is a small town, set on the vast Corozal Bay and just nine miles from the Mexican border. It has a close-knit expat community, with plenty of clubs and social activities.

Caribbean-coast

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.

tamarindo

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.

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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.

Mexico

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.

Mexico

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.

Costa-Rica

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.

Placencia

“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.

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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.

Placencia

“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.

Merida

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.

Playa-del-Carmen

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.

grecia

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.

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