Jason Holland

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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

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Off-the-Beaten Track Homes in Costa Rica…From $80,000

Of all the places I’ve visited in Costa Rica, the Nicoya Peninsula is the one that feels most like the frontier. It’s a somewhat isolated region, with mile after mile of untouched coastline along the blue Pacific, craggy hills, vast cattle farms in the interior, and mazes of what are often dirt roads running through forests and fields. It’s also one of the world’s Blue Zones, where researchers have found that locals live longer on average due to a combination of diet, climate, and lifestyle.

Cars can be expensive to purchase in Costa Rica, so traveling by bus is an affordable and efficient way to get around.

Traveling by Bus in Costa Rica

When moving to Costa Rica, many newly-arrived expats decide to forgo having their own car. In retirement on a limited budget they want to eliminate the added expense of maintenance and fuel for a vehicle. Cars can be expensive to purchase in country and import from North America too, so that’s another reason to go car-less.

Renting allows you to investigate a region and/or community before you put down roots.

Ten Tips for Renting a Home Overseas

When moving abroad, renting a place to stay is an attractive option that offers a lot of advantages, whether you’re headed to Costa Rica, Malaysia, France, Mexico, Ecuador, Ireland…or any country. If you plan to buy or build a home eventually, renting allows you to investigate a region and/or community…or several…before you put down roots. You don’t want to be stuck in a neighborhood, region, or home you don’t like.

With its natural beauty, stunning beaches and low cost of living...Costa Rica has many reasons why you'll love it.

Five Reasons Why You’ll Love Costa Rica

There are many reasons people move to Costa Rica: low cost of living, high-quality health care; the warm weather year-round; the friendly people; the established expat communities…the list goes on. But in my case there were certain factors that attracted me to Costa Rica many years ago as a tourist and convinced me to eventually make the move down. The first is the…

Bajos del Toro, in Costa Rica's Central Valley, is a natural wonder on a grand scale.

Video: Costa Rica’s Bajos del Toro Waterfall

At the western end of Costa Rica’s Central Valley region, on the slopes of the Poas volcano, is Bajos del Toro. At 300 feet, it’s one of Latin America’s tallest waterfalls. With water cascading down a sheer rock face, surrounded by dense rain forest—it’s a natural wonder on a grand scale.

Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula is a real gem, with stunning natural beauty and empty beaches.

Video: The Ferry to and from the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, which sits on the northern Pacific coast of the country, is a somewhat isolated region. The journey to the Peninsula is however well worth the natural beauty, empty beaches, and unique beach communities strung along its length. The best way to get to some of the popular beach towns like Montezuma, Mal Pais/Santa Teresa, Nosara, and Samara from San Jose (site of the main international airport) is the ferry that leaves from the Central Pacific port of Puntarenas, which is about an hour from the capital.

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Run Your Own Beach Bar Overseas

As a busy carpenter and contractor in his native Canada, Steve Quinn relished his regular trips to Costa Rica to relax and unwind on the beach. After six years of short visits, he decided to make this beach lifestyle permanent. He took over a beach bar and restaurant in Tamarindo, a funky surf town on the country’s northern Pacific coast. He’s leasing the property for three years, with an option to buy, which is a great way to test the waters without committing to purchasing property right off the bat.

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How the Seymours Retired at 41 and 44 in Costa Rica

Opening a business, moving to a small town, changing careers, heading out on the road in an RV…they considered all these options. But once they started reading about retiring overseas, it seemed the way to go. And Costa Rica quickly rose to the top of their list of destinations because it’s an easy flight back to Dallas and there’s good infrastructure, healthcare, and Internet access. And the climate where they live in the Central Valley is perfect year-round.

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Lifestyle Opportunities in the Easy-Going Nicoya Peninsula from $80,000

Of all the places I’ve visited in Costa Rica, the Nicoya Peninsula is the one that feels most like the frontier. It’s a somewhat isolated region, with mile after mile of untouched coastline along the blue Pacific, craggy hills, vast cattle farms in the interior, and mazes of what are often dirt roads running through forests and fields. It’s also one of the world’s Blue Zones, where researchers have found that locals live longer on average due to a combination of diet, climate, and lifestyle.

High in the Tilarán Mountains the climate is mild and the views breathtaking. © Jason Holland

Monteverde: Small-Town Life in Costa Rica’s Cloud Forest

It’s easy to miss Monteverde, high in the Tilarán Mountains. There’s only a small sign directing you to turn right off the PanAmerican Highway and begin your slow ascent. You pass through tiny villages along the way. Dairy cows clamber on near-vertical terraced hillsides.

Savoring Life as a Café Owner in Costa Rica

When Michael Allen, 54, joined his wife Connie, 51, for a vacation on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast back in 2000, he made a startling discovery. “She had arrived there two weeks before me and had bought some land near the town of Ojochal, which is a hub of expat activity in the region,” says Michael. “I remember saying, ‘What did you do! Are you out of your mind? It’s in the middle of the jungle.’”

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How the Seymours Retired at 41 and 44 in Costa Rica

Opening a business, moving to a small town, changing careers, heading out on the road in an RV…they considered all these options. But once they started reading about retiring overseas, it seemed the way to go. And Costa Rica quickly rose to the top of their list of destinations because it’s an easy flight back to Dallas and there’s good infrastructure, healthcare, and Internet access. And the climate where they live in the Central Valley is perfect year-round.

Grecia, Costa Rica

Perfect Weather in the Heart of the Central Valley

My wife and I were enjoying coffee on our back porch the other day when we turned to each other and said, almost simultaneously, “Can’t beat this weather, huh?” And really, here at our home in the heart of the Central Valley, in the hills above the town of Grecia, I have to admit the weather is perfect. (My apologies to all those reading this up north who still have snow on the ground.)

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Perfect Weather in the Heart of the Central Valley, Costa Rica

My wife and I were enjoying coffee on our back porch the other day when we turned to each other and said, almost simultaneously, “Can’t beat this weather, huh?” And really, here at our home in the heart of the Central Valley, in the hills above the town of Grecia, I have to admit the weather is perfect. (My apologies to all those reading this up north who still have snow on the ground.) It averages about 75 degrees year-round and, up here at 4,500 feet, it gets cool enough…

Costa Rican food is tasty, healthy, filling, and very reasonably priced.

Tasty, Filling, and Healthy: Five Foods to Try in Costa Rica

Costa Rica doesn’t get much attention as a culinary destination. The national cuisine (known locally as comida tipica) hasn’t extended across borders. And you won’t find Costa Rican restaurants anywhere but Costa Rica. Yet, most tourists and expats find that this country is actually full of some great food. It’s tasty, filling, healthy, and, in most cases, very reasonably priced.

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Tasty, Filling, and Healthy: Five Foods to Try in Costa Rica

Costa Rica doesn’t get much attention as a culinary destination. The national cuisine (known locally as comida tipica) hasn’t extended across borders. And you won’t find Costa Rican restaurants anywhere but Costa Rica. Yet, most tourists and expats find that this country is actually full of some great food. It’s tasty, filling, healthy, and, in most cases, very reasonably priced.

Video Tour of Grecia, Costa Rica

In the heart of Costa Rica’s Central Valley is Grecia, a charming town of about 16,000. Like the rest of the Central Valley, Grecia has an ideal spring-like climate and enjoys quick access to the capital of Costa Rica, San José. There you can find the best medical care and shopping in the country, as well as the main international airport.

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Opportunities for Making Good Money in Costa Rica

When Costa Rica got its start as an expat haven more than three decades ago, it was all about retirees. But over the years, the great weather, stable government, and low cost of living have also attracted those too young to retire (or those who never want to). And they’ve found plenty of ways to support themselves—and their families—while living in a tropical paradise.

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Costa Rica: The Top Wedding Destination in Latin America

There is business opportunity in overseas weddings…and Costa Rica is emerging as the new place to be. It’s estimated that about 8% of U.S. weddings are held overseas, with Mexico being a perennial favorite due to its proximity and established tourist infrastructure. But Costa Rica is now rated the top destination in Latin America by wedding website TheKnot.com.

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Costa Rica: The Top Wedding Destination in Latin America

There is business opportunity in overseas weddings…and Costa Rica is emerging as the new place to be. It’s estimated that about 8% of U.S. weddings are held overseas, with Mexico being a perennial favorite due to its proximity and established tourist infrastructure. But Costa Rica is now rated the top destination in Latin America by wedding website TheKnot.com. With 36% of the destination weddings in the region, it’s second only to Mexico in terms of numbers…

Costa Rica

Opportunities for Making Good Money in Costa Rica

When Costa Rica got its start as an expat haven more than three decades ago, it was all about retirees. But over the years, the great weather, stable government, and low cost of living have also attracted those too young to retire (or those who never want to). And they’ve found plenty of ways to support themselves—and their families—while living in a tropical paradise.

Vacationers and long-term expats are all drawn to the beautiful beaches of Manuel Antonio. © stellalevi/iStock

From High-Tech to Laid-Back in Costa Rica

After a long career in Silicon Valley, Robbie Felix, 58, was ready for a change. “I showed up there in 1978 right after they broke up the telephone monopolies, and it was booming,” says Robbie, who worked as a headhunter specialized in staffing start-up companies. “I loved it. It was fascinating but extremely stressful. There was a lot of pressure because there was so much money on the table.”

Meghan Cox has built a strong network of contacts to help her plan weddings.

Love a Big Event? Plan Weddings in Costa Rica

There is business opportunity in overseas weddings…and Costa Rica is emerging as the new place to be. For some couples, the dream wedding doesn’t take place in a fancy hotel ballroom in their home town. They opt for a destination wedding in an exotic location. It’s estimated that about 8% of U.S. weddings are held overseas, with Mexico being a perennial favorite due to its proximity and established tourist infrastructure.

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Did You Know Learning Spanish is Easier Because of This?

We had a friend from Florida visit us here in Costa Rica recently. She’s been a regular guest during our time down here—she loves travel, and Central America in particular. But it was her new husband’s first time in the country, even though he’s from Nicaragua, just to the north. He doesn’t speak any English, although he does recognize a few words and phrases.

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From High-Tech to Laid-Back in Costa Rica

“I bought a hotel in 2000, because I didn’t know what to do with myself,” says Robbie. Hotel California, set in the rainforest on a hill high above the blue Pacific, was a bit run-down when she bought it. So Robbie launched a full-scale renovation before reopening. In Costa Rica, where construction often happens at a more relaxed pace, it took just five months.

The cloud forest of Monteverde is a high-altitude rain forest where the clouds sweep through the trees, leaving a lush, moisture-rich environment.

Video: The Cloud Forest of Monteverde, Costa Rica

Just three and a half hours or so northwest of San José, Costa Rica’s capital and site of the main international airport, is a unique mountain community. Monteverde, with its main town Santa Elena, is the site of a large protected swath of land, including the cloud forest the area is best known for. This is a type of high-altitude rain forest where the clouds sweep through the trees, leaving a lush, moisture-rich environment. Trees are covered in orchids, moss, and bromeliads.

High in the Tilaran Mountains of Costa Rica, best know for its cloud forest, is the Monteverde region.

Video: A Look at Santa Elena, Costa Rica

High in the Tilaran Mountains of Costa Rica is the Monteverde region. It’s one of the top tourist destinations in the country thanks to the natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and opportunities for adventures sports and hiking. It’s a bit over three hours to the west of Costa Rica’s capital, San José. The main town of the region, Santa Elena, serves as a home base for travelers and long-time foreign residents alike.

The southern Pacific coast, officially known as the country’s Southern Zone, is the Costa Rica of postcards and guidebook covers.

Property at Affordable Prices on Costa Rica’s Southern Coast

Despite interest from investors and well-heeled vacation home owners, you can still find good-value real estate. Prices start at $150,000 for simple digs, going up to multi-millions for the luxury palaces favored by wealthy vacation home owners. So it may not be dirt cheap. But with ocean-view homes starting at the low $200,000s, prices are a quarter of what you’d pay for similar property on the southern California coast, for example.

The southern Pacific coast, officially known as the country’s Southern Zone, is the Costa Rica of postcards and guidebook covers.

Property at Affordable Prices on Costa Rica’s Southern Coast

Despite interest from investors and well-heeled vacation home owners, you can still find good-value real estate. Prices start at $150,000 for simple digs, going up to multi-millions for the luxury palaces favored by wealthy vacation home owners. So it may not be dirt cheap. But with ocean-view homes starting at the low $200,000s, prices are a quarter of what you’d pay for similar property on the southern California coast, for example.

A healthier diet is just one of the many benefits of living in Costa Rica.

Video: The Perks of Living in Costa Rica

There are a lot of practical advantages to living in Costa Rica that I’ve discovered during my two years here. A big one for my family is the savings on medical care. When my son was born in June of 2012, we paid just $3,000 for the birth at a private hospital, including all the doctors’ fees and an overnight hospital stay. That’s cash, no insurance. We would have paid $15,000 to $20,000 in the U.S. When, at six months, the baby developed some health issues, testing and treatment was cheap too.

Costa Rica offers good quality health care for a fraction of the price you would pay in the U.S.

This Is Why Expats Are Healthier in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a lot to recommend it: low cost of living, bargain real estate, the “Pura Vida” lifestyle, great weather, fabulous beaches…the list goes on and on. But one of the biggest benefits for retirees, business owners, and other expats is the health care. In a time of rising costs in the U.S., not to mention a contentious political debate over insurance and medical care, Costa Rica’s take on the issue is refreshing.

Costa Rica offers good quality health care for a fraction of the price you would pay in the U.S.

This Is Why Expats Are Healthier in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a lot to recommend it: low cost of living, bargain real estate, the “Pura Vida” lifestyle, great weather, fabulous beaches…the list goes on and on. But one of the biggest benefits for retirees, business owners, and other expats is the health care. In a time of rising costs in the U.S., not to mention a contentious political debate over insurance and medical care, Costa Rica’s take on the issue is refreshing.

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The Perks of Living in Costa Rica

There are a lot of practical advantages to living in Costa Rica that I’ve discovered during my two years here. A big one for my family is the savings on medical care. When my son was born in June of 2012, we paid just $3,000 for the birth at a private hospital, including all the doctors’ fees and an overnight hospital stay. That’s cash, no insurance. We would have paid $15,000 to $20,000 in the U.S. When, at six months, the baby developed some health issues, testing and treatment was cheap too.

You can enjoy serene village life right in the San Jose metro area where rents start at less than $500 a month for an unfurnished place.© Jason Holland

The Rural Charms of San José, Costa Rica

I have a pretty standard morning routine. I’m awakened very early by roosters but stay in bed for a while as the sunrise filters into the bedroom. I start the coffee, open the sliding doors, step out to my deck, and look down into the valley below. I usually see hummingbirds buzzing around my flowers, sometimes a blue-crowned mot-mot.

Costa Rica is the perfect place for adventures like canyoning, surfing and ziplining.

Finding Adventure in Costa Rica

There I was 140 feet up a tree in the rainforest of Costa Rica’s Southern Zone. I’d hoisted myself up using mountaineering gear–it took about 30 minutes. Now, as we rested dangling in our harnesses, we watched a trio of toucans of one species eating nuts on a nearby tree and then a pair from another species fly right by our heads.

In Pictures : Grocery Shopping in Costa Rica

In Pictures: Grocery Shopping in Costa Rica

Shopping like a local in Costa Rica often means forgoing trips to the supermarket in favor of the feria (farmers’ market), mercado central (central market), and roadside stands, especially for fruits, vegetables, and other fresh foods.

Midwest Couple Reveal: Why Costa Rica?

Midwest Couple Reveal: Why Costa Rica?

My wife, Caryl, and I grew up together in a very small town in the rural Midwest. After leaving for college, marrying, and spending many years in the workforce, we returned to our little community—38 years after we left.

Why Is Everyone Moving to this Costa Rican Town?

Why Is Everyone Moving to this Costa Rican Town?

A lot of my friends here in Costa Rica, as well as many people I’ve met in my travels, are moving to Atenas. More than a half-dozen couples and families in the last few months have arrived in this small town in the Central Valley.

A Million-Dollar Dream Home for $300,000 in Costa Rica

A Million-Dollar Dream Home for $300,000 in Costa Rica

It’s a line you hear a lot on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast. “We thought about Panama—we almost bought in El Valle. Then we came down to Costa Rica’s Southern Zone and fell in love.

A Fuller Retirement in Costa Rica’s Southern Zone

A Fuller Retirement in Costa Rica’s Southern Zone

Anna Fishel, 63, was living and working in Colorado in early 2012, and retirement was still years away…or so she thought. “There was a change in management at my job that made it absolutely miserable for me to go to work. I had bought my house in Costa Rica with plans to move in a few years.”

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