A Move to Sámara, Costa Rica Leads to an Unexpected Career

Surf Hotel Nicoya Peninsula
Not ready to move to Costa Rica full time? Scout it out first, with a trip to the famed Nicoya Peninsula… and a stay in a surf hotel.|©MARKHATFIELD/iSTOCK

Name: Tamara Gabbard From: New York City, NY Living in: Sámara, Costa Rica

"After living in New York City for about seven years, it felt like I was floating through life," says 42-year-old Tamara Gabbard, a former welder.

So she bought a one-way ticket to Costa Rica, and connected with a worldwide organization of organic farmers. Her first stop was helping a couple on their farm."

It got her to Costa Rica in 2016. Then, once the gig had wrapped up, she started looking for beachfront options.

Career Opportunities Abound

"I knew I wanted to make money without taking jobs from the locals and hustling all day," she says. "I came here to enjoy life. And that’s when I started writing search engine optimization (SEO) projects."

Tamara had had a stint as a journlist, so she used her writing skills to her advantage. Eventually she found Copy Chief, an online community hub for freelance writers.

Tamara made the move to Sámara, tucked into a corner of the Nicoya Peninsula. It’s easy to get to, she reports, and homey. The nearby beaches are easy to swim, and she can walk from one end of town to the other in thirty minutes. Everything she needs is there: grocery shopping at Maxi Palí, an art supply store, and an international food market.

And even in the "developing world," Tamara can easily network and find clients… thanks to the internet. "Had I not chosen to expand my horizons through moving abroad," Tamara says, "I would have never discovered the work I now enjoy."

She’s currently the promotions and marketing manager for BusinessNet, a billion-dollar marketing agency out of Australia, and she manages the messaging strategy for the US-based agency TrackableMed… all from the beach in Sámara.

Tips for the Simple Life in Sámara

Tamara says that over the last six years, the price of housing has doubled, or sometimes tripled. But there are still options in everyone’s price range. A simple, no-frills tico-style house will cost renters $500 a month… while a swankier roost goes for $5,000 a month.

Her advice for those looking to move to Costa Rica: Be mindful when talking about money, especially when looking for housing. "People will charge according to what you say you can spend, even if they used to rent the property for less," she says.

Tamara lives in a two-bedroom house where electricity, water, WiFi, and rent come to $1,200 a month. She doesn’t own a car, opting to rely on public transit instead. If she needs medical care, she takes the $1 hourly bus to Nicoya. And her daughter attends private school, where annual tuition is $2,500.

"Sámara’s a great place for families wanting to live in nature and enjoy a simpler life," she says. "There are lots of art and sports classes and extracurricular activities, which gives us expats many options in our free time.

"And," she adds, "I won’t ever get over how beautiful it is."

On this coast, everyday scenery includes howler monkeys, fluttering hummingbirds, swaying palm trees, rolling lush green hills… and of course, the ocean.