Being self-employed in Costa Rica means Charlotte Viehauser can choose her own hours and spend plenty of time with her family. "Because I've chosen to raise my boys in Costa Rica instead of the States, I can have so much more time with them. I make my own schedule, so I can work during their school hours. In our free time, we like to get together with the other American families, play soccer, and travel within the country when we have the chance."
Wandering is our specialty. Since my husband, Chris, and I left the States at the start of 2013 with not much of a plan and a whole load of ambition, we have resided in seven homes and explored countless destinations in the two countries—Costa Rica and Nicaragua. During our travels we have rescued hatchling sea turtles from hungry birds...observed the most achingly beautiful sunset from a Pacific beach...and encouraged a sloth as he crept between trees...
Skip ahead a year and a half, and we find ourselves still gazing with eyes wide open at the land where we began. Costa Rica completely captured this whimsical family, much to our surprise, with its total package. As nature lovers, we experience an ever-present awe for our intense surroundings—the tropical birds, countless waterfalls, incredible beaches, and stunning mountain views…so much diversity in such a small country.
These days, Michael Hayden is often found strolling the colorful, cobbled streets of his adopted home, Granada, one of the oldest Spanish colonial towns in the Americas. “There’s no other place like Granada. It has a solid center…you can walk in any direction and see beautiful homes. You have impressive Mombacho Volcano in view over the streets and a steady flow of breezes from Lake Nicaragua,” says Michael.
It’s been 18 months since I moved to the tropical land of my dreams, Costa Rica, and I am still smitten with my new surroundings. Every time I return to the States for a short visit, I am reminded of how intensely I’ve transformed my life…and I realize I could never go back to my previous, mundane reality in Maryland.
When they left the States in the spring of 2012, Chuck and Anna were determined not to settle for mediocre. They wanted their dream. "We were looking for a mild climate, better health care opportunities, and lower costs," says Anna. "We were looking for an adventure, amazing views, and lots of things to do," says Chuck.
Canadian Andrea Pellegrino, 38, came home from work one winter night to find her partner Julio Carta, 35, bursting with excitement over an ad on Craigslist. "You have to check this out," he said. "We can run a brick oven bakery in Nicaragua."
Moving abroad is so much more than a change in location; it's a complete shift of lifestyle. That's what Penny and Marshall Watne have learned over the last six years in Costa Rica. Their path from North Lake Tahoe to jungle-woven Manuel Antonio was a short one. Once they achieved the idea of general success—complete with two kids and a house full of almost everything they could want—they realized they needed something different...
Frances Jones leans back in her chair and motions to the rolling view from her terrace. Forest and coffee field-flecked hills stretch for miles to the Gulf of Nicoya and the Pacific. "When we found this place the house was simple—no porches—but the view was just killer. Even if it was a tent, we still would have taken it," says Frances.
Sometimes all it takes to make your dream come true is to take that first step toward it. My husband and I wanted to change our reality from your average suburban life in the States—mortgages, car payments, and credit card debt included—to a fresh life in a place where coconuts grow and the sun always shines.