Colorado to Tamarindo: The Road Trip of a Lifetime

From Colorado to Tamarindo
©iStock/Rani Zerafa

Embarking on an international adventure is often just a dream for many, yet it became a reality for Amy Demick and her husband, Doug, when they decided to stop waiting and turn their aspirations into real life.

"Our kids were at that perfect age," Amy tells me. "Neither had started high school yet. And after Covid, we were ready for a change, so we decided it was time for a new chapter." The family sold off their lives in Colorado, packed their essentials into their camper van, and set the GPS for Playa Tamarindo.

The journey began on July 19, 2022, in the mountainous terrain of Colorado and culminated on August 13 in the tropical paradise of Costa Rica.

"Choosing to drive down gave us the freedom to bring along everything we needed," Amy explains. "Plus, with two big dogs, driving made relocating easier. Our sprinter van allows us to explore, and we were up for an adventure!" The family traveled through six countries in 26 days.

Amy Demick and her family drove across six countries to reach their new lives in Costa Rica.
Amy Demick and her family drove across six countries to reach their new lives in Costa Rica. |©Amy Demick

"Safety was our priority, and we felt secure everywhere we ventured. We camped and stayed at RV parks, Airbnbs, and hotels. Those reservations at a few Airbnbs along the way were a lifesaver since we got to do laundry at them."

Amy says the iOverlander app made life easier. It's full of advice from seasoned travelers, sharing the best parking spots, places to avoid, and where to refuel.

The family also used Facebook groups like the Pan-American Association to help navigate their road trip.

"My biggest recommendation is to only talk to people who have done or are currently doing this trip," Amy says. "Don't look for advice from people in a random group because everyone's going to tell you it's too dangerous and you're going to die. I learned these negative comments came from people who had never even made the trip. The people who had done it and those currently doing it all told us it would be the time of our lives."

A New Life with a Business in Tamarindo

Following their successful roadtrip, it was time for the Demicks to begin their new lives in Costa Rica.

They didn't come simply to enjoy the warm weather and beautiful nature of Tamarindo. Amy and Doug had a plan—to run their own business in the form of the Green Papaya restaurant.

Amy and Doug bought the Green Papaya restaurant in Tamarindo to run as part of their new lives.
Amy and Doug bought the Green Papaya restaurant in Tamarindo to run as part of their new lives.|©Green Papaya Facebook

The family's decision to purchase the restaurant stemmed from previous visits to Costa Rica. They discovered it during a scouting trip in April 2022 and the process of purchasing the restaurant started before the big road trip.

However, owning a business abroad comes with its own set of challenges. "Patience is key," Amy advises fellow expats. "Finding a reliable lawyer is crucial. Our choice, recommended by our property agents, assisted us with residency, business setup, and even buying a car. It's essential to understand that owning a business here is a different ball game altogether. It's been full of challenges and growth, but the journey has been worth it."

Life on the beach brought a complete shift in pace. "Exposing my kids to diverse cultures and languages has been transformative," Amy says, smiling. "I love my daily dose of ocean views, and living close to our restaurant in Tamarindo has been convenient. The kids have found friends nearby, and my youngest loves playing basketball just across the street."

As for the best time to move, Amy says, "Timing your move around the school year is crucial. Many families are looking for housing at the start of the private school year (in August or September, depending on the school), so it can be hard to find something at this time. And the high season, from December to Easter, is the most expensive time. Flexibility is key when choosing a place."

Amy is content with their life's trajectory. "Tamarindo is for adventurous souls, embracing a touristy vibe. Dealing with crowds during peak seasons and dustiness in the dry season is part of life. Yet, it's undeniably beautiful, especially during the lush rainy season, and the sense of community is so strong."

Since Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp are the go-to channels for connectivity in the area, Amy had to start using more social media to stay on top of local events and activities.

The family is grateful for their experience so far. "Sure, we faced adversities, but isn't that life? Adapting and learning along the way has been crucial. The positives have far outweighed the negatives—it's been an incredible ride."