It’s like it was fate that brought Sandy, 69, and Chip Bublik, 75, to their home on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast nine years ago.
First, their step-son offered to give them land to build a home. Second, Sandy had just retired and the going-away gift from her employer—she was a receptionist at an ad agency—covered the cost of a container to ship their household goods to Costa Rica. Finally, the couple was able to sell their condo in South Florida—and make a tidy profit. (This was before the “bubble” burst.)
They also consider themselves lucky to have been out of the country—along with their retirement accounts—when the market crashed in 2008.
“We were blessed with opportunities,” remarks Sandy.
The Bubliks live on 77 acres in the mountains above the town of Quepos—a center for sport fishing—and their home takes full advantage of their location on a hilltop surrounded by trees and a meticulously landscaped yard, courtesy of their step-son. There’s even a waterfall on the property.
“We have six huge windows surrounding the sala (living room),” says Sandy. “We’re 900 feet up and surrounded by blue sky and mountains that look like the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. We can see the Pacific. And beautiful sunrises wake us up in the morning.”
They play host to visiting friends and relatives occasionally. They’ve also enjoyed church groups coming up to celebrate American holidays, fellowship, and Bible study. They welcome anyone who needs a tranquil time and a fantastic view.
Though prices are rising, they are managing on a strict budget. And in Costa Rica they truly found their new home.
“This country really does have everything God made,” says Sandy.
Sandy and Chip are in good company. The Central Pacific is one of the most frequently traveled in the country by tourists. And towns like Jacó, a busy resort town, and Manuel Antonio, site of the country’s most popular national park, as well as Playa Hermosa and Esterillos—both quiet residential communities, are home to many expats.
Those who live in this region mix the tropical feel of the beach and jungle—and a relaxed beach lifestyle—with easy access to the big city conveniences of Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose, which is less than two hours away. Many expats make regular shopping trips there to buy items just not available on the coast.
It’s paradise to them, but Sandy cautions that any new expat do their homework and visit first before making a permanent move. She’s seen too many new neighbors pick up soon after moving down because they haven’t done the research—and only really know Costa Rica from the glow of past vacations.
“Come for two or three months and see if you really like it,” says Sandy. “To make it here long-term, you have to have patience and respect the country’s customs. You have to be tranquilo. That’s why you’re here, right?”