A Dream Home and New-Found Freedom in Beach-Town Costa Rica

Kathleen Evans and her husband Steve knew exactly what they wanted in their new overseas home.

“We narrowed down our top contenders based on a set of criteria we came up with,” Kathleen says. “It included: see and hear the ocean every day, a stable government, ability to obtain residence, ability to own real estate outright and maybe purchase a business, ease of travel to and from the U.S., overall lower cost of living, and year-round warm weather.

The place that matched all their criteria was the beach town of Tamarindo, on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, and in 2013 after numerous visits, they made the move from Austin, Texas.

“We rented for a while in addition to some intense research, to become familiar with the area and make sure it was the best choice for us,” says Kathleen. “We ended up buying a condo in the heart of town. Being able to walk everywhere was especially appealing.”

Kathleen and her husband purchased their two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo for $300,000. “It has plenty of North American comforts like granite countertops and full-size appliances including a dishwasher, washer, and dryer.”

Kathleen says the purchase served as a significant enough investment for them to apply for their residence through the Inversionista Program (to qualify, applicants must invest at least $200,000 in commercial or residential property, or a Costa Rican business).

Nearly four years later, Costa Rica has allowed Kathleen and Steve to settle into a slower pace of life, and the opportunity to discover new passions and hobbies. At ages 53 and 56, they are “semi-retired,” Kathleen says. “Steve still has some properties he manages in Austin, and I worked in advertising sales at home and I still maintain some accounts…the internet is a wonderful thing.”

But now, rather than spending their days burned out from the demands of corporate America, they have the freedom to live life on their own terms.

“My day-to-day life is much more relaxed. I wake up when I want, enjoy my coffee, catch up on email, and maybe spend a bit of time on some work,” Kathleen says. “But nowadays I keep busy with more things that I enjoy.”

Kathleen takes a weekly Spanish class for expats, helps to organize a weekly dinner for expat women, and enjoys producing her own radio show at the local station in town, Shark FM. “The show—Midday Madness—has been a fun hobby for me,” says Kathleen. “My partner, Jax and I, have learned a lot about radio production and it’s been an incredible way to meet people in the community and get involved with local philanthropy…it’s been really rewarding.”

Kathleen loves the fact that they have activity at their fingertips in Tamarindo. “We love the safety of the beach here. It’s a hub for water activities and sunsets at the beach never get old,” she says.

Among other hobbies and new discoveries, Kathleen says she and her husband have enjoyed learning how to cook like locals. “It’s been great to discover what local produce is seasonal and how to cook with it,” she says. “I love using yucca as a substitute for potatoes now.”

Kathleen says this has also been a huge factor in keeping their living expenses low. “Buying local food and the property taxes have been the two most significant savings. With the amount of money we save here on property taxes compared with what we were paying in Austin, we can easily live for six months.”

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