From the first time Steve Reyer visited the trendy Costa Rican beach town Nosara—way back in 1992—he was smitten. A lifelong surfer, he instantly fell in love with Nosara’s breath-taking Pacific coast, spectacular surf, and laidback atmosphere.
“Nosara was the perfect place—not too touristy, but not dead either. It had the perfect vibe. I felt so relaxed here. It’s rustic but there are quite a few expats and a sense of community,” says Steve. “It’s a beautiful beach. There’s the jungle and the animals. There are great restaurants and lots of live music. It’s a good group of people and a wonderful place to live.”
He visited for surfing vacations as often as he could—a much-needed break from his busy corporate career in the telecommunications industry—but eventually, he made the leap and moved down permanently.
Not ready to retire, he bought the town’s iconic Coconut Harry’s surf shop from the original owner. “My main goal of moving here was to be able to make enough money to sustain myself and surf every day,” says Steve. “I’m very thankful and fortunate to be able to do that. I’m also very proud to employ many locals and give them a good living to enjoy their lives as well.”
Steve’s is a common story in Costa Rica. There’s plenty of opportunity to earn with a dream business that doesn’t feel like work. Start-up costs are a fraction of in the States. Operating costs are lower too. And with so many common North American products and services not available in this modern yet still developing country there are so many niches to go into.
Bruce Walker, in the Caribbean coast beach community of Playa Chiquita, runs a horseback riding business, catering to tourists.
“We just ride,” says Bruce. “We get in tune with nature…we see animals. It’s not about making money; it’s about loving life. I haven’t worn a watch in years. Usually, I’ll ask [our customers] if they have to be somewhere. If not, a two-and-half-hour ride can go three, four, or five hours.”
Meanwhile, in the mountains of the southern Pacific coast, about 20 minutes inland, Dina Delaini runs a spiritual retreat center focusing on natural healing traditions. She loves the peaceful setting of her forested, mountainside home…and helping people escape from their stressful lives as she did when she moved to Costa Rica.
“My purpose is to connect people to themselves and the earth. The setting is totally part of that. There’s so much to take advantage of in the local area…waterfalls…rainforest,” says Dina. “It’s been a place of healing for me. That’s why I created this retreat, to help people slow down and reconnect.”
In the Central Valley region, in Costa Rica’s mountainous center, Matt and Niki Meeks virtually introduced beef jerky to the country. Starting small, this Texas couple made it at their house and sold it at local farmers’ markets. Over the years, they’ve grown and can now be found on supermarket shelves around the country. And they’ve also found their lifelong home.
“We had become disillusioned with life in the United States,” says Niki. “We thought about how our kids were going to grow up. So, we were looking for a better way of life. Costa Rica seemed to be the safest, with the best schools. It’s absolutely everything we thought. As a mom, I love the people and the way they love their children. The neighborhood has embraced us. We’re part of the family.”