How to Fund a Part-Time Life in Costa Rica

Over the years, Barry and Claudia Leon lived happily all over the States. They both had full and varied careers in psychology, college teaching, business, and biology. But after retiring to their 56-acre ranch in Texas, the couple decided they wanted to add another place—this time international—to their long list of residences.

They decided this move would be different. They’d keep their residence in Texas and divide their time between their old home and their new one.

They chose to live six months out of the year in Costa Rica. “It had everything we were looking for: a reasonable cost of living, a stable government and economy, high quality medical care, a wonderful climate, and friendly, welcoming local people. And it’s only a 3.5 hour flight from Houston,” says Barry.

“On our trial trip, we focused on three areas: Atenas, Naranjo, and Grecia. Atenas was the most ideal for us. It’s big enough to have everything we need on a daily basis. But small enough to be able to get to know people,” says Barry. “We fell in love with Atenas mostly for the locals. They are outgoing, warm, welcoming, sincere, and honest.”

The couple’s 2010 trip ended with the purchase of a newly constructed, three-bedroom, furnished house in the Lomas del Paraiso (the Hills of Paradise) gated development in Atenas, which is only 35 minutes from the international airport in the capital San José.

“Our home has staggeringly beautiful views of two mountain ranges and the lights from both local villages and the town of Puriscal. It’s only 30 minutes from a major metro area. But it would cost at least three times in the States as it costs here,” says Barry. “We get to enjoy it half of the year, during the rainy season in Costa Rica, which is when it’s uncomfortably hot in Texas. With Costa Rican summers and Texas winters, we have wonderful weather year round.”

During the rest of the year, the couple rents their home as a way of earning extra income to enhance their traveling lifestyle. What about daily life in Atenas? “We love the quality and prices of fruits and vegetables, fish, pork, and chicken,” Barry says. “Anything that is made or grown here is significantly less expensive than in the U.S. While driving one day, we bought a bag of 12 red peppers from a street vendor for $2. In the States, we would have paid $2 for each pepper.”

“Dividing our time between Texas and Costa Rica adds variety to our lives, which we value highly,” Barry explains. “In fact, to extend this variety, we now have our ranch up for sale and plan to buy a home in the South of France after it sells. Then we will divide our time between Costa Rica and France.”

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