How We Escaped the Snow and Halved Our Costs in Costa Rica

Last December, my husband and I were bundled up in our tiny apartment in Chicago, mourning over the snow and sub-zero temperatures, when we came up with a crazy idea: Let’s sell all of our stuff and move somewhere tropical.

When we sat down to talk about the things we truly wanted, it simply came down to creating a life where we control our time and spend it doing things we enjoy.

Sometimes, it seems a bit surreal that we now live a five-minute walk to the Pacific Ocean, learning the pura vida way in Costa Rica.

Our new home is on the outskirts of Tamarindo, in Playa Langosta—a fun and bustling surf town. We ride our bikes along the bumpy dirt road into town and spend time daily on the beach with our dog Harvey where he enjoys free range to mingle with the other playa pups and dazzle tourists with his own “surfing” abilities.

We knew we’d have to be a little creative to make this change work because we weren’t retiring and selling our assets to live off of. But with my husband already telecommuting as a web developer, we at least had one piece of the puzzle sorted out.

For me, the transition from salaried employee to freelance writer and PR consultant hasn’t gone without challenges, but has been worth it. Now I am in control of the projects I take on…how long I spend on them…and when I’ll work on them.

In a continually evolving digital world, many jobs can be done from anywhere if the company or client is willing to entertain the idea, and one lesson I learned through this process is that you’ll never know what the possibilities are unless you ask.

In our decision to move, Costa Rica became our main contender for its climate, cost of living, its proximity to the U.S., and the Spanish language. My husband is fluent and I was keen to learn.

Today our total monthly expenses round out between $2,000 and $2,500 per month, about half of our typical monthly output in Chicago which was around $4,500. Simplifying our life and slashing expenses has made it possible. We still need to work to maintain our lifestyle…but not as much.

“Busy” means something a little different these days. Back in Chicago I’d be exhausted at night after putting in a 10-hour day (or more) at the office.

Today, I rode my bike to Spanish school, came home and prepared a salad with locally grown vegetables for lunch and took a walk on the beach with Harvey and got some great photos of a family of monkeys.

Afterward I worked about four hours before riding my bike down to the beach volleyball courts to meet my husband for sunset and to go to a friend’s birthday barbecue.

I’ve noticed some changes in us and the way we go about our days now. We’ve learned to slow down a little bit, take time to appreciate our new and beautiful surroundings, and we now have a better focus on what’s important to us. Each day we live in Costa Rica I grow more confident in the decision we made.

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