In 1998, I moved from Pennsylvania to Sarasota, Florida. As a veteran Northeasterner wanting to get away from the snow and ice, I came to realize what a paradise Siesta Key and Sarasota were. I lived and worked in Sarasota for a decade, but in 2003 I visited Costa Rica for the first time, at the suggestion of a friend who had been here many times. I spent a couple of days in San José and then a week in the region of Manuel Antonio, discovering the south-central Pacific Coast.
In the next five years, I made a total of seven more trips to Costa Rica and always ended up in Manuel Antonio and the town of Quepos. I am a beachophile, having grown up on Plum Island north of Boston. Salt water is in my blood. The idea of a jungle coming down to a pristine beach excited me the first time I saw it. Although Siesta Key Beach is beautiful, often receiving the number one rating for U.S. beaches in various surveys, rapid Florida development has led to the beach being completely surrounded by condos and other developments. When I turn around on Manuel Antonio Beach all I see is jungle. So I moved for retirement to Quepos in 2008.
For me, moving from one paradise to another was a desire to get back to a greater sense of natural beauty and achieve a simpler, less harried lifestyle as a retiree. I succeeded. I wanted to be near a beach and from where I live in Quepos, I can access one of the most beautiful in Costa Rica by bus in 15 minutes. The quiet at the beach is often interrupted by the growl of a howler monkey, the chatter of titi or capuchin monkeys, or the slow movement of a sloth or iguana through the trees. And the ocean is always warm here—even in December, January, and February when it gets chilly in Florida.
I have met and observed expats moving here over the eight years I’ve lived in Quepos. I often suggest two things to people considering relocating here.
First, decide what kind of climate you like. The basic choice is between the brisk, cooler mountain air like that found in the Central Valley or the hotter, more humid jungle atmosphere and the incredible beaches of the coasts. The good news is you can probably find a variation on these themes that exactly fits your liking within the several overlapping climates offered in Costa Rica.
The second suggestion is to move here and rent the first year. This will give you the opportunity to learn the various customs, the bureaucratic anomalies that sometimes frustrate fast-paced expats, and the intricacies of owning property here should you decide to be an owner. If you decide living here isn’t for you, you can change your mind at the end of the test period, repatriate easily or make a more informed and personal decision on how and where you’ll be happiest in Costa Rica as an expat.
I have never once regretted the decision to move here. The natural friendliness of the people of my host country and the great climate strengthens my bond with Costa Rica and I expect to be here a long, long time.