I’m Healthier and Happier in Costa Rica

Leaving my 9-to-5 job in order to pursue my job as a freelance photographer and part-time writer was the best career choice I ever made. I had been living in Oahu, Hawaii, for 10 years…but at the age of 35, I decided to make a major life change…and move to Costa Rica.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that it was a good decision. Just three months after moving to Costa Rica, I could already feel a difference in my overall wellbeing. My head felt clearer. I felt physically lighter.

I shed most of my material possessions before making the move to Costa Rica. And somewhat unexpectedly, I also shed 10 pounds in the first few months after moving. It was partly because of the healthy lifestyle that Costa Rica inspires. (It’s no wonder that the country’s motto is “pura vida”—literally “pure life”.)

But it was also the result of living a very active lifestyle. Not having a vehicle made a big difference. Without a car for the first six months, I walked anywhere and everywhere as I went about my daily activities. Even though I took the bus on many occasions to the grocery store or nearby towns and beaches, it still required walking once arriving at my destination.

The bus was another unexpected pleasure. Although reasonable cab rides are available, I prefer the very inexpensive buses. Two dollars or less will get you a one-way, two-hour bus ride. This is a great way to meet locals and practice your Spanish. And you often get to experience scenic drives through small towns that you may otherwise never see.

Being “semi-retired” has also given me the ability to indulge my hobbies like never before. I have plenty of time to pursue my loves of yoga, dancing, and surfing.

Besides the daily exercise, another reason I became healthier when moving to Costa Rica was the easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Living in a place such as the beachside, Pacific Coast town of Playa Lagartillo, where mangoes literally drip from the trees, makes it both easy and affordable to eat healthy.

Moreover, fresh fish, fruit, and vegetables can be found in abundance at local outdoor markets and roadside stands, and at very reasonable prices. For example, a large bag of tomatoes costs less than $2 at farmers’ markets.

When dining out in Costa Rica, gallo pinto is comida tipica (typical food). It is a popular dish consisting of rice and beans. It literally means “spotted rooster”; and the name is thought to originate because of the speckles that appear from cooking rice and beans together. Gallo pinto is often served with eggs, particularly at breakfast, but is served any time of day.

For lunch and dinner, casados are the popular choice. Casados consist of a meat choice (fish, chicken, beef, pork) or veggies; served alongside beans, rice, salad, tortilla, and fried plantains.

Whether eating at home or dining out, living the pure life in Costa Rica is easy, affordable, and very delicious.

And the peace of mind I enjoy cannot be understated. For almost a decade before I moved here, I lived on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, a place where they take the phrase “island time” seriously.

Leaving the island to live a “semi-retired” lifestyle, was a big step and I knew I had to choose an alternative carefully…and life in Costa Rica does not disappoint. Costa Rica is as easygoing as Hawaii, if not more so. Because I’m living simply, I’m not struggling to pay for frivolous things. Unlike Hawaii, I can actually afford to live right beside the beach.

And I still get to enjoy all the things I loved about Hawaii—surfing on clear, warm waters…being surrounded by wildlife and stunning scenery…and watching gorgeous sunsets—whenever I want in Costa Rica…

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