Waking up to the sun and nature’s melody is something that Jen Beck Seymour cherishes each day in her new Costa Rican life. Back home, she and her husband Greg woke up in the dark to rush to stressful jobs. Now, after they wake up, they go outside to sip their coffee on the front porch that overlooks the town of Grecia and the surrounding mountains.
Jen, a Wisconsin native, met and married her husband Greg in Dallas where Jen worked in commercial title insurance and Greg as the vice president for a company that handled paper and electronic discovery for law firms. They enjoyed city living, flashy clothing, and fine dining without much concern for cost.
While good money was flowing in, their energy and quality time escaped them. Between social commitments, constant and mundane tasks like car and house maintenance, grocery shopping, and ever increasingly demanding jobs, life felt like a rat-race.
They decided that they needed to make a change and set out looking for solutions.
While looking at other options, Greg stumbled upon an article about living in foreign countries for very reasonable prices. After some research they began to seriously consider retiring and moving abroad. They would need to live modestly, but decided it was a small price to pay in order to retire at ages 44 and 41.
They researched life in Panama, Belize, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. Panama was decidedly too hot for their tastes, Belize too expensive for them, Ecuador too far from the U.S. for them…and Costa Rica was too perfect to resist!
The country is equipped with decent infrastructure and good access to the Internet, a perfect climate, friendly locals, and inexpensive health care. It also doesn’t hurt that Costa Rica is in the same time zone as their extended family (most of the year), who are only a four-hour flight away.
Grecia is not far from the airport (Juan Santamaría International Airport in capital city San José is just a 30-minute drive away) so getting home to see family and friends is convenient; it’s small and easy to get around by bus; and it’s very authentic or “non-touristy,” as Jen describes it, which means they can live among local Costa Ricans.
The climate is also perfect for Jen and Greg. Because of the elevation of the town and surrounding areas, the temperatures are temperate and comfortable—no higher than 80 F during the day and in the high 50s F or low 60s F at night.
In order to make the move the couple knew that they would need to live more frugally, so they made a concerted decision to live with less. Jen elaborates, “Even though there are little inconveniences here, they dim in comparison to living a simple life surrounded by natural beauty and wildlife. I am constantly amazed at how much I don’t need to live and be happy here.”
They live on a fraction of what it cost them to live back home—though admittedly their lifestyle is much simpler. That’s the way they like it though.
“It doesn’t feel like a sacrifice to us to live more frugally,” Jen explains. “We knew we wanted to simplify our lives. And it was this change that allowed us, more than anything, to retire at an early age.”
Today their monthly expense is just $1,400—less than a quarter of the $6,000 they spent every month in Dallas. But living more frugally doesn’t mean they have to live with just the bare essentials. Their budget includes rent for a spacious two-bedroom, two-bathroom, fully furnished house, Wi-Fi, utilities, cell phone minutes, a maid every two weeks ($16 per visit), groceries, and a bit extra for occasional restaurant dining. Most of their activities now cost very little.
“Here we hike for hours,” Jen says. “I do yoga. We take the bus everywhere, and enjoy the ride and the time together, or walk.”
They also have the time to explore hobbies of the past and those that they didn’t even know they had. For example, both Jen and Greg have started a blog, (called Costa Rica Chica and Costa Rica Curious respectively) and Jen is even writing a book. They’ve made some great friends, too, who they often meet for coffee or wine in each other’s homes.
Enjoying the simple pleasures of life…living among friendly people…reducing their cost of living dramatically…and finding more time for themselves and for each other… It’s clear why the Seymours have zero regrets about moving to Costa Rica…
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