Life is Better Without the 9-to-5

You don’t have to go to Italy to find the Renaissance man inside you. Live somewhere you love, where the cost of living is low and the weather is fine, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by opportunities to grow.

When I made the decision to retire to Costa Rica, many of my friends back home were worried that I’d be bored here…but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Back in the States, there were so many hobbies and interests that I wanted to pursue, but realistically I never had time to enjoy them.

Here I not only have the time to do as I please, but I’ve even started earning an income from some of my passions.

I never intended to start “earning” money again—I’m retired for a reason after all. With the lower cost of living here, I can easily live on retirement funds that would not have been sufficient in the U.S. But it’s always been my dream of mine to own lots of animals.

Today, my 3-acre farm, about 20 miles south of the capital San Jose, is a veritable zoo with enough animals to make Dr. Dolittle jealous—goats, chickens, turkeys, parrots, rabbits, guinea fowl, and of course, dogs and a cat.

With the goats’ milk, I make artisan soaps and cheeses—which are in short supply in Costa Rica. Selling these, as well as the huge overabundance of eggs, to my friends and neighbors, I can make about half of my monthly budget. But, I’m not doing it for the money. I just love learning new things.

Right now, I’m figuring out how to make fruit wines from the tropical fruit that grows wild all over the valley. I’ve started making mead from the local honey bees. And my passion for cooking has been completely restored. I can’t count the various new and surprising tropical ingredients at my disposal. It’s been a blast discovering and creating new dishes, and testing them out at dinner parties with friends. I used to find cooking such a chore but not anymore.

My other great “passion with an income” is practicing magic. The Costa Ricans have never seen much of it, so they are delighted—young and old alike—when I do a few tricks for them. Next month, several magicians are flying down for a conference I’m hosting—to get help with their acts while enjoying all that Costa Rica has to offer. If that pans out as I think it will, we won’t need to touch retirement funds at all. And I’m having the time of my life.

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