When my husband Charles and I retired, even though we felt prepared, it was impossible for us to wrap our minds around all of the immediate and future lifestyle changes we would face.
Before our retirement, as with many other couples, we believed our traditional pensions and 401(k) plans would guarantee our retirement goals for the “Golden Years.” In 2001, there was a market crash that significantly affected the 401(k) plan we believed would guarantee our financial future. Not only was the crash a financial game changer, it also forced me to contemplate the costs associated with healthcare, and who would care for us as we aged.
Those worries evaporated when we moved to Costa Rica.
During our first year as permanent residents in the small city of Grecia, in the country’s Central Valley, we learned that healthcare is less expensive, and in-home assistance is drastically cheaper when compared to the States. Not only that, the doctors in Costa Rica still make house calls. It’s like the U.S. in the 1960s. In my experience, the average in-home visit costs around $60.
When you do visit the doctor’s office, the doctor supplies you with a copy of the record and also a copy of the X-ray if you would like. They ask how you are, what your issue is…they take their time to discuss your situation as if you’re talking to a friend. They even hug you. You don’t feel like you’re in a medicine factory.
And it’s not just doctors that come to your home. Through socializing at church and with neighbors, we found reasonably priced personal services such as house cleaners, mechanics, drivers, and a gardener. I did not retire to clean the house or wash and iron clothes…and my husband did not retire to cut the grass. We love a clean home and beautiful gardens, but we knew we needed that type of help to maintain a carefree lifestyle and to be able to spend more quality time together.
For the first time in our married life, we were able to spend time doing what we wanted to do together and not what we had to do separately. Part of our move to Costa Rica was to create a new relationship, we wanted to be boyfriend and girlfriend again…and it worked.
Charles and I rapidly grew accustomed to our new lifestyle and loved it. Mother’s Day or anniversaries, my husband would buy me dozens of roses in any color I wanted (in the U.S. he could only reasonably afford six or 12). It’s all part of the convenience of fresh local products grown or raised right in your area.
Farm fresh eggs and raw milk, jams, honey, and vegetables can still be delivered daily, directly to your doorstep. Passing by a bakery, you can smell the aroma of fresh bread, while just a couple doors down are markets selling fish that earlier that morning came in straight from the ocean. Each small city seems to have its farmers’ market—ours in Grecia is open on Friday and Saturday mornings every week almost all year long, selling organic fruits and vegetables.
Charles passed some time ago. Now more than ever, I’m grateful that we were less interested in how cheaply we could live in Costa Rica, and more interested in how high our quality of life would be.
Today, I’m still living the life of worry-free retirement and loving it. When you come to Grecia, don’t be shy. Stop by and join me for coffee on the veranda.
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