Living Without Want on $2,500 a Month in Orosi, Costa Rica

"I felt no stress from the moment I arrived. And I looked around and I saw no stress in anyone, in anything, anywhere. Everyone was always smiling."

David Hirabayashi first came to Costa Rica to visit friends who had moved there. "When they told me they were retiring and moving to Costa Rica, I thought they had a screw loose," he says. But when he visited them, he was astonished at the lifestyle on offer.

That visit convinced him to move to Costa Rica too. He wanted to be in the mountains, near his friends, and the town of Orosi fit the bill.

This quaint pueblo of 9,000 people is only 35 minutes from the country's capital of San José and all the city offers. But David says everything he needs is right in Orosi—grocery stores, restaurants, mechanics, dentists, doctors, a pharmacy, and even volcanic hot springs. And there's a good mix of international expats all living among the friendly and helpful locals.

"I love that everyone knows me and that they wave as I go by," David says. "My Spanish is improving all the time. But right from the start, with my limited Spanish, a few comical hand gestures, and the obliging hospitality of my tico neighbors, I've never had any problem communicating."

Only after moving to Costa Rica did David realize what a toll the pace of life in the U.S. had been taking on him.

"As a professional magician, I was performing more than 400 shows a year. I was killing myself and didn't even realize it. My weight was up, and my knee had gotten so bad I was told I had to have a knee replacement before I moved to Costa Rica," he says.

Living in Orosi, his stress levels have dropped and so has his weight. And that bad knee? "I've never had another moment's trouble with it," he says.

David found his piece of paradise in a six-acre mountainside refuge. He sold his house in Dallas and was able to use the proceeds to buy the property, do all the improvements it needed, and still have money left over. He built his house, an additional guest house, a swimming pool, a large covered patio, and a storage garage. "I would never have been able to afford anything like this in the U.S., even if I could have found it.

"The weather is so perfect here (temperatures rarely go below 60 F at night or above the high 70s during the day) that everyone basically lives outdoors," David says. "From my covered terrace, with a cup of delicious locally grown coffee in my hand, I'm surrounded by mountains covered in coffee bushes. The distant city lights twinkle in the evenings, and a herd of wild deer often passes through. But my favorite view is tropical flowers around the swimming pool, with the soaring Irazú volcano in the background."

David lives without want on about $2,500 per month—and that includes his twice-weekly maid service, two gardeners who come once a week, and his global health insurance.

"I love my place, love my neighbors, love this pace of life," David says. "It's where I need to be and where I want to be. I'm so thankful I was introduced to Costa Rica."

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