Midwest Couple Reveal: Why Costa Rica?

My wife, Caryl, and I grew up together in a very small town in the rural Midwest. After leaving for college, marrying, and spending many years in the workforce, we returned to our little community—38 years after we left.

Caryl’s parents still lived in our little town, so we took this as an opportunity to see them through their golden years. While there, as community activists, we restored several old buildings, founded a community theater, donated a community recreational shelter, re-started community band concerts, led the drive to buy and erect a town clock, and re-started a town newspaper after a 40-year hiatus.

We were very happy…but turn the clock ahead 14 years and things had changed. Caryl’s parents passed away. The theater and newspaper are now under new management. Our historic buildings are turn-key and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

We had exhausted our projects creating a void in our lives. Our taproot had been severed and we were feeling wanderlust.

And the summer high temperatures of over 100 degrees and winter lows of minus 25 degrees were beginning to tell on us.

So, two years ago, we made the move to Costa Rica. Why Costa Rica? For many reasons. It offers a stable temperature year-round. At the altitude where we currently live, it rarely drops below 60 degrees or rises above 80 degrees. Costa Rica offers a stable government and a non-inflationary currency. Many expats have paved the way, and by living their experiences vicariously, our learning-to-live-overseas power curve has not been very steep. Million-dollar views can be bought or rented for much less than a million dollars.

We bought a small Tico house with a patch of land—less than an acre—on a mountainside. It rains six months of the year and is dry six months of the year. But vegetation remains lush and we have built paths from the bottom to the top of the property, giving us a phenomenal vertical garden, which my wife, as a gardener extraordinaire, enjoys. From anywhere on the path, we have a killer view of the Pacific Ocean 18 miles away.

I have always wanted to design and build so, to our small Tico house, we added floor space and raised the roof. Then we built a second house to rent out. We’re now working on the third and hopefully last house on our little property, now a tiny enclave of fellow expats. Plans include a small building for hobbies, gym, and storage.

We also have interests outside of our property. We have season tickets to the national symphony in San Jose, a one-hour bus ride away. We’ve started a small band of retired expats who in their teen years played in garage bands—and not much since. We rehearse twice weekly, and we’re appearing next week on the main stage for the local town’s annual festival. My wife and I play band instruments (she plays baritone, and at the age of 59, I took up the tuba), and we play with a local group of low brass players. I’ll be playing tuba with that group for the festival, too. We brought TubaChristmas to Costa Rica, the first time it had been held in Latin America. This Christmas will celebrate its third year. We’re active in a local expat-Tico community development organization, too: the Community Action Alliance.

If you want to move to Costa Rica to do nothing, you can do that. But if you want to come to Costa Rica to start a new life, it’s a great place to be. We have hardly begun to explore the possibilities…let alone exhaust the list.

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