I always tell people that I chose the Central Valley town of Grecia to retire to because it reminds me so much of my hometown of Ybor City, Florida…back in the 1950s. The warm-hearted people, the magnificent natural beauty, the weekly feria (farmer’s market) with its fresh flowers, eggs, chicken, and just-picked produce, brought by the farmers in their trucks directly from the farm, and the pura vida (pure life) all drew me here to Costa Rica.
Back in the States, living in the rat race of work and driving in crazy traffic was taking a toll on my health and I needed to make a change. So when I decided to retire, I picked Costa Rica. I had been to Costa Rica 20 years ago, and I loved it then, so in October 2011, after doing some research, myself and my husband, Art, paid a visit.
On a tour of the Central Valley, we stopped in the town of Grecia and both knew immediately this was where we wanted to be. We spent a month getting to know the area before we moved down full time.
Life now is busy…but without the stress and traffic. We’ve made many friends from all over the world…the U.S., Europe, and Canada, and we also have many Tico friends. These are the kinds of people I would never have met in the U.S. Living here is certainly a worldwide adventure and we truly love spending time with friends and neighbors.
There is a sizable expat community and we get together regularly. I belong to a group of expat women called The Blooms that meets for a monthly brunch at each of our homes. It’s a great way to meet people and find out about events happening in Grecia and nearby towns. There’s also a group of ladies that get together every Thursday for lunch at a local restaurant…it’s an open-invitation lunch so anyone can just drop in.
I love to cook and often entertain for friends. With all the beautiful, fresh produce here, there’s so many dishes I can do. My husband loves to work with wood and he has made many things for us for the house.
Art and I also go to a lot of house parties, as well as community events in the park or whenever there is something going on that interests us. We love to dance and a group of American expats often play music at a local restaurant that allows for dancing, so that’s always a must for us. And the local weekend dances offer us the chance to hear traditional Costa Rican music.
During our initial month-long visit we realized we could live comfortably here on our Social Security…and this was another reason we chose Costa Rica. Rents here are affordable (you can rent a one-bedroom house for as little as $400 a month) and getting around is inexpensive. We don’t have a car so we ride the bus for free as we’re 65 and now legal residents. We also use taxis which cost just $4 for a trip around town. We have a couple of regular drivers who give us really good rates and they have become friends.
And the healthcare is good quality and affordable here, too. Medicine is cheaper than in the States and we just pay as we go. Our local doctor, Dr. Juan, is kind, caring, and spends lots of time with his patients getting to know them. You can walk into his clinic without any appointment and be seen right away if he’s not busy, and he makes house calls.
I never thought I would live in a foreign country…yet, here I am in the magnificent mountains of Costa Rica. My friends and family are amazed at my life here, and truly, I am too.