Owning a Patch of Tropical Heaven in Costa Rica

Yesterday morning, as I stood on the terrace of my Costa Rican home, I couldn’t help but marvel at the stunning blue-green mountains right outside our front door. Sometimes I still can’t believe that this is my life.

Our 3-acre farm is nestled in the Orosí Valley, a picturesque river valley about 20 miles south of the capital San José. As you drive down into our village, you’ll see the red-tiled roof of the colonial church, spectacular rolling green hills, and abundant wildlife and tropical beauty.

Our central location means that the Caribbean coast and its pristine beaches are a mere 50 miles away…and only a couple of hours in the other direction is the Pacific coast with its awe-inspiring sandy stretches. There’s nothing we like better than capping off a trip to the beach watching the sun set on the ocean while sipping an ice-cold Imperial beer. Irazú—just 12 miles from our door—is the highest volcano in Costa Rica…and the only place in Costa Rica where we wished we’d wrapped up a little warmer.

We live in the mountains on a patch of tropical heaven. There’s a small river that runs right through the middle of our property. We’re surrounded by coffee fields. We have chickens and guineas and ducks and geese and turkeys and goats. We have fruit trees galore, filled with bananas, oranges, limes, mangos, and passionfruit. It’s easy to stay healthy when fresh and tasty produce grows right on your doorstep. It’s no surprise that I’ve lost 40 pounds since we moved here.

A property of our own filled with a life like this is priceless, yet it only cost us $225,000 and the courage to make the move. What’s more, our monthly cost of living runs about $1,600—and that includes our full-time gardener and part-time maid.

In this mystical, green valley, I’ve had the opportunity grow and to pursue interests and hobbies I never had the time for back in Dallas. I was too embroiled in a hurry-scurry, dash-and-run life to do anything other than just try to keep up. As Lily Tomlin says, “Even if you win the rat race, you’re still just a rat.”

Here, I have the free time to pursue every one of my passions. Costa Rica’s splendid wildlife and natural beauty means I’m never short of anything to photograph. Woodworking outdoors is so pleasant in the cool breeze that flows from the nearby summits. And the orchestra of birds that joins me as I play my piano makes for a rare and thrilling concerto.

Recently, I’ve even tried my hand at artisan cheese making (you have to do something with all that milk our goats are producing).

Now here’s the funny thing. In the course of making cheese for our own enjoyment, word has gotten out and I’ve suddenly developed a thriving business. Last month I sold over $1,100 of our homemade cheese. That may not seem like a great sum until you realize it covers about two thirds of our monthly expense. So, we are barely touching retirement funds. The best part is that it’s not work; it’s fun.

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