Pura Vida in Costa Rica

Ask anyone what Pura Vida means and they may have a hard time answering. But ask a Costa Rican and he’ll bend your ear for hours.

Like “Buenos Dias” in the rest of Latin America, “Pura Vida” can be used as both greeting or farewell or simply as a happy exclamation. Depending who you ask, it means “good…or pure life,” “plenty of life,” “full of life,” “this is living,” or even “awesome!” or “cool!”

Costa Ricans are nothing if not happy. It was recently announced by the sociologists from the Happy Planet Index, who study these kinds of things, that Costa Ricans are the happiest people on the planet. They say: “Costa Ricans report the highest life satisfaction in the world, have the second-highest average life expectancy of the Americas (second only to Canada).”

Not surprising, really. Costa Rica is one of the greenest, most eco-friendly and gorgeous countries on earth…with miles and miles of pristine beaches, cool mountain getaways, clear crater lakes, lush rainforests, and more. It’s home to an amazing diversity of plant and animal life, and it’s common to see monkeys playing in the trees overhead. (If this doesn’t bring a happy smile to your face, I don’t know what will.)

Yes, there’s a lot to be happy about in Costa Rica. It’s home to the most stable democracy in Latin America. You’ll find top-quality affordable health care in its public and private hospitals. And it enjoys one of the lowest poverty indexes in the world.

Of all the countries we cover, Costa Rica offers one of the highest standards of living.

So it’s no wonder that along with being home to the happiest people, it’s one of the hottest retirement destinations on the planet, too.

But at what cost? Ed and Beaty Fomby—who live overlooking Costa Rica’s spectacular Lake Arenal—say they don’t sacrifice a thing. They’ve lived the good life and didn’t want to give that up in retirement.

Not long ago, they were sitting where you may be today. They had done well for themselves and were thinking about retiring, But they didn’t want to give up all those “perks” they’d been able to afford while they were still working.

They wanted a safe, comfortable home. Year-round warm weather and a large body of water where they could fish and kayak. They wanted great restaurants and good friends nearby… a welcoming community.

They also wanted their new life to be extremely affordable. Like I said, they don’t want to sacrifice in their retirement years. They want to travel and “go everywhere and do everything,” as Beaty says.

I’m happy to report that Ed and Beaty found everything they were looking for and much more. They found the retirement paradise of their dreams in Costa Rica.

It’s not just Ed and Beaty who have found a desirable, affordable life in Costa Rica.

Expat retirees who live here report that they’re doing so very comfortably on very little.

As former South Dakota rancher Tom Costello notes, you can live pretty well here for just $1,200 a month.

The weather is perfect so no big utility bills, and “my ‘needs’ have become simpler,” Tom says. “I can live comfortably with a lot less stuff.”

The little town where he and his wife, Kay, have settled, he adds, “is about as close to paradise as you’re going to get.”

If you’re thinking about retiring soon, I think you’ll appreciate discovering more about all that this small-but-opportunity-rich country has to offer.

But you don’t have to be rich to live very well here. Far from it.

This is the spirit in which we’ve put together our most ambitious Costa Rica program to date, for the Fast-Track Costa Rica Conference 2012. We hold this event but once a year, so it’s important that when IL readers gather in the country in November to figure out the steps in their Costa Rica plan, that every useful resource is at their disposal. Find out more here.

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