I was a publicist in the entertainment industry back in New York for nearly 30 years. It was hectic, and rewarding, but I was very stressed. On a vacation to Tamarindo, Costa Rica I met a bunch of people from around the world who had swapped busy lives for a more peaceful existence at the beach. And I loved the Costa Rican people—Ticos they call themselves. After four more visits that year I moved to this beautiful town in the national park on the Pacific Ocean.
When I first moved to Tamarindo, it was an up-and-coming fishing village that drew surfers from around the world. I had to go an hour away by car service to find an ATM or a decent supermarket. Now, it’s a popular beach town with great infrastructure including supermarkets, banks, cable, internet, pharmacies, more than 30 restaurants, tour companies, and shops. And, should the mood take me, I can drive my car 45 minutes to Liberia, where there’s a movie theater now with movies in English (and Spanish subtitles). I speak a patched-together Spanish which is extremely useful in this Latin American country.
In the beginning, I was reluctant to give up the “big life” and for many years still worked with entertainment clients in the U.S. from Tamarindo, first at my place in a hotel where I could have a telephone and dial-up internet, then later from my own home—outfitted with my own telephone and cable internet. Yet, half-days in front of the computer, followed by cellphone conversations at the beach, were still fueling my Type-A personality, so I finally gave that up and retired.
I moved into a room at Tamarindo’s Best Western, and spend about $1,750 on my living expenses a month. This includes rent, food, yoga, and small getaways. I find that a visit to the large Auto Mercado supermarket can run close to $150 a week, and dinners out at the myriad of restaurants in town can range from $10 to $25 per person for a meal, not including drinks.
It is possible to live on a smaller budget, however, if I seek out the typical Costa Rican restaurants—called sodas—and limit my purchases each month. It helps that Saturdays there is a local farmers’ market, where people come from all over the country to sell vegetables, breads, cheeses, sausage, meats, dairy products, jewelry, and clothes. I’m there like clockwork at 10 a.m. to pick up my homemade bagels from the couple who drive up from Samara, and my vegetables from the local farmers. I signed up for the public healthcare system, the Caja, and for less than $40 a month, I get all my care and medicine for free under this service.
I love getting up early and running on the beach, which lines a big bay where sport-fishing boats and catamarans that offer sunset snorkeling tours are moored. I am not a great surfer, but I love paddling into the waves here in the bay or across the estuary to Playa Casitas.
Usually, two or three nights a week I do yoga at Ser Om Shanti in town, where the angelic (and very experienced) Mariel Marmorato guides us through our practice. The rest of the week, I enjoy a spectacular palette of colors as the sun sets over the ocean. Sunsets are an incredible social time here in Tamarindo, as people gather to bask in the last light and catch up on the day’s news from other friends who have had relaxing days.
A lot of people who visit Tamarindo, or read about it on the internet, think of moving here because they too want to have a peaceful life living in nature. My advice is always the same: Spend some time here first, because living in Costa Rica is not the same as visiting. Ticos do things their own way, and it may be frustrating or jarring to move at this slower pace. Patience, or Pura Vida (Pure Life), is a necessity.
For me, these days I cherish my peace-of-mind and my simple life. I still listen to a lot of music, but now it’s entirely for fun and enjoyment. The friendships I’ve made in this country are so valuable, and I’m sure they will last a lifetime. I’m healthy and happy, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted.
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