Starting a New Life in Atenas, Costa Rica

I’ve moved many, many times within the United States. The longest I stayed anywhere was in Santa Cruz, California where I vowed to keep my two children in school with the same classmates from kindergarten through high school graduation. That kept me grounded for 20 years.

After that, once the youngest was launched to college, this empty-nester flew the coop. Being single, youthful for my years, and anxious to be in a tropical climate, I moved to South Beach, Florida. I rented a large unit in an elegant high-rise with a view of Biscayne Bay, where the oldest resident was 35. (Because they couldn’t conceive of anybody being over 40, I adopted the 39 and holding stance…)

I picked up a flamingo while I lived in Florida—there aren’t any live ones strutting down Collins Avenue, so I made do with a plastic one. I named her Florence and she’s made the move with me ever since; she now lives in Costa Rica.

But South Beach wasn’t right for me either. After all the fun and games of South Florida, I realized that I was ready to settle down and find some adult security. I moved back to my previous home in California, dug in, started working hard to gain stability, and then disaster struck: The bottom fell out of the real estate market, along with my investment portfolio.

Now what?

I went back to square one, reactivated my real estate broker’s license and went to work to rebuild the nest egg. I was not getting any younger! I was eligible for Social Security and, as much as it pained me to take it before full retirement age, I had to. I needed that measly monthly sum to sustain me until my first real estate commission came through.

As I struggled daily to make that next sale, every penny was taken up with California living expenses. When I met the charming, handsome man who wanted to start a new life in Costa Rica, I hesitated for a brief time. He spoke of a place called Atenas, where rents were reasonable and for $20 a week you could buy all your food at the farmer’s market.

I was skeptical and suggested a test run. We visited in May, 2012 and I saw for myself how right he was. We found a modern casita in a gated community, beautifully furnished, with a pool and a view.

Included were all utilities, gardener, water, garbage pick-up, and gate guard fee, plus telephone and Internet, for $750 per month. That certainly beat the $1,050 we were paying to rent a room in somebody else’s house in California.

It took us a few months to divest ourselves of most of the material possessions that we wouldn’t need in our new life; we pared it down to the bare necessities which we could carry down in suitcases—including Florence. Oh yeah, and we got married!

We are now happily living in a town that boasts “The best climate in the world,” enjoying the best farm-to-table fresh produce and meats we’ve ever had, and living happily ever after.

I’ve taken up writing; I have a blog “Carole Jean’s Capers,” as well as a book in progress. My new husband was recruited for a job by a California company who needed a representative in Costa Rica. Florence has changed her name to Felicia, is studying Spanish, taking salsa lessons, and is happy in her new home watching the toucans and parrots on their daily fly-by from our patio overlooking the village with the little white church.

Life is good here. Pura Vida!

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