Everywhere I turned in the U.S. there seemed to be a headwind. Financial risks appeared to be increasing, and the lack of affordable health care put a comfortable retirement far away for me.
But when I moved to Costa Rica, that headwind disappeared, replaced by the calm prospect of a better life and greater opportunity for prosperity. I worked for 15 years as a marine biologist from Martha’s Vineyard to Florida and in 2000 relocated to Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula.
For me, this is the most desirable part of Costa Rica. There’s a nice mix of low lands and higher land, so you have a choice of climate and views.
When I arrived in Nicoya town, it was big enough to have just about everything, yet small enough to lack traffic lights. It’s more affordable than living on the beach and yet a drive of less than 45 minutes and you’re wiggling your toes in the sand and splashing in the surf.
Here in the peninsula’s warmer lowlands, the soil is fertile and teak grows well. I started growing teak in 2001. I like it because it isn’t the type of business that requires a lot of time. Your trees won’t get away if someone leaves a gate open. Nobody has to feed them when you take a vacation. And reforesting is an environmentally beneficial thing to do.
It’s even subsidized by the Costa Rican government.
If you want a vegetable garden, you’ll probably want to live a little higher up than where I am. In the cooler mountains, you can produce your own shade-grown organic coffee, which grows well under a canopy of oranges, papaya and hardwoods.
If you’re thinking of moving to Costa Rica, I’d suggest you rent in town for a year or so. It takes that long to explore and find the place that’s right for you. Nicoya town has changed since I first moved here. It’s bigger. And it’s not the bargain it was years back.
The small farm I bought on the edge of town is now worth over 10 times what I paid for it. But there are still real estate deals around. There’s a two-bedroom, two-story house here for just over $20,000, for example, and good land for coffee farming can be bought for under $5,000 per acre.
Editor’s Note: When David was 42, he decided that he’d had enough of Florida…so he moved to Costa Rica. His story is taken from the current issue of International Living magazine.