As attorneys in Detroit, my husband Kurt and I worked excessive hours. But we always had a plan to retire early to paradise. We traveled extensively around the world in search of that paradise and Costa Rica had what we were looking for.
After numerous visits, we finally packed up everything and moved to Costa Rica with our three dogs and two cats in May 2014. We chose the lively beach town of Jaco, on the country’s Pacific coast. It ticked a lot of our boxes…we wanted to be close to the beach and jungle. Our house is in the jungle but we’re just a seven-minute drive to the beach. We wanted to be near lots of restaurants and shopping and Jaco has all those. I wanted a community where fitness is important and Jaco has gyms, yoga studios, and surfing, as well as other water sports. And it’s close to an airport, which is great for when friends and family visit.
Life in Costa Rica is so different to how we were living in the U.S. Now that I am retired and no longer working, I can do what I want with my days and am not strapped to a desk, office, or courthouse. I am not as impatient or stressed out and I can be spontaneous and do things on a whim, instead of always being tied to my calendar.
Our cost of living in Costa Rica is much less than it was in the U.S. However, I live a very different lifestyle here. In the U.S., I lived a pretty high-end lifestyle with a huge house, luxury cars, fancy dinners, and designer clothing. All of that was part of the job I had. Here, I don’t care about any of that. I would laugh now if someone asked me if I wanted a luxury car, and flip-flops, not designer heels, are a way of life.
I never liked having a huge house in the States, so we downgraded when we moved. We live in an 1,800-square-foot house in Herradura, a suburb just outside of Jaco. The house sits on an acre-and-half of land, which was what drew us to it initially. When decorating the house, my favorite purchase was my hammock…you can’t use those in Michigan year round. We love the old trees on our property as well as lots of fruit trees. We also have a pool and our street is quiet and private, but still only about two miles from the hustle and bustle of Jaco.
In Jaco, we can have a nice lunch or dinner in a mid-range restaurant for around $20 to $30. We’ve learned that buying local brands at the grocery store is much cheaper and we’ve mostly stopped craving the things we were used to in the States…although my husband still does occasionally buy Mountain Dew. At the local feria (market), I can buy 26 bananas for less than a $1 and a pineapple is about 80 cents.
As we’re residents, we have health insurance under Caja (the national healthcare program). However, we haven’t used it yet and have only gone to private doctors as a doctor’s visit in Jaco costs just $40. There is almost never a wait for an appointment and the doctors are friendly and quick. I recently had surgery at a private clinic and the cost for the surgery was about one-third what it would have cost at home, for what I believe was better service. Other services cost far less than in the States too. My husband had some dental work done and it would have cost about ten times as much in the U.S.
Since moving to Jaco, I have continued hobbies I had in Michigan like running, photography, and planning social events for women in the area, and I’ve taken up surfing, hiking, and yoga. I have so much more free time here.
I also love just sitting on my porch and watching the toucans, motmots, and macaws, as well as the monkeys that occasionally visit our yard. And often Kurt and I will jump in the car and explore new places in and around Jaco.
Here in Costa Rica we’ve found our perfect retirement paradise.