Many of our friends are asking, “Of all places you could have retired, why Costa Rica?” Not only is it beautiful here, but Costa Rica chose us…..When Brian and I first met in October 2004, after only a few conversations, we both knew three things we had in common that would come to sustain our relationship for many years…. 1) our love of adventure and learning new things and places (we both get bored easily and need new challenges on a regular basis) 2) our love for water; we both love swimming and being in and around water (I took long bubble baths and hit the pool every chance I got and he worked in lakes diving for golf balls every day for years) and 3) our love
for the ocean and all aspects of the sea/watersports. We began talking about “one day” living on or near the beach. That was a given. Then we wanted to consider being close enough or economical enough for the kids and their families to be able to visit us as often as they liked. I envisioned the grandkids spending breaks from school with us at the beach, while their parents got a break and a little one on one time away from the kids. (I remember, like it was yesterday, my brother and I loving my grandmother’s farm in south Georgia. The memories of the fun and adventure we had when my parents would drive us down, drop us off and let us stay for a couple of weeks, while they had a break from usJ. We loved it there and couldn’t wait to go back!) I wanted that for my kids and their kids.
The very first place we considered was Hawaii, ironically enough. We were worried that a foreign country might provide too many issues with “leaving the country” and logistics, so we should stay within the US. Hawaii as a possibility lasted only a nano second.
The cost was way too high to live there, get there, stay there, get back, everything pointed to too expensive!
So then we went around the beaches of the “mainland”….California,
Florida, East Coast cities, the north………..All of them, while gorgeous and nice places to live, did not interest us. We found a negative with each, for which we weren’t willing to compromise. We looked to Puerto Rico or the U.S Virgin islands, but neither did it for us either.
Then, as things go, the more we mentioned wanting to “get out” of the U. S and the rat race, unrealistic taxation, and our bs political system, etc., Costa Rica kept coming up consistently.
A good friend of ours first mentioned a good friend of hers, who I knew from growing up in Atlanta, had retired there over ten years ago and absolutely loved it there. So I got in touch with this guy via email and even though he did not live in a popular area of the country, he suggested we start with the Guanacaste region (northwest portion of
the country). Many ex-pats (that’s what they call us U.S citizens that now live in Costa Rica) lived in Playa de Coco and Tamarindo, so this guy said. We planned a vacation there for a week in March 2009 to the Hilton Papaguayo Resort. We flew into the Liberia airport, not the one in San Jose, but nevertheless, it was closer to our destination and just as reasonable costwise. The picture you see is the VERY FIRST PICTURE we took of Costa Rica! It was taken from the
balcony of our hotel room and hung over Brian’s dresser in our home in Atlanta for almost two years, as incentive/goal material, reminding us of where we were headed. We didn’t know how, when or exactly where we were headed in Costa Rica, only that we were headed there! We enjoyed Coco and Tamarindo a lot. We rented a car and drove around to many areas, getting a feel for the place, the culture, the people and the weather. We liked what we saw, but felt it was a bit too touristy for us. We wanted to live where there were tourists, amenities and locals, but we wanted a place where we could immerse ourselves in the town’s people and get involved in the community itself. Coco seemed “unorganized” is the best way to describe it.
Once we returned from this initial visit, we began talking about how
lovely the feel of the country was with our friends and family and how we needed to find a way to move to Costa Rica.
Because I was working in Real Estate at the time, I was hearing about
developers who were building condos, etc. in different parts of Costa
Rica. By working to help sell these properties, I could make some money.
Sounded good to me. There was an opportunity in Jaco Beach, San Jose, and the Osa Peninsula through different friends of friends. So I flew by myself to another part of the country, Jaco Beach, to meet with a guy who was selling fractional ownership in a condo development nearby. San Jose was not by the beach. It was a big city in the central part of the country and Osa Peninsula was VERY far south on the coast, but getting there would cost a lot of additional money once one flew into San Jose and it was hours away by bus. Jaco was a little over an hour from San Jose and right on the beach. I spent 10 days there by myself with a developer/friend. Brian and I decided the cost for both of us to fly and eat, etc. would be too much, especially if we thought the project was not worth selling, or we didn’t like the area. I would go first, “screen” it, see as much as I could and report back. That trip was in July 2010. I fell in love with the town instantly. It felt much like baby bear’s stuff in “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” (not too large, not too small, just right). The project did not seem viable. The timing was off for one. The economy had crashed globally and people just weren’t investing. Banks weren’t
lending and the building of this project was held up due to permit issues. It just didn’t seem right. What did seem right was the place this guy lived and the town of Jaco Beach. I decided right then and there that I had to get Brian back as soon as possible to “put his eyes on it”. Brian sees things in places that I miss and visa versa.
We are just better together than apart.
I felt in my gut this was the right place and no need to keep looking
(there were other options in Costa Rica, Osa Peninsula for one, Puntarenas for two), but wanted to make sure Brian felt the same. We got married on New Year’s Eve in 2005, so what better time to come back than New Year’s Eve 2010, where we would celebrate our five year anniversary?
December is high season, which means the weather is at its best and
everything is open and the town is bustling. It’s the best time to check it out, so we were told. So the tickets were purchased…………
(PART TWO to follow)…………