When my wife Gail and I decided to retire we were faced with some important questions to answer. First of all, where would the retirement money come from other than our small amount of Social Security, and how could we make such a small amount go far enough for us that we could actually enjoy the retirement we both had worked so hard for. And secondly, we had to answer the question of how were we going to pay for the high cost of health care before the Medicare years? We decided to come to Costa Rica on a tour led by George Lundquist and we fell in love with the country and the people. Three weeks after the tour, we were living in San Ramon in the Central Valley of Costa Rica.
Living here answered for us the major question of how could we make our retirement dollars stretch the most. Costa Rica provided us with the answer to that question by giving us a place to live with affordable health care, the single biggest expense for seniors. Our health care in the states was over $900 per month, and it would have taken almost all of one of our Social Security checks just to pay for health care.
Costa Rica also provided us with affordable housing at low cost. We moved into a cabina in the highlands and paid $700 rent with all utilities included. We’re not saying that it is perfect here, there are problems that you have to deal with each day, but it is worth the effort to make adjustments in your lifestyle and learn to live for less.
One of the major reasons I wanted to retire was because I wanted to write. I had always had a dream to be a writer, but my teaching jobs did not give me enough time to write and the atmosphere to write. When we moved to Costa Rica I was working on completing my first novel and had been working on it for two and a half years. Three months after we moved to Costa Rica, the novel was completed and I was already working on the next one. I have found a publisher for the novel, Purple Haze, which will be coming out in print next year from Savant Books. As of this writing I have completed my third novel in this series. Why am I able to write so easily? I have the right atmosphere for writing here: no pressure from outside sources, quiet and solitude, and peace of mind.
Gail and I have also found time to do some oil painting. That is something neither of us had done in forty years. We both rediscovered a lost talent that was lying just beneath the surface waiting to re-emerge. Costa Rica allowed it to resurface. Gail is also involved with various women’s groups here in town and is very active in the gringo community. In addition she has become fond of cross-stitching again and is working on a monumental project. There is so much more time now to pursue the hobbies that we once loved to do. We even take the time to start each day with a one-hour walk with our dog, Chloe, in the cloud forest right outside our house.
One of the greatest treasures here is the plethora of friends that we have and who, like us, are enjoying the good life. In the states we barely knew our neighbors’ names. Here we have a whole community of friends, friends like Paul and Gloria who have had us in their home and they in ours. We consider them part of our Costa Rican family. San Ramon is one of the best areas for this kind of community among the Americans and Canadians.
So, in summary, I would have to say that moving here has been the best thing to happen to us. Sure, we miss things and people in the states, but it is worth it, and those people are welcome here to visit us at anytime. The gringo life in Costa Rica is the grand life. On just a small income, you can live the good life here and enjoy your retirement.