Aug 09 2011

Following the Beat of Our Own Drummer

We came to Costa Rica for many reasons. But we also didn’t come for lots of reasons as well. We weren’t running away from family, debt, or jobs we hated.  We had jobs we liked, a great house with a fixed mortgage that we were able to pay, savings in the bank, and zero credit card debt. Most importantly, we had each other. We also had the strong support of family and friends, and enjoyed many things including going out to dinner, to community theaters, and bookstores.  We loved entertaining, and our friends looked forward to our annual 4th of July cook-outs and New Years Eve parties.  While we didn’t agree with a lot of what was (and is) going on in Washington, and while the threat of terrorism on our home soil scared us, we are still grateful to be Americans and for all of the advantages that has brought us.

If you’ve been reading our website, you already know some of the reasons we came to Costa Rica.  We came to live a different, simpler life, with a slower pace. We came to live in another culture, a Latin culture, and to speak Spanish.  We came to broaden our perspective, to experience the fact that the rest of the world does not necessarily think, live, or make the same choices, as we do in the United States.  We came to live less expensively, and that definitely includes affordable health care for everyone.  We came because we could afford to stop working full time and create a new life for ourselves.  We came so that we would have more time to enjoy being together while we are both healthy.

Is it perfect here, living in Costa Rica?  Of course not. Like everywhere else in the world, there is crime, noise, dysfunctional government, poverty, drugs, and a few not-so-nice people.  While some things are less expensive, other things (like gasoline and imported goods) are more expensive. But in our experience, living in Costa Rica isn’t about perfection.  We often use the expression, “well, it’s another day in paradise.” While to us it may be paradise, it certainly isn’t perfect.  No place on earth is perfect.  There are always trade-offs.  You can’t build your dream house on the top of a hill without being open to the wind.  And you can’t have tropical plants and flowers without having rain.

We choose to look at our day-to-day experiences here as opportunities to learn, enjoy, and integrate into the culture. We choose not to dwell on the aspects of the culture that we don’t like, and there ARE things we don’t like.  Like with anything, you have to accept the good with the bad, but maybe you can also try to make it a better place, however and whenever possible.

In large part, I am writing this as a reminder to myself. Every day many people think about coming to Costa Rica to retire, and some of them choose to do so.  Then later — months, years or decades later — some of them decide to go back to the United States, Canada, or wherever else they came from. Or they decide to try living in another country, like Panama or Ecuador.   When the people who decide to move on are those close to us, our friends, I have to admit, it makes us question our decision to live in Costa Rica.

But, as hard as it sometimes can be, we need to focus on our own priorities, experience, and desires. Are we happy living here?  Yes.  Are we able to afford our cost of living? Yes.  Do we enjoy living in a Spanish-speaking country?  Yes. Are we able to do the things that are important to us?  Yes. Are we having fun?  Definitely. Can we pursue our dreams and interests?  Yes.  Do we have a strong social network and sense of community that includes both Gringos and Ticos? Yes. Do we have access to good medical care and medicines? Yes. Do we feel like we can make a difference here? In many ways, yes.

Will we live here forever?  Who knows?  But for now, we call Costa Rica home.  We are following the beat of our own drummer and we are loving the way it sounds.


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