Freedom Hunters International http://sett.com/freedomhuntersinternational Adventures in Lifestyle, Business, and Family en-us Mon, 09 Dec 2019 09:13:04 +0000 http://sett.com Sett RSS Generator Which Costa Rican Beach is Best? http://sett.com/freedomhuntersinternational/which-costa-rican-beach-is-best Costa Rica has TONS of beaches large and small, and we've been able to visit a half dozen of the most popular so far. They all seem to me to be a little bit like people, with their own personalities and quirks. Depending on how YOU are, you'll probably like one type of beach more than another. Here's a little beach guide for some of our favorite locations.

Playas del Coco AKA "Easy Breezy Lemon Squeezy"

Personality: like a friend you've known for years
Best Features: easy to live there because you've got everything within one mile, tons of conveniences and services, 30 minutes from Liberia airport, 15 minutes from hospital, lots of nightlife, no riptide and calmer waters
Drawbacks: the beach itself isn't as nice as some others because of some litter and a sub-par sanitation department

Playa Hermosa (the northern one) AKA "Cottage Life"

Personality: the girl/boy next door that you've always liked
Best Features: there's an intimate "feel" to the beach, it's large enough to never feel crowded but busy enough to feel fun, very safe and comfortable for families, calmer waters, simple and on the quieter side, also very close to airport, hospital, etc. in Liberia area
Drawbacks: not a ton to do after dark

Jaco Beach AKA "Bright Lights Big City"

Personality: that super hot cheerleader everyone wants to date
Best Features: one of the most developed beaches, lots of shopping, restaurants, services, and nightlife, known for it's surfing and also has many places to live both short and long term, lots of young people from all over the world
Drawbacks: like many places in Costa Rica, Jaco turns into a very different place after 10pm, but it's especially noticeable in Jaco. It's not a dangerous place per se, but I wouldn't take my kids out after 8pm there. Waves can be very intense and some riptide--great for surfing but not always for swimming.

Playa Samara AKA "One Love"

Personality: your young, single aunt who you can tell anything to
Best Features: huge beach with whiter sand than many CR beaches, huge variety of places to stay and eat, variety of people, ages, and nationalities all seeking something laid back and happy. Great to learn surfing or boogie board for beginners
Drawbacks: a little further from the airport than some others-about a 2 hour drive from Liberia and 4 from San Jose, and it's more on the organic/granola side of things so if that's not your vibe you might not love it as much

Manuel Antonio AKA "Big Rock Candy Mountain"

Personality: that young entrepreneur whose blog you like reading
Best Features: easy to get to higher elevation which means fewer mosquitoes and cooler temps, lots of nooks and crannies to explore in the shops and restaurants on the hillsides, great surfing and a memorable national park
Drawbacks: we were more approached here to buy things than any other beach, and the beach is narrower and more crowded than the others we have been to

So what's your pleasure? For more pictures of Costa Rican beaches and our other adventures, click HERE for our album that we update regularly. Got questions? Post in the community section of the blog. Pura Vida!

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Mon, 02 Dec 2013 23:36:44 +0000 http://sett.com/freedomhuntersinternational/which-costa-rican-beach-is-best
Making the Leap from Buffalo to Costa Rica http://sett.com/freedomhuntersinternational/making-the-leap-from-buffalo-to-costa-rica On our last night in Buffalo I found myself at 2am still packing suitcases, the sale of our house not closed yet, and nowhere to sit because all our furniture was in storage or had been sold. I was THRILLED. You know the old saying, “you can’t see the label of the jar you’re in,” right? Well we had busted open the jar and in 3 short hours we (me, my husband, and our kids aged 8 and 7) were getting on a flight to Costa Rica to live there.

People would say to us when they found out we were moving to Costa Rica, “wow, you must really like it there if you’re going to move there!” The truth? We had never been to Costa Rica. I had met Michael Simons from Tres Amigos REMAX and some other Costa Rica folks via email years before through mutual colleagues in my work coaching business owners internationally, and my father had been to Costa Rica many times, but us? Nope. We were fulfilling a 5 year plan that had suddenly become a 3 year plan just a few short months earlier.

How we met Michael Simons and Moved to Costa Rica - Tina and David Dietz Blog part 1

We had owned our home in Buffalo-a good house in a great neighborhood-for 11 years when we decided it was time to sell. The market was decent, and we were tired of the upkeep and expense. Moving to Costa Rica had been a long term goal of ours, but we didn’t think that’s where we were going to move when we put our house on the market-we just thought we were moving to a different suburb that was closer to farmland! But just a few short weeks into getting the house ready for listing the last puzzle piece fell into place. My husband’s company changed a policy that allowed him to go from working at home to working anywhere in the world. Our reaction was instant. We were going to Costa Rica!

We wanted a lifestyle that would allow us to spend more time as a family, be closer to nature, and give our kids the opportunity to experience different cultures while they were still young. The way the world is changing, by the time our kids become adults it’s going to be essential to be able to work with people globally. I made one call to Michael, and within 20 minutes I was connected with amazing people to help me with everything from schools for the kids, to housing, to renting a car, to totally handling the legal process for applying to be residents. It was easier to set up our new life in Costa Rica than it was to get things handled in Buffalo!

Kids in Paradise - Tina and David Dietz Blog part 2

Costa Rica has been the only place I’ve ever been where the reality has been as good as the fantasy. We have become closer as a family, and my husband and I have become closer as a couple too. After 15 years of marriage, I had no idea that was even possible! Our kids come home from the international school they’re attending, which we love, and jump into the pool outside our door. We get to eat fresh food all the time that isn’t overprocessed. Our health care is handled without crushing our budget. Best of all? My kids get to see and experience parts of the world that before they had only read about in books. Rain forests. Volcanoes. Coral reefs. Hot springs. My husband and I often take long lunches walking on the beach, or work at a beach café or by the pool. We’re not retired, we’re not millionaires, but our lifestyle is richer now than it’s ever been, and our cost of living is less.

Working in Paradise - Tina and David Dietz Blog - part 3

In my speaking and coaching practice, professionals and entrepreneurs alike come to me initially feeling stuck, stressed, and maxed out. They have this belief that you have to make tons of money and work 60 hour workweeks to get to the point eventually where you can have a lifestyle that feels like your perfect day. We’re living proof that this isn’t the case at all. We live in a time of unlimited resources and unprecedented opportunity. You can find anything you want or need, anywhere in the world. Living our dream didn’t happen overnight for us, but we had a plan so we were ready when the opportunity came. I think life’s too short to spend it on anything less than the creating a life you love, don’t you? Moving to Costa Rica has been the best decision we’ve ever made for our family.

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Sun, 10 Nov 2013 00:46:52 +0000 http://sett.com/freedomhuntersinternational/making-the-leap-from-buffalo-to-costa-rica
Adventuring to Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica http://sett.com/freedomhuntersinternational/adventuring-to-arenal-volcano-in-costa-rica The very idea of seeing a live volcano thrilled and worried our kids. "Is it going to erupt while we're there? "Will we see lava?" "Do the hot springs burn your skin?" Fortunately, the answer to all these questions was "no." See, sometimes saying no to your kids makes th]]>

The very idea of seeing a live volcano thrilled and worried our kids.

"Is it going to erupt while we're there?

"Will we see lava?"

"Do the hot springs burn your skin?"

Fortunately, the answer to all these questions was "no." See, sometimes saying no to your kids makes them happy!

The drive from Liberia to the Arenal Volcano area in Costa Rica is about 3-4 hours, depending on exactly where you're headed. The volcano is at one end of Lake Arenal, which is a HUGE and beautiful lake with all kinds of small communities along the way. As with most roads in Costa Rica, it's a twisty ride and you don't want to rush it because it is so beautiful. Leave time for some stops along the way, like the famous German Bakery in the town of Nuevo Arenal.

FUN FACT! Nuevo Arenal (New Arenal) is called such because the original town of Arenal was destroyed in the eruption of the volcano in 1968. About 80 people died, and the ruins of the town are now at the bottom of the lake.

We kept our track record of making one major wrong turn on each road trip and ended up on a gravel road to Monteverde, which is the cloud forest region. As much as we would like to see Monteverde, it's best to have a 4 wheel drive vehicle for that trip and we were on a mission to see the volcano so we turned around.

There's lots of places to stay on the road to Arenal, but we wanted to get to La Fortuna which is past the national park area and one of the larger towns in the region. The whole Arenal area attracts young, outdoorsy, entrepreneurial folks and the energy is one of community and fun adventure. I was pleasantly surprised to find that while you CAN do very strenuous hiking, zip lining, boating, windsurfing, etc. around Arenal, there really is a way to experience all the region has to offer without breaking your knees.

Our first night we stayed right in La Fortuna at Hotel Arenal Jireh, which had a balcony, fridge, pool, hot tub, hot water, A/C, wifi, and hot full breakfast delivered to your room for $60 a night. You can stay in town for as low as $15 a night and as much as $200 per night, your choice. The absolute BEST part of this hotel though was the staff. Even if you don't stay at the hotel, I would stop there and introduce yourself and ask them to help you out. Both Jessica and Ulises are American but fluent Spanish speakers well familiar with the area. We hired Ulises to be our tour guide the next day and that was one of the best decisions we made since we got to Costa Rica. It took all the guesswork out and ended up saving us money.

**You can contact Ulises Vaquiz for Arenal area tour information at UlisesVaquiz@gmail.com. He was fantastic with the kids, is safety certified, and really knows the area.**

We ventured to the Arenal Observation Lodge, which used to be a base for scientists to study the volcano, and now is a privately owned resort and museum-$6 gets you in for the day (half price for kiddos, the tour guide is free). After being mesmerized by the sheer amazingness of Senor Arenal himself, we ventured around the restaurant, through the gardens and past the guest accommodations, museum, and pool (I would stay at this place if we go again) down into the jungle.

Here's what we heard (listen carefully for the Howler Monkeys)...

Costa Rica Howler Monkeys in the trees at Arenal Volcano

Here's what got the kids super excited...

Costa Rica

Here's what we saw...

After going across the two suspension bridges, we emerged into some of the farmland and forest that 's part of the Lodge. There is large working animal and macadamia nut farm. Many people don't know that Arenal Volcano has a second crater, and we were fortunate enough to have the chance to get a great look at it.

We ventured back to the observation deck for trail mix and frutas, and to our delight had a lovely guest...a kawati. He sniffed us thoroughly, declined our offer of pineapple and trail mix, and padded back off into the forest.

You would THINK that would be enough for one day's adventure, but no! All this glory was before 1pm. Since Ulises is part of the expat community in the area, he took us to the little town of El Castillo and introduced us to Mikey, who is a former pro BMX biker. The two of them showed us a "secret" access to the lake and Mikey proceeded to launch the kids in the water repeatedly, much to their (and our) delight.

The perfect end to the day was our unanimous family pick for "best thing ever." THE HOT SPRINGS. Ulises showed us the public access point for the hot springs, which is really more like a hot river. You can go to resorts all over the Arenal area and pay $30-$60 for a day pass that

includes private hot springs and sometimes a meal or other activities included. We like free. The water of the hot springs left our skin amazingly soft.

We were more than ready to relax by the time we dropped off Ulises and headed off to our hotel. We stayed this night at the Arenal Volcano Inn, a couple of kilometers outside of La Fortuna (read: QUIET). We paid more, but there were far more amenities and the restaurant was one of the best we've experienced. Full buffet breakfast was included, and the pool and hot tub were lovely. The room was very spacious with large, comfy beds.

The next morning after a leisurely breakfast we made full use of the jacuzzi and pool and headed back to Playas del Coco. We will definitely be back to the Arenal region, we barely even scratched the surface of all there is to do, and I've got a powerful urge to zip line down a mountain!

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Mon, 21 Oct 2013 05:05:23 +0000 http://sett.com/freedomhuntersinternational/adventuring-to-arenal-volcano-in-costa-rica
Pizza, Sushi, & Casados: All about FOOD in Costa Rica http://sett.com/freedomhuntersinternational/pizza-sushi-casados-all-about-food-in-costa-rica When we picked what country we were going to go to though I did have some concerns about feeding the kids as well as myself. I'm not a picky eater, I just want my food to be tasty and preferably healthy. And, I'm not really that interested in being overly exotic. New kin]]> When we picked what country we were going to go to though I did have some concerns about feeding the kids as well as myself. I'm not a picky eater, I just want my food to be tasty and preferably healthy. And, I'm not really that interested in being overly exotic. New kinds of fresh fish or veggies to try? Sure! Innards and insects? Not so much.

Our first dining experience in Costa Rica was...yep, pizza! Lonely Planet is right in Playa Coco and has a really fun and funky coffeehouse meets bar meets island pizza joint feel. The service was amazing, and the pizza was pretty awesome too. Costa Rican pizza (which is way more common than you'd think) is very thin crust and a much lighter meal than you'd find in the US. Everything is in moderation and you don't feel like a stuffed whale after you eat it. A lot of the pizza is wood fired, which, depending on the restaurant, adds a nice smokiness to the whole dish. If pizza seems too western to you though, there are always other great choices on the menu at the restaurants here that are familiar but with a local flair.

I highly recommend trying some new toppings-these next pictures are from an INCREDIBLE pizza and sushi (yes, you read that right) restaurant called Donde Johann. It's owned by a French expat and not only is the food great, but his whole restaurant concept is very cool. Local ingredients used in a way that is familiar to our Western tastebuds but that still makes the most of Costa Rican flavors.

This pizza had artichokes, locally smoked ham, and mushrooms. Easily one of the most delicious pizzas I've ever encountered. It was crispy and chewy and had a fantastic balance of toppings. You can see the cheese pizza in the background that we got for the kiddos as well.

Being so close to the ocean, there is of course a lot of local seafood. Fish is one of the most inexpensive protein sources, which we were very happy to discover. We've been exploring the local "pescarias," or fish markets, and the local tuna, snapper, and mahi mahi are right off the boat at a fraction of the price you'd find in the US.

At Donde Johann, we sampled both the shrimp and fish ceviche as well as the marlin sushi. Ceviche, if you haven't had it before, is a MUST in Costa Rica. Fish and/or shrimp are chopped small and marinated in lime juice, cilantro, and thinly sliced red onions. The acid in the citrus juice "cooks" the seafood and it is served in a bowl or stemmed glass (or sometimes in a plastic cup if you're on the beach) with tortilla chips which are just a little sweet. Those chips are so good!

On a more traditional note, something that you can find everywhere that is pretty much always good is something called a "casado." This seems to be the national dish of Costa Rica, although I'm not sure that's official. I've tried it in almost every restaurant we've been to, and it's always good. In essence, a casado (which translates to "married couple" in spanish) is rice and beans (bean type depends on region), a small salad and/or chopped veggies, usually a plantain slice or two, and the protein of your choice. This time around I chose shredded beef cooked in a salsa. Muy delicioso, very filling and nutritious, and often one of the least expensive items on the menu. I've also had it with fish, chicken, and pork.

Since food is one of MY favorite topics, I'll be sharing more about the local fruits and veggies, bakeries, and markets, as well as tips for shopping for food in Costa Rica that will save you a LOT of money in upcoming posts. Pura vida!

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Thu, 03 Oct 2013 17:16:32 +0000 http://sett.com/freedomhuntersinternational/pizza-sushi-casados-all-about-food-in-costa-rica
Arriving in Costa Rica, Renting a Car, What to Expect? http://sett.com/freedomhuntersinternational/arriving-in-costa-rica-renting-a-car-what-to-expect Jet Blue flies direct from JFK into Liberia, Costa Rica. VERY handy! And, thanks to Costa Rica's welcoming attitude you don't need a separate visa to visit, just your passport. You will fill out customs and immigration forms (very simple) on the airplane so you're all re]]> Jet Blue flies direct from JFK into Liberia, Costa Rica. VERY handy! And, thanks to Costa Rica's welcoming attitude you don't need a separate visa to visit, just your passport. You will fill out customs and immigration forms (very simple) on the airplane so you're all ready when you arrive. Liberia is a fairly small, but recently updated airport so we moved through immigration quickly. The kids were thrilled to get their passports stamped for the first time, and I have to say I was pretty excited myself.

Baggage claim and customs were also totally painless. I had a letter from my chiropractor noting the supplements, vitamins, etc. that I had with me (you can find a list of what you can and can't bring into the country on the Costa Rica Embassy site), but they didn't even open my suitcases. The only item of interest in my luggage was my microphone stand.

And so, looking like total tourists (like the camera around the neck?) we looked for our car rental rep. I always feel like a celebrity when there's someone waiting for me at the airport with my name on a sign, but besides that ego boost I do recommend reserving a car before your get to Costa Rica and doing some homework.

When it comes to car rental, you are NOT in Kansas anymore. Here is what you NEED to know about renting a car in Costa Rica.

1. The rates you see advertised on websites are usually the base rates for a vehicle, not including insurance, taxes, and other fees that add up to 100% or more to the daily rate. Additional drivers add fees, etc. However, remember that you can negotiate a better price. Don't be afraid to ask!! You will also get a better rate if you rent from an office not directly in the airport. Our car rental office was a short trip by shuttle.

2. When you rent a car in the US, and you own a car in the US, your US car insurance generally covers insurance on your rental. NOT TRUE in Costa Rica (or any other international destination from what I understand). Even if your credit card covers car insurance for rentals-and definitely call your credit card company to find out-liability insurance is mandatory in Costa Rica and is anywhere from $10-15 per day, depending on your deductible.

3. Get a reliable recommendation for a rental company from someone who has experience. It's a common practice to roll back odometers or have an older fleet of cars. Nelson Chacon from Adobe Rent a Car was referred to us and we were not disappointed. Our representative met us on time from the airport (even though we were a half hour early), gave us a great price, and even gave us a surprise upgrade without us even asking. (That's the amazing Larry on the left there-he works for Nelson and took fantastic care of us!) This company includes roadside assistance, and will drive a new car out to YOU when you're stuck while they take care of the breakdown. If you're not keeping the car for your whole trip (like us), they will come and pick it up from you. You can't ask for better customer service than that!

4. When you're considering how to pay for your rental, make sure you have enough room for the insurance deposit on your credit card, and don't use a debit card. There is an insurance deposit of $1,000 that is refunded when you return the vehicle in the same condition you got it in. Even though this is a "hold" and not a "charge" on your credit card, you still need to have enough available on your credit line to cover both the deposit and the amount of the rental. Why shouldn't you use a debit card? Because they can't put a hold using a debit card, it will be an actual charge, and it can take up to a month to get your $1,000 refunded.

5. Look over your vehicle carefully and make sure any existing dents or paint chips, etc. are notated by the rental company so you don't get charged for something you didn't do.

6. What are the biggest mistakes that drivers from the US and Canada make, according to Larry? Once you are on your way, remember not to drive through a flooded road, even if it looks shallow. Your insurance won't cover it. This is generally only an issue in the rainy season. Oh, and avoid "shortcuts" if you want to return your rental vehicle in good condition.

Now that you are on your way and free to adventure onward, you will be amazed at the beauty all around you. Pura vida!

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Tue, 24 Sep 2013 23:16:18 +0000 http://sett.com/freedomhuntersinternational/arriving-in-costa-rica-renting-a-car-what-to-expect
Moving Internationally With Kids http://sett.com/freedomhuntersinternational/uid/69465 Our kids are 7 and "almost 9." Our move is in just two days, and at this point it's just a matter of riding the roller coaster and enjoying the ride as much as possible. Making the experience of an international move good for them has, of course, been a big topic of co]]>

Our kids are 7 and "almost 9." Our move is in just two days, and at this point it's just a matter of riding the roller coaster and enjoying the ride as much as possible. Making the experience of an international move good for them has, of course, been a big topic of conversation. From my experience as a therapist working in the schools and developing teen centers, etc, I know that kids are amazingly resilient. That being said, we still wanted to minimize their potential future therapy-related expenses.

Let me get the topic of schooling out of the way first, because that's the question adults ask about. We got in touch with several private, international schools where we'll be living at first and ended up having a wonderful opportunity withLakeside Schoolin Guanacaste. We could send our kids to the good public schools in Costa Rica, but you really do need to know Spanish to thrive in those schools, so this option provides some great social support and structure while catering to kids and families who are coming from all over the world. We've had a couple of surprises, like finding out that there's really no street names and addresses in Costa Rica, and that school transportation is an extra, private expense, but we've worked through those bits by basically pretending to be kids ourselves and giving ourselves the freedom to ask approximately a gazillion questions.

Might we end up homeschooling or unschooling eventually? It's definitely a possibility but let's make one transition at a time for all our sanity's sake.

Dave and I sat down one day and had a very cool discussion on "Things We Wished Adults Had Thought of When We Were Kids." While we didn't move internationally with a family when we were little, we both had experiences of being the new kid and finding ourselves in new situations with little preparation. We came up with 5 things we would focus on to support the kids in the transition.

1.Validate their feelings,even if we thought (from our lofty adult perspective) that they were being dramatic or silly. Sometimes you just need someone to "get" you, and then you can move on.

2.Include them in what's happening.They don't need to know every detail, but keeping them in the loop about school, travel plans, what was happening on a daily basis with the house sale and the move, etc. Our son has been very interested in how we've been using Craigslist to sell items we no longer need, so we've had him help with keeping track of money and involving him in those sales conversations. (yay for developing skill sets!)

3.Let them make some choicesand pursue some interests related to the move so that they feel powerful. The kids got to choose what items they wanted to bring with them--1 stuffed animal, 6 DVDs, 8 books, and toys that fit inside a certain sized bag. They also donated an entire mini-van full of toys, books, and clothes which they felt really good about.

4.Educate the family togetherabout where you're going. I got a book out of the library from the childrens' section on Costa Rica and was surprised at what they came up with. Our son made a list of places he wanted to visit, our daughter pointed out that there are active volcanos and insisted on creating a plan to make sure we could get out. I never would've thought of that, and we ended up finding anapp/website from the US State Departmentthat had great information and assistance for international travellers. We also found a cool language learning app and website calledMemrise that makes learning new languages a game. Very cool, and all thanks to the kids' ideas.

5.If mom and dad are cool, everyone is cool.Selling a house and moving to a foreign country (on a budget!) absolutely has a high stress level. It's so easy to get all worked up and start taking it out on each other. Dave and I have very different strengths and ways of dealing with stress, so we've made it a priority to connect 2-3 times a day. Often it's not a conversation that we need to have, it's just a hug to connect and be close. We also took the time to use the strategic planning processes that I use for my business coaching clients to create our moving plan. Having the plan and the connection has made a HUGE difference in our staying on track, keeping as calm as possible, and working through the hurdles that have come along-like unexpected expenses related to the house closing, or car repairs, or what have you.

Time to get back to packing!

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Fri, 20 Sep 2013 00:08:13 +0000 http://sett.com/freedomhuntersinternational/uid/69465
The Costa Rica Chronicles: Why move to Costa Rica? http://sett.com/freedomhuntersinternational/the-costa-rica-chronicles-why-move-to-costa-rica When we became "location independent" and decided that we weren't going to stay local, we had the whole world to choose from for our first adventure. So for all the folks who have asked us, "why Costa Rica?" here are some of the factors that figured into the equation. ]]>

When we became "location independent" and decided that we weren't going to stay local, we had the whole world to choose from for our first adventure. So for all the folks who have asked us, "why Costa Rica?" here are some of the factors that figured into the equation.

Cost of Living & Amenities

Buffalo, NY (where we're from) may not have a great reputation, but it's a very inexpensive place to live. Real estate is insanely cheap, there are excellent public schools to be had, traffic is minimal, food is great, there's quite a lot of theatre, arts, music, and technology if you know where to look. We were looking to lower our cost of living even from Buffalo standards, but also feel safe and have decent amenities like good schools (we're not quite ready to homeschool/unschool our 2 wee beasties), decent roads, and reliable Internet connection--which we both need for our work. Costa Rica has all that.

Where we're going to be 'landing' is Playa Coco, about 30 minutes from the newly updated Liberia airport. Jet Blue flies direct from JFK to Liberia, so the whole flight will take about the same as if we were to fly to California.

Costa Rica isn't an island (you'd be amazed how many folks don't know that), and they grow much of their own food. These two factors combined keep the cost of food and necessities down.

Safety

Costa Rica hasn't had a military since the 1960s. Instead, they've poured their resources into educating their population, developing infrastructure, ecological initiatives, and being very welcoming to wanderers like us as well as retirees and other folks looking to live a better life.

Unlike places like Brazil, Costa Rica doesn't have widespread issues with violent crime and kidnapping. Of course you don't want to leave your purse on a table unattended, or your iPhone on your beach blanket while you play in the surf, but the same could be said about most places in the US as well. The most urban area of Costa Rica, which is the city of San Jose, has the most incidence of crime along with the Limon area of the country, which is on the Caribbean coast. We are staying basically on the polar opposite of those location. The US Embassy in Costa Rica has good information and yes, there's an app for that if you're travelling internationally.

Contacts

Through my work with the Nayada Institute of Massage for many years, and coordinating destination massage trainings in Costa Rica, I had the pleasure of meeting Michael Simons, a Canadian expat who is one of the best real estate guys in CR. He is a TOTAL exemption from my previous rant about realtors. I made one call to Michael, and he directed me to an incredible FAQ he's put together about living in Costa Rica. That one thing shortened our learning curve immensely.

Logistics

Quite honestly, I wasn't thrilled with the idea of being in a time zone that would have me coaching my clients at midnight. Although I work internationally, the majority of my clients are in the US and Canada so being in a compatible time zone was important to me. Dave is in the same situation.

In the location we'll be in Costa Rica, we'll be 30 minutes or less from the airport and hospitals, but also 2 blocks from the beach and a 10 minute walk into town. The bus system in Costa Rica is good, and reliable taxi service is also available, so we don't really need a car.

Do we speak Spanish? Un poco. But in the great scheme of things it's not a difficult language to learn, and both English and Spanish are taught in public schools in Costa Rica, not to mention the large number of expats, so not knowing the language well is an opportunity to learn something new, not a barrier to getting around.

What about after Costa Rica?

Now that we've got the travel bug, we're not sure where we'll end up after our first 3 months in Costa Rica. Got suggestions?

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Sun, 15 Sep 2013 20:26:44 +0000 http://sett.com/freedomhuntersinternational/the-costa-rica-chronicles-why-move-to-costa-rica
Will Realtors go the way of the Dodo? http://sett.com/freedomhuntersinternational/will-realtors-go-the-way-of-the-dodo I can't imagine selling a house or buying one without a Realtor. That being said...I think it's a profession that needs to evolve, and quickly. A Realtor who really knows what they need to know, or how to get accurate information to do their job right is worth their we]]>

I can't imagine selling a house or buying one without a Realtor. That being said...I think it's a profession that needs to evolve, and quickly. A Realtor who really knows what they need to know, or how to get accurate information to do their job right is worth their weight in gold and is probably making at least that in income. But lordy have realtors cost us time and money both with purchasing and selling homes. It pays to educate yourself, so please take some of our learning curve and apply it to your own situation. Here's what I would find out the next time I choose a realtor.

1. How much do you know about home construction?

2. Do you have a contact in the town I'm buying/selling who is up to date on current building codes and regulation?

3. What is your usual response time? Do you prefer phone, email, or text?

4. What kind of a negotiator are you? (This is CRUCIAL.)

5. Can you provide 5 references who are not family members?

6. Are you willing to be honest with us if you think we may be getting in over our head with price point or repairs/maintenance? (especially if you're not a handy person)

Another lesson I would pass on to you is to talk to your real estate lawyer as much as you talk to your realtor. These two folks don't get the same information from the banks, your buyer, etc. and humans being humans, well, communication isn't always clear. There's a repair on our home that the bank is requiring (what ever happened to 'buyer beware?'). The realtor said it was our responsibility to get it fixed, the lawyer says it's the buyers responsibility. Lots of confusion. We offered to split it and just get it done, set up the electrician, the permit, etc...

...and apparently the buyer is out of town and not responding to phone or email.

So we wait until we hear from her and continue on, remembering to breathe.

I think the real estate world would benefit heavily from using moderated discussion boards, or Basecamp so that house sales can be managed like projects. What's your experience of selling a home, realtors, and getting a mortgage?

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Fri, 13 Sep 2013 14:24:51 +0000 http://sett.com/freedomhuntersinternational/will-realtors-go-the-way-of-the-dodo
Moving to Costa Rica: An abrupt adventure that began 3 years ago http://sett.com/freedomhuntersinternational/moving-to-costa-rica-an-abrupt-adventure-that-began-3-years-ago We get two questions when we tell folks that we've sold our house and we're moving to Costa Rica... "Why are you doing that?" AND "Are you going to be on House Hunters International?" In short form, the answers to those two questions are... "Because we can!" ]]> Playa Coco, Costa Rica--our destination!

We get two questions when we tell folks that we've sold our house and we're moving to Costa Rica...

"Why are you doing that?"

AND

"Are you going to be on House Hunters International?"

In short form, the answers to those two questions are...

"Because we can!"

AND

"No, we're renting because this is an experiment. But when and if we do decide to buy something you can be damn sure HGTV will be hearing from us."

Now that we're 9 days away (holy crap!) from being out of our house and taking our family to another country, it feels like it's all happening so fast. But it's really been 3 years in the making.

You see, three years ago we were sitting down with some friends talking about our "Perfect Day" 5 years in the future. In my world, this is typical coffee talk because being a business expansion strategist, it's something I work with my clients on all the time. People often create goals without really thinking about what they want their lifestyle to be like in the future, and that wreaks all kind of havoc on lives and businesses. But this was more of a casual powwow between friends over a glass of wine. As we talked, I had a very clear vision of being on a beach in Costa Rica and a whole day about living there unfolded in my mind's eye about living there with my family.

Dave (my beloved) was pretty intrigued with the idea, so he added his own flavor and vision and we ended up creating a 5 Year Vision Plan that involved visiting, then moving part of the year, to Costa Rica.

Fast forward 3 years, and lots (of course) has happened, and not neatly or easily or tied up with a pretty bow. Lots had been accomplished in our Plan, but certainly not all of it. We weren't even thinking about moving internationally when we decided to put our house on the market earlier this year. But you know what?

Amazing things happen when you decide to choose freedom and follow your bliss.

As we were getting the house ready for sale, out of the blue the last couple of circumstances that kept us location dependent disappeared. Dave and I looked at each other, both remembering our Plan, and realized...we could move ANYWHERE.

So that's what we're doing. Why we chose Costa Rica we'll cover in another post. Join us on our adventure!

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Wed, 11 Sep 2013 18:29:46 +0000 http://sett.com/freedomhuntersinternational/moving-to-costa-rica-an-abrupt-adventure-that-began-3-years-ago