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.
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.
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.
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?