One of the reasons I moved to Costa Rica was to reduce stress in my life. Prior to making the decision, I toured the central valley followed by a few weeks living in a casita outside of Puriscal where I shed stress and felt serene. It was such a rewarding experience that I immediately knew life in the tropics was for me.
It took seven years of living in Costa Rica to find a place that was very convenient, allowed me to be independent, and to live well on my income. For the first two years, I lived outside of Puriscal in Carit. Initially, it was fine as I wrote and edited at home, but as I became involved in several organizations, taking two or three buses in order to attend a meeting became a chore.
After a serious search, I found a five-unit townhouse complex in Guachipelin. As the entrance to my unit was up 20 steps, I was able to watch fireworks from my living room or from the upstairs balconies off the two bedrooms. A major feature was a covered terrace and a garden protected by a very high wall. As the small townhome development was up a steep hill, I had to take cabs home although I could walk down slowly.
When I suffered two TIAs (mini-strokes) my doctor ordered, “Move to a place on one level.” The next residence I chose was in Cariari. It was a long narrow two-bedroom dark apartment. Widows were located at either end of the unit, but not on the sides. It took 15 minutes to walk to the bus stop. In the beginning, the property owners and I were friendly. Over time, the relationship changed and some of their actions were unwelcome. For example, the owners put up a wall between our large shared single terrace when they built a living room on their side, I suspect without permits. In addition, the river had a foul odor. It bordered our terrace. I became very unhappy because I was not experiencing the idyllic life I envisioned.
After someone finally bought the empty new house next door, he raised the wall between us that blocked light and air from the other end my end of the terrace. I needed a change. It took a while to locate a Tico house near Santa Ana. These owners offered their property furnished. While I kept a few things, I returned most of their belongings to them, having shipped my furnishings to make my house a home. Over the years that I lived within walking distance to the center of Santa Ana, we’ve become friends and go places together.
Earlier in 2019, the owners announced they wanted to build an apartment over my house with character and also make some improvements to my unit. Work was to begin in two weeks; it began one week later. I had to pack up many items, move stuff, and accommodate having a revolving crew of at least seven workers coming in and out of my place. The jefe of the workers told me they would be finished in my abode in two weeks. I mentally thought four to six weeks. Twelve weeks later, yes, twelve weeks, a few things still needed tweaking. As I drafted this blog, most items were completed.
Toward the end of the renovation, I learned I had a medical problem that had no symptoms which was frightening. Then FedEx did not deliver an expensive product I ordered delivered to a friend’s condominium in the States, causing a weeks-long hassle. As a result of these events, I developed a rash that turned out to be a form of Shingles. The dermatologist I called for three days, failed to give me an appointment. Finally, through the pharmacy where I buy medications, I learned of a doctor that prescribed the proper treatment. I should have gone to a doctor within five days of the breakout.
Fortunately, the attack was not that severe – burning stings where multiple pimples grew — and the meds cured the breakout but they caused discomfort in my stomach and reduced my appetite.
The positive result is that when all the bits are completed, I have an improved unit. I also lost some weight. Now I no longer have a Tico house with character, I have an apartment.
When later this year I write the fourth edition of Retiring in Costa Rica or Doctors, Dogs and Pura Vida I will add a chapter about renovating or building a house in Costa Rica. I’ll include the chapter in Expat Tales, a book that I currently am writing where each chapter relates personal or family experiences living in CR, and I’ll put the story in my annual newsletter.
If it were possible, I would recommend packing up everything and moving out for the duration even it’s complicated because you have a pet. On the other hand, I feel it is important to have hands-on each day as the contractors work even though it causes stress as one accommodates them. While it might be a pain, you could show up each day to monitor what transpires. It’s important to know what you are getting yourself into.
Helen Dunn Frame graduated from the Journalism School at Syracuse University and subsequently earned a Master’s Degree from New York University. She has been widely published in subsequent years. Her books include Retiring in Costa Rica or Doctors, Dogs and Pura Vida (third edition), Greek Ghosts, Wetumpka Widow, Secrets behind the Big Pencil, and Retirement 101. They are available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle. She has lived in Costa Rica for more than fourteen years.
BETWEEN THE COVERS OF THE THIRD EDITION OF RETIRING IN COSTA RICA OR DOCTORS, DOGS AND PURA VIDA
To retire full time, part time, or not at all, that is the question. As you approach what could be the last quarter or even third of your life, it is a major decision to make. You want your adventure to turn out well in order that your golden years will be happy, healthy, and content.
This book offers a means for doing your due diligence beginning with the first Chapter, Retirement 101. This encourages you to look beyond your financial plans and to consider what you will do with your wonderful free hours. You’ll undoubtedly discover if retiring to this emerging nation is for you. You may decide that living abroad is not for you. If your choice is a different foreign country, you may recognize what you might face when adapting to a different culture.
The book contains a lot of information that will enable you to carry your due diligence to the next level. In addition, you may contact the author through her website to download a Moving Guide and workbook, useful for any move.
KUDOS: If you are contemplating permanent retirement, investing, or even birding in Costa Rica, then you must read this book. It is an in-depth, comprehensive guide by U.S. expat Helen Dunn Frame. It provides you with a systematic guide for the entire process of making your tropical retirement dream easily come true. Rowdy Rhodes, Semi-retired Freelance Writer.
iHeart Radio Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7kInKOWcp4
Amazon: Author’s Page: http://www.amazon.com/Helen-Dunn-Frame/e/B0054LDOBW