It took a while for my husband and I to pluck up the courage to sell our house and most of our belongings then move to Costa Rica, a continent we’d never visited before with a language we didn’t speak.
We weren’t strangers to taking risks and moving abroad though.
But this time, it was different. This time, we had three kids in tow. This time, we were responsible parents and respectable business owners.
Although most of our friends and family didn’t see it that way. When we told them we were moving to Central America they thought we were nuts.
You see we were already living the dream lifestyle, working from home with our own business on stunning Waiheke Island in New Zealand with its sub-tropical climate, laid back vibe and stunning beaches.
But once a traveler, always a traveler. No matter how great our lifestyle was, and we did know how lucky we were, the pull of adventure was too great to resist. The itchy feet got too much for us in the end.
So we chose to move to Costa Rica in Central America because we wanted to move somewhere which fitted these main criteria:
- A country where you could get permanent residency and buy property – so if we liked it we could settle down permanently;
- Non-English speaking but with a widely spoken language – because we wanted our kids to be bilingual;
- Cheap – because we had three kids to support and we’d be traveling for a while before we started working again;
- Somewhere we’d never been before (which excludes many places in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and South East Asia);
- Somewhere with amazing stunning beaches, nature and wildlife;
- Somewhere stable where our kids would be safe – we already felt guilty enough about uprooting our children from their peaceful existence, we didn’t want to put their lives in jeopardy too.
Choosing Central America was easy compared to choosing one country within Central America.
3 Reasons Not to Live in Costa Rica
Before leaving New Zealand we spent months researching which Central American country would be best for us before finally settling on Panama and rejecting its more popular neighbor Costa Rica which seemed to be:
1. Too touristy.
2. Too over-priced.
3. Too over-run by expats.
But we kept our options open and decided to travel around Central America and visit as many potential places to live as possible before deciding where to lay our many hats.
We traveled through Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica before finally deciding Costa Rica was the one and only place that really got us excited for permanent residency.
In the end, we knew living in Costa Rica would be the place we’d love most.
3 Reasons You Should Move to Costa Rica Now
So why was moving to Costa Rica preferable to other countries in Central America?
1. Although it’s a popular travel destination Costa Rica is still wild, untamed and rugged.
I guess we’re fussy about beaches having been spoilt in New Zealand but since the one main aim in our lives is to live by a gorgeous beach finding a beach which made the grade in Central America took time.
We finally found those beaches in the Southern zone of Costa Rica.
2. Costa Rica was the only place where the wildlife is really rampant. I hope it stays that way.
When we were in New Zealand we dreamed of seeing toucans and in Costa Rica we had them in our garden every day. Toucans weren’t the only creature we shared our lives with.
We had everything from monkeys and pizote (coati) in our trees to hummingbirds or scorpions in the house and even bats in our toilet. It was quite an experience for the whole family.
3. We discovered that where once we’d have been glad to be the only expats in town that wasn’t fair on our kids.
While we were happy to send them to a local school and keen to immerse them in the local culture and language, we also thought they needed other English speaking kids to hang out with.
So, in the end, having a community of expats nearby in Costa Rica helped us make our Central American experience a success for the whole family because if our kids are happy, we are too.
We ended up spending 18 months in Central America and living in Costa Rica for most of that time.
In the end, it didn’t turn out to be a permanent move for us. The schooling for our children wasn’t great and, although I’m a homeschooler at heart, in practice it’s just not me. I wanted to live somewhere where my kids could go to school so I could have time for writing.
So eventually we packed our bags, waved adios to the tree frogs and toucans then moved to Queensland, Australia which was always plan B.
As backup plans go the Sunshine Coast in Queensland is perfect for us.
It’s a much safer, sensible choice and while part of me still yearns for the adventure and excitement of Costa Rica, the other half rejoices that my kids go to a good school 40 weeks of the year, six hours a day, five days a week leaving me guilt free time to write.
I’d love to go back to Costa Rica one day and although it didn’t work out I’m very glad we made that brave move.
In fact, I’d do it all over again and who knows, maybe when the kids have left school we will.
More Resources for Costa Rica
Check out these helpful travel guides:
- Costa Rica: The Complete Guide: Eco-adventures in Paradise
- DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Costa Rica
- Places to stay in Costa Rica
Have you ever moved somewhere you’ve never been before? Does living in Costa Rica sound like a good spot for you?
Bio:Annabel Candy was born in England but escaped as soon as she could to live in France, the USA, Laos, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Costa Rica. She now calls Australia home and spends many long hours bashing the keyboard, sharing travel stories at Get In the Hot Spot and blogging tips at Successful Blogging.