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Posted by on Nov 20, 2014 in Health/Fitness, Retirement, Tips, Uncategorized | 18 comments

5 things I didn’t ever think I would live without, but do.

5 things I didn’t ever think I would live without, but do.

There are things I am living without since our move to Costa Rica. Things that in our Dallas life I would have never imagined living without. They are a nice by-prouct of our new lifestyle and new location.

Playing Kick the Can

Just a little pinch between the cheek and gum – What started out as an indulgence when I would go fishing in my mid-teens, became a full blown addiction in my adult years. For the 10 years prior to moving to Costa Rica I would go through a can, or more, of Copenhagen tobacco, dip for you Texans out there, a day.

That was about a $6 a day habit and was such a habit that when I walked into my local 7-11 convenience store the clerk would set a can on the counter for me before I even walked his way (cue Cheers theme song). It was a bit embarrassing when the clerk did this when Jen was with me. Early on in our marriage I had told Jen I would not dip around her – I knew it was a nasty habit and it wasn’t really something she should have to deal with – so, for the most part she forgot that I actually had this habit. Except if we were out picking something up at 7-11 and the kind clerk would have a can waiting for me.

Was it difficult to quit? Surprisingly, no. With our move to Costa Rica I knew there were changes to be made – mostly involving money and living more simply. Chew just was not part of the equation/budget. Maybe it was the excitement of the move or some other factor but I stopped cold turkey with no withdrawal symptoms – no headaches or, really, any longings. The only remnants of that addiction is when I am out fishing – that old standby – I crave a pinch.


I have worked since I was about 13. Whether it was mowing neighbors yards, assisting in roofing (in the Texas summers no less), or building my career in my adult years, I have always had a job and responsibilities.

By the time I left Dallas for Costa Rica I was managing a company which operated 24/7. Our main clients were attorneys and I managed both a production staff of about 20 and a sales and admin staff of about 10.

I was a busy and effective manager. I took pride in being able to hit the impossible deadline, in mitigating disputes, in managing a business in a tough industry. I thrived on being responsible.

When I left work for Costa Rica and early retirement at 41, I had a real fear of the void that would be left by not having work responsibilities; not being depended on. I am happy to report that after a week of weirdness (and of grabbing my cell phone to look at phantom texts) I found it easy to not be working.

Now, my work is whatever hobby I want to play around with for the day: photography, building websites, writing etc… They are all things I enjoy and if they become cumbersome or not enjoyable, I stop.

More Pressure

For the past several years I was placed on ever increasing dosages of meds to regulate my escalating blood pressure. The time-demands and stress of my job accentuated my natural inclination to poor nutrition and lack of exercise. I was eating out a lot and drinking more alcohol than was healthy.

My mindset when we moved to Costa Rica was – I WILL work out, I mean, I have nothing else to do, right? And I did. I learned to love hiking each morning and the first 3 months we were here I dropped 30 pounds. In the year since that first 30 pounds I have dropped an additional 15 pounds for a grand total of 45 pounds.

It was shortly after dropping that initial 30 that I ran out of meds, and low and behold – I didn’t need them. I now regularly check my blood pressure and it stays in a normal range.

Quarterly Bronchitis

In Dallas, every 2 or 3 months I would get a cold, an upper respiratory infection, or bronchitis. I was an unhealthy dude. In addition, I had a warped sense of duty and would rarely call in sick. I would much prefer to be miserable at work (and make others miserable.)

I have been sick twice in Costa Rica. The first “cold” was shortly after we first arrived and my dad died. I was still chunky and I had some additional stress. The second time was just recently, I caught something that made me cough and my throat feel like it was on fire.

So, 2 times in a year and a half versus, what would have been, 6 or 7 times in my previous existence. Also, I am recovering from these illnesses much faster than I would have in Dallas.

Itchy Fingers

When I was 17 I worked at Chick-fil-a. One of the first tasks I learned was squeezing lemons for fresh lemonade. That was the first time, I can recall, experiencing the joys of eczema. Eczema was my constant companion and as the stress of my work increased throughout the years, so did my friend’s flare-ups.

I would love to say eczema is non existent for me in Costa Rica, but it is not. Damn near though. I have only had one awful flareup in our year and a half here and it was due to a local (awful) brand of hand and dish soap called Bactex. Seconds after using this product my fingers started ballooning up. Luckily, we had some coconut oil near by and applying that on my hands had an immediate effect on the swelling.

Other than that instance my eczema in Costa Rica has been gone.


So, there you have it. Some things I am living without that I never thought I would. Probably not the type of list you were thinking about but a great list, for me at least.  The majority of this list has to do with my health and the moral is not that Costa Rica cures what ails you – the moral is stress and unhealthy habits wreck havoc on your health and you can improve your health by removing stress and minimizing unhealthy habits.

Hasta Pronto,



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Greg Seymour is a quitter. At 41 Greg and his wife Jen quit their jobs, sold damn near everything they owned and became Intentionally Unemployed and retired early to Costa Rica.
In addition to writing on this blog, Greg has written for other online publications and has written two popular books about living in Costa Rica:
Greg Seymour Amazon Author Page

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  1. Good for you. ……. I’m hoping for similar results……. good job

  2. what a great story. but how sad to look northward, and think of how many Americans leap out of bed to jump back onto that treadmill every morning. what a sick way to live, in so many ways. congratulations, and I hope to be able to spend many healthy years as friends. Pura Vida, brother.

    • That is true… it is also true that if we had not been on that treadmill (and managed our money) we would not have been in the position to get off the treadmill. As the song goes – Know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away, know when to run. It was time to run 🙂

  3. I hear ya Greg, those who want that got to get it done today, list a mile long,got to keep up with the Jone’s, stress filled lifestyle back in the states can keep it. Every year I like it more and more here to the point I may never got back. It seems every year I go for my brief shopping spree and friend visits I can’t wait to get back here in shorter and shorter amounts of time. Those people over there are nuts and stressed out to the max just about anywhere you go. People fight over everything and anything even the smallest and stupidest things. I saw 3 different ridiculous arguments over stuff that one would laugh about here or say pura vida. I pretty much have had with that place. I’ll stay with the overall happiest people on earth (2nd year running). I been here for 12 years so my honey moon was over a long time ago and I am one who loves it here.

    • It will be interesting to see if there is any reverse culture-shock when we take a trip in the Spring.

  4. Sounds like you’ve done what I need to – get away from lawyers and Houston! Hopefully I can follow your lead soon and have a healthier, happier lifestyle. Keep up the good work and great blogs!

    • Thanks Patti – I appreciate the comments.

  5. There is something positively magical about living in Costa Rica. I never looked better or felt healthier than when I was living there. Ever notice how young expats living in CR look for their age? Pura Vida

    • A lot of our friends are much older than us – you would never know by their enthusiasm for life.

  6. I am glad for you that you don’t suffer from any of the health issues that you had living in USA. I am seriously entertaining moving to Costa Rica from Canada and as a senior would love that more healthy life style, and it would be great to get rid of the couple of meds that I take at the moment. I know you don’t like giving advice re moving to Costa Rica, having said that, I would like to have your opinion on the town of Atenas. I think that is where I would like to live or near there, or in Heredia area. your thoughts please, if you don’t mind. thanks

  7. Thank you Greg.
    I really enjoyed your 5 things. I’m impressed with your determination and how you have transformed your life. It’s all about passion and following our dreams.

  8. glad to see you are blogging regularly, as I appreciate your perspective. one thing I would like to hear your opinion about is what you mentioned briefly in a long ago post. when you were seeking temporary residency you mentioned in passing that it was still yet to be seen if it was worth it or not. well, was it worth it? we are leaning towards hanging out a while to find out first. what do you think? maybe you could blog about that sometime. thanks!

    • Hi Heather,

      We are still waiting for our residency to go through. It has been just over a year since we filed. In the end, I am still not sure if it is going to be the wisest choice, but I think so.

      Here is the crux. Being Rentisita applicants, once we are approved and we are compelled to enter the Caja, we will be paying at the highest level… this for a service that we will probably not use much. Add to that the fact we are under 55 and will have to pay additional money into the system. Part of the problem is that we just don’t know how much it is going to cost. We have heard estimates upwards of $400 for Jen and I – this is about $300 more than what our, incorrect, research told us.

      The thing that balances this out is if we are residents we have access to CD investments with credit unions here and the last time I checked they were paying out 11.3%, interest paid monthly, on a 5 year CD.

      So, there you have it. I think in the end we will come out ahead choosing residency. You are right, great blog topic.

  9. Really interesting perspective on life improvements since your move.

    • This move has done me good Bill. It could be argued that I could have achieved the same results in the States, but I think not. I needed a change of venue and of lifestyle.

      I am happy we made that move.

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