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Posted by on Aug 9, 2013 in Costa Rica, Retirement | 7 comments

Time for Retirement

Time for Retirement

Best-Laid Plans

Before we actually retired and moved to Costa Rica we lived in a “dream retirement “world where all the stuff we were going to do, learn, and experience was accomplished just because we said it was so. When dreaming aloud all these things that we would do, I would always add the following sentence to the end of the thought, “we won’t have anything else to do”.

For Example:

I am going to spend 2 hours a day learning Spanish. We won’t have anything else to do.

I am going to start working on writing a book. We won’t have anything else to do.

I am going to really dig into photography, learn my camera and practice composition. We won’t have anything else to do.

I am going to get into the best shape of my life. We won’t have anything else to do.

and so on, and so on……

Let’s do the Time Warp, Again

Well, we get to Costa Rica and the reality of daily life sets in and, just like in my working life, if you don’t plan it, it ain’t going to happen. While we really don’t have anything else to do time IS stretched out here.

We don’t have a car so a trip to town for grocery shopping will take a minimum of 2 hours, then there is the inevitable relaxing that must take place after such an excruciating excursion.

Dinner is another function that takes quite a bit of time, for several reasons:

FreezerIt needs to be made

Prepackaged food is a thing of the past. We are eating so much more healthy, which means, more preparation time because nothing is coming out of a box or a bag. My freezer is bare; everything is on the counter or in the fridge and ready to be combined with other items to make a yummy meal.


The dishes are doneThose Damn Dishes

They don’t wash themselves… anymore. Gone are the days of just loading and unloading the dishwasher. Our new dishwasher, ME, hand washes and dries the dishes a couple of times a day – poor, poor me. Actually, I don’t mind this new duty – the trade off is Jen does the cooking. If you have ever sampled Jen’s cooking you will agree with me that I am getting the long end of this stick.


The Grecia to El Cajon BusNo Car

There are not any restaurants within walking distance of our home so when we go out to dinner we must travel by bus or have a friend with a car pick us up; this can add 30 minutes to an hour to the time it takes to have dinner.



IsabelsThe time it takes to eat Dinners out

Especially with friends, it just take longer here. It is one time when I really appreciate Tico Time. You are allowed, by wait staff, to actually eat, enjoy and converse without constant interruption and without the rush, rush of the server trying to turn his table….hell we are the only ones in the restaurant many times. So, dinners out can easily take 2 hours or more.


Despite the added time all these things take here, the reality is that I have so much more free time than I did in my working life. What is missing is the structure and necessity to get things done and is one thing I will need to work on if I intend to accomplish any of the, great many, things I want to get accomplished.

I would love to hear from those who are retired and specifically have retired to a foreign country on whether you dealt with this issue and how.




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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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Latest posts by Gregorio (see all)

Why I Quit My Job and Moved to Costa Rica
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  1. You speak to my heart and I am with you but just a year behind in time. I hope to live the same way and I have the same thoughts of how productive I will be. Now I am rethinking all this. When you were “productive” you gained extra time by eating unhealthy processed foods, used a dishwasher, multi-tasked and drove every where. You traded health for wealth. Now you are trading wealth for health. I actually think your are returning to “normal” feeding your soul and not your bank account. And what does it mean to be productive? Many time Americans confuse being productive with being busy. Is a long dinner with your wife, cleaning up together afterwards and than going for a walk “unproductive”? In the US, were are made to feel that way. I have a hard time now as I transition working only three days a week and putting lots of hours does not appeal to me anymore. I feel lazy. But maybe lazy is normal and our hectic lives in the US are abnormal which is supported by the amount of unhappiness and unhealthiness I see around me. Anyway, love your posts and know there are others on the same path with the same questions so thanks for blazing the trail. Btw, as I struggled with who I am when I don’t have a job anymore I came across a good book, “The Joy of Not Working: A Book for the Retired, Unemployed and Overworked”- by Ernie J. Zelinski which dealt with many of the questions men have when they retire and wonder what to do with their time and what their purpose is suppose to be.

    • Rob, I am so glad you enjoyed the blog post and thanks for the book recommendation. I am sure I will come to a happy medium and don’t worry, I am not too stressed about it. And I think you are right…time for a little de-programming.
      Pura Vida,

  2. Hola Greg,

    Sounds like my life! It was very reassuring to read this post- we are definitely going through a lot of these same things. Trips to the grocery store via bus take FOREVER. It seems like we always just missed the bus when we arrive at the bus stop. I don’t think there’s much we can do to fix that unless we get a car, but I did get a good tip on cutting down on food prep time. Like you, we’ve been eating fresh a lot more (like full-time) and trying to eat like the locals do since that’s the cheapest route, so lots of rice and beans. Our friend told us that he prepares gallo pinto in huge batches then freezes them in zip-lock bags. Then when he wants one, he just defrosts it- perfectly portioned, no dishes, and supposed to be as good as when it was first cooked. Genius.

    Totally with you about dining out. We love how they don’t rush you- so different from the US when you practically get pushed out of a restaurant on a busy Saturday night. Here they won’t even bring you the check unless you ask for it. Love it!

    Thanks for the great posts, keep them coming.


    • Jenn,

      Thanks for the comment. The problem here with eating out is if you ARE in a rush…well then you shouldn’t go to dinner. I guess I just need to position myself to never be in a rush. Great tip on the gallo pinto.


  3. Well, I’ve been here about thirteen months now and I find that I spend a lot more time with my friends than I did in the US. I have a mixture of tico and expat friends-probably more on the tico side counting all my friends from church. I’ve also found a lot of fun ways to volunteer like tutoring english, working at the turtle refuge in Montezuma, helping with Adopciones Grecia (castration clinics-holding the animals, helping to pick them up and deliver them home, etc), helping with the Independence Day Fiesta which helps three local charities in Grecia. As far as the Spanish goes, I am determined that I will learn Spanish and carry flashcards around on the bus that I made along with a notebook to jot down new words I hear and see that I don’t know. The Spanish class at my church has also helped in so many ways and has also given new outlets for fun get-togethers as we have become a little family!

    • That’s awesome Debbie. We have found ourselves much more social here and I tend to be more outgoing here – I think it is that the people, gringo or tico, that we are meeting are just so friendly and welcoming,like yourself, that it would be difficult not to interact. I appreciate your determination to learn Spanish. I said before we moved that if we are moving to a Spanish speaking country we need to learn their language. I am picking up phrases and am getting much better at understanding than I am at speaking. A structured learning time is what I need.

      Hope to run into you again soon,

    • What church do you go to? What area is that we are planning to move and would love to get in touch with a church first. Thank you

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