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Posted by on Dec 15, 2014 in Costa Rica, Retirement | 13 comments

What do you do there – in Costa Rica?

What do you do there – in Costa Rica?

Recently I posted about that famously popular question, “What do you do all day?“. Today we get another perspective on that question from guest poster Steve Friedman.

Steve and Martha Friedman moved to Costa Rica  from Denver Colorado last year after retiring. They are currently living in Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste. Steve blogs at his satirical site here.

What Do You Do In Costa Rica?

Do – noun; indicating ones’ occupation as in “what do you do?”; verb to indicate how one occupies their time as in “what do you do?”

This is a difficult question to pose to people in Costa Rica, since for many of us expats the former definition no longer applies, or at least doesn’t apply while we are down here. The second definition, “how does one occupy their time?”, is what requires some serious thought to explain.

To begin with, a lot of Costa Rican life involves some serious “Not Doing“; Like not shoveling snow, not cutting the grass, notweeding the lawn, not picking the kids up to go to this activity or that activity, or not going to this board meeting or that board meeting. This is because the first definition  of “do” no longer applies. Most of us expats have unshackled our lives from raising our kids, maintaining our enormous homes, going to the mall or warehouse stores, or dealing with the mountain of stuff we’ve acquired. So now that we’ve freed ourselves from careers, houses and stuff, we do, well……..

For starters, the women here, at least in Playa Hermosa for the most part, are far more organized than the men. My wife for example has every morning filled with either water aerobics, ladies book clubs, canasta, spa day…. – all things involving primarily  women. A man may choose to go to one of these  activities only at their own peril, as one of the main purpose of these activities are to “get away from their spouses“.

Thus the men are generally left to their own devices to find “what to do”. After a great deal of searching  I have basically broken them down into six categories of “doers”

  1. Planners-  These are the entrepreneurs, who rather than face the boredom of retirement plan to start some kind of new enterprise down here, no matter what it might take to do so. A lot of this seems to involves real estate.
  2. Putterers–  These are people who have decided to buy property and build a house down here or already done this. So much of their free time is totally consumed by puttering around fixing this or that or waiting  eternally for other people to come and do this-or-that, and then watching them meticulously as they complete their task.
  3. Pumpers– These are men whose sole goal and activity in life now is devoted entirely to fitness activities. This may involve endless laps of walking, jogging or swimming , or more formalized work outs involving weight training or pilates or Extreme Yoga. Not me either.
  4. Players-There are a number of men who like to play. This may involve more civilized and structured sports such as golf and tennis or unstructured sport activities such as fishing, bicycling, paddle boarding, surfing, or some other sport activity.
  5. Patrones –  The Patronesare guys (and gals)  that seek out and volunteer for every possible community thing and then spend their days trying to get other people involved in whatever causes they’ve taken on. I confess, I was never a joiner of causes and everything from Shriners to Lions never really had much appeal for me.
  6. Piddlers– Piddlers spend hours on their computers, blogging, playing fantasy football, basketball or whatever, Facebooking,  or watching a movie or TV,   or about anything that fills time without any specific purpose. Unfortunately I’m becoming one of those.
  7. Ponderers– Ponderers spend their days often sitting in the same chair overlooking some breathtaking view of the beach and ocean from their front porch, and pondering the eternal questions of life, or even “what to do tomorrow”. They sit in almost Zen-like transfixed poses quite bolted to whatever  thing they happen to be sitting on laying on (hammocks are definitely the way to go for this group).

Finally there are those of us who can’t really say what we do, since our lives have become so unplanned that asking us what we do would be like asking a Zen master “what do you do”. We really can’t say “what”, we just “do”.


Are you living in Costa Rica and are retired? What do you do here? Leave a comment below.

Hasta Luego,


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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. Really good post. My wife and I have been in country for only 2 months, so my situation may be different. However, I would say that a prominent category (at least where I am in the South Pacific) is what I call the “simplifiers”. I have begun my happy transition from someone who had everything done for them, to a more self-sustained lifestyle. I find that the satisfaction I achieved in the corporate world as a CTO, can be duplicated here by successfully producing a batch of coconut oil, for example. I guess what I am saying is that I believe many people here are striving to achieve a simpler life, and it is this endeavor that fills our days.

    • Yep – simplifing should be added to the list. My wife and I have certainly simplified from the corporate world we knew before selling everything and retiring here. I would not trade my life now for the life I had before.

  2. Unfortunately to simplify your life you have to have loads of money behind you in order to do that. Ex pats learn to their peril that moving to Costa Rica without major financial backing, expecting to make a decent, HONEST living is a pipedream.

    The old adage still applies :” If you want to have a million in Costa Rica, bring two.”

    • I agree – it would be foolish to move anywhere without the means to do so. And you are correct, you will not be working in Costa Rica, unless you earn money online – doing so without permanent residency or owning a business here is illegal.

      I disagree that you you need loads of money – but that is all relative, right? We are now living on a quarter of what we lived on in the States and have indeed simplified in order to use the money we have wisely – and to create time that we didn’t have in our working life.

  3. Sorry – you have to make it start with the letter “P” 😉

  4. My wife and I retired to Tamarindo, CR about 18 months ago, also from Denver, Colorado (in our early 60s). I fit firmly into the “Piddler” category. I spend most of my day on the computer (like right now), with some breaks to take a walk on the beach and/ or take a dip in the pool at our condo. We have not found Tamarindo to be “into” having organized expat activities. My wife would like to join one of those women’s groups, such as book club, knitting group, card playing, etc, but they are hard to find in Tamarindo. “Simplifying” has also been part of the process. Overall, we have been very happy with our move.

    • Great Bill – thanks for your comment.

  5. I will most certainly find something better to do than scrape the ice and snow off my car like I did today. Visiting in 3 weeks, planning to make the move in June, can’t wait!

    • Haha – good luck with your trip.

  6. All sounds good, I’m same age and single woman. I will be working from home still, but would like to not spend 80% of my salary on bills as I do now. So I want to give this a try. I want to get some dental work done and shopping for a dentist now. What I can’t figure out is where to live. I want nature, and peace, and at the same time places to go walking, biking distance so I can meet people. I see many couples, am I going to get lonely and bored, and eaten by spider or a jaguar? I’m european, from San Fran and now LA. I have been simplifying, and make my own mayo, and definitely lookig fw to making my own coconut oil. :). All advice welcome!

    • Awesome. Sounds like a fun research project! First main category to determine is are you a beach person or a mountain person. The majority of mountain people are in the central valley; San Ramon, Atenas, Grecia, San Jose, etc..

      It really is a large question; where to live? In an ideal situation you would be able to spend a couple of weeks to a couple of months in several area to see how they fit. It is an expertly personal choice and a person might love a town and you hate it.

      The Expat FaceBook group is a good place to ask questions, with over 4k friends, many of which are active… and opinionated!

      Feel free to shoot me an email if I can help further –,


  7. Another P activity you might consider: Politics…specifically US Politics. I’ve never understood why people become more active, at least in complaining about politics, when they expatriate. Maybe it’s the extra time available. If I ever convince my wife to make the move, I don’t plan to bother with politics in the US.

    • Not interested in politics or the daily news cycle in the U.S. I have much better things to do here with my time.

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