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Posted by on Aug 11, 2013 in Health/Fitness, Moving to Costa Rica, Retirement | 59 comments

Why I Quit My Job and Moved to Costa Rica

Why I Quit My Job and Moved to Costa Rica

Intentionally Unemployed

Ever since announcing that we were quitting our jobs and moving to Costa Rica we have been asked many questions about our decision to do so. The 2 most common questions we get are 1) Why did you stop working and move to a foreign country and 2) How are you able to do this so early in your life? Well, in this blog post I would like to spend a few minutes discussing the first question, WHY? I will save the How question for another post. I am answering these 2 questions because it is the ones family, friends and those interested in doing what we did ask most frequently; if I answer it here maybe they will stop asking.

Why

Wow – what a question. First off, many people move to Costa Rica (and other countries) from the US because they are dissatisfied with the political, economic, religious or some other social climate in the States. Despite the issues we see with the 2 party political system melding into one, we like the US; we just couldn’t afford to do what we had in mind back in the States. So, again, why did we leave our careers, home, family and friends to move to Costa Rica? Let’s discuss the “whoa nellys” people often put out there. There is the fact that Jen and I are both young, one might say we have a lot of working years left in us, both of us being in our early 40’s. Then there is the fact that we were both very successful in our careers; Jen working in Commercial Title Insurance and me managing a Litigation Support company and we were giving these jobs up on purpose. Once you get past those two obstacles people still want to know WHY? and that answer boils down to the following, which I will discuss below: Sanity, Health, Market, Family Matters and Living Smaller. From here on out I will just be discussing me and my work as it contributes to our reasons WHY.

Some Background

I think a little work history is necessary in order to convey how I got to where I was when I decided to make a change.

One year out of High School I moved from Dallas to Houston, Texas where I started the first of a series of jobs in the Litigation Support field, by-passing college. I worked with this first company for 5 years in various capacities from Driver to Operations Logistics, starting in Houston and ending up back in Dallas.

I met Jen while working at this company in Dallas. We worked in the same high rise in downtown; she worked on floor 47 and I on 44. Well things went as things go and we got married. We honey mooned traveling throughout Colorado and fell in love with the city of Denver; 6 months later we had moved from Dallas to Denver. I started working with a different company at this point.

Working at this new company I started back completely at the bottom of the ladder taking any job I could get just to be in Denver however, because of my work ethic and willingness to work whatever hours were needed, I rose through the ranks working as a Shift Manager on the Second shift then transitioning into a Recruiting and Training role. We ended up moving back to Dallas, as the money was better in Dallas than it was in Denver.  I was able to transfer with the company I was with in Denver to Dallas. I ended up working with that company for 6 years before I was recruited away by the company I left this past June. I was with this last company for 13 years climbing through the ranks of management with the last 2 years holding the position of Vice President.

Sanity

Whew – sorry for the walk down memory lane. I wanted to paint the picture of my career in order to frame how I got to where I was. As Vice President I was responsible for Operations, Sales and Administration for our company – a total of between 30 – 40 employees.  In addition, I was responsible for client interaction – complaints, pricing issues, and errors; except for client happy hours and lunches all client interaction had something to do with a problem. Have I mentioned my main clients were attorneys? I will leave it at that.

All that ground work laid to say, I worked a minimum of a 10 hour day, easily longer.  My phone, for 13 years, never left my side with calls taking priority over the dinner we were eating, the movie we were watching and just about everything else. The phone could ring anytime 24/7 and the phone did ring. So after years and years of this, coupled with other items covered in this blog, I started to fray…snap…anger easily. These are not the traits that I am known for. I have always been the ever optimistic, bright sided, easygoing guy and I was vanishing, but other things were appearing.

Health

As my stress level climbed so did the milligram dosage of my blood pressure medication. I am a man, that is to say, I don’t like to go to the doctor; right or wrong, I am more of a “head in the sand” type of guy when it comes to my health, however during a bad bout of bronchitis I HAD to head to a doctor and after seeing my blood pressure numbers I was convinced to do a complete blood workup.  Taking my head out of the sand for just a minute got me 2 different prescriptions; one for blood pressure and one for cholesterol. After receiving the prescription and the doctor monitoring my blood pressure, over time the prescription grew, higher and higher. It was not only the stress of my job but the diet that was causing the health problems. Take 2 people working long hours, with nice disposable income and you have 2 people who, go out to eat…a lot and who drink…more than is healthy. So the stress of my job was making me sick and over the past couple of years a new stress crept into the equation.

Market

I had spent 20+ years developing my skills in a relatively niche market. While I was focused on constantly crafting my management skills the market was changing; drastically it was changing. Think about it as Pager vs a Cell Phone or Cassette Tape vs a Media File. This was how my industry was changing. My company as a whole was changing right along with it, out of paper discovery and imaging and into collecting data from servers and drives. Even though the division I managed was becoming obsolete it remained viable because, even as a loss leader, it was an important component to our sales and service machine for the rest of the company. Needless to say, knowing you are the captain of a sinking ship and knowing that it is ok for the ship to sink, but you have to try and try to keep it afloat – oh yeah, your pay will decline as your profit does as well – doesn’t bode well for ones psyche. So, I had built a career that was becoming obsolete. I enjoyed many things about the company I worked for including working with the team I help build, the culture of excellence and I enjoyed winning. I knew I had a place in the company to transition to in order to keep advancing in my career and best utilize my skills. The question was – did I want to? Did I want to re-tool? Did I want to continue working crazy hours and feeling bad about taking more than a week of vacation at a time? I think you know my answer. I really did not want to continue down the road I was on and have my health issues continue to increase or even die at an early age.

Family Matters

One of the factors that pushed our decision to retire early was the unknown of dying. Both Jen and I are relatively healthy for our age and we are young. I typically do not live my life in fear, however there are a couple of instances of health issues in our families that gave us pause. Jen’s dad took early retirement and died a year later from cancer ,at a young 58. One of my cousins’ husband died in his early 40’s while being seemingly healthy. My father worked until, at 72 he went into the hospital for a long period of time and just could not work any longer. He died about 4 months later; 3 days after we moved to Costa Rica. I am not one to dwell on death but these 3 family members caused me to re-think the life I was living; of longer hours and more stress just so that we could have bigger toys. We wanted to be able to experience life in more than weeklong increments, a couple of time a year.

Living Smaller

Finally, we became Intentionally Unemployeed in order to live smaller. It was interesting to watch people’s reactions as we were trying to covertly get ready for our move to Costa Rica while keeping our employers and friends in the dark. Over a year and a half we got rid of a large house, a grand piano, all of our furniture, 2 cars and a dog. We answered the question of why we were selling stuff honestly with the answer of “we are downsizing and trying to live more simply”. Incredulousness – that is the feeling that radiated from people who we told this too. It is not the American way to downsize your life when you don’t need to. In fact we should have been living larger; my Honda should have been a Mercedes and Jen’s Mini should have been a BMW (I know BMW makes Mini – just drop it). But we didn’t, we have always lived well below our means but still our lives were getting bigger and bigger not better and better. So we decided to force living small by quitting our jobs and living without an income and solely off of savings.

PPM – Poor, Pitiful Me

You may be thinking that I suffer from the Poor, Pitiful Me Syndrome, that I am just a complainer. To that all I have to say is, at least I did something about it. I don’t know how many times I have listened to someone complain about their life, specifically, about their job, but they were not willing to change…anything. As the saying goes – the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.  Our path might be a bit extreme for some but it sure feels right to us.

I hope this novelette help shed some light for our friends and family and to others curious about our journey on why we moved.

The End

…or really, just the beginning,

Gregorio

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Gregorio

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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59 Comments

  1. A very important issueis that you prepared. Another you had a long term goal.

    • Yes Cathy, we took about 2 years total to prepare, research and move. That time has really helped in this transition from one life to the next. Thanks for reading.

  2. thanks for the article… My dad always told me “if you never chance for fear of losing, then you’ve already lost.” That is what
    gave us the impetus to move to Costa Rica.. that and 9-11.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting Randy. True, fear can either motivate or immobilize. We chose to be motivated.

  3. You have expressed everything that I had in my mind but could not put into words. I am in Costa Rica too. Have been here for a year. Where do you live?
    Alexandra.

    • Thanks for reading Alexandra,
      We moved to the hills of Grecia in June and are very much enjoying our new home.

      • Hi Gregorio,

        Thanks for making all this wonderful info available. We’re going to be in the Grecia area from Aug. 5 to Aug. 13, 2014. We are looking at the possibility of relocating there. Any chance we might be able to meet you that week?

        • Hi Rick. Thanks for reading. I will shoot you an email.

          • Hi Greg, so happy 4 you and Jen, I’m thinking to move to CR, probably Grecia also but wondered if I was better at in Aetnas or elsewhere not being married? I’m 47 divorced from Los Angeles wasn’t 2 lonely with working all day but if I’m unemployed it’d be nice to be able to get together with other single men and women in early 50s…. Any suggestions? Also wondering approx rent rates for maybe 2 bedroom?

          • Hi Alice,

            I may not be much help on questions regarding Atenas, or being single here. I would ask away on the Atenas FB Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/atenascostaricainfo/. As for rents in Grecia for a two bedroom I would say most are going for $700-$800. You can certainly get one cheaper, we did, but you will need be here and have “feet on the ground” to be able to find the better deals.

            Best of luck,
            Greg

    • Hi Alexandra…saw your blog…. How do you like CR? Any suggestions or tips to new comer?

  4. Greg,
    I really enjoyed your blog. Even though I do miss working with my Jen Jen I am very happy that you both are happy. I wish you guys the best and I hope all works out for you. We all live bigger and bigger when really we should be living smaller and smaller. I love reading yours and Jen Jen’s blog and seeing how happy you are. Until next time enjoy life and be happy.

    • Thanks Amanda,

      Both Jen and I miss aspects of work – mainly the people we got to work with however, we are enjoying the process of living smaller and of course there is the beauty of Costa Rica and its people too. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Greg

  5. more,more,more…………

    • Haha Jim, miss you. See you in January, until then – I will keep writing.

  6. That the way to go, we did the same thing two years ago and moved to Ecuador, it was fun and very nice but ended up missing grand kids. We are now in Houston but not working and living small, and very happy. You are doing good so in joy it.

    • Joe,

      It was great having you guys in Ecuador while we were doing our research and making our decisions on when, where and how. Your experiences helped us a ton – even though you may not even know that.
      Thanks,
      Greg

  7. Welcome to Costa Rica!!! Having lived here seven years now it’s nice to read a newbies perspective. Loved the article.

    • Thanks Jen, I am glad you liked it. I will have to check out your website. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  8. I think what you did is fantastic…It takes a lot of self examining as a person to make
    the decision you made. I can relate to your story. You only live once and no need
    to be in a endless spiral for what..??? One usually comes to the cross road later
    in life but you..were given a early gift and you sharing will hopefully will shed some
    light for others….thanks for sharing and “LIVE LONG AND LUCKY”

    • Great to hear from you Troy,

      The truth was that this thought was always in the back of my head, but the more, more, more mentality and the accepted definition of success in America kept me working toward a successful career rather than a successful life.

      Take Care and Keep in Touch,
      Greg

  9. Thanks so much for sharing! Although 10 years your senior my husband and I are doing the exact same thing taking very similar steps. Demanding jobs and not enough time have led us to the belief that a simpler life is worth risking the “American Dream”. We both have very “fruitful” careers but made the decision 2 1/2 years ago to pursue this same course. 1 month to the day of purchasing our home in Costa Rica (the first step in the 5 year plan) our home in Colorado sold – we sold everything in it – the cars, the camper, the furniture, the theater room components, all the “things” we thought defined us – EVERYTHING! My family thought we were crazy, but then when we rented an apartment in Boulder instead of buying again I thought they might put us in the funny farm 😉 The 5 year plan has turned into a 3 year plan and we are now a very short year away from paradise. Interested in hearing how you are filling your time – I think our largest “fear” is going from 10 – 12 hour work days to 0.

    • Shawn, that is awesome. If I can help you in your journey let me know. It was very liberating for us to downsize…and we downsized to 9 pieces of luggage worth of stuff. I had the same fear as well. After years and years of working what am I/are we going to do with ourselves. That is a question for a future blog post but I will say 1) It helps to like the person you are married to and 2) Only boring people get bored.

      I wish you and your husband luck!

  10. The only thing I don’t LOVE about your story is the part where you say you are in your early 40’s. Having been your teacher, that sentence makes me feel really, really old!!!!!! Your bravery and your knowledge of what’s important in life really inspires me!

    • Thanks Nancy..er Ms. McCulloch. I am glad we chose this time to do this. I have already thought the – man, I wish I would have done this earlier thought. The important thing, if you are unhappy, is action.

  11. Great words Greg! Great read. I think the How? Post would make a great book!

    • Thanks Rafic! You are right, the how might make a good book…I don’t know if I could fill enough pages for one though..at least on that subject. Thanks for reading and commenting – good luck with your move and hope to see you guys in September.

  12. Good stuff as usual. You both are trailblazers and your advice, insights a observation will benefit many others who have similar dreams. Keep them coming. I look forward to each new post and learn something from each one.

    • Thanks for the encouragement Rob, it is very much appreciated. Part of this blogging project for me is therapy, part is for family and friends who want to keep up with our adventures and part of it is to pay it forward for all the “Love” we got from people sharing their experiences as well as showing us the ropes once we got here. It has been overwhelming, peoples kindness, since we have been here.

  13. Greg…thanks so much for sharing. We came to Costa Rica to give our children a chance at a bi-lingual, bi-cultural life…and an opportunity to become citizens of the world. Six years later, our children are fully bi-lingual and happy. We have since built a strong business here, a strong international team, and a life that we could not live in the US. When the children are on their own, we hope to simplify as well and perhaps even become perpetual wanderers. While not for everyone, our move to Costa Rica was right for us and we are glad to know it was right for you and Jen as well.

    • Thanks for sharing your reasons for coming here. We have met several families in similar circumstances. They have children and either work here or have a location independent business and can move around at will. What a great education for your and their children. We look forward to getting together with you guys soon.

  14. You two are my heroes! I can’t tell you how awesome I think you are for having the courage to do this, and for sharing your experience with the ‘dreamers’ who are still stuck in the ‘race’. Honestly, the more money I make… The more trapped I become… Yuk

    • Thanks Ariella, dreams + action – that’s all it is. OK,Ok, I know it is tougher than that but it IS doable especially with your skill set. I know exactly how you feel, i was there. Thanks for reading and keep in touch.

  15. Excellent article and right on point for what is really important in life. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for reading the blog and commenting Helen and thank you and Charles for helping us make the transition into our new home comfortable.

  16. I had some similar health concerns during the year prior to moving to Costa Rica. I had a panic attack for the first time in my life and I remember the doctor asking me what was stressing me out so much? It was my job an as elementary school teacher and the enormous amount of hours I put in before and after school, on week-ends, and the constant pressure from the administration for more and more demands. I realized that I could not afford, health-wise, to wait any longer. I gave my principal my resignation for the end of that school year. There is no amount of money or anything that could make me go back.
    The Costa Rican lifestyle is perfect in every way for me.

  17. Great job, now write the next one. Glad I have something to point people to when I get asked the questions why and how did they do this? Lol
    And I second downsizing , it’s freeing!

    • Misty,
      I don’t know if the NEXT one is the How one…I just said I would answer it in another post – lol. It was actually going to be part of this post but the WHY started to get long. I know you guys know about the downsizing as well – it is great. Enjoy Oregon.

  18. I was wondering where you two went! Great Blog, and I am proud and happy for you two!

    • Haha, Good to hear from you Marty – see you in Sept

  19. Greg. Been a long time. I saw the link to this post on my Linkedin and at first didn’t believe it was you. You are definitely living a dream that most of us have but never act on. I can’t wait to read more about this new life you are building. I may not be able to take the leap myself (at least not now), but I’m sure I will get some inspiration from your adventure. Pura Vida!

    • Good to hear from you David – glad you found the blog. Jen and I started looking for “a way out”, for lack of a better phrase about 2.5 to 3 years ago and after discarding; starting a business, RV’ing, learning to sail etc..chose to look at less expensive foreign countries – even though CR is not cheap, you can certainly live cheaper here. About 1.5 years ago we started preparing for this move. We have learned a lot and want to share. Keep Reading.

      Pura Vida

  20. Great blog post Greg! I was wondering what prompted the move and now I know! Not many people our age are BOLD enough to do what you and your wife did! Sounds like it was the right choice at the right time! I love your pictures and will make sure to keep up with your blog! Take care!

    • Good to hear from you Christina, it really is difficult to extract yourself, especially in your prime – as I consider our age to be, from the rate race. I am happy we were able to do it. Thanks for reading.

  21. Have you met Pat Lockwood and her husband? They are 67 and from New Albany Indiana. They designed and lived in the Costa Rica mountains for years and are now selling and moving to the beach

    • Ho Gregg,

      I have not met them put I have heard/read Pat’s name somewhere – probably on one of the FB Expat groups.

  22. Gregg, my husband and I are thinking of retiring to Costa Rica. We are both in our early 60s and have some health issues. Can you please tell me about the quality of health care there. Thank you.

    • Jewel,

      Thanks for reading. CR has several worldclass private hospitals.I know that CIMA has a location near San Jose and a, just opened one, in Guanacaste. There are other’s as well. You will get differing opinions as to the effectiveness of the Caja or CRs socialized medicine. Unfortunately, I am not the person to ask for an in depth answer as medical quality was not a huge priority of ours when researching CR. I would join the Yahoo Groups as well as the Face Book groups listed on my Resources Page as there is a whole group of people in a similar situation as you and your husband and they can speak more knowledgeably to your question.

      Greg

  23. Well done! I always love hearing about people who have been brave enough to make big changes. We have no interest in moving to another country but I did give up a great career and income to go back to uni and become a teacher! Plenty of people no doubt think I am crazy, and it has meant a lot of sacrifices for all of us since I was the main income earner, but we haven’t looked back once.

    • I do not regret our decision one bit. I am sure people thought I was nuts as well. I have not missed anything about my life in Dallas – well, ok 2 things; Craft brews and live music. But beside those 2 things, all the activities and STUFF that cluttered our lives did not really mean a thing. NOw I love watching the mountains change with the sun and clouds in the morning while drinking a cup of coffee, seeing the wildlife on my hikes and I am really beginning to enjoy sharing these experiences with others via my blog.

      Thanks for the encouraging comment.

  24. A lot of what you wrote in here resonates deeply. I have also thought about moving to another country (Mexico or Central America) and do something totally different. Glad to see I am not the only one with those “crazy” thoughts.

    • Ruth,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I think many have those same crazy thoughts. The more I am on this side of the coin the more I can see that this could have happened BEFORE I was completely burned out. There are so many options here, and while it is not cheap in Costa Rica, we are living on a much smaller budget than in the states. Many Latin American countries would be even less expensive. Feel free to shoot me an email (costaricacurious@icloud.com) if I can answer any questions you have. Best of luck.

  25. Good recap, and some of these things resonate with me. My work is often ten hours a day and it leaves me exhausted, mentally drained and a few pounds heavier. These factors have me trying create my exit strategy.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    • Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I think my situation probably resonates with many. There were many directions for us to go and many of them probably would have turned out good, but I am really glad we chose this option. Good luck.

  26. Great entry Greg. I love reading your blog. Have you researched Ecuador before moving to CR?

    • We did look at Ecuador – in fact, at the time we were researching, my cousins in-laws lived there and it looked promising. However, my dads health was not good and so we chose a place within a 5 hour flight to Dallas (actually direct it is 4 from CR to Dallas).

  27. love the fact that you took such a extreme chance. My wife and I are planning a trip to Costa Rica to begin our hunt to find where we want to move. My wife and my goal are to have our house sold by end of this summer and be on our way to our new adventure before winter hits chicago again. Have many questions but one outweighs all, is there descent job opportunities down there for Americans? if yes where’s the best way to research and find out how to get employeed. thank you in advance for any and all information.

    • Hi George,

      I wouldn’t really call it an extreme chance that we took. We did quite a bit of research and thought our decision out thoroughly. That being said – it is not the path most people would have taken, that’s for sure.

      In general, you must be a resident to work for a company here. There are some work visa situations but they are not the norm. There are a couple ways around this – 1) work remotely (on-line) for a company in the states. 2) own your own business here (if you have employees they must be Tico). 3) Run a business online. 4) Operate illegally – not recommended for obvious reasons.

      Unless you have an online business already up and running, or you have some cash to live on it is best to wait until you are ready. There are creative ways to make it here on a smaller amount of money – house sit, work for room and board etc… but that is not, in my experience, most peoples vision of coming here.

      I hope this helps,
      Greg

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