Moving to and living in Costa Rica was certainly an adventure. How does one follow that up? With another adventure of course. On September 16, 2017 Jen and I summited Mount Katahdin in Maine. This 5-mile climb was the culmination of 179 days of hiking that started in March on Springer Mountain in Georgia. We documented our “thru-hike” on our blog AppalachianTrailTales.com and our YouTube channel: AppalachianTrailTales.
Why would anyone want to leave paradise?
It’s a fair question I guess. However, there seems to be a contingency that thinks if an expat leaves Costa Rica they have somehow failed. They quit. This is mostly self-preservation think. I mean, if I am living in Costa Rica and you are too and then you leave, well there must be something wrong with you, because I am still here.
Let’s look at the example from a different angle. Say I decide to move to North Carolina from Texas. I’m retired and want to be in the mountains. After two years in North Carolina I decide I want to check out Montana, or Utah, or Colorado. Will anyone think I failed at retiring? Failed at living in a new place? No, whether because of desire, or change of situation, I chose to move on somewhere else. And, that’s okay.
Same thing when we talked about a move from a foreign country back to the US. We moved to Costa Rica to live … not die. And, it was time to do some more living. Time for another adventure. Over the course of three and a half years in Central America, Jen and I got to know Costa Rica well. We had adventures, we learned, we made many friends, and we got comfortable with being uncomfortable. It was time to stretch ourselves again, to grow and learn, not stay stagnant.
Do you still recommend Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is a magical country. It is a perfect fit for some and a not so great fit for others. It’s not as inexpensive as it used to be, where is? Getting anything done, especially if it involves the government, can be slow and frustrating (like in the US). There are natural phenomena that must be taken into consideration: a volcano burping smoke can shut down the airport … for days. Earthquakes can be strong enough to cause damage and injury, and rainy season can bring mudslides and cause flooding. So, if these negative things will make your life miserable, don’t move to Costa Rica—the country has enough miserable gringos.
If, on the other hand, you can look past the negatives and value cultural differences, unparalleled natural beauty and wildlife, and want an adventure, then Costa Rica could be an excellent choice. Go visit for a couple of months, don’t do tourist things, treat the time as if you lived there and are not on a vacation, then see how you feel about a move.
Living in Costa Rica has taught us many lessons, first and foremost that the “earn more, buy more” lifestyle we left when we moved to Costa Rica is not one we wish to return to. We have learned to value time over money and experiences over stuff. We are living. We love that we are in the position, now in our mid- 40’s, to do those things that most wait for retirement for, and by then their bodies can’t handle it.
Case in point, we just spent 6 months hiking 2,189.8 miles, through 14 states, carrying everything we needed on our back. There is no way we would have considered such an adventure during our working life. There wasn’t the time, or the energy. Plus we thought we needed a bunch of stuff, you know, that proved we had realized the American Dream. I tell the story of our escape from corporate America to a different way of life in my book Costa Rica Curious – Redefining the American Dream.
So, what’s next? We will be house sitting in Michigan for the spring and summer 2018 and then in the fall, if plans work out, we will spend some time in Europe walking the Camino Santiago in Spain. Perhaps we will stop in Costa Rica for a couple of weeks on our way over the pond. After Spain, who knows. We really enjoyed the thru-hiking experience and would like to support the AT hiking community in some way. We could end up somewhere along the trail. This life is what we have, this is not a trial run. So, whatever we do it will be an adventure.