My Every Day Expat Life in Costa Rica

Coffee Plants, Costa Rican countryside
Coffee Plants, Costa Rican countryside

 

Dear Friends,

After getting over the initial shock of finding out my husband and I have moved to Costa Rica, most people ask the following two questions:

  • How do you like it there?
  • What are you doing there?

The answer to the first question is easy:  We love it here!  For obvious reasons, but if you want to know the many reasons why, read more of my blog posts.

The answer to the second question starts with a hesitant pause as I try to figure out what is it that I do here. I think most people who ask want to know if (a) I am working and (b) what a typical day is like here in Costa Rica. First of all, it is illegal for a person to work and get paid in Costa Rica if you are not a citizen (this does not include online income generated elsewhere).  So I do not have a job.  It still feels weird to say it, but it’s true.

A typical day here in Costa Rica . . . well, if you are an expat and do not have a 9 to 5 job (nor have any children, I might add) . . . varies.  When you don’t have a job you have more of a flexible schedule, obviously. Not only that, if you are a new expat there is a lot to discover, do and learn.  Each day brings its own adventure and lessons.  You have space to breathe.  You have time to observe.  You have a life again.

I can say that my typical day at home involves researching recipes, planning and cooking meals, cleaning our home, bird watching, and working on my blog.  Sometimes we chase a cow or two.  We do not sit in our house for very long.  We also run errands, visit friends, go sightseeing, try new places to eat, see a movie (they have really nice theaters here), visit the hot springs or the beach, etc.

 

Mot Mots on our property
Mot Mots on our property

 

As a new expat, especially if you want to become a resident, there are numerous tasks that you need to tend to, and these tasks take a longer time to accomplish in Costa Rica for several reasons.  (We are in the process of applying for residency.  For those of you who are curious, I am taking notes for my upcoming post about our experience.)

First of all, most roads in Costa Rica are small, winding and bumpy. And on those roads you will travel at the top speed of 20-25 mph, not only because of the winding, but also because you are trying to avoid the occasional missing manhole cover, potholes, motorcyclists, pedestrians and dogs.  It’s like a video game.  Sometimes you get stuck behind a bus or a chicken truck.  This is when you are traveling 10-15 mph, stopping frequently along the way.  Needless to say, traveling, even by car, takes up a lot of time.

You also are subject to what is known as “Tico Time” (Costa Ricans call themselves “Tico” or “Tica”) in where there is never a rush.  Ever.  Add on more time if you are at the bank or a government institution.  It’s the Costa Rican version of Mexico’s “mañana.”  It comes along with the “Pura Vida” mindset, and is required in order to live harmoniously in Costa Rica.  If you are unable to adapt to “Tico Time” you will not last long in this country . . . you may implode or explode from anger and frustration.  If you are praying for patience, Costa Rica may be the answer to your prayers.

 

Our neighbor MOOria
Our neighbor MOOria

 

Also, as a new expat you are essentially a long term tourist.  There is so much to do and see here in Costa Rica.  It can take years to see the sights and experience all that Costa Rica has to offer, and after that, you’ll want to see them again.  In this way the expat life is like being on a permanent vacation.

Scott and I rarely plan too far ahead what we are going to do.  There are a few things set in our schedule, and we do plan excursions, but for the most part we greet each day not knowing exactly what it will bring us.  We are getting good at “playing it by ear.”

I will say there is one element that we direly need to add to our regular schedule – SPANISH LESSONS.  Our vocabulary has grown significantly since moving here, and we get by somehow, but both of us are frustrated and unsatisfied with our limited Spanish.  We both agree we need to take lessons.  We love this country and its people.  We want to be able to easily and effectively communicate with them to get to know them better.  We’d rather play charades as a game, not use it as one of our main forms of communication.

So, this is my life in Costa Rica so far.  Whatever I am meant to do here, I feel that right now I am being prepared for it.  Maybe it is helping people by being a blogger.  Or, maybe that’s just a part of it.  God knows.  And I trust Him.  He has always been good to me.

I am grateful for this opportunity to get out of the rat race, re-evaluate my priorities and grow. I know that not everyone gets this opportunity so I will not squander it.  Whatever chapter of your life you are in, I hope this post will inspire you to seize the day, slow down a little and breathe.  Take a little “Tico Time” for yourself, wherever you are.

Our friends Frank and Rocio just had a baby, so we are off to visit them and welcome their new daughter.  Playing it by ear is so much fun!

Wish you were here,

Donna

 

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