A lot of people ask us why we picked Costa Rica as our next home after traveling to so many places around the world. What is so special about it? Our answers are usually practical. Such as, its close enough to home (and cheap enough) to visit family often, low-cost of living, amazing wildlife and beautiful landscapes, excellent climate, happy people, good food, business opportunities, the list goes on. Most people are satisfied with these answers because they make sense. But the real reason is that we just feel better here and we knew we needed to be here, we just didn’t know why yet. Well, we’ve been living in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica for over four months now and I can finally put into words exactly why we moved here. Read below to see the 5 ways our lives have changed for the better since moving to Costa Rica.
Our physical health.
We used to live in a world where being healthy was a full-time job and now we live in a place where it is hard NOT to be healthy. For starters, EVERYTHING in Costa Rica is a workout. You literally can’t do anything without sweating and its rare to walk on a flat surface. We burn more calories walking to the corner store for milk than during an entire workout in Chicago. Hot showers? A thing of the past. Now we cool off in our pool while we watch monkeys play in the trees. Swimming just so happens to be a great workout as well, bonus! That’s the thing, working out here is actually fun. Don’t get me wrong, I loved catching up on the Kardashians while riding a stationary bike in the basement of a concrete gym but kayaking through a mangrove forest or hiking through the jungle to a double-decker waterfall just seems more fun these days.
Not only do we workout our bodies daily, but we are eating cleaner and healthier. There is no fast food in the jungle, folks! I know how much we miss good old Chicago food; we talk about it daily. However, we’ve become accustomed to the Costa Rican diet and we actually love it. We have rice and beans with every meal and we eat lots of protein, vegetables, and fruits! We start our days with a heaping glass of fresh-squeezed mango juice – which doesn’t break the bank like back at home!
Mental health is clear.
How much different is your attitude when you are surrounded by happy people v Debbie downers? A lot, right? Now imagine being surrounded by happy people all day, everyday. When people walk past me they smile and say, “Hola!” Every. Single. Time. They say smiles are contagious and in this case I would have to strongly agree, its refreshing to live somewhere people actually want to stop and talk let alone have time for it.
It’s also hard to be in a shitty mood when you are surrounded by million dollar views, Jurassic Park fauna, and animals you normally only see on National Geographic. Oh and we basically live on the equator so sunshine isn’t hard to come across and it just so happens that Vitamin D increases serotonin production in the brain which means (surprise, surprise) sunshine makes you happier. Can’t argue with science.
Our life doesn’t control our actions or thoughts anymore, we do. There is something about living in the jungle that makes what used to be a catastrophic event no big deal. Sometimes the power goes out for an hour or two during a big storm, sometimes we don’t have running water for a day, all we can do is laugh and make the best of it. Pool showers anyone? Candle party? Small price to pay for waking up in paradise everyday.
We used to live for the weekends. We used to wake up to an alarm at 5:30 AM and chip ice off our windshields and go to work while only speaking through texts a few times a day, spending our quality time with each other only on the weekends. It was the only way we knew life. We grew a lot as a couple in 6 months, probably more than we would have grown in years if we would have stayed put. We have evolved as a couple, individuals, and our marriage.
Besides having more time to spend with each other, our quality of time has increased tenfold. It used to be, “How was your day, honey?” and now, “What do you want to do today?” We are building a life together as opposed to building a marriage around our existing lives.
We are learning a new language.
Sounds easy enough, right? No way. Not only is it very difficult for an adult to learn a new language but it is always a work-in-progress. We dedicate at least an hour a day practicing at our own speed but then we take it out into the community to practice with our fellow Costa Ricans. Sometimes it is embarrassing when we know the word but we aren’t sure how to put it in a complete thought or sentence, in which case, we have learned to brush our shoulders off and try again. Without practice there will be no perfect and it is just one more way we are working our brains in completely different ways they are used to.
It’s also something that we can take with us, something that will benefit us for the rest of our lives. It instantly unlocks doors that were previously closed and allows us to connect with more people.
We are hungry again!
It’s easy to get comfortable or complacent in life, especially when you’ve achieved your goals and reaping the benefits of all your hard work and dedication. However, complacency breeds laziness and to a certain degree halts growth. Hunger is the drive, the fire burning inside of you that makes seemingly impossible things possible. It’s what pushes us to become better and prove to ourselves that we can do whatever we put our minds to.
We are forcing ourself to build from the ground up here in Costa Rica. There is absolutely nothing given to you here, we have to earn everything ourselves. No friends or family to lean on for help or resume experience to fallback on, just us, our personalities, and our computers. Its hard, it really is. There isn’t a playbook for success out here nor is there any of the resources we are used to having at our disposal. It’s a challenge we are up for and we know if we can make it happen here, we can make it happen anywhere!
So yes, it’s only been four months since we’ve been here but this is our report card thus far! Starting from scratch in another country has proven to be difficult yet rewarding and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.