Costa Rica: EXcited to be an EX-Pat

Starting the Process

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Retire in FloridaLike too many boomers, I lived a life of waiting. Till the kids were born. Then in school. Could drive themselves around. Finished with college. Till I hit some mythical number of years working that would provide the absolute best life in my elder years. I can pride myself on doing all the right things for others for a long time as I chanted my mantra of “Wait until…”. But what about my dreams? I still had them and the present situation I was in wasn’t producing the experiences I craved.

Then I met an amazing person who lived all the way across the country and, entering my Third Act of Life, I knew that I wanted to experience that with him as we shared the same desire to finally explore what this world had to offer for us. So even though I hadn’t reached the magical number of 30 YEARS with the school district I was in, I had enough years to cash out early at age 56 and get off the safe Isle of Stuck in a Rut I was living on and sail away. Ok, it wasn’t a ship but way too big of a Penske truck with stuff I really should’ve downsized and gotten rid of. 3000 miles later I was in a new home in South Florida.

Surfing is what brought my husband and I together on a website that caters to people looking for friends or relationships with like-minded sports and fitness fans. I’d reconnected with my love of surfing at age 54 and wanted more folk in my age bracket to experience it with on vacations since I was land locked in Lake Tahoe. But as things happen, our meeting on this site due to his curiosity at a Nevadan based surfer woman, blossomed into a deep and caring relationship for two people who loved so many of the same things- especially the ocean.

South Florida turned out to be a peculiar place for that wave passion. Yes, there’s surf here but it’s very fickle and many times so treacherous it’s way beyond my capabilities- hence the reason so many pro surfers like Kelly Slater come from this state. It creates tough and strong surfers who can battle the turbulent washing machine action. Hailing originally from Southern California and doing surf vacation trips in Hawaii and South America, I just struggle with surfing these waters, which can be even more pronounced at my age.

Getting to the point of my story…finally. On a trip to Costa Rica the notion was born: Why are we not living here? Great waves over 300 + days a year, similar weather to Florida sans the hurricanes (bonus!), no traffic in the beach cities, reasonable rents, fresh foods with no GMO’s, happy people. And anyone with a guaranteed pension of $1000 per month can apply for residency and receive health care as well as other benefits, called pensionado.

My pension is well above the limit and enough to live comfortably.. My husband will be 60 on January 1 so we can’t tap into his social security yet and this is what probably prolonged our decision to move for over a year. He was reticent to let my pension be our sole support. I broached the subject again after a very prolonged period of no surfable days at all in Florida and yet again another obituary notice of someone our age.

“Why are we waiting to do something I’ve wanted to do my whole life? Moving to another country, experiencing a new culture, immersing in a foreign language and having our favorite environment at our fingertips. The “WAIT UNTILs” need to stop. “

John looked me in the eye and said. “You’re absolutely right. Let’s do it.”

We contacted several relocation services but the person willing to answer all the questions without any commitment was Kevin McNamee at Great Sunrise Enterprises. First question:. Do we need to be married to apply for pensionado residency? We did need to get married to apply under my sole pension. Not something we really felt the need to do, but Costa Rica does not recognize domestic partnership. So “I do’s“ were said on a New Year’s Eve.

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  1. Oh, gee. We were told that when we give all our paperwork to an attorney in CR, it only takes 3 months to become a resident. You indicated 6 month to 2 years. How long did it actually take you to become a CR resident?
    Also, where did youdecide to live? What town? We are thinking of Escazu or Grecia. Not sure until we check it out next month. Please let us know.
    Good luck to you.

  2. Hi Renee,
    We filed in March and are still waiting (mid-August) and do not expect residency anytime soon. Whoever told you 3 months is very, very uninformed! We move in 3 weeks. the temporary form that says we are in process of receiving residency will allow us to stay in country without a visa, but does not apply to our drivers license which will require us to go out of country every 3 months until we get our residency and can get a CR license. We are both surfers and will always live on the coast. Starting with Santa Teresa. Join all the expat Facebook sites you can- they will help with all questions and avoid bad lawyer advice! I have not heard of anyone receiving residency in 3 months. 6 months is quickest I’ve heard and even that is a unicorn!

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