10 Years in Costa Rica

This week we are celebrating 10 years of living in Costa Rica. Wow, how the time has flown! Back in 2013 when we first arrived, we thought we’d be able to spend maybe three to five years here. Now, Costa Rica feels like home and we don’t see ourselves going anywhere. In this post, we’ll fill you in on what has changed since our last update.

Living in Costa Rica for 10 Years

Another Move

In our 7 Year Update, we talked a lot about finding our ideal location, especially now that we had become a family of four. 

To recap, we had spent about five years in the Dominical area, then moved north to Playa Bejuco and after Esterillos Oeste in 2019/2020. The reason was that we wanted to be closer to San Jose and have other amenities nearby (in Jaco and Manuel Antonio). Schools were also a factor. 

Esterillos Oeste Beach
The beautiful Playa Esterillos Oeste

We enjoyed the area a lot, aside from the bad water supply. However, shortly after Covid in 2020, our neighbor’s house was getting rented a lot to noisy groups from Airbnb. Both tourists and also locals from San Jose.

The beach towns of the Pacific coast are a weekend getaway for people from the city. And after everyone was stuck in their homes during Covid, they had a lot of catching up (i.e., partying) to do. 

We prefer a more peaceful place to live so soon decided we needed to move again and find a spot with more space. 

The Search for a House

After many years living in Costa Rica, first as house sitters then renters, we decided we should buy a house of our own. We started looking for homes with larger properties either north or south of Jaco.

It gets rural quickly outside the bustling beach town of Jaco so we thought we could have the best of both worlds if we were close yet in the countryside. 

Small towns Jaco area
Rural area near Jaco

We were seriously looking at one place but found out through a neighbor that there was a big party house nearby that often hosted bachelor parties late into the night. Her windows shook because the music was so loud. That was a deal-breaker! The internet was also unstable. 

We kept looking and eventually found what we consider a hidden gem, a little north of Jaco. 

Our New Home

In late 2021, we purchased our first home in Costa Rica. A fixer-upper on almost one acre of land, backed by rainforest. 

The house had been more of a camp in the past and didn’t have any glass or even screens on the windows. There were four bedrooms and lots of beds with very old mattresses. The entire property was brimming with hundreds of banana plants. 

Traditional Costa Rican house
The traditional wooden bars and no glass windows when we first bought our house

When we visited the house as a family, we all thought it was amazing. The older gentleman who owned it shook our hands as we left. He told us in Spanish to make an offer and it would be ours. We made the offer soon and he accepted. 

Making It Our Own

After the closing, we hired a contractor to do some renovations and remodeling. We needed to make it a bit more habitable, especially adding glass windows to keep any critters out. The kitchen and bathrooms also needed a big overhaul.

Renovating House Costa Rica
Installing the windows

During the month or two of construction, we drove over to the house to check on things often. We also had family picnics there every weekend to get the kids excited about moving. 

Since moving in, we have continued to make more improvements. We added a swimming pool and have bought lots of decor and home furnishings to make it our own. 

Installing pool Costa Rica
Our pool getting dropped in

We also have thinned out some of the bananas to add gardens with flowers, shrubs, and some other fruit trees. Don’t worry, we still have way too many bananas!

Costa Rica Life

Much like with any family around the world, life is busy. We both work from home full-time on our website, writing articles, booking tours and shuttle transfers, and doing video consulting for people traveling/moving here. The kids both go to a private school about 15 minutes away. There are always birthday parties, events, and of course, many errands to run.   

On school vacations (a few times per year), we usually do what we call a work trip. During these trips, we revisit areas around Costa Rica and do new experiences with the kids. We take lots of notes, pictures, and videos. Then we write our articles.  

While it is a pretty awesome job, sometimes it can be challenging. Our two boys don’t always want to check out every trail or see every waterfall. Sometimes they are tired or have had enough.

For example, we have probably done way too many coffee tours with them! They complain beforehand but then they love it, because each one is a little different. They are both getting to be very good coffee pickers.

Cafe Don Emilio Tour
The kids having fun on a coffee tour

We always take the time to explain that this is our job, and we have to do as much as we can so we can share all the details with the people traveling here.  

Mostly, we have a lot of fun and have made some awesome memories. The kids, especially Sam who is the oldest, are slowly starting to see how lucky they are. 

As they get older, we’ll have new and different experiences. We’ll get to see how they each express their own interests and what types of things they want to do. Of course, we’ll write about it all. 

What’s Next?

Now that we’ve settled into our home, we don’t plan on relocating any time soon. We really like the area we are in now and having our own home and property is rewarding.  

Work since the pandemic has continued to be very steady and Costa Rica remains a popular destination for travelers and people moving here. In fact, there were so many people moving here during and after Covid that it became a bit much.

Many beautiful tracts of rainforest have been cut down by developers to make attractive lots for new homes. Concrete and construction trucks have flooded roads and neighborhoods in places like Uvita, Nosara, Santa Teresa, and other destinations.

Seeing that has been hard. We know that growth and development is normal, but it’s out of balance right now. That’s why in the last few years we have really tried to step up our efforts to give back to the environment. We have partnered with some amazing organizations like Community Carbon Trees and MareBlu.

MareBlu oceans organization Costa Rica
Getting recognized for our work with MareBlu, an ocean conservation organization

We also added a Sustainability section to our website so that we can share information about hotels and activities that are more sustainable. We hope that these efforts will make some type of positive impact on Costa Rica and the world.   

Conclusion

So that’s what we’ve been up to in the last few years. Costa Rica has been good to us, and we still love it. The people, the environment, and the experiences. Ten years have gone by in the blink of an eye and writing these posts reminds us that it is an ever-changing adventure.

Until our next check in, pura vida

Thinking more about moving to Costa Rica? Check out these posts:

We’re Moving to Costa Rica!

First Impressions on Living in Costa Rica

Living in Costa Rica: One Month Update

Buying a Car in Costa Rica

Fun Facts from Our First Six Months in Costa Rica

Our First Year in Costa Rica

House Sitting: How to Live in Costa Rica for $2,000 a Year

Two Years in Costa Rica: How Life Has Changed

Having a Baby in Costa Rica

Applying for Residency in Costa Rica Without a Lawyer

Living in Costa Rica: Three-Year Update

4 Years in Costa Rica: Settling Into the Every Day

Living in Costa Rica: 5 Years Strong

Starting a Business in Costa Rica

Moving to Costa Rica with Kids

Moving to Costa Rica: 7 Years Abroad

Buying a House in Costa Rica

Private Schools in Costa Rica: Part 1, General Info

16 Comments

  1. Great article on your 10 years here! We are so glad we made your acquaintance during your search for the perfect spot to settle down! We love your articles & look forward to exploring some of the locations you have researched for us!

  2. Very interesting.

    When I return for my next visit I will request some recommendations as I trust your information.

    Was there in 17, 18, 19. God willing, am planning 2 months in late 24.

    Best

  3. I enjoy reading your “progress reports” much more than the tips on sightseeing. I’ve been following your columns for about five years now, since I started helping a Tica learn English and get a bachelor’s degree. We are now best of friends, which makes me look at every thing I read about the country in a very different way. I admire what your family has done, and I think your children will thank you for the experiences you have gifted to them. I will continue to follow your progress and hope that my wife and I can visit our friend Maria some time in the near future.

  4. It’s been a little over two years since our 17 day ‘dental’ vacation to Costa Rica with our daughter. Planning it without a tour company, the best thing we did was schedule the video conference with Matt. His insight and suggestions on cities and sites to see, where we needed a guide, which coffee plantation was most worthwhile, which waterfall not to miss, and which hot spring to visit, made our vacation very memorable. Every day was planned to see the most of the country between dental appointments and it worked beautifully. I recommend that anyone planning a visit contact Matt and make use of his expertise. The discounts earned on tours more than covered the cost if the call. Thanks again, Matt.

  5. Congratulations! The 10 year mark is a big one and you guys have done great! I enjoy reading your blog and will continue. In December I mark 9 years of living here “Retired in Costa Rica,” the name of my blog. I’m so happy you were able to find a reasonably quiet place and house to call your own. It will house so many memories for both boys! Keep up the good work with them and us, your readers! ¡Pura vida!

    1. Hi Charlie, thanks for your comment and sharing your blog. You have a lot of great wildlife shots and articles on there. Looks like you are keeping very busy with your retirement, surrounded by nature. Pura Vida!

  6. Hey Matt, congratulations on your 10 year anniversary ! Took courage to make the move. Good for you and your family !

  7. I am a little embarrassed to ask but hope you can answer this one. We were in northwestern area of Costa Rica in Playa Coco and Playa Hermosa . The gift shop had many souvenirs including male sex organ representations . I’ve never seen so many of them. what is the significance of them. Is it fertility or good luck ? I’ve risked being spammed with porn adds to find an answer. I haven’t been able to find any information. We were a group of eight and the 2 weeks spent in Costa Rica was an amazing adventure. The country and the people were beautiful, and I will have happy memories forever. Thank you for your time and hopefully answering our questions. My apologies for the nature of my questions.

    1. Hi Lauren, Glad you had a nice visit. Honestly, we aren’t sure of the reason for those particular souvenirs. We’ve never heard of anyone talking about them being symbolic. My guess is that people think they are just funny!

  8. Matt and Jenn,

    I have been going down to Costa Rica on and off for the last 15 years. My first time was for two weeks with my brother. We had a rental car and our backpacks. Started off in Monte Verde and our first night on the beach was in our tents on Dominical Beach.
    My wife and I will be staying in Dominicalito for two weeks in late January. I was thinking about taking a few days and heading to Puerto Armuelles, Panama. Do you have any suggestions. Been following you guys for a while. I have gotten so much awesome information from you and appreciate it.

    Runky

    1. Hi Runky, Thanks for following along and glad our site has been useful! We’ve never been to Puerto Armuelles, Panama so can’t offer much specifically, but know that rental cars from Costa Rica can’t be taken over the border. You could either rent a car on the Panama side or take a bus or taxi (easy and cheap in Panama). That beach town looks close to the Paso Canoas border. We have a post about that border crossing here to give you an idea. Best of luck with your plans!

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