We have some big news: We quit our jobs and are moving to Costa Rica!
After more than two years in the works, we’re making our dream happen and relocating this July. No more Two Weeks in Costa Rica, hello months, maybe even years, in Costa Rica. The decision to quit our jobs and leave our lives in the States behind is definitely scary. But when we think of everything we love about Costa Rica—its vibrant culture, beautiful environment, and laid back approach to life—we feel assured in our decision.
How did this crazy idea come about?
Ever since our first visit in 2007, we’ve been dreaming of having our own piece of paradise in the land of pura vida. With our current jobs we have limited vacation time and knew that if we bought a home there, we’d only be able to visit for a few weeks a year. That just didn’t make sense so we explored whether we could afford to make the move more permanent. What was a dream slowly turned into reality. We started saving like crazy and tested the waters to see if writing could be a source of income to fund our adventure. Neither of us are writers by trade; Matt is a landscape project manager and I am an attorney. But we channeled our creative sides and collaborated to pen Two Weeks in Costa Rica, a travelogue that shares one of our most memorable trips to Costa Rica. We’re happy to say that Two Weeks in Costa Rica has been a success, far exceeding our expectations. We’re hoping that our readers will want to continue to follow our adventures and plan to write more books once we’re in Costa Rica; one about our experiences moving abroad and others about travel in Central America.
We still have a million things to do before we leave in just a few months but have checked some major tasks off of our list. A couple of weeks ago we took care of a big one: we gave our notice to work. My work knew it was coming because I attempted (unsuccessfully) to negotiate a telecommuting arrangement where I would continue to work from Costa Rica, but for Matt, his news was a total surprise. Telling his boss went a lot better than expected, and I can tell that he is extremely relieved. With that off of our plates, we still need to figure out everything from residency and health insurance to arranging our finances and selling our condo (and most of our belongings!).
Is this really the right thing to do?
Who knows. Hindsight is always 20/20 as they say but we’ve given it a lot of thought and believe that we’re making the right choice. Sure it won’t be easy; acclimating to a new culture where we don’t speak the native language, missing out on the life-changing events of our family and friends, dealing with feelings of isolation, and questioning whether we made the wrong choice will be among the many challenges we’ll face. But then again, usually the easiest thing to do isn’t the best thing to do in terms of long-term success and happiness. With risk comes reward. If we stay on our current path, our next steps would be to continue advancing our careers, sell our condo, move to the suburbs, and start a family. There is nothing wrong with that path but we want to try something a little different, at least for a short time while we are young. We’ve learned that no one knows how much time they have so you have to make the best out of every moment. Yes it’s risky to leave behind perfectly good jobs and the financial security that comes with a steady paycheck. But we cannot let the fear of failure be in control. We’ve made it to where we are today because of our creativity, drive, and motivation. Hopefully these same attributes will guide us in our future endeavors in Costa Rica.
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So What Happened Next . . . ?
In July 2013, we boarded a plane for a new life in Costa Rica. Want to follow our story as it happened? Check out the posts below to see how our dream became a reality and what it has been like so far.
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
Where We’ve Lived in Costa Rica
Two Years in Costa Rica: How Life Has Changed
Post by: Jennifer Turnbull-Houde & Matthew Houde
So excited for the two of you! Follow your hearts and enjoy the journey! Xo
YES! You guys rock. We’ll bring the party to you from now on. 🙂
So inspiring to see you make your dream happen!
Thanks guys, we really appreciate all the support!
Hello! I just read your article related to moving to Costa Rica and was really impress about the perception of a US citizen have about my beautiful country and how you can also felt in love as I do for my land. I used to live in Georgia years ago, but after 3 years being there I decided to quit my job and return to my country. Since then, I continuously travel to US but for short visits related to work, two-three weeks, and had offers in the past to move again for living and my answer is always no. I know your article is from 2013 so I was wondering if you guys still living here. One of my best friends is US citizen and got married, has two kids and been living here for almost 8 years
Thanks for reading our article and sharing your story with us! Yes we are still here after more than 2 years and we still really love it. Of course as you know there are lots of challenges when you move away from home but we are doing great and making adjustments. Actually, we are looking forward to starting a family here with our baby boy due in November! If you want, you can read about our thoughts after 2 years in this post (Two Years in Costa Rica: How Life Has Changed). Who knows, maybe we’ll end up like your friend and be here for a long time? We hope so. Thanks again for following us and pura vida!
Hi Jen & Matt
Your stories amazing ..
I have a friend who wants me to move to Costa Rica ?? is it easy to start business like night club & are there people traveling there all the time back packers (ect)..?
Hi Ree, We would think it would be a little tough to start something like a night club here logistically. And there’s the problem of having to stay afloat during the low season when there are fewer tourists. A lot of businesses don’t make it because of how slow it gets for a good part of the year. It is definitely possible, though, you would just want to be strategic locating it. Keep in mind too that you would have to employ all locals, as foreigners are allowed to own businesses here but can’t run them day to day.
You are right do it while your young follow your dreams.keep in touch.
Thanks Todd, hope you can come down for some awesome fishing 😉
We are thinking to move to Costa Rica, but ? what do you do for living? I have a family to take care 🙂 I need to do somenthing.
Hi Patrick, Options are limited if you don’t have citizenship but there is always the internet. Jenn and I are planning on writing more books as a source of income and we might explore other online writing gigs. It will be a challenge but hopefully well worth the opportunity to live in such a beautiful place.
First I wish you luck in your new adventure. And you all are starting off on the right foot by thoroughly researching residency, healthcare, and all the other things you take for granted living in North America. Keep us posted on your progress as you get closer to moving day.
Thanks, we’ll definitely keep everyone updated. More blogs and Facebook posts to come for sure!
Best of luck to the two of you!
Thanks Lauren. Looking forward to meeting you in CR!
Congrats! What an incredible step to take! Looking forward to following your journey!
Thanks Debbie. We’re really excited- only a couple of months until the journey begins!
Congrats on your big move. After 13 years living here I can well relate to your mission. However I would like to offer one piece of advice for you visit my site and read my e-book How Not to Get Ripped of by the Construction Industry prior to you buying or build anything. As consumers who know little about the subject especially when you move to a foreign country you have no idea as to what you don’t know that you don’t know. My book started as a simple report for my own customers but has grown to over 100 pages of advice and pictures explaining what to look for as well as how to avoid problems. The ebook shows many examples from clients who did not have such advice hence found themselves having expensive surprises to deal with. This type of information will help you to avoid BIG disappointments as well as avoiding huge expenses to fix or change problematic issues. Just go to http://www.casasenescazu.com/ebook. Hope you find this to be helpful in your new adventures. Best of luck to you.
Hi Trevor, we’re planning to rent for a while at first so we should be good but if we ever build, we know who to talk to. Thanks for the tips.
You are living the dream! Congratulations. Maybe we’ll be neighbors someday.
Hi Arin, thanks! Looks like you might have similar aspirations? 🙂 Hope to see you down there. Pura vida!
As a single “retired” woman, I’ve been living in Costa Rica for over eight years. Am working on the second edition of “Retiring in Costa Rica or Doctors, Dogs and Pura Vida” which is chock full of info. Good luck with your life in CR.
Hi Helen, thanks for your well wishes. Eight years in Costa Rica sounds amazing. Good luck with your next edition!
It’s our dream to move there once we retire. We are looking forward to following your adventure and learning about what we will need to do to make this dream come true! Enjoy!
Hi Loise, thanks for your comment and our sincere apologies for the delayed response- things were a bit hectic at the end of May with our move. That’s great that you’re thinking about moving to CR once you retire. Please do let us know if you have any questions. We’re happy to share any info we can.
That will be a nice adventure. If you need any help finding a property, we can work with your budget. Also, do not hesitate to send us an email with any questions about real estate or Costa Rica. We are here to help you. Email us at chiccostaricarealestate@gmail or go to our blog at chiccostaricarealestate.com
Thanks for the offer. We’re not looking to buy property right now but we’ll keep you in mind for the future.
Good choice guys! I’ve taken the same decision 6 years ago and I’m still living here. A big part of your life is going to change but if you are patients, Costa Rica will help you to build your own dream. Bye!!
Six years, wow. That’s a good sign that you are enjoying life in CR. We’ve only been here for two weeks so far but are loving every minute (well almost every minute ;). Thanks for your comment.
Good for you folks. I’m so happy for you. I’ve been here 20 years and love it. Please drop me an email as I may have a good income idea for you folks.
Yes sounds great. I will be moving down there soon to. Sept.
I too need to work and down have a boat load of money. What I have to figure out is someway to get a work permit and or residency. Is there a way we can all talk and share information? Some sort of expat community?
Hi Scott. I would recommend you check out this forum: http://forums.arcr.net/ They have lots of great information regarding the different options concerning residency and working regulations. Hope everything works out with your move!
-Matt & Jenn
My fiancé and I are looking to vacation in Costa Rica for our honeymoon before we decide to move there. Any tips and advice would be great. How is the job situation there? I’m a Cat Scan and x-ray technician. Hope all is well with the two of you :-).
As far as I know, it is hard to find a job unless you are filling a position where a local citizen is not qualified or cannot be found. Not sure if there is a shortage of Cat Scan techs or not. Otherwise you will have to go through the residency/ citizenship process before you are allowed to legally work in the country.
Thanks for the reply. We will keep doing research and keep you posted if we move there. 🙂
Hi Matt and Jenn, I was so glad to find your site. My husband retired and we did the same thing you did. We sold everything and moved to Costa Rica 3 months ago. We do need some extra income until my retirement kicks in. How do you make money on the internet? I know we are probably in different area and I have wanted to write about it since we moved here, but how do you make money? Please help, we don’t want to go back to the US. Thanks
Hi Sharon, thanks for reading our blog and congrats on your move as well. We wish we had a magical solution for how to make money online but it isn’t that easy. There are lots of ways that are probably different for everyone depending on what kind of work you want to do. It’s difficult to make money on a blog via advertising unless you have a very large number of visitors to your site every day. We use our website to help spread the word about our book. Not sure what you’re interested in, but there are lots of websites with telecommuting jobs; some of them involve writing. One of the bigger ones is http://www.flexjobs.com/jobs. Hope that helps. Best of luck!
Am from Costa Rica, i agree with you guys, this country is just an amazing place to live in, hope you enjoy everything our nature and wonders have to offer, best regards.
Thanks Braulio, that’s very nice of you to say. We love living in your beautiful country- so many things to see and explore. It’s an amazing place to call home.
Just came across your blog and book (Two Weeks in Costa Rica) and sparked our interest since our move is scheduled for June 2016. We are excited to be following your blog because we will be doing the same in about a year from now. Looking forward to more of your posts.
That’s exciting about your upcoming move, William and Darla! Glad you found us. We’ve been in CR for a little over a year and a half now. Do you know where you’ll be settling yet? Make sure to check out our FAQs post about moving to Costa Rica if you haven’t already. Lots of informative stuff in there. If you have any questions as you prepare, feel free to ask us in our Forum. Best of luck!
So I’m getting married in two months, and my fiance and I have decided that we want to start paying off our debt right away, and then work on moving to Central America (hopefully CR!). I have been researching like crazy, and this is the most real-life, helpful, and inspiring blog I have found yet!! We would also need to support ourselves (we’re definitely nowhere near retirement age), and I am hopeful that we can also start some sort of online presence to help ourselves along. I just want to say THANK YOU for giving us the detailed down-low of giving up the “normal” life to live the adventure that everyone really wants 🙂 But for also including the good AND the bad. I’m so excited!! Thanks!
Hi Shannon, Awesome about your upcoming marriage and plans to move abroad! It is definitely a risk but we don’t regret it one bit. Coming as a young person is a challenge, it took us a long time to figure out how to earn a living, but you can always go back if it doesn’t work out. That always made me feel better when I had my doubts about our plan. It is possible though so keep paying off that debt, get saving, and keep dreaming! Would love to hear how it all works out for you. Best of luck!