Everyone always asks about the money….
When I would talk to acquaintances, colleagues, friends and family back in the USA about our plans to move to Costa Rica, I was met with all kinds of responses: awe, admiration, curiosity, thinly-veiled skepticism, jealousy, concern, and joy. Most of the questions I would get were related to money: How will you afford it? Are you and/or Chris going to work there? Are you going to sell your house? Are you going to buy property in Costa Rica? I welcomed these questions because I did not see them as an intrusion of our privacy, but as well-meaning concern or curiosity. I was very honest with the answers: We have been saving money for years and are selling a lot of stuff. I am taking professional leave for 1-2 years but Chris will telecommute with Laureate. We will sell our house. We will rent a house in Costa Rica.
We weren’t the only ones…..
Upon moving here, we found it enlightening to meet other expats who had gone through the same things we had. Some have been here for decades. Others are planning on staying for only 6 months. But the one thing binding us together is that we all made the life-changing decision to move to Monteverde. Many of us chose Monteverde for the similar reasons: safety, good infrastructure, eco-friendly culture, and educational opportunities for the children. We all overlooked the one downside: Monteverde is expensive compared to the rest of Latin America. My grocery bill is about the same as it was in the US! As a family of 4, most of our restaurant meals cost a minimum of $40 USD, which is why we do not eat out as often as we did in the USA.
It is worth the sacrifices…..
But we did it anyway because the magic of Monteverde drew us here. We made some small sacrifices before moving here (home-packed lunches, second hand clothes, economy cars) and will continue to make them. Most of us funded the move similarly: downsizing, saving, selling, and hoarding vacation days and PTO. Those of us who got lucky are able to telecommute with a USA-based job or own a local business. Our lives are different than before. Some of the expats I know don’t have commodities that in the USA are considered essential such as a couch, oven, hot showers, washer, dryer, or a blender. We don’t have a DVD player, flat-screen TV, a car, dishwasher, electric mixer, or garbage disposal. Many of us live with bugs and other unwanted “guests” in our homes. I am by no means complaining, simply describing the differences. I love our new life. I do not feel deprived at all. I have a nice roof over my head, plenty of healthy food, access to clean water, and I wake up to an amazing view each morning. It is totally worth it to live with less stuff (and more bugs!) but be able to experience the beauty of Monteverde and to spend more time with my children.
Expats all over the world have overhauled their finances to move to the country of their dreams. You can too!
Mandy In Morocco. Mandy quit her job and left her home in Canada 3 years ago to move to Morocco. She had no job and no apartment waiting at her destination. But she made it work! She lives with less and spends her money on experiences rather than stuff.
Gringos Abroad For about one year before we moved to Costa Rica, I followed Dena and Bryan Haines’ blog and twitter feed about relocating to Cuenca, Ecuador, because I thought that was where we would end up. Though we ended up moving to Costa Rica instead of Ecuador, I really appreciated their informative blog about moving abroad, including the advice regarding finances. This family of 3 sold all their stuff including house and cars and their marketing business in Nova Scotia to move to Ecuador.
So whether you are single or married with children, nothing should stop you from following your dream to move to another country. Everyone’s finances are different and a personal matter, but with a little planning and organization, you can do it. If you would like to be featured on this blog to share your expat experience, let me know in the comments below!