After several vacations to Costa Rica we fell in love with Costa Ballena while on our drive south to visit the Osa Peninsula. Being in our 40’s, ‘the Move to Costa Rica Plan’ had to include income. With my 30+ years in the restaurant industry, and Nate’s hotel and event planning experience, running a small bed and breakfast seemed like a natural fit. We looked at several businesses for sale that were already up and running. There were a few really good options, but none that were quite the right fit, or that suited our budget. So, we turned our focus on lots.
“We love that the mountains come right up to the ocean, so you can escape the heat of the coast while never being far from all the fun activities, and not to mention the beautiful scenery!”
We were able to find a beautiful 4 acre property to build our dream vacation b&b. We knew immediately that we had found the property for us, even though it was pretty ‘wild’ (looking) on first viewing. Now, shortly after our 1st anniversary of moving to Costa Rica, Tree of Life Cabinas is up and running!
For anyone thinking of moving to the Costa Ballena region, here are a few pieces of advice that we would like to pass along:
1. It CAN be less expensive to live in Costa Rica. Especially if you buy local. Fresh, local, even organic fruits and vegetables, are not only better for you, but they cost less than the imported, processed, packaged foods you might be accustomed to. If you absolutely must have American sliced cheese, you can get it, for which you’ll pay a premium. We saved an amazing amount of money buying hand-made furniture from a local carpenter and the craftsmanship is better than anything we’ve ever owned.
2. You’re not in this alone. With all sincerity, we have an amazing community in Costa Ballena. There are ‘gringo’ expats who have been living here for 30+ years, and every single one of us has gone though the same experiences of figuring out where to get your car fixed, who has the best fresh fish, and what contractors to use. One of the keys to our success has been to get involved in the community and get to know as many people as possible! We play softball every Saturday in Uvita, volunteer with several local charities and community groups, and visit the local farmer’s markets at least once a week. We’ve asked lots of questions from everyone who was here before us, and the advice we received was freely given and invaluable.
3. Hire the locals. Everything is different here – the soil, the weather, the wildlife – and nobody knows how to protect your home and property better than the locals. At only $3 an hour, a maid will not only show you how to keep your leather belt and shoes from growing mould, but she’ll teach you Spanish and how to cook Costa Rican dishes if you ask! Your landscaper knows how to protect your property from soil erosion, which plants attract hummingbirds and which ones repel pests. Getting to know and employing the ‘Ticos’ , the colloquial term used for a Costa Rican, is an essential part of the experience of living here.
Most importantly, we’ve learned that while building your home or business can be frustrating at times, the final result is very satisfying. We love sharing our piece of paradise with new guests, and can hardly believe that we get to wake up here each morning!
About Contributing Writers
Ben, starting at just 16 years old working in the kitchen of a luxury resort in Northern Ontario. It was in Muskoka, Canada that he found his love for food. During his career Ben was invited to appear on TV shows to share his love for good food with audiences, he owes his claim to fame to having opened several successful restaurants across North America. Nate’s experience has made him the perfect person to help you plan your Costa Rican adventure. He is an avid birdwatcher and gardener, who has taken great care in planting native species around the property. Nate spent years in the hotel industry, and owned an event planning business. From conferences and conventions, to small intimate weddings, he now enjoys the laid back, ‘Pura Vida’ lifestyle.