My wife, Alison, and I were living in Austin, Texas before deciding to sell everything and move to Costa Rica in 2003. We did not have any children and had a decent net worth, so the decision was easier. We built the Hotel Plumerias in K Section in Nosara and it was the toughest thing I have ever attempted in my life. Between changing building contractors in the middle of the project and the myriad of Costa Rican regulations for a new business, we considered ourselves lucky to open after two years.
We operated for about 8 months, but it was not working out for a number of reasons. We sold to the Roland Group in December 2006 before the economic crash in the states. All was good.
We built and bought more real estate/homes over the years and watched the area grow exponentially. I have been a surfer for over 45 years. This area has grown (in my opinion) from the pioneer surfers that came here years ago. My first visit was over 25 years ago. The community has expanded its appeal to other forms of entertainment, interests and age groups, but in the beginning, it was surfing.
Today, we have over 15 surf schools and the water is the most crowded I have ever seen. All is not lost… it will never be “as it was”, but I think it is better in many aspects. There is more of a balanced economy and that is always good.
The “trick” to living here in the Nosara area is finding your niche. It is not cheap nor easy to live here. If you want to live off-the-grid, you can probably do it, but it will not be easy. Collecting water to use is difficult because the dry season and wet season are so extreme. Typically when the rains end in November, they do not return until April-May. If you need AC, be prepared to pay for it. Solar and wind are plentiful energy sources, but there are still issues with ICE (the state energy company). That should change for the better soon.
The longer I live here, the less I find that I need to live here. By that, I mean I have come to know the local fishermen to buy locally caught fish. Or you learn to fish and catch your own. I have many fruit trees on my property in Playa Pelada. I trade with neighbors and learn from the locals (and ex-pats!) how to grow your own food in the jungle where insects and small lizards (garroabos) consume mass quantities of what I plant. Yes, we do have insects here! Mosquitoes, scorpions, ants and the biggest most colorful grasshoppers I have ever seen! I personally can live with these things, but sadly, my wife of 18 years cannot.
My wife returned to Texas 5 years ago. The heat, dust, bugs, terrible roads and a couple other things were too much. I continue to live here because I still love the life in the jungles of Costa Rica. I love the “pura vida” spirit that exists here. When I walk my dog (everyday) I am still amazed at the fact I live in a country with wild monkeys in the trees.
I get asked all the time “why don’t you move back to Texas” to stay with your wife?”, but I have been here long enough to actually feel like stranger back in the USA, my home country.