Lori and I were “internet friends” forever, it seemed, when we finally got to meet in person a few weeks ago, when she and group of girls from Jacó came to visit Grecia. We had tons of fun that day – I showed them around Grecia, we got filmed for a commercial (right place at the right time), we got caught in the rain (was still rainy season), and finished the day off at my house with some sweets and a foggy view.
Without further ado, I hereby give you Lori:
Where are you from in the States? Tell me about you and your husband and where you came from.
My husband and I lived in Frenchtown Township, in Monroe County, Michigan (half-way between Toledo, Ohio, and Detroit, Michigan). We lived in a house with 30 acres of land in the country, since we love nature and wildlife. We had a huge pond on the property with fish, and would often see deer, bunnies, fox, birds, and even saw a cougar once! We loved where we lived, but hated the cold weather. I am originally from Manistee, Michigan, and Kurt grew up in Pinconning, Michigan.
Where do you live now, how long have you been there, and what is the community like?
We live in Herradura, Costa Rica, which is near Jaco. We have been living here for 1.5 years. We love our neighborhood. We live in the jungle half-way between Jaco and Herradura. So, we are minutes from downtown Jaco and minutes from Jaco and Herradura beaches. It is only a 1 hour 15 minute drive to San Jose. We love that we have so many great restaurants, fabulous beaches, and yoga studios and gyms close by. So many expats online say negative things about the entire Jaco area and surrounding communities, but their views are totally unfounded. Are there prostitutes and drugs here? Sure. But there are in most communities and you have to seek them out. We are home by 9 most nights and never run into either of those things.
Why did you decide to move to Costa Rica? Tell me about your journey to get here.
We planned a move out of the country for a long time. We did not know for sure “where” so we travelled on vacation to 20 different countries. Other countries that were seriously considered were Panama, Belize, Spain, and Ecuador. We chose Costa Rica because of the quick flight back to the States if needed, the nature and wildlife and animals, the lack of a military, and the cost of living. We visited Costa Rica ten times before deciding on the country and where to live in the Country.
My husband drove our vehicle from the States to Costa Rica with two friends, three Chinese pugs and one Persian cat. Snub faced animals are not supposed to fly, so this was our only safe option. I flew down two weeks later with our other cat, who was fine to fly. It was the longest Kurt and I have ever been away from one another, and was a long two weeks. His trip went well though with no major issues.
My husband and I were on the flight with the underwear bomber on Christmas 2009. After the flight, we later found out, through watching Congressional hearings, that the USA allowed this terrorist on to our flight to track him in the USA and that the country does things like this all the time. It really made us both realize that the USA was not looking out for the best interests of its citizens, and we did not want to live someplace that put its citizens at risk all the time like that.
How is your life different now, than back in the States?
My life is completely different here than in the States. We owned and ran a busy law firm, and worked sometimes upwards of 80 hours a week. We did not have very much down time and we were stressed out all the time. We didn’t get to spend a lot of time with family or friends or our pets. Our happiness was travel, and this was solely to escape work. Now, we do what we want all day long. I started practicing yoga in June 2015 and go almost daily. We also go to the gym almost daily. I started learning to surf as well and am going on lesson six tomorrow. We get to spend a lot of time with our pets. We eat a lot more healthy since I love to cook and the fruit and veggie markets make it so easy to avoid buying anything processed. We have made many new friends here, and I schedule a lot of get togethers for either girls lunches, or dinners out, or day trips to explore other areas of the country.
Do you and your husband do anything work-wise, or are you retired?
We are retired. My husband has a radio show on www.talknetwork.com that he hosts for fun once a week.
Tell me about a “typical” day for you guys.
Typical day. Wake up around 7:00 a.m. During the day, I go to yoga and the gym, but the times vary on that. I like to lay by my pool when it’s sunny and read a book and relax. We like to hike and do so up a nearby mountain or to the waterfall in our neighborhood. We spend a lot of time relaxing on the front porch as well. We also are learning Spanish and taking classes at IPAI in Jaco. I also do Duo Lingo daily on my iPad.
Do you ever get homesick?
Almost never. This Halloween, I missed being in Michigan, as my best friend and I used to host an awesome party each year. I miss my friends and family, however, since I worked so much in Michigan I rarely got to see them while there anyway. I have flown back three times now for various events, but will not be going back in cold weather at all. We have had many guests since we do live in Paradise.
Have you experienced “Culture Shock”?
Not really. Certain things perplex me, but I have travelled a lot and am really good at adapting. The worst things to get used to have been the terrible drivers and “tico time”.
Have you lived anywhere else around the world or do you plan to?
I have not. I’ve lived in Michigan and Indiana my entire life. Kurt has lived in Michigan, Florida, Nevada and Arizona. Who knows regarding moving elsewhere. We have no plans to do so, but you never know what life will bring your way. We will not be moving back to the United States.
Tell me one or two of the “best” things about living in the country you are in.
The weather. Hands down. Michigan winters are brutal and seem to get longer and more harsh every year. The freedom. The USA seems to be more controlling of it’s citizens all the time and is constantly taking away freedoms.
Not everything is “pura vida” all the time, please tell me about 1 or 2 things that have not been great for you here.
Our car was confiscated by customs as we were given fraudulent documents at the Nicaragua border allowing our car into the country. It took a lot of legal fees and 8 months to get it returned. The entire ordeal was ridiculous and pointless.
We were in an accident on our motor scooter because of a bad driver slamming into the side of us on the highway.
We also have had to deal with some dishonest hired workers at our house. Sadly, my motto in Costa Rica is to not trust anyone. Amusingly, this is normal for me though since I was trained an attorney to not trust anyone.
Any advice for new people moving to Costa Rica?
You need to have an open mind and be patient to move here. Things are not like the USA or Canada or Europe. And they are not going to change either, so pushing your way of doing things on people here is only going to frustrate you and annoy them. Also, try to learn at least some Spanish before moving here. It really does make things much easier for you.
Lori, thank you so much for joining me on the Expat Extra and sharing your story with everyone!
That’s all for now! — Jen
PS – Stay tuned for Wednesday when I’ll be posting “Jen’s Pack List for Move to Costa Rica” – it is chock full of details on exactly what we packed and brought with us when we moved here.
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