Books & Blogs

BOOKS I recommend on Costa Rica:

THIS IS FINAL COVER 2Costa Rica Chica: Retiring Early, Simplifying My Life, & Realizing That Less is Best
by Jen Beck Seymour

Of course – you need to start with my book, before you read anything else.

My husband and I were fed up with the “more, more, more” mentality of North America, and decided to quit our jobs, sell everything and move to Costa Rica with just 9 suitcases.  Why Costa Rica?  Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out exactly why – but overall we wanted to downsize and simplify our lives and get by on less money.

See what made us consider Costa Rica in the first place, how we did it, and why we have no regrets. There’s also BONUS chapters (recipes, and what to pack for your move here), what could be better?


GREGLiving in and Visiting Costa Rica: 100 Tips, Tricks, Traps, and Fact
by Greg Seymour

This is my husband’s book, but even if he hadn’t written it, I’d still include it here. It really has 100 awesome tips in it, and they apply to both visitors and expats. He writes in a very casual and humorous style. Hint: get the paperback version to take with you to Costa Rica so you can refer back to it.

Examples of some tips in his book:

* What cell phone app do you need here for the restroom?
* 3 things you cannot do in a CR bank that are common in the US.
* The requirements to set up a CR cell phone account.


10Top 10 Costa Rica Itineraries
by Jennifer Turnbull and Matthew Houde

This book is one of my fav’s, and I recommend it to people all the time who have questions about visiting Costa Rica. It is really the perfect travel guide – for both visitors and people who live here.

Things I liked about this book:

* It’s divided into “what kind of trip you want to take” sections (family, adventure, wildlife, birding, eco-treking… to name a few!), so you can easily go to the section that fits your trip plans the best.
* It covers all the “best things to do in Costa Rica” (in my opinion).
* It has maps, so you know where things are in relation to the whole country.
* It gives you a “trip plan” – based on what you want to do and for what length of time (this is great for those people who are visiting Costa Rica for the first time and have no idea where to start).
* It gives you tons of links to the back of the book (I read the ebook version) for detailed travel information (plane, bus, rental cars, shuttles…) and activity details (websites, prices, phone numbers, hours open…).

All in all, this is a wonderful, comprehensive and well laid-out travel book for anyone wanting to visit the different areas of Costa Rica and discover all this beautiful country has to offer.


expatBecoming an Expat: Costa Rica
by Shannon Enete

This is a great informational book for anyone thinking about moving to Costa Rica and literally “becoming an expat”. Besides having a tremendous amount of information, the author also provides external resources to help further your research. This book does an excellent job of detailing most questions you will have, in making the decision whether Costa Rica is the right move for you. It was for us.




SJThe Real San Jose: Michael Miller’s Guide to Downtown San José, Costa Rica
by Michael Miller

This is a great guide to Costa Rica’s largest city – San José. We live just an hour’s bus ride away, so it is a short trip for us to get to “the big city” and experience some of the finer and more cultural things Costa Rica has to offer. I found his book to be spot on and very informational with a ton of helpful hints on where to eat and what to do. If you’re spending time in San José – this book is a must for you!




happierHappier Than A Billionaire
by Nadine Hays Pisani 

This book was the first book I read on Costa Rica (back in 2011) and I only read it on the recommendation from my husband, who had this crazy notion in his head at the time – to quit his job and move somewhere abroad.

This book really helped me to start believing that “maybe I could do this too”. It’s a very easy and fun read. It’s written from a sort of negative viewpoint, at least in the beginning, and this made it very easy for me to relate to, as I was a bit skeptical of Costa Rica back then.


IIUnraveling the Mysteries of Moving to Costa Rica
by Arden Rembert Brink

This book is well written, and written in a very interesting and informal way.  This book is great for you IF:

–You are trying to decide whether to move to Costa Rica or not.
–You are trying to decide WHAT you want to bring with you (or replace here) when you move here.
–You are trying to decide if you should ship a container (or not).
–You are wanting some good information on the type of products you can purchase in Costa Rica and their costs.

This book would be really helpful to anyone who is leaning towards moving to Costa Rican and wanting to ship stuff here via container(s).  I liked the personal information in the beginning – about the author’s family, life, how they thought to first move to Costa Rica, and how they went about doing it. I loved the author’s honestly – she fully admits their mistakes, and how you can benefit from them (trust me, they made several!). Overall a very interesting and very informative read for anyone who is considering moving to Costa Rica! I highly recommend.

FINAL WITH APRONCosta Rica Chica Cookbook: Stirring Up My Favorite North American Recipes In Costa Rica
by Jen Beck Seymour

Newly released! I share some of my favorite North American recipes, and more specifically, how to make them in Costa Rica.  Some ingredients needed for North American dishes are not available in Costa Rica, but, no worries, I have the substitutions you need. And if you live in North America, I give you the U.S. equivalents so you can whip up these fabulous recipes in your home, too!

With the Costa Rica Chica Cookbook, I serve up a delicious spread of hearty, scrumptious food that everyone will enjoy – from breakfast, lunch and dinner specialties such as Homemade Cinnamon Rolls, Tomato Basil Soup with Rustic Bread, Italian Meatballs and Thin Crust Pizza, to sweet after-dinner (or anytime) treats like Coconut Almond Candy Bars and Chocolate Truffle Balls.

With colorful photos for each recipe and easy-to-follow instructions, you can’t go wrong.


BLOGS I recommend on Costa Rica:

Costa Rica Curious – my husband Greg’s website and blog (very informative, descriptive, and sometimes very witty) (also I love the guy!).

Retire for Less in Costa Rica – a blog by an energetic and cute couple – Gloria and Paul Yeatman (I’ve met them!  I should know) – tons of information on how to retire and live here for less than $2,000 a month.

My Tan Feet – love this young duo of Samantha and Yeison, their blog is very popular and they cover ALL of Costa Rica.

Two Weeks In Costa Rica – Follow Jenn & Matt’s awesome travel and moving blog, they can even help you plan a trip to Costa Rica!

Travel Mother – my friend Emily’s blog about living abroad (she is in the Netherlands now, but spent a lot of time in Costa Rica), with children no less!

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13 Responses to Books & Blogs

  1. Several weeks ago your mom and I were chatting as we changed out of our Silver Sneakers stuff. I learned you were visiting. When I asked “Where is Jen living?” I was not expecting to hear Costa Rica. (More conversation.) Quite a few sentences later, I found out about your book. I think you already know that it is on the shelf at Macmillan. Long story short, I just finished reading it. Congratulations are in order for a whole bunch of reasons—The first is your book; I enjoyed every bit of it and shared it with 4 other friends this morning. Next, I admire your achievement of your goal of a simplified life and being willing to embrace that adventure. I’ve also just enjoyed your blog. Thanks for generously sharing! Keep enjoying your adventure.

    • Oh my gosh, Mrs. Syens! It’s so nice to hear from you!! I remember my Mom telling me about chatting with you, and that’s so great that you checked out my book at the library and read it (and shared it with your friends!). So great to hear from you, really. Hope you and family are all doing well!

  2. Hi Jen!

    My husband, Francis & I just finished reading your book and absolutely LOVED it!!!

    We will be in Costa Rica on vacation in a few weeks and I just thought I’d “put a bug in your ear” that we would be willing to house sit for expats in Costa Rica after we retire in 2017. Since we are fluent in Spanish and have lived in CR before, we’re more comfortable with doing that most house sitters, I think. I wanted to let you & Greg know “antemano” so that if you have friends who will be needing someone to house sit in the future, we’ll be glad to talk with them while we’re in there. They probably prefer to meet someone in person rather than just look for someone online.
    Also, if you happen to hear of someone inside or outside of Grecia needing a house sitter next year or later, here’s where we’ll be during our upcoming CR vacation:
    Arrive in San José June 19 – spend the night there
    La Fortuna – June 20 – 26
    Nuevo Arenal – June 26 – July 1
    Atenas – July 1 – 6
    Leave for San José – July 7

    It occurred to me that expats network with each other and sharing this information before we arrive might work better than waiting. 🙂

    Feel free to copy and paste this, as well as our contact information into an email and forward it to anyone who might be interested in asking us more questions.

    Thanks……¡Pura Vida!
    Bonnie Smith
    Clemmons, NC
    (336) 766-1708

    • Hi Bonnie! I will certainly keep you in mind, and contact you if I hear of anything. Thanks for reading my book, so glad you both enjoyed! If you don’t mind leaving me a review on amazon, I would so appreciate! Pura Vida!! — Jen

  3. Jen,

    Bonnie Smith here (again). We met yesterday at the Canadian fiesta in Atenas. (Remember Bonnie & Francis (aka Bonnie & Clyde)? I had wished I could have made it to Grecia and chance meeting you there, but had resigned myself to the fact that it was just a pipe dream. Then, low and behold, there you were in Atenas! I recognized you immediately! What a special treat to get to meet you and Greg after all! I’m lovin’ my new arm candy, too!

    I mentioned that I would see if I had my recipe for Six-Week Raisin Bran Muffin Mix in my iPad and I found it. I can try to cut and paste it here. (Give a few samples of these away and you might have a new bakery item to sell!) I also have a super-easy, yummy recipe for microwave granola that I’ve used for years. You should be able to find all of the ingredients in Grecia. It’s much faster to make than the oven-baked kind and won’t heat up your casita.

    Well…I just tried to copy them and I can’t. Must be an iPad thing. I can send it to you via email or Google Drive, or some other way. What way do you prefer? My email is:
    I’m also on WhatsApp. My number for texting and free calls is +1(336) 766-1708
    As you probably already know, the + sign is essential on WhatsApp.

    ¡Pura Vida!

    Bonnie Lunsford Smith (on Facebook)

  4. Jen,
    I’m ( we ) are following you via U Tube on the AT. Found your blog and have ordered two of your books. Thanks for all the info…looking forward to more!

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