Early reflections on early retirement

If you would have talked to me 3 years ago, and asked me how I’d feel about quitting my job and entering early retirement, selling everything I owned, and moving to Costa Rica; I would have burst out laughing and said:

“Excuse me?  What are you talking about?”

And then I would have asked you: “Where is Costa Rica, anyway?”

See – I used to be like you.   I used to not even fathom early retiring and living in a foreign country.  I could not even picture back then that my life would change so drastically, in so little time.  Even now, looking back…  it seems like everything happened very fast after we made the decision to “quit Dallas” and move to Costa Rica.

In actuality, we gave ourselves over a year to wrap things up and make the transition seamlessly and painlessly.  This was my over-organized-type-A-planner-self taking over, of course.   Now, if you had asked my hubby the same question 3 years ago of “How do you feel about quitting your job and entering early retirement, selling everything, and moving to Costa Rica?” – he would have responded with:

“Let’s go – I just bought us 2 plane tickets!!”

Now a days, I sometimes find myself sitting on my front porch, looking out over the central valley, enjoying the beautiful Costa Rican sunset, and thinking – what was I so scared of back then?  What took me so long to be okay with selling all my possessions?  Because, it did.  Took me a while.  At least compared to Greg, it took me a good bit of time to wrap my head around the whole scenario of quitting our jobs, giving up our stable income, selling everything (and I do mean literally almost everything), uprooting our lives from all we were comfortable with and knew, and move.  Not just move to a different city or state (which I’ve done a few times – and this can be scary enough), but to a foreign country.

After ultimately making my final decision that I was on board moving to Costa Rica, I was oddly quite calm about it.  A lot of this has to with my husband.  Greg is truly my rock.  When I get crazy with my emotions or self-doubt and am all over the place, he keeps me steady, and pulls me back down to earth.  Like a real rock does, he keeps me grounded.  His love and confidence in me has NEVER faltered in the 20+ years I have known him.  It helps that we really quite simply like each other, besides being lovers.   I just knew,  with Greg – my rock, my gravity, my “realness” – by my side; well, I really could do almost anything.

With our decision making behind us, we were at peace and felt confident about the direction our life would take.  We methodically planned all our steps out — selling our house, selling our possessions (garage sales, Craig’s List, word of mouth), and then finally – giving notice at work, selling our last pieces of furniture, moving out of our rental house, and moving in with Geg’s parents.  And then – the big day – making the move with our whole life packed into just 9 suitcases.

Even though I’ve only been in Costa Rica now for 6 months, I’ve truly never regretted my decision.  Well, at least not yet.  I truly believe that if you set your mind a certain way (i.e. moving to Costa Rica will be positive!), and believe in yourself – that you indeed come to believe that mindset completely, even if you didn’t start out believing it entirely.  Trust me, not everything is perfect here in Costa Rica – there are very large bugs, it takes forever to get something fixed, sometimes the electricity goes out for more than half a day without warning – just because they’re trimming some trees down the road, it’s hard to not always have a car to rely on…  I could go on, but as I said, I’ve trained myself to focus on the positive, not the negative.  Negative things happen, surely, but I try to ask myself (or rather, Greg will ask me):

“Well, it could be worse, right? 
You’re not in pain or dying, correct? 
Surely, we can get by without a kitchen sink for a few days? 
I’m sure we can wait to do a load of laundry a few more days? 
This is better than having to work in the states, correct?”  

I think because I am focused on having a positive attitude here – even though I’m not always a positive person – it just seems to be working out for me.  Rather well, actually.  Odd.  I just never imagined myself as a “person living abroad” (really, that just sounds so sophisticated, doesn’t it?).  But yet – here I am, folks!

Life is good.  Seriously.

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Jen

I quit my job in my early 40’s, sold everything and retired early to live a simple life in Costa Rica!

Check out my book: "Costa Rica Chica" - the book.

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17 Responses to Early reflections on early retirement

  1. It must have been hard having to decide which treasures to keep and cram into those nine suitcases. I know it was for me. and now I find that my collection of “stuff” I left behind is re-building. You know, essentials, like … stilettos! Thanks for sharing. Love the photo!

    • Yes, Carole Jean – it was incredibly hard packing those 9 suitcases! I continually found I still had too much stuff, and had to take more out, and give away…

  2. Can’t believe how much I related to your blog! I also never imagined my self retired and living in Costa Rica. We brought 4 suitcases a truck and a dog and we’re surviving beautifully. I’m constantly amazed at how much I DONT need. And the little inconveniences dim in comparison to living a simple life surrounded by beauty and a tropical climate. Thanks so much for sharing and reminding me how fortunate I am!

    • Wow – 4 suitcases is even less! I am the same – constantly amazed at how much I don’t need. And I like the way you said that – about the little inconveniences dimming in comparison to everything else here. You nailed it! Thank you for your kind comments!

  3. Hi Jen, we have been here 1 1/2 yr and feel the same way you do. Yes there are challenges, some worse than others, but it is still better than the 50 hr work week I dealt with back home. We are in an area of lush tropical forest and birds, Very quiet and the air is clean. We know that eventually the big box stores will be closer to us and that would be great. For now, it is PURA VIDA, like you said, it is a mindset.
    We enjoy following your stories, you guys are so young and making it work!! Keep up the great progress!!

    • Thank you so much Marlene! It sounds like you live in a lovely area. We are going to Manuel Antonio for a short trip this weekend and I’m SOOO excited to see my first monkey and sloth (hopefully!).

  4. Good for you for focusing on the positive. You came down here to enjoy life, right? To relax, to spend quality time (lots of quality time!) with Greg…. and you picked a country with a slower pace to do it in. No kitchen sink means more meals out together; no electricity means lighting some candles and chatting instead of scrolling or clicking; no car means frequent long walks together, hand in hand. <3 Keep smiling.

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