Expat Extra – Debbie Rudd


Hello everyone, and welcome to another Expat Extra. Today’s post features Debbie Rudd, who lives in Grecia.

I really admire Debbie – because she retired and moved to Costa Rica all by herself! Since landing here, she has really immersed herself in the Tico culture and loves all things Costa Rica.

Here’s her story:

Where are you from?

I am from Buffalo, New York, but have also lived in Pittsburgh, PA; Los Angeles, California; and all around Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Where do you live now, how long have you been there, and how did you decide to go there?

I have lived in Grecia, Costa Rica for the past three years and three months. I had been to Costa Rica over twenty years ago on a church mission trip and knew the people were very special. I did the rest of the research online and came with two suitcases of essential things.

With my dog, Nicola

With her fur-kid, Nicola

Have you lived anywhere else around the world?

I lived and worked in Nuremberg, Germany for 8 months. I have travelled to many countries in the world throughout my life.

Do you ever get homesick? 

No, I don’t. I am totally enjoying my life here although I do miss my family and friends but we talk often and are on Facebook daily so it isn’t that bad. Plus, my granddaughters have come to visit me so that was fantastic!

Have you experienced “Culture Shock”?

I have experienced “reverse culture shock” going back to the United States. I am always kind of shocked when I go into a large store or some of the nicer restaurants. There is just so much “stuff”. The last time I was there I saw people throwing away a beautiful patio furniture set that I thought so many people in Costa Rica would just cherish.

What is your best tip for moving to another country?

Be ready to accept things as they are and be appreciative of your new country. Learn the language before you come or continue learning while you are here. You want to be able to have conversations that are much deeper than “it’s hot today” or “I’m from Colorado.”

How is your life different now, than back home?

I don’t watch any television here. I get up very early, sometimes at 4 am and usually go to sleep early. I’m always excited to start a new day here. I have so many more friends here to do things with. In the US, most of my friends were also teachers and were always too tired to do anything. I don’t have hot water except for in the shower and have no clothes dryer either. Walking and the buses are the way I get around so I get lots of exercise. I have many friends of different ages here which is not common in the US.


With friends Rebeca and Ema.

Tell me about a “typical” day for you.

I wake up by 5:30 at the latest and check Facebook and eat breakfast. I do a load of laundry and hang it out to dry. Since it’s the rainy season now, I have to hang it under the carport. My dogs run around a bit while I shower and get ready to teach English classes. I am doing this in order to have money to help out with different people and organizations here.

I take the bus and walk to the homes of the different students. Two days a week, I take Spanish classes for one and a half hours each between the English classes. I grab a few things from the grocery store each day to carry home so that I don’t become too overloaded all at once. I also stop at the local fruit and vegetable market to get food on my way to the bus and then come home. I work on projects like sewing, painting pictures, writing, and then eat dinner around 6pm. After that, it’s getting materials ready for the next day, Spanish homework or practice, some reading, and then time for sleep.

Do you have any funny stories from living abroad?  

I had an opossum sneak into my house and get caught between my mattress and my pillow one night! I wrote about it in my book!

I was at a restaurant and saw one of my Tica friends there. I asked her if she was working there and she whispered “al ratita”. I thought that she said there was a little rat in there so I ate quickly and left. Right after that I was at my dentist’s office and she told her assistant something about “al ratita” and I asked her if there were little rats there, too. They laughed and laughed and said that means “in a little while”!

Tell me about the community where you live.

I live in San Isidro de Grecia and it is about 30 minutes by bus to my house from Grecia. It is very tranquil, lots of nature, cooler than Grecia, lots of fruit trees, mountains, and wonderful people. There is a church, soccer field, little store, bakery, bar/restaurant, school, and clinic for the CAJA-the national health care.

Tell me one or two of the “best” things about living in the country you are in.

The pace of life is not hurried or about consumerism. People only buy what they need if they can afford it now or save for something later. God, family, and friends are most important here.

There are many opportunities to help out in the community and I am enjoying meeting new people and learning more about the culture and customs through these.


Making empanadas

Any advice for new people moving to country you are in?

Start learning Spanish and make friends with the Ticos because they are a generous, friendly, kind, and humble group of people! I am an honorary member of a Tico family and they accept me as I am and invite me to all of their family gatherings. 

This picture is me with my Tico son Ema, when I was asked to pray the blessing for him on his 25th birthday.  That is traditionally for the mother to do, so it was a big honor for me:

Blessing for Ema 2

With Tico-son, Ema

Debbie 2
Click here for Debbie’s book: Costa Rica Where The Ordinary Is Extraordinary:  Loving the people and culture of Costa Rica.  It is available as an ebook on Amazon and can also be downloaded to your computer if you don’t have a reader. It tells a lot of stories about the wonderful people she has met and all of her experiences of living in a different culture.

You can see Debbie’s paintings and crafts on Facebook at: Nature Art

Also check out her Facebook page for her book called: Costa Rica-Where the Ordinary is Extraordinary

She also has a blog at: Shine In The Moment.

Debbie, thanks for joining me on this feature of  the Expat Extra!  
Pura Vida! — Jen

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13 Responses to Expat Extra – Debbie Rudd

  1. Excellent Article. Helen and I went to Church with Debbie. She is a very sweet person and dedicated to her missions.

  2. Debbie,
    I’m still in awe over everything you’ve done in your life, especially your move to Costa Rica all by yourself!

  3. I’m so glad you wrote about Debbie! She is such an inspiration about REALLY living in, absorbing and honoring one’s adopted culture. And her book is terrific too.

  4. This is a great piece! I really enjoy learning about how others have made their move to Costa Rica. Keep them coming, Jen!

  5. Hi Jen Jen. I am enjoying reading your expat stories. What a compassionate, intelligent woman! You are blessed to know Debbie. We need more individuals like her here in the states. What will become of the U.S. if all of the kind-hearted, selfless people start moving to Costa Rica? Don’t get me wrong, there are great people here, but, we could always use more. Miss you Chica! I will email you later.

  6. Great article. Don’t know Debbie well, but seen her around town. She sounds like a really good person and I really enjoyed reading about her. Will need to get her book for sure.

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