Costa Rica Cost Of Living Update: Car insurance/registration- $190/year

It’s one of the hardest decisions to make when moving to Costa Rica. Would you rather live in the mountains or at the beach? Stare out across a green valley of rolling hills or at a turquoise sea?

The first four years I lived in Grecia, a lovely town located an hour from the international airport.  My house was located high on a mountain ridge next to a forest reserve. One could look out and see for miles across the entire Central Valley.  I immediately packed away my alarm clock since flocks of parrots would fly over my house the same time every morning. Waking up to the sounds of parrots was an incredible way to start the day.

It was a delight to live so close to a number of animals I never knew existed. One night we heard a scratching on our windowsill and noticed a kinkajou licking the bugs off the glass. There were nights when coyotes roamed the property and others where silver foxes darted across the lawn. I woke up one morning to find a horse in my backyard and another to a pack of coati waddling single file into the forest. It was simply a remarkable place to call home.

This was my first introduction to living anywhere with such a sweeping view. I quickly learned it did wonders for my disposition. It’s as if your brain appreciates the vista, silently telling your nervous system, “It’s a beautiful day, go out and enjoy it.” It’s impossible to start the day in a bad mood when this type of beauty surrounds you.

Another remarkable thing is the mild weather is consistent each day. The temperature was the same indoors and out, no need for heat or air conditioning. Many of my friends say this helps with their arthritis symptoms. Their joints don’t ache nearly as much as living in an area with fluctuating temperatures. Not only does this area put you in a better mood, it also helps physically. Who wouldn’t want to spend time here?

This year I decided to move to the beach in search of new adventures. It was difficult to say goodbye to my friends and all those cunning critters that made my world so entertaining. However, I knew this country had a lot more places to explore and wanted to see much more.

Living near the beach is exciting. Instead of waking to a flock of birds, groups of howler monkeys roar into the morning sky with thundering precision. Surf boards are everywhere: sticking out of cars, under the arm of someone riding a bicycle, and balanced on kid’s heads looking to hitch a ride to the closest break. Each one of these beaches is spectacular and suited to different activities.  I learned Playa Grande is for more experienced surfers, whereas Tamarindo is the perfect place to learn to surf. Playa Danta is great for seeing a whale while paddle boarding and Playa Conchal is better for swimming. It feels like I am living in an amusement park.

A downside is the weather is much hotter than in the mountains, so I look forward to the cooler mornings and playing in the ocean later in the day. But what I love the most is staring up into a starry night while sitting on a piece of driftwood. The rippling sounds of the ocean transform into notes on a scale, eventually composing a soft lullaby while the warm breezes swaddle you like a blanket. It reminds me of being in my childhood home, that feeling that everything is right in the world.

I would love to have both options, spending time in the mountains and at the beach.  However, I won’t get greedy. I’ll be thankful for what I am doing today, watching a dog surf in Tamarindo. And I’ll be grateful that my alarm clock is still packed away, deep in the back of my closet.