About Nadine Hays Pisani

Nadine is the author of the best-selling series, Happier Than A Billionaire. Join her as she navigates living as an expat in the sometimes confusing, always beautiful, country of Costa Rica.

Lowered Expectations

By | October 24th, 2017|Categories: The Happier House|Tags: , , |

Sunset Suite Bathroom

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: A three bedroom villa at a popular five-star resort— $5000/night

Enjoy this free chapter from my next book, Happier Than A Billionaire: An Acre in Paradise. I think we’ve all met people like this.

“When the Dinklemans arrive, we should hand them a cold drink. That would be a nice touch,” Rob suggests this morning.

That is a horrible idea.

I’ve grown increasingly anxious about our upcoming venture into hospitality. To ease my nerves, I peruse one-star reviews on luxury resorts. This gives me endless hours of amusement. I’m obsessed with reading about people who are especially hard to please. And many of these people seem to be lumped together as prestigious Gold Card Members of a certain five-star resort chain.

I’m always intrigued by people who inform me that they are gold card members of anything. I was once a card member of Costco. Unfortunately, there was nothing gold about it. I unwisely purchased a skyscraper-sized box of Pop-Tarts, along with a large bag of individually wrapped cream cheese packets that was set to expire in ninety days. Rob didn’t want the cream cheese to go bad, so he spread it on each Pop-Tart and ate them all day, every day, for three months. This inevitably led to a twenty-pound weight gain and sporadic twinges of angina.

You might be wondering what one has to do in order to become a prestigious Gold Card Member of a five-star luxury resort, and I am here to tell you. It appears the only requirement is to complain, a lot, about everything.

“But Nadine,” you’re asking, “do these expectations really ruin a perfectly good vacation?” Bet your complimentary shower cap they do.

Once one is in this fraternity, there are perks abound. Perks I was not even aware existed. But then again, I was raised thinking an ice machine in the lobby was the echelon of high society. Continue reading “Lowered Expectations” »

Join Me and Donate

By | October 18th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: A five dollar donation will feed a family

“Did you know we are getting hit with a cyclone today?” I asked Rob.

“No. Is it going to be bad?”

“I think so, Rob.”

Two weeks ago Costa Rica was hit by a tropical storm that brought upwards of 20 inches of rain. Storms like this are very rare in Costa Rica and I’m not sure anyone was quite prepared for it. The rain terrorized mountains, overflowed rivers and rumbled like a locomotive barreling throughout the countryside.  Many people in heavily affected areas escaped their homes with only the clothes on their backs. It lasted three days, and in those three days, we knew people would need help.

Dr. Andrea is a local physician in town who is doing incredible work. She is bringing much needed medical attention and supplies to the hardest hit areas. I know her personally and have written about her in my latest book, The Escape Manual as our trusted family physician. During one of her missions, she came across a blind and disabled man who lost his wheelchair in the flood and was sleeping on a soaking wet mattress. She was able to replace both. This is the kind of help that is needed and she is the angel that is organizing it. Dr. Andrea has created a GoFundMe Page and I’m asking you all to join me in providing help in any way you can. No matter how small, every donation will help and with a healthy number of volunteers all the money is going directly to the people in need.

For those planning a vacation, rest assured almost no tourist areas were affected by the storm.  Damage was isolated to certain spots and as with most disasters, the poor always suffer the most. If you haven’t planned a trip yet, please consider it! The people here depend on tourism.  They are eager to assist you with that once in a lifetime fishing trip, an incredible tour of the rainforest, or a rejuvenating waterfall hike. They love their country and love to share this incredible beauty with all of us.

This year has been especially challenging for many around the world, and sometimes it can be overwhelming when you want to help but are unsure where your money is going. Please know that every penny of your donation will be used in the right way. I can see the incredible work being done and know many of the volunteers personally. Your donation will provide dry clothing, new mattresses, home repairs and food.  It will help those who are most vulnerable.

I can’t thank you all enough for your support. God bless and, as always, pura vida.

Please click here to help.



Horses, Dragonflies, and Waterfalls

By | August 11th, 2017|Categories: Tourism, Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

Rincon de la Vieja

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: One Day Pass at Rincon de la Vieja Adventure Tours— Ninety dollars

It’s always great when friends come to visit. We love to plan big excursions they’ll remember for a lifetime. And our visitors certainly remember this adventure, mostly because one of them had back surgery and Rob recommended we all go horseback riding, zip-lining and swimming under a waterfall.

I’m not sure why Rob would ever suggest horseback riding since it never ends well for him. Every horse my husband has ever ridden was eager to get him off their back. There has never been one that thought, “I like this chap, let’s take the scenic route.” They’ve all acted as if it were a rodeo, and it’s their turn to buck the jerk. I, on the other hand, have never ridden a horse that didn’t lazily saunter away, start eating grass and fart… Simultaneously. They’ve all been about as underachieving as my equestrian skills.

Enjoy this chapter from Happier Than A Billionaire: The Sequel. Maybe one day you too will ride off into the Costa Rican sunset with your friends.


Waterfalls & Canyon Walls

“Do you think you’ll be okay on a horse?” I ask.

“I hope so,” Matt replies. “But I haven’t been on one in twenty years. I stopped riding after my back surgery.”

“I doubt she’ll bounce you around, tourists ride them every day,” Rob says as Matt strokes the horse’s face. The man holding the reins nods his head in agreement, but I can tell he doesn’t understand English. I recognize his befuddled expression because I pretty much look like that all the time. I was recently at the post office where a clerk was trying to explain my package hadn’t arrived yet. Instead of moving out of the way for the next person in line, I just stood there nodding like a big, dopey bobblehead. I remained there for a good five minutes before a nice person in line told me I had to come back the next day.

Matt examines the saddle and looks over the stirrups. “She looks like a nice girl, so why not? I’m already here, right? I didn’t come all this way not to participate.” Continue reading “Horses, Dragonflies, and Waterfalls” »

Panama vs Costa Rica

By | July 27th, 2017|Categories: Tourism, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , |

Bocos del Toro Panama

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: Bus Ticket from San Jose to Panama City — Under one hundred dollars

There has always been a debate on whether Panama or Costa Rica is a better choice for expats. People will hunker down with their opinions and list all the many ways one country is better than the other. You would think it’s the World Cup. No one has flipped any dumpsters yet, but these discussions get pretty heated.

“Bananas are cheaper in Panama,” someone yells.

“Yeah, but look at our beach towns and lifestyle. Ticos really know how to enjoy themselves!” another responds.

I just sit back, eat to my slightly more expensive banana, and stare into space. I have no dog in this fight. Unlike what many people think, it’s not my mission to convince anyone to move anyplace. Happier Than A Billionaire is about finding a happier life, and mine just so happened to take place in Costa Rica. If it occurred next to an oil drum in Bayonne, New Jersey I would have written that version of my story.

The truth is that becoming an expat has many variables. Success has more to do with your attitude than what particular country you are moving to. Learning a new language will be difficult, reinventing a new life is challenging, but the biggest obstacle is always going to be yourself. To assimilate into a new culture often means you have to experience things on the fly. And that means letting go of who you had previously defined yourself to be.

Take Kay Bratt; author of The Pursuit of Panama, a wildly successful writer who, with her husband, went through their own adventures in Panama. For two weeks, they explored the country wondering if moving abroad was the right decision for them. In her journey, Kay wrestles with her version of happiness. The question she set out to answer was whether or not Panama was going to be her happy place. She was inspired in part by reading my books and hopefully learned not to let her husband shove twelve thousand dollars into his underpants during their travels. Or hide any guns in a functioning fireplace.

We are all looking for that happy spot in life. It’s a moving target. A place that was once warm can grow cold. When that happens, it’s time to move on, and moving on could mean moving out, changing jobs, or even leaving old friends behind. This line of sight is never straight, and often means you have to bend in the wind in order to hit the bulls-eye.

People often ask me how I got the courage to leave my old life behind for a new one in Costa Rica. A foreign place, a foreign language, and with no guarantee it would work out. But there was this moment when I realized it was riskier not to do it than to take a chance. I knew if I didn’t break out of that stifling lifestyle, I would look back at the moment and have profound regret. I saw a beacon of light through a foggy time in my life, and its soft beam gave me hope.

I still follow that beacon even though there is little fog left in my life today. The skies are bright in Costa Rica, and the sunshine lightens up even the darkest corners. But at night I still see it. The beacon calls out for me, reminding me to keep dreaming, to keep being happy, and to keep remembering that life is in constant flux.  Ebbing and flowing is always the best way to ride a wave, but you have to paddle out to sea before you can go with the flow.

So if someone chooses to debate me on whether Bocas del Toro has better snorkeling than Playa Conchal Costa Rica, which it does, or if they have more volcanoes to hike, which they don’t, I’ll just rock in my hammock and continue staring up at the powder blue sky.  I’m not here to argue, or convince anyone that their ideas are wrong. There is room enough for everyone on this journey, and I’m still bending in the wind on mine.

If you are thinking about a move to Panama, or even just dreaming of what such a change might be like, you can find Kay’s latest book, The Pursuit of Panama, here on Amazon. I’m sure you will be inspired by Kay as well. http://amzn.to/2w2Qd0L

And while I’m not here to convince you to move to Costa Rica, if you would like to come along with me on my hilarious journey please read Happier Than A Billionaire and The Sequel. If you are inspired to join me in Costa Rica, you may also enjoy my guide to living here with everything I’ve learned over the past nine years, The Costa Rica Escape Manual.  http://amzn.to/2eQeO5g


Thorny Tales From The Garden

By | July 23rd, 2017|Categories: Garden|

Rob's Garden

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: Magic Root for making bushes from clippings— $5

It’s the rainy season here in Costa Rica which in my house means I will only see my husband in the morning when he drinks a cup of coffee. After that, he is off to the garden. I would describe him as having a green thumb. Or more accurately, a swollen green and purple thumb because he constantly gets stuck with bougainvillea thorns.

“Don’t you think all these plants are overkill, Rob?” I ask.

“I’m making a double layer security fence, so I’m planting red, white, and pink bougainvillea mixed with hibiscus. But not all sloppy and mixed up.”

“Of course, Rob. That would be insane.”

He ignores me and continues talking. “There needs to be two meters of red, two meters of white, two meters of pink, and two meters of mixed red and white… in that order. That pattern will continue around the entire property.”

This is quite the attention to detail. Continue reading “Thorny Tales From The Garden” »