Looking Up at The Happier House

By | December 10th, 2016|Categories: The Happier House|Tags: , , |

Brasilito Moon

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: Bag of Sun Chips that Rob and I devoured in one hour—$4.82

The Happier House recently hosted two wonderful guests, Jim and Dawn. As we were showing them around the Sunset Suite’s outdoor kitchen, Rob began a very long and tedious explanation on how to light the barbecue.

“You see here Jim, the automatic lighter switch is broken so you will have to use this Bic lighter,” Rob explained, holding up the device in case Jim has started fires in the past using only flint and kindling.

“Okay, I think I got it,” Jim replied.

“Well, you have to light it where the gas comes out underneath, somewhere in the middle.”

“Yeah, I’ll remember…”

“It’s important Jim, that if the gas is on too long, you will want to shut it off and wait a few minutes then start again.”

Rob continued rambling to our guest, even suggesting the “Righty-Tighty, Lefty-Loosy” rule of turning the propane tank nozzle on and off when I finally interrupted.

“Honey, didn’t Jim tell you he works for NASA?”

“So you’re like a rocket scientist?” Rob asked.

“Yes. My job involves dealing with jet fuel when necessary.”

Well played Rocket Man. Well played.

Continue reading “Looking Up at The Happier House” »

House Hunters International

By | November 11th, 2016|Categories: The Happier House|Tags: , , |

House Hunters International

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: Bottom of the Line Weedwacker—$267. Cost of repairs after breaking it on the first run—$6

What a couple of weeks! No, not the election, I was on House Hunters International! Large close-ups of my face appeared on televisions all across the world. If you missed it, check your local listings for the title of the episode: “Happier Than a Brasilionaire.” Yes, that reads “Brasilionaire,” because we live in Brasilito.

It was exciting to appear on a show that I watched back in the States while dreaming of a different life. Sometimes I’d go on a House Hunters International marathon, viewing them back to back and driving my husband nuts. Are you a wife who does that to your spouse? Well keep it up because eventually, you’re going to see Rob and me on your screen, duking it out while trying to find the perfect place to start a bed and breakfast.

One of the funnier moments was when Rob and I tour what I like to call the Tomb Raider house: an empty shell that was never completed. Apparently, one person’s post-apocalyptic nightmare is another’s Buckingham Palace. Rob imagined crown jewels and crumpets while I Googled the symptoms of rabies after getting bombarded by a closet full of bats.


My husband is a real can-do sort of guy, who was convinced all he needed was a magical hammer and a positive disposition to finish this particular house. I was the high-maintenance wife, insisting that our guests may enjoy rooms with less bat guano and balconies where they can’t fall to their death. But what do I know? I’m new to the hospitality business.

This show was a great opportunity, and I wanted to look my best, so I did not wear sensible shoes. Women will understand this. And Rob went all out and wore swim trunks. Men will understand that. Project Runway has not yet contacted us, but I’m anxious to discuss the variety of tank tops Rob sports, all of which come in a package of five. He’s truly breaking ground with his fashion choices.

I can understand if you haven’t seen our show yet because this little thing called the United States Presidential Election was taking place. From what I can tell, everyone is getting along and singing Kumbaya around a campfire. Or maybe that’s what my brain wants to believe. It’s easy to kid myself because a flock of parrots just landed in a tree right in front of me. Life is good here. It’s a happy one, and I want everyone to feel as happy as I do. Sadly, I think it could be a while before that happens.

If you feel like you need a break from the commotion, stay at The Happier House. Or better yet, why not just move down here and share the joy? You can wear tank tops all day and sensible shoes if you wish. And that goes for you guys in the UK too. I heard Brexit and our election has been rough on you as well.

Costa Rica is a place for everyone. It cured many things in me I didn’t know needed fixing. It’s a kinder, gentler place and the world needs more of that right now. The Pura Vida lifestyle is a real thing, and once you experience it you can’t imagine living any other way.

Organic Watermelons

I Grow Big Melons

And for all those who are dealing with anxiety, Happier Than A Billionaire is here to help. If you have not read it yet, our misadventures are sure to make you laugh.  Follow my Facebook page where I share pictures of sunsets and pretty beaches. Or follow me on Instagram where I share snapshots of watermelons with snazzy captions like “I grow big melons.” My husband is not on Instagram, so I can take credit for all of his hard work without him ever knowing.

Thanks for following our journey. I have a feeling this year is going to be quite interesting, and I’m going to try to stay happier throughout it. If you think you might want to join us here one day, check out my latest book: The 2016 edition of The Costa Rica Escape Manual.

I’ll be sending sunshine smiles and pura vida vibes your way for a long time to come.

Happier Than A Billionaire in Costa Rica: 5th Anniversary, The Book, and The Journey

By | September 6th, 2016|Categories: Cost of Living, The Happier House|Tags: , , , , , |

Happier Than A Billionaire

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: 15 ounce Country Crock margarine — $3.33

It’s been just over five years since the official release of my book, Happier Than A Billionaire. Some things have changed, while others have stayed the same, and this may cause some confusion to many who are new to our story. This post is a short recap to clarify why we started this journey, how it has changed along the way, and where we hope it will take us.

So why did I name my first book Happier Than A Billionaire? After working seventy hours a week in order to live the American dream, we were still stressed out and miserable. We had no time for each other or anything else outside of work. We started to suspect that more stuff was not the key to finding real happiness.

Studies prove this, and it is evident by stories like those of the Tyco executive who stole his company’s cash to fund lavish parties, complete with Jimmy Buffett playing guitar and an ice sculpture of Michelangelo’s “David” urinating Stolichnaya vodka. The executive was later convicted of embezzlement and spent six years in jail, where I’m certain his urination issues did not involve vodka or ice sculptures. And our suspicions were correct. We moved to CR with a few suitcases and started living the happiest times of our lives. We were not billionaires, but happier than the ones we read about.

Happier than a Billionaire is about making the most of our resources and being grateful for everything we have. It was never our plan to be “living in a van down by the river” although we did live near a river, where Rob tested our handgun that he had just set on fire after hiding it in our fireplace. He shot into the ground, blew out our water pipes, and at that point, I’m sure our landlord would have preferred we lived in a van down by the river. Continue reading “Happier Than A Billionaire in Costa Rica: 5th Anniversary, The Book, and The Journey” »

Happier Than A Billionaire: 2.0

By | June 12th, 2016|Categories: The Happier House, Utilities|Tags: , , |

Costa Rica Costa of Living Update— $59 /month for Internet Service (2Mbps download speed and 1Mbps upload speed)

Welcome to the Happier Than A Billionaire reboot! After careful consideration, I decided to overhaul my website so that I can share more information with all of you, preferably in one easily navigable space. In the process of doing so, I deleted an entire database, screwed up the margins on most pages, and created collateral damage across the blogosphere. So, if you were trying to contact me or visit my page in the past couple weeks, it was a mess and basically reflected how my brain works, like that guy in A Beautiful Mind, but without the fancy equations and high IQ.

Yesterday was the day of the website launch, and with much excitement I pressed a button and my site went live. This reciprocally caused the Internet to crash. I quickly logged onto my phone (that has a different Internet provider) and checked my emails. Apparently, the Internet company for my house had sent out a message that they had blown a fuse. In fact, this was their exact wording, “Our primary fiber connection seems to have gone down this morning.” Quite the timing.

One of the most frequent questions I get from those who want to move to Costa Rica is if I have fast and reliable Internet. And for the most part I do… except for the day of my launch… and then I didn’t. But I remember moving here and having to drive down a mountain, to an Internet café, so that I could send emails to my parents to let them know I have not been kidnapped… yet. Then when the Internet did come to my house, it was really bad dial-up. Do you even remember what really bad dial-up was? Exactly. You’ve blocked it out of your subconscious. Sorry I mentioned it.

Technology has come a long way here. Although you still may need to buffer a little, you eventually get to watch all those cute cat videos in a reasonable time frame. And for the most part, I have enough speed to download and upload all my monkey pictures with ease.

One of the traits you acquire in Costa Rica is patience. All sorts of patience, whether in line behind a dingbat at the bank who can’t understand how to pay her water bill (that would be me in that example), or sitting staring at a blank screen on your computer for an indefinite amount of time. Some would say it’s part of the charm of living here, and I have to agree. Because having more patience generally makes you a nicer person. You don’t snap as quickly at people, and you cultivate a “we’re all in this together” sort of attitude. It’s a nice way to live, one that I would prefer never to lose.

Eventually, my Internet returned and I called my parents to look at the new website.

“The blanket on your bed is wrinkled. Don’t you have a better photo?” my mom said.

“Okay, I’ll use another picture. In the meanwhile, what do you think about the rest of the site?”

“Unbelievable! I touched something and now I’m on a New Jersey newspaper.”

“Mom, you must of hit a link on your iPad.”

“It’s broken.”

“Your iPad is not broken. Just hit the arrow and go back.”

“What arrow?”

So the rest of my day was spent teaching my mom where the back arrow is located, and learning that I should be ironing my comforter.

This is then next phase of our happier story, one that finally includes The Happier House. I’m diving into this new chapter with a few of the lessons I learned since moving to Costa Rica:

  • There are infinite amount of adventures one can cultivate in a lifetime.
  • Believe, even when you think you’ve stop believing.
  • Sometimes you have to last through the buffering to get a clear picture.

And thankfully, all that buffering was worth the wait.


Irregular Beds, Irregular Husband, & the 2016 Escape Manual

By | February 12th, 2016|Categories: Bed and Breakfast, The Escape Manual, The Happier House|Tags: , |

The Costa Rica Escape ManualCosta Rica Cost of Living Update: Tylenol (24 tablets)—$3.00

You may be wondering if I’m still sitting on my floor. The answer to that is no. Not on the floor, but on an irregular king-size bed my husband insisted we buy.

“There’s probably just a scratch or two,” he said, after the store demanded we leave while they wrapped it up. This suspicious behavior pretty much ensured that I would have a very deliberate argument with Rob, one with the phrase I told you so, by the end of the day.

There has not been an irregular item my husband has passed up in fifteen years. Whether it’s oddly stitched shirts or pants with crooked pockets, he gravitates to anything that can possibly save him money. Garden hose with a few cracks? Nothing duct tape won’t fix. Expired vitamins? They’ll just make the body stronger.

So we bring back this deal of the century, put it together, only to realize all the wooden slats are missing. Continue reading “Irregular Beds, Irregular Husband, & the 2016 Escape Manual” »