Looking Up at The Happier House

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” »

By | December 10th, 2016|Categories: The Happier House|Tags: , , |13 Comments

House Hunters International

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.

house-hunters-international-snapshot2

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.

By | November 11th, 2016|Categories: The Happier House|Tags: , , |19 Comments

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

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” »

Still Looking for Rush Limbaugh in Costa Rica

Rush Limbaugh

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: Fake Cuban (Nicaraguan) cigars sold on Tamarindo beach—$10

Back in 2010, Rush Limbaugh said he would move to Costa Rica in five years if some of President Obama’s policies were ever implemented. It’s now 2016, and I still can’t find Rush anywhere around the neighborhood.

One of the best things about living in Costa Rica is being removed from the political climate of any given presidential election. However, we do still have news channels that, for better or for worse, broadcast all the latest political events. The more I watch, the more it becomes apparent that they rarely report any happy stories, only hours of repeated headlines and opinions that lead to heated arguments, making me want to cancel my cable subscription. It’s as if the sky is falling.

This bizarre phenomenon occurs every four years. And every four years people threaten that they will be moving to Costa Rica. I’m not sure why they use this as a threat. Rarely people threaten to visit Costa Rica. In fact, the people coming off the airplane aren’t threatening at all. They are the most excited people you’ll ever meet.

When you are removed from a political season, you tend to spend more time on the happier side of life. Not that politics should be ignored, it’s just that when it starts consuming someone’s entire existence, they end up becoming that person yelling so loud spittle comes out the sides of his or her mouth. And if you are that person, it’s okay. I think I can help. Especially if you’re the one threatening to move to Costa Rica if—insert political candidate—wins.

You will be welcome here. Costa Ricans and expats are some of the friendliest people I meet, but they’ll be somewhat confused by your spittle. In fact, I rarely see a Costa Rican spittle; it’s as rare as Rodrigo my repairman showing up on time. They have their own issues with their political system, but when it’s all said and done, they give them the patented Tico shrug. This shrug is also accompanied by a forty-five-degree head tilt, followed by them saying, “Pura Vida!” All of it adds up to one meaning… eh, my life is still great. I like this gesture; it’s the same one I get from a teller when she explains the bank ran out of money. Continue reading “Still Looking for Rush Limbaugh in Costa Rica” »

By | August 6th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , |28 Comments

Top 5 Unexpected Benefits of Costa Rica Weather

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: New iPhone package with 140 minutes of phone calls, unlimited data, & 700 texts—$20

Top 5 Benefits of Costa Rica Weather

1. Creativity

75 Degree weather. Just writing that makes me feel good. When I lived on a mountaintop in Grecia, I was treated to wonderfully cool temperatures practically every day. Aside from saving money on air conditioning, the biggest benefit was a sense of outdoor/indoor living.  The temperatures were the same and  you had no sense of a barrier. And without that temperature barrier, the world feels bigger, better, and creates a swell of endorphins in your brain. You wake up smiling and go to bed happy. It’s the biggest gift Grecia gave me.

These temperatures had an effect on me while I was writing my first book Happier Than A Billionaire: Quitting My Job, Moving to Costa Rica, & Living the Zero Hour Work Week. I would even say they were conducive to the entire writing process. I felt great on that mountaintop, and in a way freer than I have ever been.

We lived so high up on the mountain that clouds actually rolled into our house. Initially, I wasn’t quite sure what was happening. I’ve lived around so much pollution in my life, at first, I thought it was smog. Then this gigantic, puffy cotton ball smacked me square in the face and it was the most heavenly thing I ever experienced. Have you ever been hit by a cloud? I would suggest putting that on your bucket list. However, hanging your clothes out to dry in such high altitudes can be a challenge: This crazy thing happens.

These cooler temperatures come with a substantially longer and more intense rainy season, and the rainy season can bring a substantial amount of mold. It grows on everything and needs to be cleaned… a lot. And then there are weeks in October, the height of the rainy season when there is not one sliver of sunshine for days on end. These were the times I wished I lived at the beach.

Now that I’m living near Playa Flamingo, I’m are fully aware of the difference in temperatures once I step outside. There are times at the end of the dry season I feel like I’m living on the sun. This is reflected in our budget as well. Our allowance for dining out is non-existent, replaced with the additional cost of air conditioning. These are the days I wish I lived in the mountains. Continue reading “Top 5 Unexpected Benefits of Costa Rica Weather” »

By | June 28th, 2016|Categories: Nature, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , |16 Comments