Single and in my sixties, I approach
my retirement years with a great degree of skepticism. With the
increasing mental and physical stresses associated with being an
Intensive Care Nurse, I want to retire; I need to retire; but can I
afford to retire? All my friends who are in similar situations all
seem to think that I will have to work well into my 70ís before I
will ever be able to bid "so long" to my professional life.
Pondering my retirement options, I
wondered how I could possibly afford to live in the U.S.,
considering the state of our economy and uncertainty of being able
to pay for quality health care. All viable solutions pointed to a
retirement life offshore.
After many months of research and
internet surfing, I knew I wanted to investigate Costa Rica. The
first part of my journey was about to begin. I was very proud that
I finally got my first passport. In late October, I boarded a plane
in Dallas Texas and landed in Liberia Costa Rica. This is where
months of internet research began to pay off.
I had the opportunity to meet up with
several of my new Costa Rican acquaintances I met online while
researching this endeavor. They opened their homes as well as their
hearts to me and were very gracious, answering every single one my
questions especially the oneís dealing with affordable shelter, food
and medical care.
Budget Concerns - Iím Not
Made Of Money!
I always wanted to live by the beach.
But, with a maximum monthly budget of only $1000, I had concerns
that I was going to have to make too many concessions in order to
meet that objective. However, after spending some quality time with
several of the local expats, those concerns quickly disappeared.
Shelter was not going to be an issue.
And as far as food goes, I could not be in a better place. Since I
am a vegetarian, my love for fresh fruits and vegetables will easily
allow me to stay well under what I was paying back in the Big ďDĒ.
So food was not going to be an issue either.
So many of the expats I met on my trip
all shared a similar story; the single biggest reason driving them
to the warm shores of Costa Rica was they were seeking a solution to
affordable healthcare. While my health is quite good (right now), I
donít know what it will be in 5 or 10 years. The uncertainty of
receiving high quality and affordable healthcare back in the States
was really my biggest concern. My expat friends pointed out that
once I become a legal Costa Rican resident, I would be required to
join the CAJA, Costa Ricaís national healthcare system. From that
point on, I would not have to be concerned about having to pay for
my healthcare needs. However, since every coin has two sides, I am
beginning to hear stories about the CAJA which might lead me to seek
alternative solutions. I think Iíll write another story about that
subject once I have more firsthand information.
I know what to look for in a
physician. I was introduced to a local doctor who has a private
practice in Playas del Coco. Known by all the expats as Doctor
Pablo, he is an English speaking physician and appears very
knowledgeable about modern medicine having done his residency back
in San Francisco California.
I have to admit, when I met Dr. Pablo
at his office, he was the one who greeted me, not a receptionist or
a nurse. And for 15 minutes, he made me feel as if I was the only
thing important to him. I also learned of a new private hospital
opening near Playa Hermosa in April 2012. This satisfied the
remaining concerns I had regarding whether or not I would be able to
receive (and afford) quality healthcare here on the beaches of
Am I Nit Picking?
With my big three issues now
satisfied, itís the small things for which I needed answers.
Trevor is my life as well as my best
friend! I cannot and will not go anywhere without him. But will
Trevor get along in Costa Rica? That is now my biggest concern.
You see, Trevor is my four year old Yorkie and any plans to retire,
be they in the USA or elsewhere, must include provisions for Trevor.
Following a meeting with a local veterinarian, I left very
satisfied knowing that getting Trevor into Costa Rica will be easy
and caring for him here will be even easier and so much more
Safety is always a concern, especially
for a single woman. While in Playa Hermosa, I felt very safe even
though there was not a very visible presence of police. But
everybody I talked to kept reiterating, just because you think you
are in paradise, you should always keep your guard up. I will
listen to my new friends.
Communicating with family and friends
is going to be easy in Costa Rica. All I need is my laptop and a
basic internet connection and with tools like Skype or MagicJack, I
can keep in touch with all my friends and relatives back in the
States for almost zero cost. So check off another concernÖ
Communications will not an issue.
For many, the adventure may end at
retirement; but not for me, not here. There are an abundance of
activities to keep me busy and vibrant. I can enroll in yoga
classes, water aerobics, join a book club or a weekly bible study
group and there are always volunteer opportunities with the local
Lion's Club. I can even be the occasional tourist and explore this
There will be challenges, Iím sure of
that. But for now, I have options and being single and sixty looks
pretty darn good. I now need to get my act together and begin to
get all my ducks in a row. For the next year, I plan to sock away
as much money as I can as well as sell off things that I will not
need once I move to Pura Vida.