A Single Womanís Adventure

by Sharon Lumley - email


Life is an adventure.  From the time we are conceived, it takes us through twists and turns.  But, as in any adventure, the thrill is in the anticipation and excitement of the unknown and the undiscovered. 

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 Guanacaste.

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 affordable!

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 wonderful country.

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.   


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