Frandy's "Plan B" Due Diligence



It's NEVER been a secret... from the day we entered Costa Rica, March 31, 2009, our plan was to re-evaluate our life when we are eligible for U.S. Medicare.  Well, that time is quickly approaching for we will become eligible in July and October of 2015.  That's not too far away. 

Let me start out by saying... we love our life in Costa Rica.  This is especially true since we moved from the cold and windy climate of Los Angeles Sur to the beaches of Guanacaste four years ago.  There is little of this area with which we can find fault. 

Sure, the weather can be hot, but we are just a scant 5 minute walk to an incredible beach and 10 seconds from an awesome pool. 

Half the year it doesn't rain so we can plan outings anytime, anywhere.  And as for the rest of the year, light showers provide a wonderful break in the early afternoon heat. 

Things do cost more in a touristy environment but that is not an issue.  But as we look towards the future, we need to keep all our options on the table. 

Over the last few years we made several extensive Due Diligence trips to other countries including Ecuador and Panama.  Additionally, we visited a wonderful beach community in North Carolina.  The purposes of which were to see if we could find locations that would allow us to replicate (to some degree) our current lifestyle should we ever decide to leave Costa Rica.

Sadly, nothing came close to what we have here, but the search is not yet over.  We are attacking this challenge the same way we did back in 2008 by first establishing our goals and requirements, then immediately eliminate places that did not meet our needs or budget.

So far we ruled out Southern California (for obvious financial reasons) as well as all places that have the potential of generating measurable snow fall.  An ideal spot for us should be less than a 30 minute drive to an ocean facing beach.  So with our requirements established, we decided to explore the southwestern coast of Florida; specifically Punta Gorda north to Dunedin.

In early March we traveled to Florida's Tampa/St Pete area to check out potential places that might meet our needs.  We were looking for towns that have good walk-ability and bike-ability thereby allowing us to bypass the use of a car for most common errands. 

We wanted to be within walking distance of a pet friendly beach.  And most importantly, the area must have affordable housing.

With the help of several of our Boomers Offshore readers who live in the area, we learned that most (if not all) of our requirements can be met in the areas between Englewood and Venice Beach, an area about 2 hours south of Tampa and just 40 minutes from Sarasota.

Should we wait for Medicare Eligibility?

While there, we met with two major insurance companies, received quotes (by way of the Affordable Care Act).  Much to our surprise, we saw no evidence of the Obamacare horror stories permeating the news.  In fact, we would be insurable as of day one with no exclusions for pre-existing conditions.  And best of all, we would be saving more than 80% over the premiums we were  paying back in 2008!

So on first blush... SW Florida passes the test on weather, logistics and affordability.  But what about the vibe? 

Here is Costa Rica, we have a pretty robust social life with lots of acquaintances and even a few friends.  Fran is heavily involved with water aerobics, two different book clubs and various other charity type events.  As for me, well I was born to be retired.  Between video production, deep sea fishing, web design, relocations tours and playing guitar in local bars, I have little free time.  So the big question is, can the Venice Beach area support our mega social life?





When we arrived in Tampa on Friday night, our hosts, Bonnie and Greg Busch, invited us to a "Trop Rock" music festival at the beach.  There we had the opportunity to meet loads of new people, all of whom were diehard Jimmy Buffett music fans.  This turned out to be a fantastic opportunity to quickly meet new people.  At first it seemed that they had more questions for us about Costa Rican life, but we quickly turned the tables and began peppering them with tons of questions about the areas in which they live. 

Demographically we were all quite similar, 60+ boomers, ex-hippies, mostly retired, collecting Social Security and very comfortable getting our groove on (if ya know what I mean).  I even had the chance to hook-up with one of the local bands and played drums for a few songs.

While in the area, we learned that our grandson Jayden would be performing with the American Boychoir at a concert in Winter Park (an Orlando suburb).  So we put our due diligence on the back burner and made the two hour drive to see the show.  Here is a short video from that event.

The following day, we headed back to the Venice Beach area where we met up with other Boomers Offshore fans and had some very engaging conversation.  They candidly passed on to us their feelings (pro and con) about the area.  And in all honesty, we did not hear many negative comments. 




One of our "must have" requirements is access to a dog friendly beach.  While pets are largely turned away at most pubic beaches, we found one, right in Venice that met our needs perfecty.

The only bummer on the trip came in the form of Fran's incessant sneezing and runny nose.  Apparently Florida pollen does not get along with Fran too much.  However, after a short stop by the  pharmacy, she got some stuff that put her right back in fine spirits.

At this moment in time... Costa Rica is our home.  We have no plans to leave but that's not saying we're here for the duration either.  Our philosophy, simply put is NEVER say FOREVER!


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