Just packing up and leaving a miserable, complicated, stressful existence behind hoping to start a new, simpler “better” life in Costa Rica is a common fantasy.
The belief that “the grass is greener” and moving will change everything is so common that it has been given a name in the psychology of dysfunction. It’s called “pulling a geographic”.
If you’re stressed, frustrated and angry then moving to Costa Rica might help give you a brighter start to the day with a nice view out the window, birds chirping and of course better coffee. However, those negative emotions sneak into your baggage and without other changes can quickly adapt and thrive in any geography in the world.
But What About all those Relocation Success Stories?
People write funny clever blogs and books describing how Costa Rica was a miracle solution to all of their problems but the ones that actually get something published arrived with enough drive and self discipline to write a book. They are also the ones who made important changes to their lives in addition to a new location. The others who fizzled out in misery never publish anything so you’ve never heard from them.
Success is a self editing prophesy.
Don’t get us wrong. It’s not hopeless. We’ve witnessed miracles. We know people who have moved to Costa Rica and transformed their lives. Beating drugs, alcohol, frustrating corporate drudgery and collapses of personal relationships in a new setting. However, it definitely wasn’t an automatic fix and it’s hard to know if Costa Rica played a part because we know people who have done the same without leaving home.
Why People Believe Relocating Will Help (and How it Might)
The old adage that “a change of scenery will do you some good” might be true but probably only if that scenery comes with some other differences too.
Fortunately there are some very real differences in culture and in climate (especially if you’re coming from Minnesota) that may actually facilitate a better you living a simplified lifestyle if you work at it.
“Old habits die hard” is something else lots of people say. Just because you move to a place where many people walk 2 km to the supermarket doesn’t mean you won’t still jump in the car.
There is probably a supermarket 2 km away from where you live now; how many times have you walked there? You’re more likely to find a neighbor to walk with in Costa Rica but you’ll still have to change yourself if you want to be different than you are now.
Rose colored sunglasses – When you’re on vacation it’s all good and you may get a distorted perspective from a few short visits. Moving to Costa Rica doesn’t morph everyday reality into a perpetual vacation it simply relocates it.
With new surroundings you will gain opportunities to develop new habits and shed the old so with some effort it’s possible to redefine your everyday.
Costa Rica is easier financially – Overall the cost of living in Costa Rica is comparable to the U.S., Europe and Canada it’s just distributed differently. Medical care is half the price of the U.S. but owning a vehicle costs twice as much.
Most Costa Ricans live on a couple thousand bucks a month or less so there’s more infrastructure and options for frugal living. Redefining what’s essential and what’s a luxury might reduce your expenditures and along with it monetary stress.
Relaxed and laid back – Pura vida and Tico time are great when you’re the slacker in the hammock. On the other hand when you’re trying to get the plumber to show up to clear the line to your septic tank so you can start using your toilets without sewage coming pouring out the kitchen sink drain it becomes frustrating and irresponsible.
Thriving in the land of Pura Vida! will undoubtedly require an adjustment of your understanding of words like “appointment,” “finished,” and “soon,” but if you take the good with the bad it can be an improvement.
Outdoors – Wherever you’re coming from the climate in Costa Rica is likely to be an improvement.
Nice weather won’t suddenly make your skinny jeans fit but you’ll have opportunities to hike, swim, bike or just sit on the terrace instead of in front of a high def video screen if you decide to take them.