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Pura Vida: The Ease of Living

When making plans for relocation, most people consider the all-important cost of living: how much will it take to survive in Costa Rica? But what we often fail to factor is the joy and ease of living in Costa Rica – all the small conveniences that make the pura vida (pure life) more enjoyable.

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After I had settled in and ironed out my monthly budget – admittedly two factors very important to one’s happiness – I began to notice all the details that made life in Costa Rica more vibrant, beautiful and fun. Thankfully, more than three years later, the roses still smell as sweet; I doubt I’ll ever take Costa Rica’s little pleasures for granted. Here’s my short list of things that make me feel thankful everyday:

Coffee: Gone are the days when I paid more than $10 per pound for organic, gourmet coffees. Costa Rica produces some of the best java in the world, and it was a treat to try out many different brands and roasts in search of my favorite. (For the record, it’s Doka’s Peaberry.) Best of all, some companies – Cafe Doka and Cafe Britt, for example – deliver direct to your home! At the first sign of a dwindling coffee supply, it’s such a convenience to call up my coffee contact, place an order, and have fresh, aromatic coffee delivered the next day. Drink up!

Community: In Costa Rica, there are two types of community: your neighbors and the people with whom you associate. Costa Ricans are known for their kindness, and my peaceful neighborhood fits the mold. My neighbors wave hello, consult with me on neighborhood issues, and occasionally leave goodies on my doorstep. However, it’s the friends I’ve made that truly make me see what community is all about. The expats in Costa Rica are very active; whether you’re a knitter, a gardener, or an ardent politico, there are others who share your passion and have already created a group to support it. This strong social infrastructure has made making friends easy – an important factor in feeling at home in your new country.

Fresh produce: The cost and sheer variety of fruits and vegetables available in Costa Rica never ceases to amaze me. From familiar favorites like cucumbers and watermelon to unfamiliar treats like star apple and choyote squash, I could probably eat a different fruit or veggie every day for the rest of the year, and still have new tastes to try in 2011. Even better, almost everything local is inexpensive, hovering around $0.50-$2.00 per pound.

Taxi drivers: I’ll admit that not every taxi driver is a bucket of sunshine – to be fair, I’d be a big grump if I had to drive all day, every day – but when you get a good one, you’re in for a real treat. Exceptional cabbies go out of their way to avoid traffic, taking you on the shortest, fastest and least expensive route. They make deals for long drives and always go out of their way to help. Carrying lots of groceries? They’ll help you carry everything to the door. Trying to catch a missed bus? They’ll catch it. Lugging a big box home? They’ll wiggle and maneuver and even tie it to the roof to make it to fit. (Seriously, a taxi driver once helped me transport a double bed frame and two huge nightstands in his tiny Hyundai Excel.)

Weather: This may be a given, but the Central Valley’s Spring-like climate can’t be beat. The dry season is generally a bit warmer, and in my mountain town, temperatures hover around 75-80º F. Nights are cool, and a gentle breeze wafts through my windows almost constantly. My wardrobe is year-round, and I can wear flip-flops everyday. For me, this is really the perfect climate. (I even love the rainy season.)

Pura Vida: The Ease of Living in Pictures

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