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Top Ten Reasons I Love Living in Costa Rica

As a resident of Costa Rica for three plus years, I am regularly asked why I moved to this Central American nation. Here's my top 10 list for those of you thinking about relocating to Costa Rica. I love the lifestyle it affords, from exploring the incredible outdoors to feasting on goodies from my local farmers' market.

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1) I don't need a car

I live in a peaceful mountain town, midway between the city and the country. My house is three blocks from the central park, and that means I'm within walking distance of the grocery store, restaurants, and most other amenities. When I need to get into town, I hop on the public bus (50¢) or catch a cab (starting at $1).

2) Fresh produce is cheap and available year-round

My local farmers' market is held every Saturday morning. I buy almost all of my fresh produce there, and it's always ripe and tasty. The vendors also sell fresh fish, chicken, eggs, and dairy products. I usually leave with 10-15 pounds of fruits and vegetables, and I rarely spend more than $8-$10.

3) Low cost of living

Budgeting in Costa Rica has everything to do with lifestyle. I live simply, but well -- a nice home, good food, evenings out -- on about half of what it would cost me in the United States. You can't put a monetary value on peace of mind.

4) Natural beauty

Costa Rica is the most wonderfully diverse country: where else can you find volcanoes, cloud forests, beaches, rainforests, and whitewater rivers within a few hours' drive? There is so much to see and explore; I could live here for the next 20 years, and there would still be more to discover.

5) It's springtime all year long

Living in the Central Valley has its perks, but the weather is one of my favorites. Average daytime temperatures hover around 75-80º F; at night, the thermometer drops to a very comfortable 65-70º F.

6) The medical care is excellent and inexpensive

Whether you use public health care or the private medical system, Costa Rica has some of the best and most modern health care. Even better, both systems are much less expensive than their American counterpart: it costs me (a 26 year-old female) about $20 monthly to pay into the public system and $50 per month for private health care.

7) Costa Ricans are genuinely kind

Costa Ricans have an international reputation for being friendly to tourists, and their warmth doesn't stop there. Everywhere I go, I'm greeted by smiling people who are willing to help direct me to my destination, solve a problem, or answer questions.

8) Proximity to the United States

I fly back to the States at least once or twice a year to visit family and friends. I grew up on the East Coast, and nonstop flights from San Jose only take four to five hours -- that's less than taking the train from Boston to Washington, DC!

9) It's easy to live a healthy lifestyle

Living in Costa Rica has encouraged me to live a healthier lifestyle almost effortlessly. I buy fresh produce at the market, walk almost everywhere, and the great outdoors are always calling. There's an incredible national park just a few miles from my house (accessible by bus, of course!), the mountain roads are great for hiking, and there's always someone willing to kick a soccer ball around.

10) Because Costa Rica is "pura vida!"

"Pura vida' is a national expression that reminds us to take things slowly and to savor life. Many Costa Ricans will tell you that they don't live to work; they work to live. Costa Rica has taught me that owning less can actually mean having more -- when you stop worrying about the latest tech toy or how much you made last month, life is more fun -- it's pura vida!

Top Ten Reasons I Love Living in Costa Rica in Pictures

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