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This couple found their little piece of paradise in Costa Rica


Mary is a 55-year old retired school teacher living in Costa Rica with her husband John. They are originally from just outside Boston. Both retired early for a variety of reasons. John had put in his 30 years with the fire department and was literally “burned out.” Mary retired early because of osteoarthritis. They were sick and tires of the cold New England winters and needed a warm climate to help Mary’s condition. Both had done extensive traveling and decided they wanted to retire in a place that offered more adventure than a typically dull Florida retirement community.

After visiting several countries they decided on Costa Rica because of the country’s year-round spring-like weather in the Central Valley, plethora of activities for those who love the outdoors, affordability and excellent medical care. Both are really happy with their choice and live active lives here.

They bought a modest home in the hills of Heredia surrounded by coffee fields with a breathtaking southern view of the Central Valley. On a clear day they can almost see the ocean through a gap between the mountains to the west. They have really found their little piece of paradise in Los Angeles de Heredia.

Mary has a good size garden where she grows mostly flowers. Vegetables are so plentiful and cheap she doesn’t bother with them. She also studies yoga and Tai Chi which she says have really improved her arthritis along with the warm climate. Then there is always the woman’s club and volunteer work to keep her busy. Mary really enjoys cooking local dishes. She found a Costa Rican cook book in English at a bookstore with all of the recipes for the native cuisine. Every weekend the couple likes to explore the local farmers markets in downtown Heredia on Saturdays and in San Rafael near their home on Sundays. They find some great bargains and stock up with enough vegetables and delicious mouth-watering fresh fruits to last the whole week. They usually fill up two large canvass shopping bags for well under $25.

John keeps himself busy by hiking, taking care of their three shelter dogs and studying Spanish. He recognizes that latter will be a life-long task but enjoys the challenge and realizes the many advantages of speaking the language.

Two of the activities this couple likes to share are discovering new restaurants and traveling around the country. They find that they can have a good meal for about $15-$20 dollars per person. In fact, they often find more affordable places to eat in their travels around the country. Costa Rica is so small but yet has so many nooks and crannies that they know it will take years to explore the whole country.

Their teenage grandchildren visit during the U.S. summer vacation months and John and Mary take the boys to different beaches in the Central and South Pacific to practice surfing. That way the kids get to enjoy themselves and John and Mary have a chance to visit and explore the many paradisiacal beach areas that dot the coast.

Both John and Mary agree that they are never bored here and find there just isn’t enough time to do all of the wonderful things their newly found home has to offer. John told me that their days are so filled with interesting activities, “That everyday seems like a whole lifetime.” “This country really has something for everyone and everything for someone except for snow skiing and I do not miss the snow at all.”

Christopher Howard


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