American Expat Living In Costa Rica - Expat Interview With Mark

Published: 10 Nov at 1 PM
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Filed: Interviews,Costa Rica
Mark and Nancy Van Patten had a five year plan to retire to Costa Rica. But five months after their first visit to the country they had purchased a home and moved themselves and four dogs. Nancy was retired, but Mark planned to work a few more years. After finding a great house in Atenas, Costa Rica and getting an offer on their house in the U.S. within three days of listing it, Mark took an early retirement. They shipped a twenty foot container full of household stuff and Nancy's Smart car and a year after moving they were still unpacking. They have gotten acquainted with other expats and locals as they experience everyday life in a small farming community in the central valley of Costa Rica Everyday they shake their heads in disbelief at how lucky they have been so far.. Mark blog's at Baby Boomer Going Like Sixty (see listing here)

Baby Boomer Going Like Sixty

Here's the interview with Mark...

Where are you originally from?
Born in Michigan, lived in the midwest my whole life, lastly in Kentucky.

In which country and city are you living now?
Atenas, Costa Rica

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
18 months. We are residents and plan to stay here permanently.

Why did you move and what do you do?
I retired from the newspaper business. I was tired of working and the future of the business was bleak. Like a lot of boomers, we lived on credit for too long and didn't save enough to retire in the U.S.

Did you bring family with you?
My wife.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Not easy, not hard. Since we had moved five times already within the U.S. we were fairly knowledgeable about transitioning to a whole new lifestyle in a different place.

Baby Boomer Going Like SixtyWas it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
Yes, blogging connected me with two other people making the move at the same time and we have become good friends. We have since expanded to add new friends and acquaintances. Because Costa Rica has many "snow-birds" our circle shrinks during the of season. However, we have met new folks almost every month. We live in a small community so we see these new faces regularly doing routine activites. Yes, we socialize almost exclusively with expats because of the language barrier and cultural differences. However, we try to attend local events and mingle as much as possible to show a friendly face.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Atenas is a small farming community. It's not a tourist location. With that said, Costa Rica is a small country and everything the country has to offer is within an easy 1/2 days drive.

Baby Boomer Going Like SixtyWhat do you enjoy most about living here?
The climate is superb. Cost of living is low compared to the U.S. The people are charming.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
A couple can retire here very comfortably on $2000 a month. On a shoestring, it can be done for half that amount.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The infrastructure is woefully inadequate. All the things that cause high taxes in the U.S. are missing here. But this is a simple lifestyle and Costa Ricans do not like to rock the boat.

Baby Boomer Going Like SixtyIf you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Know yourself - and be brutally honest in your self-assessment. Same with your family, even those that will not be moving with you. If those that move with you don't share their concerns it can cause some severe consequences. Same with those that stay in "the old country." If they think you are nuts, they need to say so: and then honestly elaborate.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The language barrier. Neither of us spoke Spanish, but we are now taking lessons and are learning. Fortunately, in this small town, a lot of the locals speak some English and are generous enough to help with our Spanish.

Baby Boomer Going Like SixtyWhat are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
1. Live on the internet studying where you will be living. Read the blogs, comment, ask questions. If using forums, choose whom to believe carefully.
2. Smile a lot.
3. Chill.
4. Expose yourself to the language before you move (if possible.)
5. Rinse and repeat

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I've been blogging about being a baby boomer for a number of years. I don't focus on being an ex-pat in my blog. It's who I am therefore it has become part of my blog.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Email me at GoingLikeSixty{at}gmail-dot-com, via the website or leave a comment here.

Mark's expat blog called Baby Boomer Going Like Sixty is very worthy of a visit. Baby Boomer Going Like Sixty has an listing here which would love a nice review if you can spare a quick moment! If you liked this interview with Mark, please also drop him a quick note below.
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Comments » There are 2 comments

David Wilson Ballentine wrote 11 years ago:

Hello, I'm an American citizen and not a Costa Rican resident. I already have a Costa Rican driver's license and am trying to find out if I can still renew it not being a Costa Rican resident. Thanks for your help.

TOM wrote 10 years ago:

need more about rentals of apartment or house in the Atenas ,Grecian erea. ?? thanks is there a craigs list or kijji?

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