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How Did I End Up Here?

It seems one of the first questions you asked when you meet another ex-pat is "how did you end up here?" Selling everything and moving to a new country seemed rational to me. However, if

It seems one of the first questions you asked when you meet another ex-pat is “how did you end up here?” Selling everything and moving to a new country seemed rational to me. However, if you ask my friends and family they all thought I was nuts. Well, it will be 4 years in May 2021 and one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I am originally from Vancouver Island Canada – an equally beautiful spot to be blessed enough to live in. I spent my first 40 years there but ever since I can remember I was ready to go see the world. I wanted to be Heidi – roaming the hills with her grandfather and goats. The old-style film reels they would show us about other countries in school blew my mind.

I had my son very young which effectively put a quick stop to any travel aspirations I had. At that time I was heavily influenced by the fight against apartheid in South Africa and I had dreams of becoming a freedom fighter for the ANC and Nelson Mandela. Instead, I was a teen mother in Canada trying to navigate my future. I worked and raised my son for the coming years.

Eventually working for over 10 years in the Federal Government. I essentially had to sell my soul for my paycheck. There couldn’t be a more round peg in an even more square hole. I went on a silent Buddhist retreat in California and met a man. He lived there. We were married in 2010 and I quit my job and moved to California a year later. So moving to Costa Rica on a whim shouldn’t have been that big of a shock. All my coworkers told me I was crazy for leaving such a great-paying job, even though the cost was my mental health. I have never been in a more toxic, debilitating workplace. Fast forward to 4 years ago, my marriage was a nightmare and I was going through a divorce. My friend owned a condo in Playas Del Coco, Guanacaste, and invited me down for a month to explore and relax.

I had never thought of Costa Rica before and thought wtf – why not?

Found a dog sitter and took off. I explored beaches. Ate amazing food. Made new friends. Spent a LOT of time under the water. The main reason I wanted to come was for scuba diving. I received my Advanced Padi and did some of the most amazing dives. On my last day diving, we were returning from an incredible day at Catalinas and I was standing on the back of the dive boat looking out at the sun bouncing off the water and I felt my chest just explode with love and I felt light shooting out of my heart.

I started to cry.

I knew I had found my spot. I was moving to Costa Rica. I started to tell my friends “I am moving to Costa Rica”. “Sure you are” “Uh-huh – that is insane”. A few had my back. The ones that have really known me. I said if the universe wants me in Costa Rica it will all unfold. And boy did it.

Within two weeks of returning to California, I had secured a place to live. I created a Dream Board and set my intentions. I sold or gave away everything I owned except for my camera gear and dive equipment. it was embarrassing how much “stuff” I had accumulated. I didn’t need the majority of it. Including my “collection” of Adidas sneakers. Some I wouldn’t even wear. Madness! I bought about 3000 bathing suits (slight exaggeration) packed my things and was ready.

My friend Sabrina and I took a two-day road trip from Sacramento and she delivered my dog Iggy and me to LAX for our new adventure. I had $6000 and zero plan. Zero Spanish. I had paid for my condo 8 months in advance so I could relax and settle in before I had found a hustle. I met amazing people and adjusted to my new reality. Iggy and I started our mornings with beautiful walks on the beach.

I have never been cut out for that daily grind. Working working working and for what? To buy more things? To live in a place like California where the cost of living is staggering? That is not why I am here on this planet. I am a drifter. A dreamer. Always a little left of center.

Has it all been sunshine and unicorns? Of course not! There are challenges whenever you take a risk. It’s expensive here! Spanish is hard! Cultural differences. I miss my friends and family so much. I haven’t seen my mother in over 4 years. Making friends and learning languages is daunting. I am not 20 anymore (thankfully). I moved here to experience a new culture and existence. At first, I wanted to be around other ex-pats. It became my comfy place. I didn’t need to struggle with the language or other barriers. We could share our experiences. I had days I couldn’t possibly brave going out and trying to speak Spanish.

Our family portrait!

Moving here was the first leap of faith. Then branching out from the ex-pat circle was the next. I wanted to be more assimilated into the local way of life and culture. I feel at home here now. I live in a local community with my partner, our 3 dogs, and 2 cats. We have a beautiful mix of people in our lives from all over the world. My Spanish has greatly improved. I feel independent. We have survived the first year of this pandemic and are hopeful for this next coming year.

Happiness is a choice. Not things. Not money. I find my happiness in nature, the people I love, my animals. My freedom. My existence is finally aligned with my priorities.

“Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin'”.



She has worked as an Immigration and Customs officer for 8 years in Canada as well as over 10 years of experience in Social Services in both Canada and the United States. She is also a photographer, animal lover and yoga teacher

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