A question recently came up in one of our team meetings: do people my age (30s-40s) enjoy living in this part of Costa Rica? It is a common question that we receive from young potential buyers, some of whom are single professionals, others with families, and all of whom are looking for a (hopefully) better way to live.

I can tell you that life in Ojochal as a 30-something has been great to me. And, if you are anything like me, you may love it, too.

What Brought Me To Costa Rica

A little back story: My name is Alex and I’m a 30-something female from the Toronto area in Canada. I started traveling to Ojochal, Costa Rica with my family in 1999 at age 16. My younger sister and I loved coming here every year around Christmas time, running around the pool of our rental, playing with people’s pet howler monkeys (yes, that was a thing at the time!), riding quads through the jungle, and watching our family’s Costa Rica home getting built. It took about a couple of years between buying land and finishing the construction but Ojochal quickly became our family’s second home.

My parents moved full-time to Ojochal in 2006. In the years leading up to their move, they were coming to Costa Rica more and more often. My father worked a very demanding job as a control electrician, waking up very early, making long commutes, and often working at freezing cold construction sites. My mum and dad would travel to Ojochal at least 3 or 4 times a year until they finally decided to call it quits in Canada.

They were in their late 40s/early 50s and they had found the place where they wanted to spend all of their time. They loved the community in Ojochal and made lots of friends while hanging out in the local cantina, chatting with neighbors in front of Jucaloa, or dining out at any of the awesome restaurants where you were likely to see almost everybody you knew any time you went out.

Not long after my parents moved to Costa Rica, I moved to New Zealand for a number of years. These foreign living arrangements created quite the distance between us, even though I’d still visit them every couple of years (I one time traveled for 64 hours to get from Ojochal to Wellington!)

Over the course of those six and a half years, my dad would constantly try to convince me to move to Costa Rica. He had started developing properties in Ojochal and was certain that he could provide me with work opportunities and the ability to make life here. I would most often reply with a resounding “heck no!” What would I possibly do there? I had spent most of my life thus far living in two vibrant cities with amazing arts and music scenes and I could not imagine moving to the jungle, although I loved to visit. Moving away from “civilization” was a ludicrous-sounding idea to me and I laughed it off every time my father suggested it.

In 2015, my whole perspective changed when my dad became very ill all of a sudden and died within a week of going into hospital from heart failure. I was at my home in New Zealand when he went into hospital care and I wasn’t sure if I should jump on a plane straight away. At first, my mum and sister said to hang tight and that he was going to pull through. By the time I booked my flights, it was too late and he was gone. I postponed my travel by two months. giving me enough time to quit my job, sell all of my things, and leave my beloved life in New Zealand for Ojochal. My dad finally had his wish come true.

Where I Am Today

This story may be a little sad for a real estate blog. However, I am only recounting it to note that I did not imagine myself living in Costa Rica prior to moving here, even though I had visited regularly and loved the time that I spent here. It just didn’t seem right for me to live here until I actually did.

I ended up moving here for six-months, I told myself, to keep my mom company through the initial period of grief, after which I planned to return to Canada. Six months came and went and didn’t quite feel like enough, so I started picking up work online as a writer, editor, and content creator. As time went on, I began to realize that I didn’t need the big city life anymore.

Costa Rica delivers in big ways: Food is cheaper, fresher, and more delicious. My accommodations are much more comfortable — never cold, damp, or overpriced, and always beautiful. Everyday life is filled with nature sounds, not rushing cars and people. And entertainment here comes in the form of friends and neighbors having a jam at a local bar with no need to drive for an hour to have an evening out with friends.

Socializing in Ojochal

I have about a dozen close friends in Ojochal, most of whom are in my age range (30s-40s). Most of us are no longer avid consumers, and although we will sometimes go out to play pool at our local bar, we’ll more often get together at each others’ homes and play cards out in the open air, swim in the pool, and have a BBQ cookout. We go to the beach a lot and go on river hikes with the kids. I am a member of a fun social club that involves a bunch of friends doing backroad journeys in our 4×4 trucks in search of off-the-beaten-path natural wonders like waterfalls, secret beaches, or mountain vistas. Some of my friends enjoy other hobbies like playing poker or having weekly jam nights with fellow musicians. Personally, I reserve a lot of alone time and I’ll read, write, or create colorful beaded jewelry in my spare time.

My Daily Routine in Ojochal

Since moving to Ojochal, my daily routine has changed quite dramatically. I start almost every day around 6 am (using no alarm), rising with the sun, and heading straight out for a morning walk with my dogs. We will walk for about an hour along different trails close to home, stopping to look at birds or monkeys in the trees and having a drink of water in the river (well, the dogs do). Next, I will tend to some gardening and other morning chores. When we had a pool, I would jump in most mornings and cool off while doing some stretches and laps. 

After that, I get ready for my day and head to my office (about a 15 minute cruisy drive through the village). I regularly step out of my office during the day to take in the sun and maybe spot some scarlet macaws or titi monkeys making a commotion somewhere close by.

When I’m done work, I’ll stop by the local supermarket and stock up on some dinner items or other needs and head home or to a friend’s house to wind down. Around 6 pm, dusk hits, and I will maybe take in the starry sky or a Netflix movie.

On the weekends, I like to go on trips with my loved ones, either somewhere close by, like to one of Ojochal’s beaches, or possibly an overnight trip into the mountains or the Osa Peninsula. I can truly say that I find it challenging to become bored in Costa Rica.

Changes I’ve Experienced Since Moving to Ojochal

Since moving to Costa Rica six years ago, I have lost 30lbs and started exercising daily. I stopped wearing makeup almost altogether and I’ve switched over to more natural, locally sourced self-care products. I have realized how much I love living in the company of dogs (it never seemed intuitive for me to have a dog while living in a city). And I’ve learned how to navigate a foreign culture and language with grace and humility, allowing myself the opportunity to fail, renegotiate my steps, and try again until I succeed. I really see myself as a better, healthier, more patient, and more joyful human after spending the past 6 years in Ojochal.

Expats Working in Costa Rica

Finding legal ways to work in Costa Rica can be a problem for people who cannot work online in their home country. But there are many like me who are willing to jump through the hoops needed to start a corporation and to pay taxes. Our businesses help to create more wealth for our new, adoptive country.

Until you obtain residency in Costa Rica, you must be committed to leaving the country every 90 days. I used this as an opportunity to travel to Panama and to shop in stores that have more selection and/or better pricing than we can find locally. 

Final Thoughts On Life In Ojochal For A 30-Something

I feel blessed to have lived in and visited many beautiful places in my time so far. Whether or not I end up staying in Costa Rica for a short or long time, I know that Ojochal will always live at the top of my list of places where I feel most at home. There is nothing like the welcoming, pura vida feeling of this community and the beautiful landscape still gives me chills whenever I see it after even a short time away. So, if you are contemplating a search to find a better way to live, I recommend giving a new setting a chance because you may be surprised by how quickly and helpfully it changes you.

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