A new life in Costa Rica

Sharing our journey from the U.S. to the Osa region of Costa Rica

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Serenity Gardens Eco Village…soon to be our new home

What is Serenity Gardens Eco Village (SGEV), and what made us decide to call it home?  Interestingly, it all began July 4th, 2013 when we visited the Festival for the Eno in Durham, NC.  Strolling among tents showcasing goods, causes & services, I was intrigued by one that advertised a pair of dreamy sounding communities in the southern Pacific region of Costa Rica.  Lynn Shaw, who’d already bought property at SGEV, was answering questions for interested parties…and I was interested.

What sounded so special?  First, she described a pair of communities, Osa Mountain Village and Serenity Gardens, where sustainability of food, water and energy was an actual plan, not a sound bite like in so many places.  There was a heavy emphasis on growing LOTS of healthy food at both locations, and healthy food is a big focus for our family.  The fact that all those great fruits and veggies can be grown year round in Costa Rica made it even more intriguing.  We grow many of our own foods in North Carolina, but the idea of a 12 month growing season was incredible.  Clean water would come down off the mountain and feed the homes, and renewable energy in the form of solar and hydroelectric were readily available.  Tilapia and shrimp ponds fed by mountain stream water would provide a great local source of protein, and frequent offshore fishing trips would be another.


Next, the climate Lynn described in the southern Pacific mountains of Costa Rica sounded almost perfect…warm days in the low 80’s and cool nights in the upper 50’s.  A July-Oct rainy season results in a drought free environment, and year round green. 

Homes are constructed without heating OR cooling systems.  Let that sink in for a moment…no heating or cooling units needed.  Consider the huge energy savings when you subtract heating and cooling costs.  At Serenity’s 2,500+ foot elevations, a fan and a few blankets are all that’s required for comfort. 


Costs, though not cheap, sounded very reasonable by U.S. standards.  With ~1 acre lots at SGEV listed at $47,000 (now $49,000), and good quality construction estimated at $55/sq ft, a nice compact home could be completed for around $100,000. 

The peaceful nature of the country also appealed to us.  Costa Rica dissolved their military back in the 1940’s and haven’t dropped a bomb on anyone since.  They have good relations with their neighbors and their list of enemies is VERY short.

The energy grid of the country is about 94% renewable…primarily hydroelectric, with solar and wind contributing the rest.  Nuclear power plants and coal fired generators are absent, as is the resultant waste.  Literacy rates of 96% are proof of a strong educational system, and good quality health care is very affordable.  Complete monthly coverage for a family runs well under $100.

All this considered, one of the most significant drawing cards of the southern Pacific part of the country is the stunning beauty of the region.  Magnificent, sweeping beauty.  Jurassic Park beauty.  Add to that the incredible abundance of plants, animals, & birds living there, and you have a near dream tropical location.

We’d heard enough.  It was time for me to get on a plane.


Moving our stuff to paradise

How does someone up and move to Costa Rica?  We get that question quite a bit, so I’ll address one big part of it here…shipping your stuff.

We tapped Great Sunrise Enterprises in CR for our residency and relocation needs, and owner Kevin McNamee was our point person.  We hired a crew to pack the shipping container, but all other arrangements were made through GSE.  Kevin’s made everything as easy as possible up to now, and he gets our highest recommendation.

The day before the 40′ shipping container was set to arrive, the packing crew began boxing items up and readying everything for shipment.  Around noon yesterday, the truck and shipping container arrived and parked at the street.  Our packing crew was Pack & Go Moving out of Sanford, NC, and owner Vernon Jones led an efficient team of 3 guys.  For the next few hours it was like watching giant ants, with box after box getting moved onto our trailer then into the shipping container.  We opted to take our fridge, stove and washer/dryer, so those also went into the ocean bound crate.

After our household items were loaded, attention shifted to my Jeep Liberty CRD.  A Durham towing company took the point on this project and deftly transferred my diesel baby into the container.  With the vehicle securely strapped, battery disconnected and fuel tank near empty (fires onboard the ship are bad), the doors to the container were closed and a bolt seal was locked in place.  The truck pulled away around 5pm, and that’s the last we’ll see of that stuff for about a month.

The packing guys joined me for a well deserved cold beer, and that’s when I learned the Pack & Go crew has some sick musical skills, and member Brandon Maynor (white t-shirt) is one heck of a singer!  I have never seen so many women on a guy’s Facebook page…the dude will be famous one day.

On arrival in Costa Rica, our possessions will be checked against our packing list by a customs agent and duty will be determined.  Once the bill is paid, our household items get loaded into a truck and delivered to our new home in the southern Pacific mountains.  Part of what will arrive…our new wood fired hot tub!  (When did you say you want to visit?)

The Jeep Liberty will be made street legal for Costa Rica…part of the services provided by Kevin McNamee’s GSE crew.  Once declared “road ready”, she can be picked up in the capital city of San Jose.

For the next month, we’re living light with mini fridge, hot plate, microwave and gas grill, and we’ll tap our neighbor for the occasional load of laundry.  A temporary hassle, but a small price to pay for paradise!


Loading the trailer    Pack & Go Moving crewLoading the Jeep    DSC_0142Perfect fit!    Closing her up.Bolt seal lock applied    Safe travels!Pura vida!



A brief background on our upcoming move to Costa Rica

Sitting here Memorial Day weekend 2014, this is a good time to reflect on what led us to decide to pick up our belongings and move to Costa Rica.  In a nutshell, we have grown more and more dissatisfied with the direction the U.S. is heading, and we’ve simultaneously discovered a beautiful, inviting country just to the south that is calling our name.

We don’t feel the need to lay out our complaints about the U.S. here, since many folks are more than happy with what has happened over the past 10-15 years.  And to borrow from Pharrell, if you’re happy, we want you to stay that way!  That’s what we’re shooting for, after all.

Costa Rica offers our family a remarkable opportunity to focus on the things that have become so important to us…real freedom, healthy diet, friendly people, and a beautiful, scenic country.  The past few months have laid the ground work for our big move, and the coming weeks will see our preparations ramp up to full speed.

What do I hope to accomplish with this blog?  I’d like to share the process of moving to a new country with our friends and family, and keep everyone posted on the progress.  Check back weekly, as I’ll have regular updates.

Thanks everyone.  I’m happy to have you along for ride!

Todd Hinson