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.