Living the Dream in Costa Rica
Do you dream of living abroad? If so, what’s holding you back from pursuing that dream?
Many people think they need to wait until retirement, when the kids are out of the house, to pursue that foreign living experience. In fact, doing it with your children just might be the most rewarding, enriching experience of your life…and theirs.
In September 2005 my husband and I packed up our kids—then ages 7, 8 and 10—and moved from the ‘burbs of Wisconsin to the jungles of Costa Rica. We came for a two-year adventure and, 4.5 years later, we remain here for the lifestyle. We are living the Dream in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is one of the most amazing places to live and raise a family. A tiny country about the size of the US state of West Virginia, Costa Rica is one of the most bio-diverse places on the earth. What does that mean? A vast variety of incredible nature as well as gorgeous topography that ranges from mountains to oceanfront, tropical rain forests to misty cloud forests. Imagine the explorations to be done together as a family! The weather is considered by most to be the ideal climate: the capital of San Jose is known as the “City of Eternal Spring,” due to its consistent year-round temps in the high 70’s and fresh breezes. The coasts offer higher average temperatures for those, like me, who like it hot. Surfing, snorkeling, fishing, sailing, scuba diving and more are coastal pastimes, while hiking, biking, rappelling, rafting and more are exciting activities to discover as well.
Safety, economic and governmental stability, and welcoming friendliness are other hallmarks of Costa Rican living. With no standing army, Costa Rica has built its reputation in the world as a culture of peace. Combined with its ecological visions, it stands as a model for peaceful living in harmony with nature.
Parents, in-laws, friends and colleagues questioned our initial decision to move, and the issue of our children’s education was top on everyone’s mind but mine. “Isn’t it risky to take them out of the US school system?” “How will they ever catch up?” I was certain, however, that the experience could be nothing but beneficial. At the time I was going on gut, but now I have proof: living in another culture is one of the best educations a parent could give a child.
Today our three boys are Global Citizens–bi-lingual, at ease with people of different cultures, societal backgrounds and economic levels, and comfortable anywhere they go in the world. In addition, we are an extremely close family unit, having adventured, explored, learned and conquered fear and new experiences together. We’ve created an environmental education web show based on our explorations in nature, titled Super Natural Adventures (www.supernaturaladventures.com) to share what we’ve learned with others. We continue to explore and learn together, deepening our global understanding and our family bonds in the process. It’s the best gift we could ever have given our children, and ourselves.
There are many ways to approach educating your children while living abroad. We opted to put our boys in the local public school, so they could learn Spanish and make friends with the local children. We then supplemented their education with one of the many outstanding online home school curriculums that keeps students on pace with their US peers. Other ex-pats choose to enroll their children in an international school environment or simply home school 100%. Last year as our eldest was approaching 8th grade, we transitioned the boys into a private school in Costa Rica’s capital city of San Jose, providing them with yet another enriching life experience. Of course, academics are just one aspect of education. The rest of the education comes from the very act of living abroad.
If you are holding off on that foreign living experience until the kids are out of the house, I encourage you to reconsider the possibility of giving your children an amazing gift: the world.
(This article was first published in 2010.)
Guest post submitted by Maggie Jacobus in Costa Rica.
Maggie Jacobus lives with her husband and three boys in San Jose, Costa Rica. She produces the environmental education web show Super Natural Adventures www.supernaturaladventures.com which highlights Costa Rica’s famous nature. Read more about her foreign living adventure at www.gypsyjournalist.comShare this article on