Hola friends. Here we are again, another Wednesday and another Inside a Traveler’s Walls. I’m thrilled that all of you are enjoying this series as much as I am. Are you rethinking your summer plans, retirement or life path in general? The goal of this series has been to share the homes of my fellow travelers with you, but also to show you that this travel life is indeed possible. Dream big folks! Really big!
In addition to sharing Jen and Greg’s amazing life with you I will be giving away THREE Kindle copies of her book Costa Rica Chica. All you have to do is visit Jen’s blog and comment here on Goodie Goodie Gumdrop (not on the FB page). I would love to here what you hope to gain from reading her book. Inspiration? A game plan? Laughs?
Plus, Jen has graciously offered to giveaway three of her fabulous, custom designed arm candy bracelets. Again, all you have to do is visit Jen’s blog and comment here on Goodie Goodie Gumdrop (not on the FB page) letting me know which bracelet is your favorite from her collection. I love the Rainbow Eclectic bracelet.
I will go old school again and draw the names out of a hat on Thursday, June 11 at 9:00 am. The contest will close at 10:00 pm MST on Wednesday, June 10th. Good Luck!
Ok, I would like to introduce you to Jen Seymour and her husband Greg (aka cute dishwasher). They live in Costa Rica just like us. I have not met them in person, but if she keeps posting gorgeous pictures of homemade bread on her Facebook page much longer I will be showing up on her doorstep for breakfast.
We have each other, we’ve done this huge, brave, courageous thing
(of retiring early and making due with less), and we have our health.
What more could we want?
I love that Jen’s biggest misconception was that she thought she would not see a tarantula. Oh boy can I relate. I have not seen one in my house yet and I keep telling myself that they don’t like the city. It is the only way I can sleep at night.
I have heard so many great ways that travelers keep friends and family close while they travel, but I have to say that Jen’s magnet idea is fantastic and inexpensive. Very clever Jen.
We often get asked how our children deal with holidays away from the US. Like Jen we bring our traditions with us. We have removed a huge amount of decorating and consuming from our lives, but we have replaced that with portable traditions that have more impact. I love that Jen’s friends and neighbors have “shared” decorations with her. Beautiful. Isn’t that what the holidays are all about? Greg and Jen don’t do gifts, but I think they have already given each other the biggest gift of all…an adventure of a lifetime together exploring.
Ok, enough of my yapping, go read. Enjoy!
Introduce us to the people you travel with?
Greg, my husband, is my sole travel companion. We do not have kids or animals (except for the stray cat or dog that wanders in our yard for affection, which we freely give). It was Greg’s idea in the first place to quit our jobs in the USA in our early 40’s, and retire early to Costa Rica, he absolutely loves it here. This is our 3rd living space since we arrived in Costa Rica about 2 years ago, and definitely the best and most comfortable. Greg is a dreamer, down to earth, very laid back, goes with the flow, is funny and introspective and really the most interesting person I know.
How do you make a living?
When Greg and I made the decision to move to Costa Rica, it included quitting our jobs and retiring early. We saved as much money as we could and sold everything except necessary items that would fit into 9 suitcases. We knew we could live for less in Costa Rica, especially if we worked at it. We now live on about $1200 – $1400 a month and do not have a car. We take the bus to town and walk everywhere else.
We rent a furnished 2-story chalet-style house. Rent is $625/month and includes cable TV (even some English-speaking stations!) and WiFi. It has a nice privacy fence and we feel safe and secure here. And the views are down right amazing.
Why did you choose to live in your current arrangement?
We were in a smaller rental house just 2 houses up the street, and were friends with the owners of this “Chalet”. They sold the Chalet to a couple in Houston, TX, and told us about it. The new owners were not retiring for 5 more years and wanted a “nice couple” to rent it and live in it for a while. The rent was basically the same, but the Chalet offered us so much more than what we currently had (more privacy, better views of the Central Valley, more space, nicer house), so the decision was not too difficult.
What did you do to personalize your unique living situation?
Before we moved from the States, I had a bunch of favorite photos of friends and family made into magnets (shutterfly.com). We moved here with just 9 suitcases, after selling our house and cars and almost all of our possessions, so I knew space would be limited. Plus we had heard horror stories of people who brought art work and photos, only to have severe mold issues (note: we have not had any mold issues, it just depends where you live). The magnets were a perfect (and cheap) solution for bringing mementos of family and friends to Costa Rica.
Tell us your favorite and least favorite room in your space and why?
Favorite: Dining Room table. This is where I do most of my work. I make “arm candy” (bracelets) and have two roller cabinets with all my beads and thread right next to the table. Also this is where we have our computers plugged in. The table is made of a nice sturdy Costa Rican wood, and fits 6 people – so this gives both Greg and I the space we need to spread out and get down to work.
2nd Favorite: My piano space! My piano (really an electric piano, but as close to the real thing as you can get – all 88 keys are weighted and it plays like a real piano) is tucked away under our staircase, and this is the perfect spot. I love playing it. When we moved from the States, I had to sell my much-loved Yamaha Grand Piano… so this is the next best thing.
Least Favorite: I don’t think I really have a “least favorite” space, but if I had to label one, it would be the upstairs guest bedroom… I just don’t spend any time up there. This room is Greg’s domain – he has the closets filled with his clothes and uses this room as his “changing room” (there are always various heaps of dirty or clean clothes on the bed).
What is the biggest misconception you had about your current location before you started living in it?
That I’d never see a tarantula. Turns out that yep, I saw one. Just once. Actually IN the house. I think it was just a fluke… our house cleaner had been there earlier in the morning and had propped open the kitchen door (which opens up to jungle/brush right outside). I’m sure Mr. Tarantula was just walking around out there, saw the open door, and took his opportunity to come in and explore. I got the surprise of a lifetime later when I was cooking at the stove, and he walked out from underneath and almost walked over my bare feet! Luckily my hubby was there to save me.
What is the one household item you carry with you every time you move or the one item you cannot live without?
My Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, Ms. Mix-A-Lot. #1 – I use it all the time, as I love baking. #2 – my girlfriend painted it for me with Costa Rican flowers and animals on it – it is so beautiful! Every morning when I walk into my kitchen I see it and smile.
What do you miss most about having a permanent, stationary and traditional home?
This is actually our “permanent home” – we do not have any other house. We love it here! When we visit our families in the States, we stay with our Mom’s or siblings, so it works out really well. Both of our moms have been to visit us in Costa Rica as well (our dads are deceased).
What is your best resource to find items you need for your place?
Pequeño Mundo! I just love this place. It is a huge warehouse, with rows and rows of items – where you can find almost anything from food, to soap, to clothes, to kitchen dishware, to auto parts, to gardening equipment. Pretty good quality too, for very inexpensive prices.
If you could only have one of the following in your home which one would it be and why? space, natural light, dishwasher or above average internet.
Above average internet! We have had a few problems with our internet since moving into the Chalet… and every time it goes down or is super slow or we have to keep rebooting – it is a major pain for us. We spend a lot of time on-line – working on our blogs, doing research, answering questions, social media marketing, taking bracelet orders/questions, etc. – so when it stops working, it is not good.
Note: we do not have a dishwasher (a dishwasher is a very rare thing here in Costa Rica), and we are fine with this. Well actually I do have a dishwasher – he’s really cute and his name is Greg.
If you were to compare your unique (less traditional) home decorating style to a kitchen appliance or gadget what would it be and why?
My stainless steel Cuisinart Coffee Pot. Why? Because it is very basic, clean, beautiful – without any additional decorations on it, and when turned on, can make a mean pot of coffee. (There are no decorations in my kitchen, but when I get in there and start whipping stuff up…. watch out. I love to cook and bake since moving here!).
How do you keep traditions alive for your family in your unique living situation?
Greg & I have some “little” Christmas traditions we do, which have easily moved to Costa Rica with us: on Christmas Eve we watch “Love Actually” and have spiked eggnog, baked breaded olives and open face hamburgers, and then Christmas morning I make homemade cinnamon rolls. It’s all about the food, right? Since moving to Costa Rica and simplifying our lives, we have done without gifts for each other. And amazingly it has been great. We have each other, we’ve done this huge, brave, courageous thing (of retiring early and making due with less), and we have our health. What more could we want?
How do you decorate for the holidays in your unique (less traditional) home or do you skip it all together?
Not much decorating going on here. Last year my neighbor gave me some of her huge outside ornaments, which we hung along our fence and they looked nice and festive. The year before that a friend of mine gave us some colorful cut-out snow flakes that we taped to our windows. Just a little thing here or there is sufficient for us, and makes all the difference.
What is your favorite part about this lifestyle choice?
Having time to spend with each other and doing what we LOVE to do (writing, blogging, making jewelry, drinking coffee, hanging out with friends, cooking from scratch, waking up with no alarm clock except the chirping birds). I’ve even written and published a book – Costa Rica Chica – which is about how we decided to make the move, quit our jobs, retire early, simplify our lives, and how we are absolutely loving living in Costa Rica!
Many traveling families subscribe to the “house is not a home” theory. What is home to you?
Home is definitely me living with my husband – wherever that may be. Especially being in a rental house – know we will not be here forever, and it is not “ours”. Waking up next to my husband each morning, no matter what bed we are in – that is my HOME.
What makes you love the place you live?
I feel safe here and it’s beautiful – inside and out. I love sitting in our rocking chairs on our patio outside and either writing, reading or doing nothing at all except looking out over the view and seeing parrots fly by.
Words of wisdom to anyone considering venturing out into the world of unique, less traditional homes?
Do it!!! What do you have to lose? You can always move back if you don’t like it. It’s not for everyone, but for us it has been life changing. Our house in Dallas was very nice, but we have grown more by selling it and going out into the world of Costa Rica and just “winging it”, basically. I must say, it has been the best experience for us – both for myself, and us as a couple. No regrets at all.
Anything else you would like offer?
One thing I really like about living here is that we have two perfect outside places to dine “al fresco”. One is covered, and one is not. I love eating outside, and when the sun is setting in the distance? Perfection.
Quote to ponder: Waking up next to my husband each morning, no matter what bed we are in – that is my HOME.
Jen is the author of the book Costa Rica Chica. When she’s not writing or blogging, she is either hiking, baking, playing piano, yoga-ing, sipping coffee, making arm candy or enjoying a glass of (boxed) wine… or yelling at her husband to come kill a bug. She lives with her husband in Grecia, Alajuela, Costa Rica.
Thank you Jen. Your story is truly inspirational. Congrats! To be happy is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and our relationships. I look forward to hanging out in real life before we take off for Ecuador.