‘I could live on my Social Security and still save money’: This 66-year-old left Chicago for ‘calming’ Costa Rica — where he now plans to live indefinitely

Editor’s notice: This text was first printed in September 2019.

A college break modified 66-year-old Martin Farber’s life endlessly.

In 2007, his daughter — who on the time was attending Illinois State College — determined she needed to spend a university vacation volunteering in Costa Rica and staying with an area household, he explains. She got here dwelling raving concerning the expertise, so, in 2008, Farber — who on the time was dwelling in Evanston, In poor health., simply outdoors Chicago, and promoting vehicles — took his first journey there.

“It was an enormous shock to me — bumpy roads, canine barking within the streets,” he says. “I wasn’t enamored at first.”

However as his daughter started touring there extra and ultimately moved there for a yr, he took further journeys to Costa Rica. It shortly grew on him — particularly, the individuals. “The Costa Rican persons are heat, open and pleasant. I felt much less invisible in a wierd nation in a wierd city the place I didn’t converse the language than I did in Evanston.”

And the extra time he spent there, the extra it impacted him: “On one in every of my journeys there, I believed: My daughter’s life makes extra sense than mine,” he says. “There was nothing mistaken with my life, however I felt that my life was out of context with who I’d turn out to be. … I might have payments and generate income to pay them, however that had ceased to be satisfying,” he recollects. “I knew I wanted to vary my life — there was no extra pleasure in what I used to be doing.”

What’s extra, when he’d return from his Costa Rica journeys, individuals observed. “I might come again, and my pals and therapist would say: You appear higher after you go,” he says with fun.


A view from the recent springs close to Martin Farber’s dwelling in Costa Rica.

Martin Farber

So in 2014, he packed up and moved to Orosi — a picturesque, lush small town with waterfalls and hot springs a little over an hour’s drive from San Jose — promising himself he’d keep for 2 years. It’s been 5, and he now plans to remain in Costa Rica indefinitely. (Although Farber notes that, to him, “it’s not a retirement; it’s an opportunity to steer a brand new and completely different life.”)

Right here’s what his life is like, from prices to well being care to residency to on a regular basis life:

The associated fee: Whereas many expats spend far more dwelling in Costa Rica, Farber says: “I might stay on my Social Safety and nonetheless get monetary savings.” He says “an individual can stay on $1,200 per thirty days, two individuals on $2,000.” The important thing, he says, is to stay extra like he does and because the Costa Ricans do — in a modest dwelling, consuming native meals and buying native items.

Certainly, Farber himself spends simply $300 a month for lease (he rents a house from a pal who moved not too long ago and gave him deal), roughly $225 a month on groceries and simply $50 a month whole on water and electrical energy (the temperate local weather in Orosi means you not often want warmth or air-con). The veteran Volkswagen


salesman saves cash by not proudly owning a automobile (these over 65 journey municipal buses at no cost), which can be a significant expense in Costa Rica; for his cellphone, “I pay as I’m going … roughly $10 might final me a pair weeks or extra,” he says, including that “many individuals deal with there their cellphones this fashion. You may get them recharged wherever.”

His main expense is journey: He goes again to the U.S. to go to his mom in Florida a number of instances a yr and these days has spent a part of the summer time in Chicago serving to out a pal with a dealership there. He additionally spends sum of money on well being care. He says that whereas flights will be had for as little as $350 roundtrip throughout offseasons, the associated fee will be a lot increased the remainder of the yr.


Within the saddle.

Martin Farber

Well being care: Farber, who has everlasting resident standing in Costa Rica, says he pays about $90 per thirty days to take part within the nation’s health-care system — including that the well being care he’s acquired has been superb. (A 2018 study of health-care quality and access in more than 190 nations ranked Costa Rica No. 62.)

When he developed a indifferent retina, although, he paid for the process out of pocket in order that he didn’t have to attend for the required surgical procedure, he says — including that all the process price him about $5,000. “I might have needed to have waited 4 days,” he says, if he had not paid to expedite issues. “That may have been fantastic, nevertheless it may not.” And he provides that the standard of care is dependent upon the place you get it within the nation.

Way of life: Although Farber says that he “moved right here with no targets and no agenda,” he’s discovered loads to do. “I take Spanish classes two days per week for 2 hours a day. It’s been nice. I by no means thought I might purchase a usable language in my 60s,” he says. He additionally rides his bike throughout the world, does some writing and belongs to a group group that undertakes tasks to enhance the world.

And he usually merely takes in nature, which he says has been a necessary a part of why he feels calmer and extra relaxed in Costa Rica than within the U.S. “I stay at 3,000 ft however in a valley surrounded by espresso fields and lime bushes and water. At evening, if I open the home windows, I can hear the river speeding by,” he says. “It is vitally calming … a whole lot of bushes in all places … you already know the Earth is alive.”


The historic Iglesia de San José de Orosi.


Cons: “I don’t need to overglorify. It’s not with out its issues,” Farber says of Costa Rica. “There are social issues and drawbacks.” He notes that crime and petty theft generally is a drawback (“I’m cautious,” he says of his method) and appear to have elevated since he moved there, and provides that he misses out on some cultural issues due to the place he lives. And, he says with fun, “I can’t order Thai meals at 9 at evening.” However, he provides: “These are trade-offs — within the afternoon, I get to stroll within the espresso fields and see flocks of parrots.”

Residency: To qualify for Costa Rica’s pensionado visa, expats should show that they’ve a pension of no less than $1,000 coming in every month. (Here are the details of that program.) After getting lived in Costa Rica for 3 years, you may apply for everlasting residency. Farber used a lawyer to assist him work out the ins and outs of residency choices; his complete path to everlasting residency took a few yr, he says.

The underside line: “After 5 years I’m nonetheless amazed and shocked that I made the choice to steer a life I by no means thought I might,” he says. And whereas he might not keep in Orosi endlessly — “the city doesn’t have an ambulance, [and] I don’t know what it is going to be prefer to be 80 there,” he says — he does plan to remain in Costa Rica in no small half due to the individuals and sense of group. “I’ve the sensation that life is sweet right here,” he says. “It’s onerous generally, however we’re all in it collectively.” | ‘I might stay on my Social Safety and nonetheless get monetary savings’: This 66-year-old left Chicago for ‘calming’ Costa Rica — the place he now plans to stay indefinitely


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