As the saying goes, time flies when you're having fun - - and I really can't believe almost five full years have passed since leaving NYC, quitting my corporate job, putting all my belongings in storage (called Mom & Pop storage), and moving to Tamarindo, Costa Rica to surf. When I first moved, I worked for Robert August (AKA Mr. Endless Summer), blogging and running his social media. Working for such an iconic person in surf history was definitely an experience. I loved how most of the time I could make my own work schedule and I was stoked to not be working "in the office" every day. And I got to surf. A lot.
In my free time, I started to follow one of my other passions, photography. First, photographing and posting images of Tamarindo on my blog + Instagram was a good way to keep my family and friends updated on my Costa Rican adventures. Then, it became a side hustle with my Costa Rica photo postcards. Selling my photographs via these postcards gave me confidence to further pursue photography as a career. Now, in addition to selling my sunset + beach prints at The Sunset Shop, I'm a lifestyle photographer, serving weddings, elopements, families, brands and magazines like Harper's Bazaar and Coastal Living! Every day, I'm beyond blessed and stoked to say that I'm a photographer!!!!
I now spend most of my year in Costa Rica, with the remainder spent in magical Savannah, GA - which is gorgeous, amazing and also happens to be where my parents lives. I know, you're probably thinking why would I ever want to leave Costa Rica or split time? The honest truth? Costa Rica may be a little slice of Pura Vida for vacation, but living here (like I believe living anywhere else in the world) has its pluses and minuses. So what should you expect if you’re thinking of moving to Tamarindo, Costa Rica?
Ok, one more word: WAVES! The waves in Costa Rica are simply magical - - peeling waves, offshore winds, and warm water. Within a 5-10 minute bike ride, I have access to several surf breaks and several others within 30 minutes. Without a doubt, I’ve gotten spoiled here real fast!
(Check out my surf guides to Tamarindo, Avellanas, Playa Grande, and Nosara!)
I live in an international community. My friends are from all over the world (Argentina, France, Italy, and Canada to name a few). Tamarindo is a great example of a diverse, mixed community.
I don't need a car daily. Did you know that I don't own a car in Costa Rica? I can walk or bike to pretty much everything I daily need in Tamarindo, from the supermarket, beach, restaurants, pharmacy, etc. Since I don't need a car for every day use, for now not owning a car works for me. Plus, I easily can rent a car when I need to! No need to worry about maintaining a car in a beach climate, yes please!
I'm outside and experiencing beautiful Mother Nature everyday. Ahhhh, nature. It’s right outside - - the Howler Monkeys at dawn (or eating my Papaya trees right outside my front door), Iguanas, singing Parrots! I love my daily walks on beach and through the hills in Tamarindo with my little Chihuahua Gidget.
When your dream becomes everyday life, there are definitely things that can wear on you... until you get back in the waves. Here's the reality that many don't consider when they dream of moving to paradise.
The phrase Pura Vida has a good AND a bad side. Sure, Pura Vida literally means "Pure Life" and generally is said with a smile, but it also mean Tico Time/ “latin time” or tomorrow is another day. Pretty much everything here just operates slower than the US. Long lines at the bank, slow internet, and driving 40 miles down the coast takes over two hours! Convenience and ease is not a focus, like it often is the US.
Sometimes I don't surf everyday. Contrary to what my parents think, I don't surf everyday. I’d love to surf everyday, but my work takes priority and other times the conditions are just not that great. Sometimes a week or more goes by without surfing - - (gasp!) I know!
The cost of living is high. It's expensive to live here. Costa Rica is not a cheap country. Most tourists are surprised at the cost of accommodations, tours, and food. And people who live here make a lot less. Think US prices, but much lower wages than the US. And did you know that cars here cost double than they would cost in the US? Thank you Costa Rica import tax!
It's tropically hot. The sun is HOT, HOT, HOT! Tamarindo is located 10 degrees north of the equator, meaning that the sun is very strong here! And in April, the temperatures soar over 100 degrees with high humidity.
People come and go. Tamarindo is a tourist and very transient town. Just as fast as you make a new friend, another one is moving out of town! Some people only come for high season to escape the northern hemisphere winters and others are like me - - how has it been over five years?!
Everything needs to be imported.Besides agriculture, Costa Rica is not an industrious country, which means a lot of imported goods at much higher prices and not a ton of variety. My luggage is always packed to max weight every time I come back from the US with goods like protein powder, shampoo, and sunscreen! BUTTTTTTT, at least my beach + sunset prints don't need to be imported thanks to a professional + high quality printer located in San Jose (about five hours from Tamarindo)!
P.S. if you'd like to learn more about my transition + journey of trading my NYC corporate heels for a surfboard and camera in Costa Rica, head on over to the Living Out Loud podcast and listen to the current episode featuring me as the guest!
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