Moving to Costa Rica to Own a Bed & Breakfast and Kind of Retire

Rita and her husband are Americans who now live in Brasil de Santa Ana in Costa Rica, where they are operating a successful bed-and-breakfast called Casa Bella Rita. Here she discusses what life is like as expat entrepreneurs in Costa Rica, what they like about living there, and ways to adjust to the Costa Rican way of life.

Rita DeVore

-Where were you born?

Battle Creek, Michigan, USA

-In which country and city are you living now?

Brasil de Santa Ana which is West of the city of San Jose, Costa Rica

-Are you living alone or with your family?

I live with my husband of 22 years and our (2) street dogs Topo and Ratatouille. We own a Bed & Breakfast so we also live with our guestsSmile

-How long have you been living in Costa Rica?

Just over one year.

-What is your age?

Kind of personal but I'm 52.

-When did you come up with the idea of living in Costa Rica?

I wanted to retire from the restaurant business as I was burned out having been an owner and operator for over 25 years. We couldn't afford the health care in the States and we were against the war and didn't like cold weather. I also didn't want to be 70 years old and say to myself that I had wished I had done something different in my life. We knew we still wanted to work and the opportunity to buy a Bed & Breakfast in the Central Valley came up when we were ready to move.

-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?

We are living here on tourist visas so we go away every three months either together or alone.

the family

-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?

No, that was easy. I became sick when we moved here and had to have my gall bladder removed. Clinica Biblica was great and the insurance paid for it all. It was a deal at $3,000.00. I need to have a torn rotator cuff repaired next and my insurance should cover all of that also.

-How do you make your living in Costa Rica? Do you have any type of income generated?

We own and operate Casa Bella Rita Boutique Bed & Breakfast in Brasil de Santa Ana. We do very well considering we started from the bottom up. The house is beautiful, we do tours and travel reservations and entertain our guests. We don't have any long-term plans at this point so this is a good place for us to be. I also teach at a gym once or twice a week and I believe I will start doing some volunteer work to get me through the slow/rainy season as I prefer to stay busy.

-Do you speak Spanish and do you think it's important to speak the local language?

I only speak a little Spanish but my husband speaks very good. I am still learning and find when I make myself go places alone it forces me to learn it faster. We are guests in Costa Rica and treat the locals with respect and respect the local laws and customs. When we come across the "ugly American" it is very embarrassing for us. I tried Spanish lessons for a short time but I found on-line courses for the language worked as well for me at this point.

-Do you miss home and family sometimes?

Oh my God, I miss my family and friends to the point that it hurts. I don't miss the cold weather but I do miss the good roads and my car. There is much to do and see in Costa Rica and it's pretty close to South America and many other countries. My nephews and daughter were just here for almost an entire month and it was awesome.

-Do you have other plans for the future?

Not at this point. I would like to build up our business, sell in a few years and move on while I'm still able. We still get offers to sell as it really is a cool house in a great location. I see the city of San Jose growing and growing and I'm not sure if the infrastructure can handle it and that scares me a little. When San Jose catches up with Santa Ana it will be time to move on.

-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?

We bought a place that was formerly "The Canyon House" that came with quite a history. We changed the name and started from scratch and we are now Casa Bella Rita Boutique Bed & Breakfast. We have six beautiful rooms and do very well on Trip Advisor. We work very hard at what we do. It really doesn't cost a lot less to live here than in the States any longer as far as we are concerned with the cost of gas, water and food but the health care is so much cheaper. We were paying over $1,000.00 per month for health care and only $300.00 per month here - big difference and it's world wide care.

-What is the cost of living in Costa Rica?

A little less than the States but inflation is fast catching up.

-What do you think about the Costa Ricans?

They are warm and wonderful and we have made many friends that will be lifelong friends.  We have been invited to many family holidays with our new friends.  Only one time did I feel discrimination and was called a name.  I have to remind myself that he was drunk but it made me feel a little sick to my stomach. Other than that I have had no problems but it is like any other place in the world and it takes time to build relationships. 

-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Costa Rica?

Positive - weather, beautiful country, restaurants, my dogs, new adventures, fruits, warm people, no army, health care.

Negative - petty crime, lack of lanes on streets, barb wire, razor wire, justice system (lack of), no TJ Maxx!

-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Costa Rica?

Rent first! Do not make a complete move unless you are sure. Keep an open mind and learn the language. Things don't move the way you might be used to. Hire a good attorney that speaks English. Get out and make friends or you will go crazy. Volunteer if possible, teach a child to speak English and they will help you with your Spanish.

-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Costa Rica?

Trip Advisor is a great place to gather information.

 amcostarica - an on-line newspaper


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stvjessop's picture

I am looking for a small bar/restaurant to run, catering to the xpats and tourist, can you recomend a location or do you know of a broker i could contact.