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  • A House of Sparrows

Recap: One week in Costa Rica

Its been 7 days since we officially became an expat family living in Costa Rica. This past week has been the start of a learning curve as we try and figure out how our new lives are going to function in the rainforest. While we organize our belongings, get Milena adjusted to her new home we’ve noticed one major thing so far; we are 100% sure of our decision.

expat family Costa Rica

 Our new home

Now that our journey has begun, here are several things I have realized so far:

Saying goodbye is the worst

I was dreading the goodbyes, and the morning we left I tried to keep myself busy to avoid choking up. Up until then, I hadn’t cried about leaving, which is weird if you know me. I’m super sensitive and a full fledged crier when it comes to goodbyes. But as we sat around the couch and I looked at my two nieces, I had a breakdown. I could no longer avoid the goodbyes.

When we were planning our move it was fun getting everything coordinated and I had my mind preoccupied with packing. Now, I was hugging them for the last time until next spring. My family and I are very close. Saying goodbye to each of them was hard, overwhelming and just down right hard. While I am beyond thrilled to have a year abroad, being away from family was the one thing that kept me from making this move sooner.

I need to learn Spanish… and fast!

Oh how I wish I could smack my 15-year-old self for slacking off in Spanish class. I took three years of Spanish in high school and while I got decent grades, I never took the classes seriously. After three years of Spanish, you think I could carry on a decent conversation with someone in Spanish but regrettable I can't. 

If someone tell you most people in Costa Rica speak English, ignore them. They do not. When Ryan and I went to the furniture store to try and buy shelves, Google Translate, my rough Spanish and a variety of hand movements were our only help. It was embarrassing, the employee was at a loss and we ended up leaving with no shelves. 

But that’s why we love Costa Rica and especially the area we are in. It feels authentic. There are tourists and plenty of other expat families, but majority of the locals (Ticos) speak only Spanish. It has given us a true taste of moving abroad and we welcome the language barrier. So we’ve been practicing like crazy and slowly my brain is picking up on terms and grammar I learned in high school. Hopefully in a year we can be fully fluent.

Bugs are a daily nuisance

I don’t do bugs. Which is ridiculous since I decided to move to a country known for thousands of spiders species, scorpions, giant cockroaches, centipedes and even more creepy crawlers. Our first night we literally had dozens of inch size ants marching their way into our casista. They were hiding under our bags, on our walls and in the toilet and Ryan and I couldn’t kill them fast enough. Sugar ants are a constant so we have to diligently clean up the kitchen and double seal all our food.

I was greeted in the bathroom with a large tarantula at 10pm and the outside of our house is the hangout for dozens of giant grasshoppers, moths, spiders, etc. We are officially no longer in the city.

I am taking this new nuisance in stride. I’m trying my hardest not to lose my cool every time something lands on me which is hard when there are 6 inch cockroaches flying around. It took a few days to adjust to this new life but we are getting a hang of it.

Tiny living is our new way of life

The casita we are staying in is a one-bedroom flat with a small kitchen, bathroom and small seating area. Milena’s new room is the seating area and the bedroom pretty much only fits the bed. It’s a great space and fits us well but we are used to a 2,000 sqft home so we are having to live very organized and efficiently. Pinterest has become my go to in order to find organizing tips and we are slowly getting everything put into place. Which brings me to my next topic…

I brought way too many clothes

I love clothes, like really love clothes. It was never a problem until I brought most of my belongings down here. Most homes in Costa Rica do not have closets so you purchase a wardrobe to store all of our clothes. Our problem is the size of our room doesn’t allow for a large wardrobe that Ryan, Milena and I can use.

So currently we are busting at the seams trying to get everything put up. I have one suitcase that is still full of my clothes that I have no room for. And most likely, I will never wear more than half of the clothes I brought. What can a girl do?

It’s more expensive here than I thought

Before we left I read dozens of travel blogs on Costa Rica and joined several expat Facebook groups. One of the major complaints is the price of living in Costa Rica. So we came prepared.  While many things are cheaper than in the states, its not by much. Home items and furniture cost about the same at home and are usually lower in quality. A plastic wardrobe you can get at Ikea for maybe $60, costs $200 here. Its insane!

Also, food isn’t as cheap as you would think. Many items are imported in so the taxes bump up prices a lot. Ryan and I are thinking smart on our groceries and choosing to eat like locals and to say goodbye to processed foods as much as we can. It will be cheaper and better for us anyways.

Healthier living

After I had Milena, I’ve struggled to get rid of these last 10 pounds. They have been lingering and have been dragging me down, literally and figuratively. After just a week in Costa Rica I can already tell I’m on the journey to getting back to my normal self. Not just weighing less, but eating right, spending more time outdoors and getting in some much needed cardio.

The hotter and more humid temperatures decrease my urge to snack and since we are eating local ingredients, our meals have consisted of rice, black beans, vegetables, and tropical fruit. And to top it all off, we live on a very steep hill which Milena drags me up and down dozens of times a day. So even thought I’m constantly panting and sweating like an overweight pug in spandex, I know this type of environment will be good for our entire family mentally and physically.

A House of Sparrows

Our family will grow even closer

Don’t get me wrong, our trio is already close. Ryan is a very hands on Dad and Milena is my buddy. While we are used to spending most of our days together since we both work from home, moving to Costa Rica is different. We will tackle all of these new experiences together and learn this new way of life as a family. There will be days when its hard, when we just need a break from each other and even wan to go home. But we are prepared for that and can’t wait to see what this next year has in store for us.

expat family Costa Rica

Every moment here so far has been amazing. Waking up to the sound of the rainforest while sipping local coffee and overlooking a valley of green is incredible. Deep down I know this is not only what our family needed, but something I needed for my own personal journey. I'm so grateful for this experience and have fallen in love with this way of life already. Pura Vida!

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