I am Debbie Rudd and I am about to turn 70 in a few weeks. I came here at age 63 from Colorado Springs, CO after I retired as a public school teacher because I realized I would not be able to survive in the US on my pension.
I had been to Costa Rica twice, for about 10 days each time, on mission trips with my church, so I knew the people were super friendly and I had a basic knowledge of the culture. I moved to Grecia without having gone to visit it before, just using the internet for information. I found a realtor the first day and he took me around the following day where I found the first place to live on a coffee finca loaded with fruit trees.I didn’t speak much more than twenty words of Spanish when I moved to Costa Rica so I needed to take a lot of classes to be able to have meaningful conversations. I never wanted to live here with gringos and was intent on becoming friends with many Ticos and live as much like they did as possible. I did want to meet some expats as well and found that very difficult to do for the first three months. I finally met a group of them and almost all of them remain friends.
There were many expats in Grecia and there are also many in San Ramon where I have lived for the past two years. I do lots of volunteer activities with them such as sew blankets for babies in the hospital, organize birthday parties for the local orphanage, etc. In Grecia there were not many volunteer activities so I started one where I made jewelry with the homeless. I learned a great deal about their lives and learned a lot of Spanish as well from them.
I like to learn about the culture of Costa Rica and attend many events and concerts around my community. I also have been a part of several churches in Grecia and San Ramon even serving as a deacon in the Spanish service in Grecia.
I like the life in San Ramon because there is always something to do all the time whether it be sports, volunteering, hiking, or just eating out with others. The people are super friendly and supportive and the expats and Ticos are well integrated.
The only thing I dislike about expat life is that some expats are reluctant to try and have conversations with the Ticos even though they may be learning Spanish. I tell them you just have to get out there and do it and you will get better and better.
The biggest cultural difference between the US and CR is consumerism. Here you can buy just one piece of wrapping paper, one aspirin, one battery, etc. There are stores like Price Smart where people can shop for lots and lots of bulk items but I have only been there a few times since I’ve been here. When I go to the US, I feel like it is just hurry up and let’s go fill up the car with stuff!
I also don’t have a car here so I walk or take the bus everywhere. It keeps me in shape and I have time to say hello to all the people on the sidewalk as I go to town.
At first I was kind of shocked that everyone ate rice and beans every day but now I like it! There are plenty of other foods out here to eat as well and the fruits and vegetables are so inexpensive and delicious!
I always tell people that CR is a fabulous country with such diversity and history! I’ve already talked several people into moving here and have had a bunch more come to visit. I can’t say enough good things about it.
I plan to stay here the rest of my life and continue enjoying all the wonderful things here that I am grateful for each and every day.
You can buy Debbie's ebook, Costa Rica: Where The Ordinary Is Extraordinary, on Amazon.
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