Who are you?
I’m an Italian single mom who has been living in Costa Rica for the last 14 years. I love surfing an outdoor activities.Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I actually did not plan on moving to Costa Rica. At the age of 25 I decided to take a couple of years off and discover Latin America. My trip started in Mexico and I backpacked all my way down to Nicaragua, staying in each country for a while in order to discover the unbeaten paths and getting to know the culture.
During this time I totally felt in love with the amazing landscapes that Central America has to offer, the majestic volcanoes, the dense rain forest with its tropical and colorful flowers, not to mention the breathtaking coasts and deep blue ocean. The entire country is bursting with life, beautiful birds singing everywhere, monkeys jumping like Olympics athletes from one tree to another, sloths sleeping and moving slow motions, huge crocs, jumping whales and so on…it is like being part of a national geographic documentary.
The people here have actually time to smile and say good morning without knowing each other, just because they are happy human beings. Anyway after six months I had to go back to Italy as I ran out of cash, I worked 3 jobs to save some money and in less than a year I was back travelling Latin America, this time starting from Costa Rica.
After a couple of months I met some hippies making jewellery and I thought why not do the same thing and try making a living out of it? I went to the capital, bought a bunch of beads and pieces and started my life as a hippy jewellery maker.
I went to Panama and lived on the Caribbean islands for a while as my original plan was to make my way down all the way to Tierra del Fuego in Patagonia, but somehow I kept on coming back to Costa Rica. To make the story short during these years I changed a few jobs, had a baby and came back to Italy from time to time, however here I am still in Costa Rica, mother of a beautiful 9 year old little girl and totally still loving my life as an expat.
What challenges did you face during the move?
I have always been missing my friends and family deeply, so I believe the biggest challenge for me has always been loneliness and having to count just on myself.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Costa Rica is full of expats from all over the planet. The country does not have strict immigration rules, you can renew your visa every 90 days just by leaving the country for 3 days and you can do that as long as you like. I believe that, apart from being a beautiful country, this would be one of the reasons why so many people get stuck here. Also the coast offers some constant surf all year long and world class waves.
What do you like about life where you are?
I love the outdoors life, the kindness of people and of course being a surfer, the fact that there are waves all the time in warm waters.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
Being away from family and I deeply miss Italian food.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
Italy has so much culture and history, starting from the architecture to art, fashion, food and wine, while Costa Rica pretty much has only nature to offer. Also when you are raised where people are so loud and hyper, it is hard to adjust to mellow and quiet but oh well you can’t have everything.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
If you wait for money, time or the right moment you will never leave so if you would like try to live somewhere else just go for it, it always works out at the end. The worst thing that could happen is that you go back home with a new experience in your luggage.
What are your plans for the future?
Just living the moment for now.
Katia is an Italian expat who has been living in Costa Rica for the last 14 years trading designer hand bags and stylish high hills for flip flops and surfboards. After finishing college in Tourism and Languages she decided to pack up a few belonging and travel Latin America, in order to discover a world to her unknown and totally different to what she was accustomed. That Journey undertaken never actually ended and Nowadays Katia is calling Costa Rica home, where she lives with her 9 year old daughter Coral and blogs at Things To Do In Santa Cruz.