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5 Ways Our Lifestyle Has Changed in Costa Rica

Surfers at sunset

When we moved to Costa Rica, I knew our life as we knew it would change. The life we have been living in Costa Rica certainly looks different than the one we live in Canada. Without trying and without really noticing, our day to day lifestyle has completely changed over the past 6 months.

drinking coffee by the pool on a weekend getaway

Lifestyle Change 1 – Sleeping Patterns

The most obvious change in our sleeping pattern. In Canada, we would rarely be in bed before midnight and would struggle to get ourselves out of bed by 8 am to get to work. Weekends meant sleeping in till at least 10 and if we were lucky noon.

In Costa Rica, I am often in bed by 9 pm and wake up with the sun between 6 and 6:30 am…even on a weekend. Becoming a morning person has been very satisfying as I’ve tried to do this for years. This has also allowed us to maximize what we do in a day when we get off to an early start. More time at the beach, first ones to a national park, only ones on a trail. Turns out there are many perks with being a morning person in Costa Rica.

Lifestyle Change 2 – Cooking

  • Avocado Toasts
  • Typical Breakfast
  • Aperol and Burritos
  • Meals on the balcony

I have never loved cooking. And living in Toronto provides ample opportunities to have any type of food possibly imaginable delivered to your doorstep, so why even bother making mediocre anything? We have gone from eating out 2-3 meals a day to cooking almost all our meals (except Rob’s lunches – those are still sourced from outside our kitchen).

There are several factors that have led to more home-cooked meals:

  • There are significantly less dining options within walking distance to our house and we try to avoid driving, if possible.
  • There is an abundance of incredible markets to buy fresh produce that is significantly cheaper than any other grocery store or restaurant.
  • We got a new vegan cookbook last year for Christmas and I made it my goal to cook every recipe in the book within one year. I’m not sure I’ll achieve that goal, but I’ll be close!!

We’ve been getting more creative in the kitchen and have learned to cook with new ingredients and experiment with new recipes that we rarely have all the right ingredients for.

Lifestyle Change 3 – Cat Lady to Plant Lady

We had to leave Toby (our cat) at home, and that left a void in our hearts. I also left my dying aloe plant because historically, I can’t keep a plant alive longer than a week. So, I bought plants. And then I bought more plants. And then I tried to buy more plants but Rob said we already had too many. Probably true but they make our concrete condo feel more like a lush jungle home.

On the plus side, I have three plants that are thriving. There may have been a few plant casualties in the process. Turns out plants are way harder to keep happy than a cat. But now, they are part of my routine. Each morning I water the plants that need to be watered, tell them how beautiful they are, and reposition them so they grow to be balanced and strong…just like Toby.

balcony plants thriving

Lifestyle Change 4 – Transportation

We are used to living downtown Toronto where everything we need and want is within walking distance or a quick hop on a subway, streetcar, or bus. That is not so much the case for us in Costa Rica and so for the first time in our lives, we have a car.

Even though it is a shared car with one other person, we’re making it work. I have found having a car so freeing. Want to go to the beach for a night? Just hop in the car and go. Want to go for a morning hike in the mountains? Just hop in the car and go. Need to buy new furniture? Just hop in the car and go.

Public transit does exist here but it seems confusing and all I’ve heard about it is that it can be unsafe, particularly for gringos like us. Although, I wouldn’t say that driving in San José/Costa Rica is overly safe either, but I’ll leave those stories for another day.

Lifestyle Change 5 – Physical Activity

I wouldn’t say that either of us is generally physically active. But the biggest change is related to #4. In Toronto, we walked most places: to stores, to restaurants, to friends, to work (sometimes), to the subway. Walking was very much our mode of transportation. Given the limited walkability of our neighbourhood, very little day to day walking occurs. Rob drives to work…and I rarely leave the house.

Feeling like a blob most days, I’ve re-introduced yoga into my life. It is now part of my new early morning routine. It’s been a game-changer. And soon the rainy season will be behind us and swimming in our pool will be a new activity to add to the daily routine.

Another difference is that most weekends, we are way more active than we ever were in Toronto. From finding ourselves on hikes much more strenuous and challenging than anticipated to trying to surf waves that are far beyond our skill level, we make up for our lack of steps in the week on the weekends.

I’m sure there are 100 other ways our lifestyle has changed, but these ones have been the ones that have been most profound and maybe, more unexpected.

Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, every is different…

C. S. Lewis
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