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Funny thing, I’ve Become Accustomed to This Place

November 18th, 2006

Hello, I’m Susan Carmichael, and this is a little bit of my story.

My contact with Costa Rica began as a tourist. Helen Keller said that life is a daring adventure or nothing at all. So in 1998, I took the leap and moved here in search of a less hectic life. A few other reasons may have swayed my decision. Perhaps living in the United States left me a little sour, prickly around the edges. My physical health a wreck, I hoped paradise would deliver me a little closer to fine.

Living in Costa Rica is not a panacea for all my woes; I still had to make money to eat. But little by little, the stress ebbed; my life began to flow. After much introspection and a lot more visits to the psychiatrist, I began to free myself from the tension and turmoil that consumed me in the United States.

My story is not much different than the thousands of other expatriates who’ve come to Costa Rica. I rolled up my sleeves and faced the bureaucracy; waited in line for stamps and documents. I survived scorpions, snakes, the phone company, the water company, and the traffic.

Then, I went and had couple of kids. Having children messes up everything – I rarely get to movies; my fridge is full of pureed blobs of food; I sleep like a cat in a tree – always balancing precariously with one eye open, waiting for trouble to stalk me.

But the funny thing is, these children have saved me. Children have also thrown me into a deeper relationship with the country. I’ve seen the inside of hospitals, the underside of playgrounds, and the ups-and-downs of education, health, and immigration.

My stories are about parenting and the struggle to find a semblance of some sort of SELF. Latin America is a different ballgame than the U.S., Canada, or Europe; Costa Rica is a bit different than much of Latin America. But it’s a gem, sometimes it rubs the wrong way but nonetheless, shines.

4 Responses to “Funny thing, I’ve Become Accustomed to This Place”

  1. Marina Kuperman on November 20, 2006 10:14 am

    hi, ironically i’ve grown accostomed to this place as well. i’ve been here almost four years and can’t imagine living anywhere else!

  2. Daniela on December 13, 2006 11:37 am

    I read a lot of comments written by mothers who have moved to Costa Rica and THEN had kids (born in Costa Rica) but what I really need would like to know is what is it like for women who come to live in C.Rica with their children? My daughter is 10 yrs. old and NOT Costa Rican. We have both US and EU passports. There are so many things to consider from immigration to schools, etc..
    Any feedback?
    I’m a single parent.
    Much thanks.

  3. Susan on December 13, 2006 9:35 pm

    Visas and residency are the big concern. You’ll need to explore how you both can be legal in CR.

    Lots of parents and kids acclimate just fine. I know a woman with an eight year old, single also, that moved here and started her own career. She really likes it. It can be done. After visas, etc. think about how you are going to make money if that is a concern. The work climate is much different here. Many women I know start their own businesses.

  4. Willow on August 3, 2010 10:34 am

    Hi Susan,
    It was very interesting to read this. After living in Nepal for 11 years I can relate because it was similar – waiting on lines, etc. But there I had a marriage visa so it was relatively easy. Now I am remarried with an American and we have a 9 month old son. We plan to come to CR within the month to try and start a new life. We each have a business plan and just enough money to pull it off… however we don’t have the kind of money it takes to get a “rentista” visa, aren’t retirement age and certainly don’t have huge funds to be “investor” visa people. Yet we HAVE to find a way to make this work. So I am feverishly researching online any avenue I can find. Maybe we will even consider having another child in the country. But we will need to wait a little while on that 🙂
    So how can we legally run our businesses while living in the country on tourist visas and leaving every three months to Panama for the renewal merry-go-round… any advice???