This couple found financial freedom in their 50s in Costa Rica — and you can too

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My husband James and I worked for 30-plus years and believed the unspoken promise made to us when we were young. It went something like this, “If I educate myself, get a job, raise a family, work hard for 35-40 years, sacrifice essential times with family and friends, save money, and then retire at 65-70 years old, I can collect Social Security and grow old with enough money to live out the rest of my life in peace…”

We determined about three years ago that this promise wouldn’t be kept. We were in our late 50s at the time and decided that we had to do something to live the rest of our lives peacefully the way we wanted.

And on top of the financial concerns we had, which revolved around healthcare and growing old in the U.S. without depleting everything we saved, we were also looking for more.

We wanted to:

  • Have the financial freedom to live and work wherever we wanted

  • Travel anytime and anywhere without compromise

  • Spend time with family and friends on our schedule

  • Buy what we want and need without worry

We were stuck. Stuck in jobs sucking every bit of soul we had left in us, stuck in the paradigm that had us paying for a house and all the “keeping up with the Joneses” trappings.

And stuck in what we called the “crustiness” of aging. Worrying, anxiety, and a feeling of being overwhelmed that took away from living our good life.

So, we decided to make a change. To stop making excuses about why we had to live the life we were living and take our lives back so that we could enjoy the next 20 to 30 years on our terms.

The hardest part of this decision was getting to the conclusion and working on our mindset. We had to change from being fixed in how we had always thought about life to growing our views and opening ourselves to the possibilities of what could be.

Once we stopped all the excuses about why not to make a change (and there are many of them, right?), we got to the one reason that mattered—living a life of joy and peace, so we could be there more for the people we love and be of service to others.

Our first step was signing up with Winton Churchill and learning how to set up a freelancing business to start earning money online while still in the U.S.

This was a game changer. His course opened a new world for us. We learned that our abilities and skills would not only translate to online work but would be valued by a large hiring audience.

Once we started freelancing, we started looking at other online income potential, and now we have multiple income streams using freelancing and digital marketing platforms.

To move, we sold our house, cars, and belongings. We started a YouTube channel (yes, in our late 50s, we learned technology) and moved to Costa Rica with only what we could take on the plane, including our dogs, Cousteau and Ferdinand!

Our criteria for where we moved were clear:

  • An easy flight to the U.S.

  • Proximity to an airport

  • Easy access to excellent and affordable healthcare

  • Near the beach

  • Walkable neighborhood

  • Living among expats and locals

Today we live in Surfside Potrero in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica along the northern coast. We bought property outright (remember, we sold our house) and are mortgage-free half a mile from the beach. We are building a digital nomad community for others like us. We work when we need to and travel when we want to.

Before we moved to Costa Rica I was making about $3,000 per month with my online freelancing. After our move, I reduced the amount of freelancing work I do and now make about $1200-$1400 per month. It’s completely up to me to make what I want.

Our days are spent walking our dogs on the beach, listening to howler monkeys in the jungle behind our property, serving our clients, grabbing a beer or glass of wine around 5:30 pm to watch the sunset, and planning for the next friend or family member who wants to visit.

People always ask us, “how’d you do it?” and this is what we say:

  • Determine what life you want

  • Pay attention to your ways of thinking that have kept you where you don’t want to be

  • Be open to new possibilities

  • Trust in your abilities and skills

  • Embrace both your wins and losses because there’s learning in both

  • Seek out help from experts and others who have already done what you want

  • Do your research

  • Don’t wait if you’re ready to go, and most importantly,

  • Don’t let fear stop you from moving forward.

We, too, were scared, but we wanted to live a life of financial freedom, creativity, discovery, and growth of spirit.

As digital vagabonds, we can do it all, and so can you!

This story originally ran in International Living.



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