Looking to live a better life in Costa Rica? Here are five resolutions that can help.

Going into the new year involves a lot of reflection about the year that just passed and what we hope for from the coming year. For many, this involves a move to Costa Rica in anticipation of living a better life. As someone who has visited and lived here for many years, I have noticed ways that I could improve my life and continue to work on improving as time goes on. Here are five resolutions to try on your path to a better life in Costa Rica.

Slow down

Take a breath… and realize that you don’t need to be in a hurry anymore. You have already arrived. Drive slowly with caution through towns, especially those places without sidewalks. There are people walking on the winding roads and there are dogs and wildlife that regularly cross from one side to the other. Take your time and take in the sights while giving yourself plenty of time and space to avoid scaring any pedestrians as you come around blind corners. 

Pick up more trash

We may not be the culprits but we can surely be the change. Take a bag with you on your morning walk and pick up those beer cans that were tossed out of a car by some careless teens. No sense in getting angry about it and not doing anything productive to fix the situation. If you love your community, spend more time showing it love. Beaches are another great place to show this type of love. All it takes is a few minutes of effort from each of us to keep our beaches and communities beautiful. If we don’t care, no one else will.

Be mindful of nature

Shining lights all night or playing loud music all day are just two of many ways that humans disturb the local wildlife. We can’t all be perfect and live in perfect harmony with nature because that is not in our nature as humans (at least not yet!) When we let our dogs bark all day, we keep monkeys away. When we shine bright security lights all night, we disturb the nocturnal activities of amphibians, among other creatures. We may have our reasons for doing the things we do; however, let’s at least try to consider all of the consequences of our actions instead of choosing the most convenient truth out of willful ignorance. 

Driving on beaches in Costa Rica, for instance, is not only illegal; according to Oscar Brenes, head of the Reserva Playa Tortuga in Ojochal, driving on beaches “compacts the sand and accelerates erosion, destroys the nesting areas of turtles and shorebirds, causes noise pollution, scares other fauna, and disturbs the peace that people seek.”

Be mindful of neighbors

While we are at it thinking about nature, let us also consider our neighbors. Owning a vacation rental home in Costa Rica can be a great way to subsidize ownership of a tropical home that you only use for part of the year. But renters — especially those staying for the short term — can be noisy neighbors. There are plenty of private properties that can easily get away with hosting loud guests who want to enjoy music but every home in Costa Rica is not ideal for this. Putting a short-term rental home right next door to someone who enjoys the peace and quiet is not the most neighborly choice. In the same vein, if you want to get along well with your host nation, Costa Rica, respect the modesty of the Ticos and don’t walk around town in swimwear or jump in a river naked where others can see you. When in doubt, follow their lead as Ticos are good people who mean well.

Enjoy the little things

Don’t expect the world out of Costa Rica. It is, however, a country that has plenty to give if you know where to look. Enjoying the warm salty breeze on your skin as you sit under palm trees on a wild beach is just one of the myriad simple pleasures that are so easily achieved here. Or seeing a troupe of monkeys crossing the tree canopy overhead. There is so much to enjoy that makes it worth not worrying so hard about how long a wait time might be or wondering why your neighbors let their dogs bark all day. Be kind and open a dialogue to retain the sense of peace that you came in search of here. By keeping the peace, we can all enjoy the little things a bit more.

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