While Costa Rica is brimming with beaches and patios, the country’s state of being is a whole code of living down here: La Pura Vida.

Imagine yourself walking the shore of a smokey grey beach in Costa Rica, the warm water splashing across your feet as your eyes wander from the lush green tree line to the solid blue sea. You spend your days hanging in a hammock or basking on a lounge chair, with [insert the beverage of your choice] sitting coolly in your hand.

Open your eyes. The place you just envisioned does exist somewhere, and it can be experienced quite easily.

A Better (Social) Climate

Living this “Pure Life” isn’t like going on vacation. It isn’t a few days of relaxation and then back to the bustle. It is a complete new way of thinking, breathing, and feeling. Things literally slow down the moment you step into this exotic and bountiful country. Your realm of existence gets an immediate makeover — the combination of friendlier people, better weather, and cheaper living equals a happier you. Expats here say their extra weight just melts off of them, and I believe every day stresses do as well. In the States, there is a constant struggle against time — getting the grocery shopping done, getting our work done, getting the laundry done. Even if these tasks are necessary to thrive in Costa Rica, the rush doesn’t exist here.

What might have previously been an effort of inconvenience, like taking a twenty minute bus ride to town, becomes a time to chat with neighbors and practice a new language. Joy is exuded by the locals, they smile at you and call you “beautiful.” They genuinely hold your hand and kiss your cheek after a brief conversation. They love their fellow residents and are generously welcoming. In my travels, I’ve found that the most out-going people also happen to be in most pleasant climate. With towns boasting of El Mejor Clima del Mundo (advertisement for Atenas, meaning “the best climate in the world”), it’s no wonder the people here are the nicest I’ve ever met with.

Enjoying the comfortable weather of the Central Valley, with it’s sweeping cool breezes and sunny days, is no little benefit to living in Costa Rica. This is what creates the “Pure Life.” This weather allows fresh fruit to grow in back yards and be endlessly displayed in markets. It provides the perfect temperature for the numerous bird species painting in the air. It lets its inhabitants sleep soundly at night with only a fan occasionally necessary. Depending on elevation, this appliance may not even be needed at all.

Variety, Variety, Variety!

In my experience, one cannot be happy just living in one ecosystem, however. There is always an urge, especially for travelers, to witness something different and unique. Incredible and diverse Costa Rica has a bit of everything for it’s explorers. She is filled with a selection of beaches, all individualistic. They have their own characteristics — shores covered with rocks, colored by smooth sands, scattered with shells, dotted with caves, or freckled with islands.

If a trek through the rainforest is what you desire, there are several national parks which protect a dazzling array of wildlife and plant species. Are you a friend of water? You can find waterfalls, hot springs, rushing rivers, huge lakes and crashing oceans, all within a few hours of each other. Do you prefer a cooler climate? Head up a few kilometers and you can spend your days sporting a light jacket while you tour a volcano. With such enchanting biodiversity, the curious traveler can never get bored.

Simplicity

With all the positive energy in the air and in the smiles of her people, Costa Rica offers a place where one can purely and simply appreciate life. The warmth that fills this land enables me to feel at peace, while knowing there is so much more waiting to be discovered in the breath-taking nature around me. Being satisfied at home for the first time in my life, my body can truly relax and kick back, taking in such beauty from my own patio, and enjoying my own little serving of La Pura Vida.

[quote_box_center]She’s a mother, blogger, and world traveler. Now Emily R-P Shea is the first columnist of our new section “The Great Escape” featuring articles written by a small handful of US expats who have some amazing stories to tell. From why they chose to live in Costa Rica to how to raise a more eco-friendly baby, The Great Escape will be a great reference as well as fascinating entertainment for all travelers who find themselves in paradise.[/quote_box_center]