Embracing a New Chapter: Trading Nomadic Life for Tamarindo
The Thrills and Challenges of a Nomadic Lifestyle
Ever since Shanti was born, our life has been one non-stop adventure. Our little family fully embraced the nomadic lifestyle and truly enjoyed the thrill of the open road. Living in the present moment, we soaked up invaluable life lessons that only come from travel. But the nomadic lifestyle presented its own set of challenges.
Saying goodbye to newfound friends was a recurring theme and a poignant challenge we often encountered. As a previous backpacker, I was used to it, but seeing our social little girl part ways with her new playmates time and time again introduced a new set of unexpected emotions to our travels.
A Quest for a Permanent Home
We began to crave a stable community where Shanti could build deep-rooted friendships and we could all be a part of a solid community. Honestly, in the beginning, we were in disbelief that we were being pulled towards the idea of finding a home base. However, all of these new thoughts initiated our quest for a permanent home.
A friend and teacher once shared some sage advice: “Start the kids young in school, while they’re still innocent and soaking up the basics, and consider homeschooling as they grow older, before they encounter the harsher realities of school life.” This advice resonated with us and we hoped for a place that could provide a balance between a good early education system and an enriching environment.
Finding Costa Rica
Our journey led us to Costa Rica, a potential place that could cater to our unique requirements. Our list of must-haves for a permanent home was an interesting mix of diverse needs and preferences. We wanted a good school for Shanti, a vibrant community with plenty of activities, a robust infrastructure with a balance of nature, and, selfishly, a place where we could surf and stay fit. Yes, we were picky, but shouldn’t we all be?
Miami to San Jose: The Adventure Begins
Our adventure to Costa Rica started with our friend driving us down to Miami. In Miami, we got to visit our old friends that we had met during our school bus days. After checking the surfboards, Matt was able to take a deep breath as we headed to the airport for our quick flight to San Jose.
Arriving in Costa Rica, a driver was ready to take us on a two-hour drive to Jaco. He showed up with a questionable roof rack—this thing was held together with zip ties! I’m glad Matt brought his own straps because I don’t know if he could have handled another traumatic board situation. Once on the road, we got to take in the beautiful drive from San Jose to Jaco. It was filled with lush greenery, well-paved mountain roads, and tons of fruit stands.
Jaco: A Party Town with Great Surf
While we started exploring Jaco, known for its great surf and nightlife, it quickly became apparent that it was more of a party town. We knew we needed a different environment to call home as it didn’t offer much for a family looking to settle down.
Despite that, we did enjoy our time in Jaco. Matt woke up every morning to go surf, I got to do yoga with a jungle view and we all visited the Royal butterfly garden which was a huge highlight and refreshing break from the city.
Tamarindo: A Different World
Our next consideration was Tamarindo. We rented a car and embarked on the four-hour drive north. Pulling into Tamarindo was like stepping into a different world compared to San Jose or Jaco. The town was buzzing with cool restaurants, surf shops, and plenty to do along the stretch of open beach.
Coming from Mexico, it took us a minute to adjust to the high cost of rent and elevated food prices. Although living here wasn’t cheap, the higher cost of living did have its perks. The area was well-developed with a strong community and offered a huge variety of activities to suit the whole family.
We found a neat beachfront school for Shanti, which even had a summer program we could try out before committing for the whole academic year. This was important as she’s never been enrolled in a program and we didn’t know what to expect in this chapter of parenting. The best part was that Matt and I could take Spanish classes in the same building as her school—we could literally hear the kids playing as we studied.
Tamarindo: The Perfect Blend
Tamarindo, or as it is affectionately known, Tama-Gringo, struck a balance that charmed us. It’s busy with tourism, but still has a local vibe. For us, it’s a perfect blend of the familiar and the foreign. Our priorities have changed and so has our tolerance for busier places. For now, this beach town feels right. It feels like home.
Is This Our New Home?
So here we are, booked for the next three months in Tamarindo, giving it a proper test, immersing ourselves in the local life. By the end of this period, we hope to have a clear answer to the question that brought us to Costa Rica – is this our new home?