Tamarindo Community Talk
Making a Living in Tamarindo
Each morning, my boyfriend, Sean, and I sleep in until about 9 a.m. -we rarely set an alarm. More often than not, we wake up to the bustling of the coffee shop next door. We each order a cup of fresh-brewed coffee and a breakfast of fresh scrambled eggs and gallo pinto (typical Costa Rican rice and beans).
Our apartment is located about a block and a half from Playa Tamarindo in Costa Rica, a mile-long stretch of light-colored sand with renowned surfing.
On a sunny day the water might be several shades of blue, green, and turquoise and you can see clear down to the bottom. When it’s not too windy, people kayak or swim out to the little island for snorkeling. Beachside restaurants line the shore selling typical food like patacones and ceviche (and of course ice cold cerveza).
There is really no need for a car in Tamarindo, as you can walk to the grocery store and to the beach and that’s really all you need. Rent is affordable by U.S. standards. You can find a decent, air-conditioned apartment for $800 and almost anyone can afford a cleaning lady once or twice a week. Buses are super affordable, as are taxis. High-speed internet is reliable, and only costs about $35 a month.
Sean and I both work from home. We operate on our own schedule. Nobody tells us when to go into the office, or when to get online. If I don’t feel inspired, I go for a beach walk and try again later.
I’m a photographer and freelance writer. I spend the first half of each day writing for a Costa Rican scuba diving company and sharing photos and videos of sharks, whales, and other marine life to various social media pages. Then I work on my photography business, Tamarindo Family Photos. On Wednesday afternoons, I teach kids at a local school how to perform circus arts like juggling and hula hooping.
To me, the best part about living in Costa Rica is that you can be 100% whoever you want to be. I knew I didn’t want to work a boring office job, but that seemed to be the only lucrative option in the U.S. So I worked as a secretary, saved some cash, and moved to Costa Rica in February 2008. I taught English for 10 months, before becoming a full-time travel writer and then a photographer. Sean is a commercial and product photographer. He’s hired for projects in Costa Rica ranging from shooting multi-million-dollar houses to pin-up calendars for chainsaw manufacturers. This week he’s traveling all around the country for an international airline magazine, and I’m tagging along as his assistant. All I need is my laptop and an internet connection and I never miss a deadline.
After 13 years focusing exclusively on photography, Sean decided that he wanted to make drone videos. Within two months he was being paid to fly drones and create promo videos for local real estate companies. Nobody told him, “No way…you need a degree for that. Go back to school.” He just got online and studied, and then proved himself in the field. That’s Costa Rica!
Around 5 p.m. I’m interrupted by the roar of howler monkeys foraging in the big tree in front of our house. This is how I know it’s time to get off the computer and head down to the beach. I watch the monkeys munch on flowers and leaves for a few minutes, and then I grab my camera to meet up with a family or couple that has booked me for sunset photos.
At about 6 p.m., the sun dips down below the horizon. As the sky fades from tangerine orange to vibrant shades of pink and purple, I breathe in the salty air and feel nothing but gratitude. We live in a truly beautiful place.