Friday, June 14, 2013

Soul Searching and House Hunting in Costa Rica

We've spent the past few months searching for a new place to live. We love our current apartment, but it falls short on a few things. It's relatively small (500 sq ft), and it can feel very cozy with the three of us living, working, and playing in the same space. Also, as I look ahead to the coming months and years, Matty will start crawling and walking. Our current setup isn't exactly child-friendly, and I'd really like for him to have some green space to play in. (Unfortunately, there aren't any decent parks nearby, so if you don't have your own yard, outdoor play space can be hard to come by.) Finally, after spending some vacation time at the beach, we've realized just how hectic, noisy, and busy our current neighborhood is. It hard to go out for a relaxing stroll when you're dodging crazy motorists, pot holes, and other hazards.

We have looked at dozens of houses and apartments in the Central Valley, but, so far, all of them have fallen short. Some have very nice furnishings and ample space, but no yard. Others have a great yard,  but a less-than-ideal landlord. We've also limited our search to furnished apartments, which seemingly cuts out 80% of the rental market. Unfurnished rentals aren't an option for us right now because they don't include any appliances. In other words, we'd have to buy a stove, fridge, washing machine, etc., in addition to beds, chairs, plates, towels, lamps, and everything else (you know, all of the stuff that we just sold back in the States!)
In Costa Rica, an unfurnished apartment means BYO stove and fridge.
We recently discovered a really cute beach town in Guanacaste with plenty of rentals in our price range. But, after a little research, I was heartbroken to learn that they don't have full-service hospitals in Liberia. There are a few private medical clinics and a 24-hour public hospital, but if you need major emergency care, you'll be flown to San Jose.

Of course, you can always make the 4-5 hour drive from Guanacaste to San Jose and pray that you don't get stuck behind this guy!
After struggling with this information for a few days and doing a little soul-searching, I've realized that I'm not the kind of person who's willing to take a chance on emergency medical care. It's the same reason why I carry insurance: even though it's unlikely that I'll need this service, I still want to have it because the results can be catastrophic. Financial devastation is one thing, but when it comes to risking our health, I can't accept that.

Medical care is something that I took for granted when I lived in a first-world country. I never worried whether or not there'd be a hospital closeby to treat me if I were in a bad car accident. But the reality is that, in the developing world, you have to seek out resources and services, as it's not a given that they'll be widely available.

I guess this means that we'll be staying in the Central Valley for a while, as it's the only area of Costa Rica with higher-level medical care. At least we can enjoy our vacations at the beach!