Thursday, October 6, 2011

Happier Than A Billionaire

Happier Than A Billionaire
Author: Nadine Hays Pisani
CreateSpace, 2011
240 pages

I'm seriously considering retiring somewhere outside the USA. There are lots of reasons for this, but the biggest is that I probably won't be able to afford to retire in the USA -- at least if things keep going the way they have been lately. Costa Rica is one of the countries in my sights (there are several others) so when I came across this book, whose official title is Happier Than a Billionaire: Quitting My Job, Moving to Costa Rica, and Living the Zero Hour Work Week, I knew I'd have to read it.

I was immediately hooked and could totally relate when the author described the sort of mid-life crisis that preceded her move. After all, I've been there myself. She was a chiropractor with a thriving practice and a 3,000 square foot house filled with crap she bought from QVC because she was bored and/or unfulfilled. To outsiders, she probably looked the epitome of success. But she longed for something more.

Enter her very cool husband, Rob. Instead of saying No! or questioning her sanity, he chose to be supportive. Rob researched various countries where they could live cheaply and without working. Costa Rica, with its stable government, excellent health care system, and other perks, seemed to fit the bill. After a visit or two they decided to go for it. They sold all their stuff back in the States and took the plunge, moving to this Central American country despite not speaking much Spanish or knowing anything about the culture.

A result is this often laugh-out-loud hilarious little book, one of my favorite (and least pretentious) reads of the year so far. Let me sidestep for a moment and confess that one of the reasons it took me longer than usual to read this book is because I was reading it out loud to Sandy at the rate of two chapters per evening. We've never laughed so hard. Part of this is because (both of us have expat experience and therefore) we could totally relate to and understand the multiple culture shocks. Let's see. Stepping in cow poop. Paying bribes to get stuff done. Dealing with the local maintenance man who never quite gets around to fixing stuff. And oh, Costa Rica may have an excellent health care system, but their roads are really, really bad.

Even their expat neighbors provide material. I wonder if the woman who pees in the yard realizes she's being written about? Somehow I have a feeling she wouldn't mind. Or wouldn't care.

Of course, the main thing is that living the Pura Vida life in Costa Rica mellows Nadine out. Here, whether she's watching spider monkeys or getting up close and personal with a volcano, she feels at home. After a year in Costa Rica, she's able to live in the moment and just be. Based on her blog (also called Happier Than A Billionaire -- and this interview), she and Rob have been in Costa Rica for four years now. And they live off about $1,000 a month. A thousand dollars a month for two people! Now you know why I'm thinking about retiring South.

Bottom line: if you're thinking about skipping the country and heading South, or if you just like good/fun writing, read Happier Than A Billionaire. You'll like it.

Dear Nadine, you are living my dream, and I'm highly jealous. :) With Best Wishes, Mariandy.