After we returned from our Costa Rica vacation in 1997, life continued pretty much as usual, but as the year 2000 rolled around economic conditions started to take a turn for the worse. Some bad business decisions and some changes in our market caused us to sell our business. Unfortunately, after we sold the business in August 2001, 9-11, the subsequent economic downturn, and conflicts with the new owner changed what we had hoped to be a retirement plan into a financial disaster.
We both were lucky to get good jobs and survive the financial problems and for a couple of years our lives were pretty stable, but time was wearing on.
I was experiencing some minor but expensive medical problems and our expenses continued to rise, out-running our earning power.
One night in the summer of 2002, I was going over our monthly bills and although we did not have any debt our monthly fixed expenses were eating up all our income. I can remember remarking to Mary, “It looks like we are going to have to work till we die.” I had just turned 65 and was receiving Social Security, but an estimate of what Mary would draw at 62 left us way short of our monthly expenses. She was only 59, so to accumulate enough money and draw her full Social Security I would have to work till I was 72 and she wouldn’t draw full SS until she was 67. I was pretty depressed. Our monthly insurance premiums exceeded $700.00 per month and they were rapidly rising.
Mary listened to my tale of woe and when I finished the tale of the tape she made a startling statement. “Why don’t we move to Costa Rica,” she said.
I about fell out of the chair, and when I came to my senses my first remark was, “What about Jonna and Mica?” Mary, our daughter and granddaughter were extremely close and I knew this would not sit well in the Mayes family.
I guess she had been thinking about this for more than a minute because she explained that we had to retire sometime, and when we did we would have to move to some place cheaper and anyplace we could live economically, would have to be some distance away. So as long as they would have to travel why not go someplace that has a wonderful climate, beautiful scenery, a low cost of living and economical medical care.
Well, it made sense to me but I knew that Jonna wouldn’t buy it quite so easily.
The next day I received another message. I thought I was living the “Field of Dreams.” I have never listened to the Howard Stern Show before that day, or since, but for some reason my car radio was tuned to him and strangely I didn’t change it. He happened to have a guest that had written a book that offered short, simple answers to life’s problems. Some one called in and complained that they were depressed, and also their wife was depressed. Howard, of course, jumped on that and yelled, “After listening to you I’m getting depressed.” He challenged his guest, “I’ll bet you don’t have an instant answer for that?” The author said, “As a matter of fact, I do. Find something you are passionate about, create a dream and then start working towards it. It doesn’t even matter if you ever attain the dream. The action and involvement in your new found passion will lift the depression, and you never know passionate action often produces results.”
Mary had now given us the dream and I decided right then we were going to passionately pursue retiring in Costa Rica.
Our first step was to plan another trip to Costa Rica and through books, and the internet try to learn as much about our dream land as we could.
This created the first saga of the adventures of the “Costa Rica Six.