A New Kind of Wealth in Costa Rica
I have to admit it: before I began reading “Happier than a Billionaire (Quitting my Job, Moving to Costa Rica & Living the Zero Hour Work Week)”, I immediately lumped it into a catch-all category inhabited by dozens of other books I had seen with a similar premise. Boy, was I wrong. To begin with, I have since met the author, Nadine Hays Pisani and her husband Rob. They are definitely not a pie-eyed New Age couple, afloat in their own naïveté (not that there is anything wrong with that), nor are they a Bonnie & Clyde couple fleeing some lurid past. In fact, they are a level-headed professional couple who got fed up with the rat race and opted for a more rewarding lifestyle.
In her book, Nadine presents the dilemmas and angst of taking the gamble, cutting the cord of a secure job (they were both chiropractors with a private business), and allowing yourself to freefall. I remember and it’s scary. But Nadine’s approach in her writing is unique because she uses humor to tell their story. She is able to laugh at herself and I admire that. She also does not candy-coat their experiences, presenting the beauty, the splendors and the reward of a more relaxed lifestyle alongside the frustrations, tiny remorses and fears that come with relocating to a new culture. Paradise has its nuances, after all. But it’s delivered with a quick East Coast wit where anyone and everything is fair game.
Nadine also uses the book as a kind of memoir, often reflecting back to earlier experiences in her life, many times including her sister and her dad, who appear to be cornerstones in Nadine’s life. Her real anchor in this new environment is her husband Rob, a knight to her rescue in perilous times, the brunt of her venting episodes and generally an even-keeled genuinely nice guy. She is also able to include helpful facts about Costa Rica seamlessly into her story so they don’t feel like a history or geography lesson, not an easy feat.
I particularly enjoyed Nadine’s depictions of the friendliness of people here throughout the course of everyday life, be it shopping for vegetables, walking your dog or chatting with friends and nearby customers in a restaurant, likening it to life in The States in the Fifties. “You may spend more time at the bank because the teller speaks to every person about their day,” she told me, “but then she gets to you and asks about your day…and it feels nice when she does”. One point Nadine learns from her experience is that we are all allowed to choose how we ingest what life deals us and I thank her for reminding me. And her humor! If she ever wants to look for a second occupation, she might want to consider “stand-up comic”. She told me she is actually already considering writing a second book about life here.
Considering the fact that “Happier than a Billionaire” was featured on CNN, I think she is making a wise decision. Her book is available at the Jaime Peligro book stores in Playa Tamarindo, Quepos and Nuevo Arenal. All comments on this article are gladly welcome.