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A couple who moved from the US to Costa Rica and saves $1,500 a month thinks more Americans should move abroad
By Alcynna Lloyd,
Zach Gerth recently moved to Costa Rica, a small country in Central America with many English speakers.
He and his partner left the US to improve their standard of living and start a new business.
Gerth says the move has saved them money and is allowing them to better prepare for the future.
Zach Gerth, 35, and his partner, Anna Sosdian, 34, have spent the majority of their adult lives traveling and living abroad. In 2022, the American couple finally laid down roots in Costa Rica, a small, Central American country located between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean that is known for ecotourism and is home to many American expats due to the prevalence of English speakers.
"We wanted to be ideally in US time zones for work and business reasons," Gerth told Insider, adding that the couple also wanted to be in a country where they could "actually speak the language."
Ultimately, the move has saved their household $1,500 per month, allowing them to afford a larger home, healthcare services, and even launch an international relocation business called StartAbroad that helps other digital nomads — remote workers who travel for extended periods of time — receive Costa Rica's digital visa program, which extends the period of time remote workers, business owners, and freelancers can stay in the country.
"For where we are currently, there are downsides to living outside of the US — distance from family and friends, things get done much more slowly, customer service is not emphasized, etc — but for our priorities the upside is absolutely worth it," he added. "Our quality of life is higher for a lower monthly cost."
Remote work has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for how and where people live. It's also creating more opportunity for those who apsire live a life untethered to the office . A 2021 study from remote consulting firm MBO Partners found that over 15 million Americans described themselves as digital nomads, up 42% from 2020 and 112% from 2019. With still-high home prices , and higher inflation elevating the cost of living in the US, it's not surprising that more Amerians are moving abroad .
"Maybe you're retired and you need access to affordable healthcare, maybe you're just fed up with the situation in the US, or you can work remotely," Gerth said. "There will always be people who want to move abroad."
Returning briefly to the US was "shockingly expensive"
In 2020, the couple happened to be visiting San Francisco for a wedding when pandemic travel restrictions went into effect. They were visiting from Rwanda, where they were permanently residing, and ultimately, unable to immediately return back to.
"All of our stuff, including our cat, was still in Rwanda, and we had no idea when we might get to go back, if at all," Gerth said. "Anna made plans to go to Rwanda several times, and always had to cancel for various reasons."
Relocating to the States was no easy task for the pair. For one thing, their housing costs were considerably higher than in Rwanda. In Africa, the couple was paying $1,000 a month for a 4-bedroom 3-bath home with a "beautiful back-yard" in an expat neighborhood — a fraction of the rent they were paying while briefly living in the United States.
"When we moved back to the US, going out to eat was shockingly expensive," Gerth told Insider. "Additionally, our rent doubled, and what was truly crazy were some of the medical expenses."
As costs mounted, the couple — who spent several months moving from one rental to the next, as well as living in a renovated camper van — worried about the long-term sustainability of permanent residency in the US.
"We were at a point in our lives where we were thinking about having a family and how we would love to have a home," Gerth told Insider. "Those things just weren't going to really happen for us in the US."
Gerth and Sosdian's dreams of social and economic mobility may no longer be tied to America — but they certainly live on in Costa Rica.
"We are surrounded by incredible nature, we live in a small, community-oriented town and know all of our neighbors, and we get to live in another culture which emphasizes and prioritizes things differently," Gerth said.
"We anticipate a big quality of life improvement to be if and when we have a child — we will be able to afford medical care and part-time help over the first six to twelve months, which will allow us to continue focusing on the business as much as possible," he added.
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