scorecardA 26-year-old executive assistant moved from Utah to Costa Rica to work remotely. She makes less than half of what she did but works less than 30 hours a week and loves the peace of mind.
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A 26-year-old executive assistant moved from Utah to Costa Rica to work remotely. She makes less than half of what she did but works less than 30 hours a week and loves the peace of mind.

Alcynna Lloyd   

A 26-year-old executive assistant moved from Utah to Costa Rica to work remotely. She makes less than half of what she did but works less than 30 hours a week and loves the peace of mind.
LifeThelife3 min read

  • Melodie Powers-Draper, an executive assistant, moved from Salt Lake City to Costa Rica in 2023.
  • She now lives in La Fortuna where her monthly expenses are below $2,000 a month.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Melodie Powers-Draper, 26, about leaving the United States for a life in La Fortuna, a small town in Costa Rica. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

I'm from Salt Lake City, Utah. I've pretty much lived there my whole life.

I had a very difficult upbringing and experienced a lot of trauma. While living in the city, I was working on healing alongside therapists and life coaches, as well as practicing meditation.

However, in 2022, I was getting burnt out with my nine to five job. I worked with kids at a mental health clinic where I facilitated group therapy. It was a super rewarding workplace but I was struggling with my mental health. I realized that I did not want to live in Utah anymore.

I always knew I would live in Costa Rica

I've always been fascinated by the Latino culture and language. In 2018, I started traveling to Costa Rica. I don't know how to really describe it but I felt spiritually connected to the country — I truly feel like a part of me absolutely belongs in Costa Rica.

By 2022, I had visited the country seven times and made many connections and friends. I had been talking about living there for a long time but it wasn't until June of that year that I decided to move there long term.

Before moving to Costa Rica, I started working as an executive assistant for my uncle who owns Airbnbs and Getaway Rentalz, a business that rents out vans, Jeeps and electric bicycles. I realized I could make my job full time and remote, which would make it easier for me to transition to the country.

At first, I didn't know what my finances were going to look like. However, I believed in myself, and I knew that I was going to figure it out.

I live in an affordable neighborhood with a lot to do

In January 2023, I moved to Costa Rica. I am not a materialistic person whatsoever, so I took just two suitcases with me. I am not fluent in Spanish, so I chose to live in La Fortuna. I knew I would be surrounded by a lot of locals who speak English, so it would be much easier integrating into the environment.

I live in a two-bedroom and one-bathroom apartment and pay just $650 a month. I have AC, hot water, and electricity, and am only a 10 minute walk from downtown La Fortuna.

My neighborhood is small and everything is in close proximity to the police station. I've got a dentist, a bank, and all kinds of stores within walking distance. There are tons of outdoor activities and a million different spots for hot springs, which I visit every weekend.

There are quite a few people from various parts of the world that also live in La Fortuna. It gives me an opportunity to meet other solo travelers or remote workers.

Starting my own business has helped me thrive in Costa Rica

Costa Rica's time zone is the same as Mountain Standard Time, which is great because I'm able to support my clients who are state-side. I work under 30 hours a week and typically spend my afternoons either at home or in restaurants and co-working spaces.

My uncle and I decided that it would make more sense for me to transition to having my own company. I am now in the process of creating my own website and making the business an LLC.

I make $1,700 a month — half of the income that I made when living in Utah — and spend probably $1,500 a month on rent, water, internet, groceries, coworking spaces, and travel. I'm not a spender so it's easy for me to live off of less than $2,000 a month.

I'm working on building my income by bringing on new clients. As I work on my business, I will be able to make more and eventually triple or quadruple my income.

Moving to Costa Rica has really propelled me into developing structure in my life and has allowed me to focus on myself. I really only have myself to lean on day to day, and because of that, I've developed a lot of mental strength.




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