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170 Moving your family to Costa Rica and developing a Ananda Retreat Lodge

170 Moving your family to Costa Rica and developing a Ananda Retreat Lodge
170 Moving your family to Costa Rica and developing a Ananda Retreat Lodge

Podcast Transcription

[Richard Bexon]
Good morning, guys. How are you doing?

[Jason Ocana]
Good morning. Yeah, we're doing well.

[Kim Ocana]
Good morning.

[Richard Bexon]
From sunny Guanacaste, right?

[Jason Ocana]
Yep. We're here at our home in Matapalo.

[Richard Bexon]
Awesome. Awesome. Well, let's get straight into the podcast, guys, as I know that you're busy building a retreat lodge.

So let's get straight into it. But I mean, with real estate in North America kind of on a downward trend, I mean, what are you guys starting to see here in Costa Rica?

[Jason Ocana]
Yeah, I would say that as with history, what history has shown that Costa Rica kind of tends to follow the North American trends or the American trends. So I think we're starting to see a little bit of a slowdown. Some of the homes and properties are starting to stay on the market a little bit longer.

Not quite as hot in some of the outlier areas. You're still seeing stuff move, saying that Tamarindo, Playa Grande, Flamingo markets, but maybe in some of the outlying areas and maybe like a Huacas or whatnot, you're starting to definitely see some slowdowns in some of those neighborhoods.

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah, I agree. I mean, I was there yesterday in Tamarindo and Flamingo and then up in Coco and their prices are still very, very, very strong. There was a three bedroom motion view yesterday at 750,000.

I mean, that prior to the pandemic was probably around about 500,000, but stuff outside those outlying areas as the market kind of contracts, everything contracts around those main areas, as you said there, Tamarindo, Playa Grande, Flamingo. So yeah. I mean, it's very weird to be doing this podcast with you because as I said, I think that you're the first people that I've done a podcast with who contacted us and are working with us because of the podcast.

But it's great. I mean, it's great. And that's why I wanted to get you on here to kind of explain your journey, kind of what you've been through here, because I think a lot of other people out there are thinking of doing this or in the process of doing it.

And I think it's just great to get some advice, some advice and some of your experience out there to them. But if you don't mind me asking, why did you guys decide to move full time to Costa Rica with the family?

[Kim Ocana]
Yeah. So moving to Costa Rica was something we had planned on doing in about 10 years when our children had graduated high school. And clearly we've moved that timeline up.

I found myself burnt out on a long term corporate career and that was serving no one in our household. So I left that job in pursuit of other passions. And then shortly thereafter, we lost our home in the hurricane.

And Jason as a firefighter found himself in a similar position that I was in, which was just really tired. We knew we really wanted to be in service of people, but the roles that we were in just weren't optimal and weren't sustainable. So after that series of events, we started doing a lot of research on the internet of whether we could make it possible sooner than later.

We also considered the fact that maybe in 10 years, our children wouldn't want to move to Costa Rica. And the way that everything was laying into place in North America and the United States, we started to feel a bit uneasy and unsafe with our children in the school system, the political unrest, the continued just violence and uncertainty with the economy. And we really wanted a lifestyle that was more simple, a lifestyle that focused on quality time with family, that focused on being in nature, being one with nature, eating whole foods.

And so we decided to take a leap of faith and move up that timeline and move here now where we could experience the next eight to 10 years with our children together with more quality time as a family.

[Richard Bexon]
Why do you think Costa Rica gives that quality time with family, if you don't mind me asking? Because I mean, you could theoretically get it at home, but like, why? I mean, what does Costa Rica have that makes it so special in order to have that with your children?

[Kim Ocana]
I mean, I will say, I think it starts with the Pura Vida essence of quality time is what is central, having conversation and being in the moment, the amount of distractions are greatly reduced. You know, there's not targets and Walmarts and malls and everything to distract you and fool you into consumerism. Here, that's removed.

And what is here is quality time with people over a cup of coffee or a meal or sitting at the beach. So you take all that away, you strip everything away, and you're back to what our ancestors had, which is being with the land, being with nature, and it forces you to kind of congeal as a family. I mean, in the United States, we were working so hard, we couldn't have developed the business plan that we have in the United States, it just it wouldn't be feasible for us.

So moving here allowed us to do that, which allows us to take our kids to school and to pick them up from school and to actually be with them more to shape them as humans and also experience time as a family.

[Jason Ocana]
Absolutely. One of the things that I say down here is tenemos tiempo, we have time. And yeah, again, we're able to take the kids to school, we get up early, rise with the sun, fall with the sun, able to make breakfast before school, able to have family dinners all the time.

So it just without that fast paced American lifestyle, you just end up falling into this slower pace, easier living, you know, closer to the closer to the earth closer to your people.

[Kim Ocana]
And it's a much tighter community feel. I think I didn't realize because where we lived in the United States in Florida, there's a lot of people and everyone's moving and everyone's busy. And you think, oh, I spend a lot of time with people, but they're so distracted that the depth of conversation really isn't there.

They're checking their phone, they have a meeting, they have some other function to run to. Whereas here, there is this essence of operating as a village, being in support of each other. And that feels really good.

I mean, it feels a little foreign at first, but it feels really nice to be in a real community and have that feeling of having support.

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah, I mean, I think the biggest fear maybe is that when people move here is that like, what about community, like friends? What about my kids? You know, I think that that's always the biggest thing, because usually where people are coming from, that they have somewhat of that community.

And I remember talking to you guys about it, where I was like, guys, you will be overwhelmed by community when you when you come down here, like everybody is looking for community, especially expats, but also locals are so welcoming as well. So I mean, how easy, you know, was it to find a good school? How easy was it to create a community?

And kind of what things did you guys do to create that? Because I think that that's really is the, you know, the center for most people's worries when coming to Costa Rica.

[Jason Ocana]
Well, one of the reasons we chose this particular area in Guanacaste is because there are a lot of good options for expats. There's a great expat community here. There's great, several great school options.

We chose La Paz for our children. It's a very similar school to the school that they were attending in the United States, a lot of project-based learning, similar core values, small classroom size, which was all very important to us and our children's futures and educations. As far as our community goes, I think within a day or so of being here, we were already included in the family group chat.

And there's a constant dialogue happening amongst the community of, hey, where can I get this? Or hey, can I borrow this? Has anybody seen, you name it, somebody's had the experience and has an answer for all the way down to, hey, has anyone seen my children?

Because the children just are able to just run wild out here and grow up as we did as kids that you don't typically really see anymore in the United States. Our kids in the U.S., they weren't running out the door when they got home from school to go play with their friends. Our daughter, I've lost her a couple of nights where I just have no clue whose condo she's in or where she's at in the neighborhood.

I know she's safe and she's out there enjoying life with her friends. And that was another one of our big goals for moving down here is get our children off of tech and get them out in the world. Let's stop and smell the roses, so to speak.

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's just it is incredible with that.

I mean, that's why I never moved out of my community is just I don't lock the doors and the kids will run around. And yeah, I mean, you know, they just they just like exactly. I mean, I grew up on military bases, so it was very easy because it was fenced in.

You know, the door would open at nine. We were like wild dogs running out and we'd come back when we needed something to eat or drink and then we'd be back out again. So.

So, yeah, I think Costa Rica can give that. I think probably more enclosed communities than they would be in kind of more, you know, open style communities. But I mean, let's just change gears here to to to the retreat lodge, because, again, that's what we're you know, you guys are building.

But I mean, where did the idea to create that come from? And why Costa Rica?

[Kim Ocana]
Yeah, I can I can start and I'm sure Jason will add in. The idea of the retreat lodge came. It really was born out of a place of despair, a place of feeling overwhelmed with my life and corporate and the work that I was doing.

I was very disconnected from my soul essence and was very sick. I was actually physically very sick for nine months and I didn't know why. And it wasn't until I started doing some deep soul searching and took a trip to the Amazon that I uncovered how misaligned I really was in my life.

And that introduced me to plant medicine, healing and vibrational healing with sound and also trauma therapy. And so I started on this path after leaving corporate to really explore this whole new world of healing at the root that it is so not available in Western medicine, especially in the U.S. It is illegal. And that really opened up doors and a pathway of what we wanted to do with this.

And then after losing our home and Jason and finding himself burnt out as well, it opened this door to Costa Rica, a place where plant medicine is decriminalized and finding a piece of land that was sacred in an area that we really liked. And so the idea really came from a need for my own healing, a need for healing for our family unit, a need for Jason's own personal healing and this. This desire to want to spread that healing, there are so many people that are struggling with addiction, with PTSD, with depression, with anxiety, we are war ridden.

We are at odds with each other. We are so divided. And so this lodge and this healing center provides an opportunity for people to come back to themselves to heal what is at the root cause of their pain, their suffering, their depression, their anxiety, their misalignment.

And we really wanted to offer that because of the deep healing that I've experienced in working with healers directly from South America, we wanted to provide people a really safe place to experience healing with plant medicine and also other modalities as well, yoga, breath work, but it's ultimately driven from if we can heal ourselves, then collectively we can heal society, we can help to heal the planet, and we can come together in a unified way of lifting each other up.

And again, Costa Rica provided the ultimate opportunity for that because plant medicine is decriminalized because of Costa Rica's focus and importance on sustainability and reverence for the land and knowing that plants come from the land, right? And so having a place that really respected that essence, and also it's more accessible. South America and the Amazonian jungle is not for everyone, right?

It's a very big commitment. And so Costa Rica is a bridge to access ancestral medicine in a really safe way in a beautiful country where you can also zip line and see waterfalls and monkeys and sloths and surf. So it was an ideal location, not just for our family, but for building this dream so that we can help spread healing throughout the world.

[Richard Bexon]
It's funny that you say this, I was sat down with the head of tourism for the International Development Bank, a bank that develops all throughout Latin America. And we were talking about the future of where tourism is going, both in Costa Rica and also in Latin America. And we were talking about how everyone is so much on this treadmill at the moment, and it's sensory overload.

How do you take them off that treadmill in order to make them present? And I was like, just a digital detox. As soon as you arrive at a hotel, throwing your cell phone and any electronics in it, it's just like, I mean, you mentioned on the start of the call, how much of a distraction that is.

It's like a drug, basically. I mean, it is a drug. It's exactly the same, I think, sensory nodes in the brain that certain drugs do.

So I think that and then also, yeah, I mean, just slowing down and being present. I mean, it's a great country. I always say, we see the best of people here in Costa Rica because there is no stress.

I was with clients yesterday, their cell phone didn't work. They were like, it's amazing. It was a frustration at start, but it's been great.

We've had no distractions throughout the day, apart from you, Richard. It is amazing.

[Kim Ocana]
I noticed when I go back to the United States now, how frenetic my nervous system is, how overwhelmed it feels, but I had no perspective or context because that was my life. So my nervous system was just operating at such a high level. And when I come here, it takes me a day or two, it takes me time to go to the ocean, to be at the beach, to be with the land and hear the birds.

And all of a sudden, I noticed that my rhythm and my nervous system settles down. And so we want to give people this place and this space to land, to be one with yourself, your breath, to really settle down. And then when we can come to that quietness and that stillness, our inner intelligence starts to speak the intelligence of the body, of our higher self.

And that's where the healing happens because we believe that we are each healers in our own right. And that our property in this land and the space and the setting that we provide helps to just bring that out for people.

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, how did you guys get started?

I mean, you had this idea of like, look, we've kind of got this idea, this is the plan. But like, you know, how even to get started? I mean, how did it start for you guys?

[Jason Ocana]
Well, we've always been into real estate. Back in the States, I was flipping homes way back in the early, early 2000s. Upon meeting Kim Kimberly and I, we've also done our fair share of real estate investment and she became a real estate agent as well.

So, we've always been in the property and development business, so to speak. Costa Rica, that is a place for myself. I took my first trip down here in the year 2000, going down surfing with buddies and just absolutely fell in love with the land, the culture, the waves, obviously.

I mean, world-class waves all over the place. But as we developed it as a family and the children got older, we decided to bring the family down and have the kids experience as well as Kimberly experience Costa Rica and what it has to offer. And over several trips, we started coming down more often, we started coming down longer and longer, and it just kind of snowballed from there of, hey, I think we could really find ourselves living down here long-term.

Couple that with the events that Kimberly was talking about that took place, just kind of pushed us a little bit more over the edge to start looking for ways to make this a reality. So, as we started doing a lot of that research on the internet, we quickly come to find out that there is no MLS in Costa Rica. You're just looking at properties on a bunch of different websites and there might not be up-to-date.

So, you may find a property that you really love, come to find out it actually got sold six months ago. It's no longer available on the market. So, as we started doing this research and getting a little bit more serious, we happened to run into this British bloke on the internet.

And that's how we came to find you, Richard, at Invest in Costa Rica. And we developed this relationship with you, creating just a wonderful team. Without your team, we absolutely would not be where we are today.

But from going down and meeting with you and Eric, looking at different properties, even at that point, we were unsure of what it was that we wanted. We were looking at hotels, we were looking at some mixed-use commercial slash residential properties, as well as raw land. And ultimately, we decided that none of those exactly fit the bill of what we were looking for.

And we landed in this beautiful property up in the Playa Grande area and decided, hey, let's just build from scratch, which that's where we are right now.

[Kim Ocana]
Yeah. And I'll say for me, I didn't want to just run a business in Costa Rica. I didn't want to find myself in the same position that I was in the United States, just running a business, running the books, needing to make money.

It needed to have sole purpose. And I was really grateful that we were able to see so many different options that allowed it to be clear that creating something from the ground up was the best choice. And to echo Jason's comments, without your team, there's no way that that would have been possible.

I mean, from what we're learning about the market here and building here, it's very different. And so it's very important to take your time, do your due diligence and have the right team in place to do that due diligence because it's definitely unique from the United States.

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah, I'm sure that you guys have heard of like these disaster construction things that take forever or like the construction guy goes missing or take some of the money, those kind of things. I mean, it happens left, right and center here. And I'm like, sometimes I don't know what happens if people seem to drink a cocktail and then like all the stuff that they would do in the US just goes out the window here of like, I just gave the guy 50%, or, hey, at 12 months when my house wasn't finished, he said he'd get it done in a month.

It was like, look, it's just got walls on it. There's no way it's going to be done kind of within that month. So yeah, I mean, I agree, you know, Costa Rica is you just need great advisors here.

And to put together a great team, and especially if you're doing something commercially here, you know, the market is just so different. You know, I was meeting with a Peruvian hotelier the other day, and I was like, this is how the market works here. He was like, that's so different than Peru.

I was like, every country is different. Panama is different than Costa Rica, which is different than Nicaragua, different than Guatemala with regards to agencies where the business comes from how taxes work. Yeah, I mean, it's yeah, it's a chainsaw juggling act, as I like to say, but I mean, what advice do you have for people, you know, looking to invest in Costa Rica or doing something similar?

[Jason Ocana]
It's not for the faint of heart, we will say. No, like, like we just got done saying there is a excuse me, and you skipped a few heartbeats.

[Richard Bexon]
No, during the process.

[Jason Ocana]
Absolutely, absolutely. And it comes in waves. Like we said, you just got to keep surfing that wave.

You know, as you've said to me many, many a time, but yeah, do your due diligence, do your research. Again, it's not for the faint of heart. It's this is different than anything you've experienced in any other country.

Stuff takes time. So again, with the Pura Vida lifestyle, tranquilo, you have to be tranquilo in order to make it through. Just because they said that it was going to get done tomorrow.

Tomorrow does not exactly translate to tomorrow. It could be next week. And you just kind of got to learn to go with the flow.

It will get done. Again, if you have your self surrounded with a good team, the project will move forward. The project will get done.

You just need to have that team in place to help move that process along.

[Kim Ocana]
And Costa Rica is a beautiful place to invest. I mean, I hope that more people invest with the with the intention of being one with the essence here and not trying to fight, fight the current, but be with the current that tranquilo because it is beautiful here. You just can't bring what what your customs were in your country of origin and and put them here because it doesn't work.

So you just have to, like Jason said, have a really good team that knows how to operate well in Costa Rica that has relationships and networks and that can guide you through it, because doing it alone, we have heard so many horror stories just from being here of people in our community that have lost $50,000, have lost their deposits, have had subpar construction done and they still want to live here. But it but you do need to know what you're getting into.

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah, I mean, I agree. This is look, it can be you've got two ways to do it. It can be easy or it can be hard, you know, so just surround yourself with the right people and it'll be easier.

Put it that way, because there is no easy thing in Costa Rica, but that's the beauty of it. You know, I like to say it has a natural filter because if it was really easy, everyone would be doing it. But because it's a little bit more difficult, only the people that really want to do it, get it done.

[Jason Ocana]
Absolutely. And you have to go down here with come down here with the mindset of it's going to be different. You can't go down if you're from the US with the US mentality of I'm going to I'm going to do it like this, because this is how it's done in the US.

And this is the right way to do it. If you're that fish trying to swim upstream, it's just a matter of time before you're going to end up packing up and heading out, you have to learn to just go with the flow. You'll lose all your hair if you try to try to go against that current, you just go with the flow, it will get done and just embrace the Pura Vida.

[Richard Bexon]
I agree. I agree. Well, my last question for you, which I love to ask anyone, and as I mentioned, you know, in the intro, this will be the first part of a variety of different podcasts I'd love to do with you guys as we go through the process.

I mean, you've got masonry walls up at the moment. So I'd love to go, you know, as we start to get a roof on, you know, and then as you start to kind of formulate more of I know that Ananda Lodge and all, you know, has its website up and ready. So I'll put that in the description down below so people can see it.

But if you guys inherited $500,000 and had to invest into a business or real estate in Costa Rica, what would you invest it in?

[Jason Ocana]
Well, we would most definitely invest it into the phase two part of our project. Absolutely. That would be our number one goal to get be able to get our phase two done as potentially as a 1.5 phase. But setting that aside, if I was coming down here as someone who just was looking to invest potentially for the first time in Costa Rica, I really do love the Black Grande area just in general, I would put my money there, whether it be in just some raw land, or potentially a home there. One of the beautiful things about Black Grande is that it is surrounded by the National Park. So there's only so much of that land to go around.

So get it while you can. Yep.

[Kim Ocana]
Yeah. And I agree, I would invest in Playa Grande, I might do a little restaurant or something of that there, there could be more of that feel in Playa Grande. I personally would also invest in healing and accessible healing, whether that is plant medicine or not.

The amount of war veterans, healthcare workers, first responders, we really want to focus on bringing them care and the more options that they have to access that in a country where it's decriminalized, and it's beautiful, and they can heal, the better that our world is going to be and plant medicine and the use of psychedelics is on the rise. It's all over the news, and everyone is exploring it. They're looking to synthesize the plant essence into chemicals when really we could come to a land that values the plants and understands the healing that's available.

So I would definitely invest in that.

[Richard Bexon]
Awesome. Well, guys, this has been great. And as I said, we'll get you back on probably in a couple of weeks or a month or two to kind of get an update of where you're at in the process.

And hopefully you guys don't lose all your hair during the next coming months anyway, but really appreciate you taking the time to come on the podcast.

[Jason Ocana]
Absolutely. Thanks so much for having us.

[Kim Ocana]
Thank you.

[Richard Bexon]
Have a great day, guys.

[Kim Ocana]
You too. Pura Vida.

Let's Get in Touch!

Kim and Jason Ocana, originally from FL, moved to Costa Rica with their two children to make Costa Rica home and develop a unique retreat lodge in Playa Grande. We discuss their experiences and advice on moving and building in Costa Rica.

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