After visiting Costa Rica many times since 2005 and planning a retirement there someday, we are now actually doing it.  In October of 2013, we sold our home of 22 years in Chapel Hill, NC.  We forced our two children (Jane and Erik) to divide up the family treasures and other stuff that we had collected over the years.  What they didn’t want, we sold or gave away.  We put the rest of our things – mostly kitchen items, books, a few pieces of furniture and some trinkets in storage in Chapel Hill.  Eventually, we will ship those things to Costa Rica in a container.  For now, we plan to rent to a furnished house to make sure that we like living in Costa Rica before we build our own home.  (When we return to NC for visits, we live with our daughter and her long-time boyfriend.  We have a suite on their second floor.  We are so fortunate they enjoy having us around!)

On January 7, 2014 we headed down to start this new adventure in our lives.  This blog will attempt to capture our experiences, sights, thoughts and hopes as we move ourselves down to Costa Rica and start living there.

We live on the Southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica in Hatillo near Dominical.  We chose to settle in this part of Costa Rica for many reasons – primarily the abundant wildlife, proximity to the ocean, climate and remoteness of the area.

Costa_Rica_map_detail2 blog

Ed and Ellen Hoel

27 thoughts on “About

  1. Wow this is way too cool, I’m glad I stumbled on your blog, because I am looking to do the same in the not-too-distant future. I’m 25 and I’ve traveled to Costa Rica twice and its such an adventure! So cool to see someone making the ‘leap’. Dominical is beautiful too. Probably my favorite city on the Pacific, in total I’ve spent about a week there. 5 days on one trip, and then a 2 nighter cutting back to San Jose from Corcovado on another. I hope it’s not too much to ask, but I’d like to learn about the logistics and your experiences in buying/renting land there. Might you like to exchange a few emails for a curious and motivated traveler?

    I’d love to hear from you, but looking forward to following your adventure regardless!

  2. Hi ya’ll! I’ve been keeping up with your house building and your blog altogether. Very interesting. My wife and I would love to do something like this at some point too. We’ve visited Bocas Del Toro and Roatan .. both beautiful but our next destination will be Costa Rica. Been doing a ton of research before hand. We are still 5+ years away from being able to relocate, so it’s nice to watch from a distance someone’s journey. Keep up the great work. So excited for both of you and what your future in CR holds for you! God Bless.

    Patrick and Kim

    • Hi Patrick and Kim,
      We are glad to hear that you’re enjoying the blog. It has been fun documenting and sharing our adventures. Costa Rica is a beautiful place for sure and there is much variety throughout this small country in terms of scenery and climate. Doing a ton of research is wise. No matter where you might consider relocating to, my best advise is to visit for an extended period of time, like 3 months or more, if possible, before making any decisions (and even then, rent before you buy). Living and vacationing in a place are two different animals, for sure. Best wishes to you both in your coming adventures! E&E

  3. We are ready to build in Santa Teresa/Mal Pais using Panacor. We woul love any suggestions on how to find a builder familiar with Panacor. We have contacted Panacor but have not heard back as of yet. We are only here for another 4 weeks, but our son stays.

    • Hi Viv,
      I’m not familiar with any builders in your area, but I would suggest you start asking around to try and find the most reputable ones and see who might be familiar with Panacor. My builder has been working with it for the past 8 years or so and has perfected the process. He recommends using Repemax repello and applying it to the Panacor with a concrete sprayer. Apparently, in the past there were issues with small cracks developing, however, with the Repemax he has not had that problem. Good luck with your project. Ed

  4. Hi Ellen & Ed
    Love your Blog. Just found it tonite in my search for PEX. You have done a great job on your new home and your educational blog. I visited your home a few weeks ago with our contractor which he have in common (Marvin). Hope we see you again some day. We are from California and building in Uvita, just around corner from you guys. We too took the leap, sold everything and are renting while we build. Have done lots of research on the PEX, you are right it is the best way to go.
    John, Marcy and Megan

    • Hi John,
      It was nice meeting you and Megan that day. Thanks for your kind words regarding the house. It has been a fun process and we’ve enjoyed sharing experiences on the blog. I think you will be pleased with Marvin and his work. I have told him that I can help with ordering PEX materials, etc. if he needs me to. Good luck with everything on your building project! Ed

  5. Ed & Ellen,
    I am thrilled to have found your blog. I would like to say that,” I Can’t Believe It!”
    But, of course I can believe it, you two can accomplish anything! So happy for you!
    Your home is beautiful! Congratulations on making it a reality.

    • Hi Kara,
      It’s been awhile! I’m glad you found our blog and thanks so much for reaching out. It is great to have finished the house and to start enjoying it. You know you’re always welcome to come down and stay with us. Costa Rica is always an adventure!

      • Would love to see you here or there, or anywhere 🙂
        I love the pets and the videos of the monkeys and was that a sloth? ( it looks like me on most mornings )Amazing.
        You will have to send an email address so that I can send you photos and show off my children.
        I will look forward to reading your updates.

  6. Ed,
    We met you today with Marvin as you graciously showed us your house. As i drove down the hill, it struck me that i had perhaps seen your house before and then realized it was from this blog i found while searching for information on panacor. Funny…thank you again for showing us your great house and for the ideas you shared. we are a year or two behind you but hope to be full time ASAP …John & Terry

  7. Congratulations! Your home is amazing. My wife and I are doing the same thing in San Vito. We found you researching Panacor, just like someone else who commented previously.
    Our intention is to you the System 1 panals which have a Mg finish already on the outsides of the panels. Are you happy with you decision to use Panacor? Do you feel as though it was an economical choice?

    • Ken,
      Thanks for your comments. We are certainly enjoying the fruits of our labors. I have heard about the panels with the Mg finish, but don’t have anything to base a direct comparison to the Panacor. We went with the Panacor system vs. some other due to our builder’s experience with the product. Panacor did certainly save money on labor and reduced the time to completion. I would do it the same way again. Good luck with your project!

  8. We love how your home turned out – seems like overall most things went pretty well for the build. Does Marvin and his crew speak English? We are trying to build something in Platanillo from 4,000 miles away and it makes us fear the ‘lost in translation’ piece (we speak almost no Spanish but are currently working to offset that!), as well as not being on site daily/weekly. Does he have a website? Was there a builder that would have been your second choice? Thanks for sharing your ongoing fun story.

    • Lora and Darren,
      Thanks! We love our new home! It came out better than I expected, so can’t beat that. Marvin and his crew do not speak English. His brother, Minor, who is an electrician and does the work on Marvin’s jobs, does speak English, but is not on site daily. There can be plenty of miscommunication if you don’t have someone to translate. I would not want to have tried to build this house from long distance. You need someone who is there to oversee and answer questions as they come up. If not, you are not likely to get what you want or envision.

  9. Hello Ed and Ellen,
    I would like to introduce myself, my name is Randy Havener and wife is Michele. I found your blog while researching Panacor building materials in Costa Rica. I haven’t read all of your blog yet but what I have read and seen so far is very impressive.
    Michele and I are just getting started on our journey to Costa Rica for retirement. We have purchase our property last year and planning to start building next year. Our property is not to far from yours. The location is the south end of Uvita up on a hill over looking the ocean similar to your beautiful home.
    From what I have read so far on your blog our plans are very similar to what you and Ellen have already done. The information that you supplied in your blog has been very helpful.
    If you don’t mind I have few questions on the Panacor building materials for a home.
    Please let know if you have time to answer them. I will continue to read your blog and I’m sure it has lot more helpful information.

    Pura Vida,

    • Hi Randy and Michele,
      Thanks for your comments and glad you’re enjoying our blog. We have had a wonderful journey so far and hope that you do as well. I am happy to try and answer your questions.

      Best regards,

  10. Hi Ed,

    Wondering how you like the plastic roof tiles. I am planning construction on my lot in the neighboring country to the north and thinking about using tejareal. Just looking for some honest feedback.



    • Anthony,

      Overall, I am happy with the Teja Real roof tiles. I really like the look without the problems associated with clay tiles. I recommend installing them over a zinc sub-roof as it would be very difficult to make them water tight at the ridges and valleys under heavy rain in windy conditions. Regards, Ed

  11. Hi Ed and Ellen!
    So great to be able to see your blog…..what an amazing home! The kids and I love seeing the pictures and videos of the turtles and your pets. Glad that you are enjoying your life there…..I can’t believe that you turned 60 Ed.
    It’s a good thing that they have you to brew 😀. So scary Nate must have been and that Boulder is amazing…..the kids want to the footage of the alligator eating that man….NOT going to happen…gross!
    Let us hear from you when you have time.

    • Hi Kara! So nice to hear from you! We’re glad you all are enjoying reading the blog and looking at our photos. As you can see, we have had many adventures and surprises along our journey through life in Costa Rica. There is still so much of this country that we have not seen. We never know what we might see around the next corner! So, I am glad that my iPhone has such a good camera as I always have it with me. We’re long overdue for another blog post or two, so follow us, if you’re not already. Ed & Ellen

  12. Hello from Chapel Hill, well, actually Carrboro!

    Diana and I are moving to Costa Rica (Moravia, suburb of San Jose) and we had a couple of questions regarding a shipping container and the customs costs that you encountered on your move.
    We’re planning on moving at the beginning of 2019, and we’ve been trying to get our heads around the costs, as the estimates vary significantly.
    Any help at all and we’d be eternally grateful!

    Happy Holiday!

    • Hi Matthew and Diana from Carrboro,

      As you probably read, we used Mike Rappaport of Logistics Management Services. It was of course five years ago, so I’m not sure how relevant our costs are to those of today, but I will email you some more detailed information directly. Ed

  13. Hello, We have been considering Costa Rica for a while, (we are right now located in France, which is another place we are considering), We read your blog and have some questions about your experience. Would it be possible to chat with you?
    Cheers, Michael

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