Scores of city-dwelling Canadians daydream about ditching it all for a quieter, simpler country life. In an ongoing series, The Globe and Mail talks to ex-urbanites who actually got out of town – for good.
I grew up in a small town called Exeter, Ont. All through my youth I suffered from serious problems with body image and developed anorexia and bulimia in my teens. My dream going up was, I want to move to Toronto and take the subway to work. As luck would have it, I got an internship in Toronto at Global TV after I graduated from college.
They offered me a job when I finished the internship. I was 21. I ended up bouncing around the television industry for about a decade in Toronto. But that whole time, I was really good at my job and I started making more money and moving into bigger apartments, but I was still feeling pretty crappy about myself. I was feeling the void of whatever was missing in my life.
In 11 years in Toronto I moved 13 times. Something was wrong. I never felt at home. I never felt grounded. I went bankrupt in December, 2009. I had racked up a lot of debt in my teens and 20s. The following February I found out my dad was going to die. He was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia.
I kind of had a breakdown. I quit my job and took some time off. My ex-fiancée took me to Florida for a week to spend with my parents. They vacationed in Florida every March. The day we got back he decided we should take a trip to Costa Rica.
The minute I got off the plane my whole being was like, “This is home.” I had never felt at home anywhere at that point in my life. I knew, this is where I’m supposed to be. It was really peaceful and calming for me.
That was in March, 2010. My fiancée and I called off our engagement in July. Then my father was diagnosed with ALS that October. I lost my father the following May. At his funeral, the funeral director read a poem called The Dash. It’s essentially about who cares about when people are born and when they die. The numbers that are written on their gravestones? What matters is that dash between the numbers because that’s your life, you have to live your dash.
That’s when I decided I needed to make a drastic change. What do I love to do? I love to cook, I love to eat raw food and I love to do yoga. So why don’t I get a career where I can do that? Once I made that decision, everything kind of fell into place.
I ended up getting a yoga teacher’s certification. I did a culinary nutritionist’s course. I came back to Costa Rica and there was a place looking for a yoga teacher and raw-food instructor. That was in 2013. I sold everything, spent the summer in Canada getting rid of my belongings, and I’ve been down here ever since.
I met my husband on a Facebook page that was started by expats down here. He’s Costa Rican. He’s a chef and a baker.
We just moved to Playa Guiones in July. It’s an international surf and yoga destination. This is where I do most of my work. I’m a private chef and a retreat caterer. We’re literally a 20-second walk from the beach.
We live on the second floor of a Cuban-style local Costa Rican’s home. It’s very rustic. When I was in Toronto I couldn’t stand having a daddy long-legs spider in my apartment. Now I see scorpions and I don’t think twice.
As told to Dave McGinn