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HomeTopicsExpat LivingExpat Living: Our Many Houses in Costa Rica

Expat Living: Our Many Houses in Costa Rica

As I take a break from throwing all of my family’s worldly belongings into totes with duct tape labels, I start to reflect on the fact that I’m moving, yet again, to a new house in Costa Rica. In the midst of preparing to leave house number 6 for house number 7, memories of my former homes come flooding back. Each home has earned a label that my wife and I use to describe them.

In order, they are Yorleny’s house, the dust house, the Italian house, mudslide house, the old white house, and our house. Each one has a few core memories associated with it, and I’ll share them with you now.

Yorleny’s house was actually a tiny second floor apartment located in the yard of our landlord, Yorleny. It was the first place we moved into after arriving from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Yorleny’s family constitute the majority of my memories of this house. I spoke literally zero Spanish at this time, but that didn’t stop Yorleny from interacting and conversing with me on a daily basis.

She had plenty of practice talking to confused gringos because she often hosted homestays from a local language school. Her young son and his sidekick cousin couldn’t have cared less about my language skills because their entire focus was the fact that I was willing to play soccer with them in the front yard just about every day.

After a few years at Yorleny’s house, we wanted something a little bigger with a little more privacy, so we moved a few blocks over to the dust house. The dust house was located on a straight stretch of dirt road that was a great place for local drivers to really pick up speed.

This resulted in a constant cloud of dust that infiltrated every crack and open window in the house resulting in a fine layer of dust on just about everything. We welcomed our first son into the dust house and probably would have stayed longer if the neighbor hadn’t embark on a never-ending home remodel that included screaming saws for at least ten hours a day.

To escape the noise, we moved a few more blocks away into the Italian house. So named for the old Italian couple who rented it to us. I’ll never forget meeting them to tour the house. We brought a friend who spoke Spanish and Italian, but not English. She translated to my wife who then translated to me.

The old man said they needed to move back to Italy because he had a health problem that he described by rubbing his belly and making a truly horrible face. I hope that guy’s ok, but his dramatic pantomime gives me doubts. Our time in this house was punctuated by a wildfire that arrived a few meters behind our house in the middle of the night just outside of my infant son’s window.

I woke up and ran outside, in my underwear, with a hose to put it out, where I was joined by Rambo, a neighbor and maintenance guy, who was already spraying the fire clad only in little purple undies.

My wife got a new job that compelled us to move to a new town, so our time at the Italian house was pretty short. From there we moved to the mudslide house. The obvious highlight of the mudslide house was the mudslide provoked from Tropical Storm Nate. Hours of an unceasing deluge of pounding rain caused a significant portion of the small mountain behind our house to pour into our kitchen. My wife was nine months pregnant with our second son at the time and let’s just say she wasn’t in the mood for mudslides, so we moved.

We stayed in the same town but moved from the edge of town into the heart of the pueblo into the old white house. When I say this house was in the heart of the town, I mean there were neighbors on three sides within a few meters. We quickly learned that with close proximity comes a lot of noise.

Our neighbor to the left was a middle-aged single guy who enjoyed loud music and must have had allegories because he’d sneeze so loud that we’d say ‘salud’ from our living room. That same neighbor liked my older son and always said ‘Hola Denis’ even though my son’s name is not remotely close to Denis. We ran into him a few months ago and he was pumped to see Denis again.

We moved from the old white house after three years because we sold our home in Pittsburgh and used those funds to build a little house close to the beach, which is our house. Well, I suppose it will only be our house for a few more days. Since we built the place, both our family and the community have done a lot of changing and it felt like the right opportunity to open our sails to the winds of change and move on to the next place.

Our new house is only a few kilometers away and it comes with a big sign on the front gate that declares the name of the house. Of course, that name is probably not what will be remembered in our family history. House names are earned.

About the Author

Vincent Losasso, founder of Guanacaste Wildlife Monitoring, is a biologist who works with camera traps throughout Costa Rica. Learn more about his projects on facebook or instagram. You can also email him at:

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