Looking for a better quality of life, Chris and Shayna Dufresne uprooted their family from Canada in search of a more peaceful lifestyle by the beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. This nomadic family, who work remotely as content creators, fell in love with the small coastal town of Sámara, as their new home base. They chronicled their Costa Rica adventure and daily life on their YouTube channel and launched Sea Casa, a vacation rental business in Sámara built from shipping containers.
Costa Ricans embrace the "Pura Vida" lifestyle, which values connecting with people and enjoying the small things in life. They’re not impatient or in a hurry. They aren’t worried about holding up the line at a store or bank if they see a friend they want to chat with. This laid-back atmosphere and natural beauty was a refreshing change from the busy 9-5 corporate lifestyle we were accustomed to. It changed our entire worldview. In 2017, Shayna and I left our corporate jobs and moved our family of 4 to Costa Rica.
As a family with kids, this was one of the most important aspects for us. Sámara is considered a safe destination for tourists and residents, and we have always felt at ease here. We follow the same precautions as we would anywhere else in the world - be aware of your surroundings and lock your doors.
Sámara's tight-knit community is another reason why we love it here. Costa Ricans are extremely welcoming to everyone. The expat community is welcomed and connected with the locals. It's easy to participate in the traditional way of life, with social life revolving around activities on the beach, playing soccer, or listening to local bands at a bar. We visited several locations on the Costa Rican coastline such as Manuel Antonio, Santa Teresa and Tamarindo, but Sámara stood out from the rest.
Sámara is the perfect place for those seeking a laid-back lifestyle near the beach and nature without feeling isolated. The town's downtown area is conveniently located around the main beach, making it highly walkable. Travelers often rent or buy bikes, depending on how long they plan to stay. We get around Sámara on our ATV, and a lot of other residents here use scooters/motorbikes or golf carts.
We also love how easy it is to have a healthy lifestyle here. With accessible fresh produce, to how active our daily routine is. You are always close to a nearby playa and other available sports and activities. The food quality is also great. Sámara has a wide range of different global cuisines, which is great for foodies. The local “sodas”, which is what traditional restaurants in Costa Rica are called, serve fresh dishes.
Sámara is also known for its access to nature and incredible biodiversity, with Costa Rica's national parks accounting for 25% of the country's territory. The beaches are easily accessible and great for surfers, with amazing areas around them for hiking or biking. If your goal is to spend as much time outdoors, Sámara is a great base you can access it from.
On the weekends, we like to visit some of the beach towns along the coast. The city of San Jose is also only 4 hours away. La Fortuna and Monteverde offer plenty of options for outdoor adventures, including hot springs, waterfalls, or a zipline through the forest. Playa Manuel Antonio, one of the most popular beaches in Costa Rica, is also a great choice for a weekend away. Costa Rica is a small but diverse country. You’ll never run out of things to do.
If you're planning a trip to Costa Rica, we highly recommend traveling any time of the year. From December to April, it's the dry season with blue skies and dry weather, which is perfect for most people. May to September marks the green season when you'll see beautiful greenery and often the sun shining all morning before rain or a storm rolls in for the afternoon or evening.
From mid-September to mid-November, you'll experience the rainy season, which may include periods of heavy rain. However, most days will be similar to the green season. The rainy season is when Sámara is quiet, and you can mingle more easily with the locals and expats who live here. You'll appreciate the lush greenery and the peaceful atmosphere during this time.
Sámara is a great small-town location for families, with English schools, a kids camp, and various activities like jujitsu, karate, and art classes. There are numerous options for socializing for kids that don’t speak Spanish yet. We also have a stadium with an indoor soccer pitch. The beach is an excellent place to learn surfing because the waves aren't too strong. Working remotely from Sámara
For remote work, Sámara offers a reliable internet connection, a coworking space (Locoworking), and plenty of restaurants and cafes that allow people to work on their laptops. It's important to check with the host about the internet speed and which provider they are using before booking, though. Mention this as an important requirement for you and, in most cases, they will at least send you a screenshot of their internet speed.
The cost of living in Sámara can vary significantly, but in general, it can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be. Property taxes are far cheaper than in North America or Europe, and phone and internet plans are also cheaper. If you're looking for a delicious and affordable meal in Sámara, head to La Perla, a local soda, where you can enjoy a casado, a dish consisting of meat, rice, beans, and salad for just 3500 colones, which is roughly $6.47 USD. At the same time, you could visit a higher-end restaurant and spend as much as you would in North America or Europe.
We recently visited Mexico and found that the cost of living in the Yucatan was the same or, in some cases, higher than in Costa Rica.
Short-term rentals are plentiful in Sámara, but finding long-term accommodation can be more of a challenge. If you plan to stay for longer than a month, it's best to contact a local property manager who can help you find accommodation and communicate with the landlord. While Sámara is a popular tourist destination, it doesn't get overcrowded.
If your work involves taking video calls every day, finding reliable accommodation with fast and stable internet is important. Some Airbnbs and hotels might have Wifi that is too slow or unreliable for that purpose.
Some of our friends struggled with finding reliable Wifi when they first arrived in Sámara, which is why we decided to use our hospitality skills and start a rental business catering to digital nomads and remote workers. Sea Casa makes it easy for digital nomads to stay and work there, with 200mbps download and 30mbps upload fiber optic internet. As the saying goes, when you can’t find something in your area, build it yourself! This business also allows us to meet people from around the world, which is incredible.
Overall, Sámara is a great location for those seeking a laid-back lifestyle close to nature and the beach. It offers a tight-knit community, safety, and access to various outdoor activities, making it the perfect place for families and remote workers alike.
If you’re interested in checking out other destinations in Costa Rica, read our guide for Puerto Viejo, another digital nomad hotspot.