Not too long ago I took a vacation in Costa Rica. I stayed at a Bed & Breakfast. A single mother was running it with her 19-year-old daughter. The mother doesn’t speak much English and I don’t speak Spanish. With hand gestures, we were able to communicate — I suspect she understands English more than she speaks.
I was feeling pretty good about having my tourist dollars help a minority-owned small business until Friday evening when the real owners showed up. They arrived in two separate cars; one of them was a Lexus LX470 full-size luxury SUV. They also brought a maid, who cooked for them.
Although their arrival totally blew my fantasy of helping a struggling single mother, I was able to talk to the owners, who speak English. It turned out that they were a hardworking couple before they became capitalists who earn their living from their money as opposed from their labor.
They worked in the United States for nearly 30 years before they returned to their home country. The husband worked as a security guard; the wife as a nurse in nursing homes. They sent home money they saved and kept buying land over the years. Now they own many acres of land. The value exploded due to tourism.
Luck and saving money diligently both played out to their favor. Others would probably say buying land is super high risk but it paid off for them. If I can choose between luck and smart, I would choose luck. However because I can’t count on luck, I have to take the slow road saving money. If that couple didn’t save money like crazy, they wouldn’t have the money to invest to begin with. When they had money, they were able to take advantage of more opportunities, like getting a loan to buy the B&B in a tourist area and making more money off it, whereas the single mother and daughter could only work for wages. The rich gets richer and all that.
This encounter also piqued my interest in retiring overseas. It seems you can boost your living standard by quite a bit if you retire overseas. Cost of living is so much lower. When I went to the bank to get cash, I saw a sign specifically targeted at Social Security recipients. It must be quite common for Americans to retire there. I will look into that option when I’m ready to retire.