Calling all silver foxes


by Nikki Mantell on May 19, 2010

If it’s a small world, as the saying goes, I’m now convinced that for Gatineau Hillers, it’s just tiny.

It seems no matter how far flung the corner of the world, you’ll run into someone with some tie to Chelsea or Wakefield, Quebec maybe even Low. Once we reported how Wakefield’s Phil Nolan “bumped into” Chelsea photographer Mike Beedell… in the North Pole!

When I was in the Miami airport a few weeks ago, returning from my Costa Rican vacation, the guy near me in the customs line at the Miami airport struck up a conversation. “Oh, where do you live?” eventually lead to “Wakefield? I lived on Rockhurst Rd for about 10 years; you know Phil Nolan? Tell him I say hi.” So tiny.

Ken Zaborniak packed up and moved to a suburb of Costa Rica’s capital about ten years ago when both his marriage and job came to an end. Wanting to maintain the “big house and nice car” lifestyle, he relocated to this sunny, safe central American country, that is just filled with North American expats.

“Pura vida”, which translates into “the good life” is Costa Rica’s slogan, and boy, has Ken found it.

Forget that $500,000 shack in Chelsea, a mere $215K got Ken a 2000 sq. ft. house of “impeccable construction” complete with giant bathrooms tiled in Italian granite, in an upscale gated community. Including things like condo fees, guard and gardener he reports he can comfortably live on $1,000 a month.

Suburb not for you? Pick your microclimate. Costa Rica boasts 12 unique climate zones. Hot/ cool, dry/ humid, beach/ desert – take your pick. You can find anything except snow.

Got you snowbirds thinking? Costa Rica is the Canada of Central America -it opted out of a military to instead spend the cash on universal health care; the people are polite; the tap water in many cities is safe to drink; and thanks to 27 per cent of its landmass protected as nature reserves, it boasts clean air and clean living.

But it’s not just snowbirds moving to Costa Rica. With no corporate income tax, business is heading south too. Ken’s town of Heredia stole 2,000 jobs from Ottawa within the last few years when Dell decided to move its call centre; he also says Hewlett Packard moved another 3,000 out of Canada to Costa Rica. Not many people know that Intel products represent the country’s biggest export at 20 per cent.

But, reports Ken in a later email, perhaps Costa Rica’s greatest appeal may very well lie in the romantic sphere.

“Women here, attracted by stability and security, and repelled by machismo youth, often marry older men. Fifty, 60 and even 70 year-old men have 20-something wives and girlfriends. I am in my 60s and was delighted to find gorgeous store clerks flirting with me whereas in Canada I would have been dismissed as a geezer. I find many well-educated, professional, physically youthful women consider me an attractive partner. My options were much more limited in Canada.”

Hear that, all you Canadian silver foxes sleeping in cold beds? Your currency is a lot hotter down south.

(Not sure if it’s any consolation to future female expats, Ken also reports that a woman can insult her husband publicly but should the man verbally abuse his spouse or girlfriend in public he can be jailed.)

Pura vida!