The 41-year-old, together with her family, moved to Costa Rica and now make less than $30,000 annually: “We’re a lot happier” and intend to stay put.

This is how home, a vacation to Costa Rica with her husband Nicholas Hopp, shows how we live better there than we did in the United States. However, a trip to Costa Rica with her husband Nicholas Hopper and their 9-year-old daughter Aaralyn turned into a permanent migration in 2018 after Hurricane Harvey wrecked her Houston home.

As so many individuals in Houston lost their houses to the hurricane, Ward-Hopper tells CNBC Make It, “the housing market was just insane.” “At the time, there was no sign of relief; we were living in a small garage apartment above a neighbor’s house.”

Hopper recommended they look for a place elsewhere. “He said, ‘No Kema, let’s leave the country,'” recounts Ward-Hopper, 41. “I thought he meant we should move to a different city in Texas or a different state.”

Hopper thought it was obvious that he should relocate to Costa Rica. The pair was married there in 2016 and had been dying to go back, but obstacles in life, such as work, money, and family responsibilities, kept pushing their plans back.

“We both felt so at ease when we returned to Houston [after the wedding], and I thought we were losing out on something by remaining in the United States,” the 43-year-old Hopper adds. The Ward-Hoppers signed a one-year lease on a house, or “casita” in Spanish, in the middle of the jungle on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula in July 2018, following six weeks spent exploring various neighborhoods along the country’s northern coastline and discussing whether or not they were ready to move abroad.

Perched on seven acres in the heart of the forest close to Playa San Miguel, the two-bedroom, one-bathroom home boasted breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, an outdoor kitchen, and a cheap monthly rent of $500. “If you had told me ten years ago that this is where we would be, I would not have believed you,” Ward-Hopper states. “However, it seems like fate or luck brought us here.”

Six years later, the Ward-Hoppers are now long-term residents of Costa Rica and have no intention of returning to Texas. Compared to the United States, life here is far happier, according to Ward-Hopper.

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