Originally from Canada, Liisa moved with her husband to Costa Rica where they understand and teach the value of a global life as well as entrepreneurship to their two children.
Name: Liisa Vexler
Title: Author of The Family Freedom Project
Business/Company: Freelance medical writer
Country/countries of origin: Canada
Expat country/countries: Costa Rica
Current country: Costa Rica
Liisa’s story in a nutshell:
On our honeymoon, my husband and I fell in love with Costa Rica. Inspired by the families we saw on the beach, we imagined living here with our own children. 7 years later, with two boys ages 4 and 6, we were here. In order to keep working, I did a “skills audit” and found that I could be a freelance medical writer and work from anywhere. That’s what I do today!
Biggest start up / expat challenge:
Banking can be challenging in Costa Rica for anyone. Trying to get international client payments into our bank accounts is doable, but sometimes slower and more labour-intensive than we would like. Oh, my husband works online too; that’s who I mean when I saw “we”.
Who are your cheerleaders?:
My husband and I really cheer each other on. We each have moments in business and in expat life that are challenging, but we pick each other up. My parents are also supportive, encouraging us to travel and experience everything with our kids. They understand the value of a global life as well as entrepreneurship.
What are your words of Wisdom?:
Make a plan. You may not be able to follow it to the letter because ‘shit happens’, but knowing that you have a roadmap to your dream makes it all the more possible.
The most common saying in Costa Rica is ‘Pura Vida’ which translated literally means ‘Pure Life’. It is used in different ways, but often it is used to mean “go with the flow”. We do a lot of that here because no one is really in a rush to do anything.
Obstacles to life and business abroad include financial, logistical and emotional. Fear fits into the last category and can be the most paralyzing. Testing the waters for short periods of time with less to lose can be a good way to get started and get over fear.
We have one son who had a really hard time at the school he started at last year. It spilled over into home life. Those months were especially hard because we had less of a family support system. Thankfully, we changed schools, sought some other professional help and now he is doing better than ever. But it was scary and hard and there were moments where all I wanted to do was “go home”. I’m not sure that would have changed or improved the situation, but it was my instinctive reaction.
I recently published a book about living abroad with kids. I watched others in our expat community arrive and struggle. I wanted to create a guide that would help others transition to a mobile, international lifestyle more easily. At the same time, my medical writing business is continuing to grow and I have begun to write more travel-related articles upon client request.
Where you find inspiration from:
My inspiration comes from the way my children see the world. I have done so many things that I never would have wanted to do as a result of their interests. I also love talking to new people and trying to see things from their perspective; that always inspires new ideas.
How you stay motivated:
For the most part, I love what I do and would work more if there were more hours in the day. However, when I am writing something for a client that is of no personal interest, there are times when I slow down. I think the monthly bottom line keeps me going on those projects. When you are self-employed, if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. That can be a real motivator.
Useful tools for expats in business:
A remote mail service in your home country that scans and emails your mail. I love not getting any paper mail!
Plans for the future:
I have a new book of stories told by expats in Costa Rica coming out in early December. We plan on staying in Costa Rica until the end of the school year, at a minimum – but we don’t like to plan too far ahead because life can be so full of surprises.