“Don’t dream it, be it.” So begins the video trailer for Shannon Enete’s new book, “Becoming an Expat: Costa Rica.” Like millions of intrepid travelers before her, 33-year-old Enete decided to leave her North American life and try living abroad. But when her new guidebook is released this week, Enete hopes to become an authority on expatriate life. She wants the “Becoming an Expat” series to win hordes of readers. And if all goes well, Enete Enterprises will grow into a popular media company.
Originally from San Diego, California, Enete worked as a paramedic for 10 years, until she suffered a back injury that ruined that career.
“After I hurt my back and was no longer tied to a geographical location, I decided that I didn’t want to live in the States anymore,” Enete wrote in an email. “I always wanted to have an international living experience, and the opportunity had finally arrived. I had visited 27 countries before the age of 30.”
Enete picked Costa Rica for the weather and cost of living, and she spent a year acclimating to her new lifestyle. She was struck by the helpfulness of her new friends and neighbors. “So many generous expats showed me where to find things, how to perform necessary tasks, like paying my bills, getting a SIM card, etc. I thought, I should write a book and pay forward all of the tips that were so generously given to me.”
Her decision to write a book was not left-field: In 2011, Enete showed an aptitude for nonfiction writing with her first book, “Teeth Not Tears: Smiles Through the Rubble,” about her post-earthquake sojourn in Haiti.
What’s startling about “Becoming an Expat is its length (252 pages) and thoroughness. Enete breezes through the usual Tico pleasures, like zip-lining and beaches, but she also explores the Costa Rican tax code, buying property and even the legroom on public buses. She peppers her work with photographs, semi-comic observations and upbeat interviews with fellow travelers. For an entirely self-motivated venture, Enete is a rigorous researcher, and her guide offers some keen practical information, including how to access Netflix.
“Many available publications are fluff-filled, written not to inform but to sell real estate or a service,” Enete told The Tico Times. “I also noticed technology has been largely ignored in other works. I include sections on: what gadgets will assist you in your new life abroad, the best apps for expats, and how to set your APN settings on your smart devices so that the reader can use their data plans with Costa Rican cellular providers.”
After so many years as a U.S. paramedic who traveled for fun, Costa Rica has offered Enete a second incarnation, professionally and personally. Enete Enterprises is her entrepreneurial startup, and she plans to not only publish books but also lead online workshops and produce promotional videos for international clients. To kick off her series, Enete is slated for radio interviews and is designing a mobile app for the book. If all goes well, her sequel about living in Peru will hit shelves in June 2014.
“I do consider myself an entrepreneur at heart,” she said. “Working as a Paramedic for 10 years, I loved connecting and helping people when they needed it so dearly, but I felt too restricted with rules and protocol. I wanted the freedom to do something really great. Now that I have freedom I constantly challenge myself with new ideas and opportunities.”
The Rich Coast also has more heartfelt significance. When she rented a condo in Playa Bejuco, on the central Pacific coast, Enete met her property manager’s daughter and fell in love. The two were married in the U.S. earlier this year. In her book, Enete touches on the LGBT lifestyle in Costa Rica, but the chapter has the length and depth of all other chapters.
“I had a large audience in mind,” Enete said. “I do believe that the LGBT community will back this book. As an LGBT member and advocate, it can be hard to find information addressing concerns or fears that being gay abroad can lend. Most books have a small paragraph about the religion, law or custom of the country that dictates whether or not we will be arrested or accosted if we display public affection. “Becoming an Expat: Costa Rica” provides what day-to-day life is like as a gay member of society in Costa Rica, from a gay perspective, which is almost unheard of!”
Enete’s guide is now available as an e-book and will be released as a paperback later this week. Visit www.becominganexpat.com for more information.