Terry Smith and Lisa Zweber-Smith have traveled the world, but Costa Rica stopped them in their tracks long enough to buy a second home. The house was finished in February and Terry considers it a relative bargain. Two-bedroom single-family homes in their complex start at $150,000 to $200,000, only two blocks from the beach.

The Edina couple weren't too concerned about buying in Costa Rica. "It's stable there," said Terry. Properties are deeded and titled. The ticos, as the natives call themselves, are helpful and eco-minded and friendly. Living on the Nicoya Peninsula in Tambor, the small town of about 1,000 residents is "Pura Vida," the good life, said Terry. The property is also available for rent at www.justlikehome vacations.com.

Getting there: They fly to Houston at 5:30 a.m. and then on to Costa Rica's capital, San Jose. Then they hop on a prop plane for a 25-minute flight to Tambor.

Best part: The relaxation and the privacy. The beach is a mile and a half long.

Worst part: Getting there. They fly out before dawn to get there by 3 p.m.

Family tradition: On Saturday mornings, they go to an open-air restaurant where the fishermen congregate. Their sons are learning Spanish and negotiate prices on freshly caught red snapper, tuna and shrimp.

Wildlife encounters: Between 4:30 and 6 p.m. every day, about 12 to 15 colorful birds similar to macaws perch in a tree near the pool.