Tired of the daily grind and city life, junior architect Mike Donahue, 27, and self-taught designer Lauren Walker, 30, packed two suitcases—and their poodle—and left the U.S. for the tropics of Costa Rica. But it wasn’t a vacation that the couple sought—they wanted creative freedom, and saw the move as a chance for a year-long "self-guided study abroad," where they would design and build in a different culture.
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