MOVE TO COSTA RICA
Ready to move to Costa Rica?
Thinking about living in Costa Rica?
Almost thinking about it? Well. . .
there's no better time (but it's passing quickly).
So, welcome to tips for moving to Costa Rica.
The more vacations in Costa Rica you take, the more you'll think about moving to this little gem.
I hope my tips help.
In addition to these tips, if you're thinking of a move to Costa Rica, you'll find info about typical costs to live in Costa Rica, click.
Move to Costa Rica: Your Car?
Truth is, there are pros and cons to bringing a car.
When I made my move to Costa Rica, I had a very nice, almost new SUV and decided it was simply easier to sell it then mess around shipping it.
It's a decision I've come to regret. And it's something you need to consider if you're thinking about moving to Costa Rica.
New cars are exorbitant in Costa Rica. A new car costing $28,000 in the States can be $40,000-60,000+ in the little country because of enormous import fees!
It's not terrifically expensive to ship a vehicle from the States, at least from ports along the southern coast (I don't know about northern or western ports) and there are experienced shippers (out of Limon, the point of entry on the Caribbean coast) but every vehicle entering Costa Rica has to pay an import fee which, depending on the age of the vehicle, can be up to about 60% of its fair market value (for older vehicles).
Takes your breath away, doesn't it?
As part of its commitment to be the first carbon neutral country by 2021, Costa Rica has reduced the import fee on new "green" cars from 39% to 0%!
So, whether one believes in global warming (everybody should) or not (everybody should), one thing we should all be able to agree upon is that a 0% import tax beats the stuffing out of 39%!
+ + +
Used cars, particularly older ones, are more modest in price.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that, unlike the Unites States, Canada, and I assume Europe, Costa Rica does not forbid rolling back an odometer!
But remember: since every vehicle entering Costa Rica is subject to the very same import fees, you're going to ultimately pay it.
Thus, if you have a good car, maybe with a good remaining warranty, and you know where it's been, how it's been cared for, and how many actual miles it has on it, I recommend giving thought to shipping it.
Except. . .
and I hate to say it
unless it's an American brand (I hate myself for even saying this)
because in Costa Rica almost every car and small truck is Japanese or Korean.
You're more likely to see a Mercedes or BMW than a Chevy or Ford---and I can count on one hand the number of Cadillacs, Buicks, Fords, or Chryslers I've seen here.
And, of course, since there are so few American vehicles in this little country, getting parts is difficult and very expensive.
The moral of this tale: when moving to Costa Rica, leave GM, Ford, and Chryslers behind.
Buying a Car in Costa Rica
After your move to Costa Rica, you can decide if you want a car.
There are taxis, local buses, and express buses that will take you anywhere in Costa Rica quickly and cheaply. Many folks find it convenient to simply use them instead of buying a car, maintaining it, and paying for insurance.
Click here for info about
Costa Rica buses and taxis, including schedules.
If you're in the market for a used car, there are lots of small dealers throughout the country.
In addition to San Jose, where you'd expect to find them, let me recommend taking a short, pretty ride about 20 miles north to Grecia, a little town nestled in the mountains. You'll see one little used car dealership after the other, block after block, with lots of selection and---so I'm told---some of the best prices in the country (I can't verify that).
Don't expect to have English speaking dealers except in some of the higher-end dealerships so it's a good idea to take a Tico friend with you.
Car Registration and Inspection
Your Costa Rica car registration fee must be paid annually no later than December 31.
Additionally, every vehicle must pass an annual inspection at a place called RITEVE (an acronym). The dates of the inspection vary for each vehicle (there will be a window decal showing the date of the inspection).
The first time you're ready for inspection can be a little tricky. You'll need to schedule the appointment via the internet. My advice is to get a Tico or Tica friend to help you (and go with you unless your Spanish is good).
IT'S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT AFTER YOU MOVE TO COSTA RICA YOU WILL NEVER GET A NOTICE OR INVOICE FOR YOUR CAR REGISTRATION OR ANNUAL VEHICLE INSPECTION. IT'S UP TO YOU TO KNOW WHEN YOU NEED TO TAKE CARE OF EACH.
Click for info about where and when to pay bills when you retire in Costa Rica.
Furniture and Household Items
If you really want to bring your furniture and household items when you move to Costa Rica, there are jobbers and shippers who can provide this service but remember that this isn't exactly a job for Two Men and a Truck or your U-Haul truck rental.
It's going to cost a pretty penny to ship your----how can I say this delicately---old stuff.
Tico taste in sofas and chairs may well be different from your own sensibilities and, if this is so, don't fret because there are plenty of furniture stores catering to Americans, Canadians, and Europeans. Because of the import duties, expect to pay higher prices unless you purchase during sales.
Remember this name when you move to Costa Rica: Sarchi
It's a little town, not far from Grecia (that's where there are lots of used car dealers, remember?) that is renowned, and rightly so, for its beautiful tropical--exquisite hardwoods--- wood furniture.
Many Costa Rica homes are furnished from there. You'll see one little store after the other with beautiful tables, chairs, beds, and more at very nice prices, far below what you'll pay in San Jose.
When you move to Costa Rica, don't buy any wooden furniture until you've spent an afternoon in Sarchi.
When I went furniture hunting, my Tica girlfriend, her kids and parents decided to make it a Sunday get-away, so we all (somehow) piled into my car and went off to Sarchi.
After visiting several of the stores, my girlfriend chatted with a clerk and announced it was time to get into the car and head up the side of a mountain. As we headed up, from time-to-time we'd pull over to ask somebody how to find a particular house.
Turned out that my girlfriend decided I could cut out the middle man and simply order what I wanted directly from one of the furniture makers. She asked a clerk, got the name and directions, and a few minutes later we were knocking on his door!
By the time we left, I had ordered an intricately carved double pedestal table with eight chairs, an intricately carved king-sized bed with two end tables, and two intricately carved queen-sized beds, all with mattresses, of course, for about $2,400!
So here's a valuable tip: when you move to Costa Rica, go to Sarchi and, if you like what you see, ask your Tico or Tica friend to ask for the name of the furniture maker when you visit a store, then pay him a visit.
There are several small furniture makers in Sarchi. Here's one to contact (the website is in Spanish but Google will translate the page if you set your browser to do so): Muebles (Furniture) Costa Rica
Golfito! Half Price!
In the southern part of Costa Rica, just a stone's throw from Panama, is a little town called Golfito.
It's one of three little cities that you should remember when you move to Costa Rica.
Remember Sarchi when shopping for tables, chairs, beds, and beautiful wooden products at great prices.
Remember Grecia when you get ready to look for used cars.
And, by all means, remember Golfito!
Think 50% off.
Import duties are high everywhere in Costa Rica except. . .
It is the only duty-free city in Costa Rica.
You can buy a nice television in San Jose for $2,000 or pay about $1,000 in Golfito.
Need a good American stove? Great. Pay $1,200 in San Jose or about half-that in Golfito.
Now, it is true you'll need to take a long drive or (if you're clever) hop an express bus from San Jose to Golfito. It'll end up being an overnight trip just because of the distance but if you're buying things for your new Costa Rica home, you'll save thousands of dollars, literally thousands.
Or you can fly to Golfito! Click for information about Costa Rica air carriers and ferries. The fact of the matter is that few gringos (that's you and me) know about Sarchi, Grecia, or Golfito when they move to Costa Rica and they end up paying WAY MORE than they have to.
Dishwashers, microwaves, washers, dryers, refrigerators, every kind of small appliance you can imagine, wine and liquor, dishes, and lots more, all are sold by the very same retailers you'll find in San Jose but at about half the price you'll find in San Jose.
And, if you offer to pay in cash instead of credit or debit card,
ask what discount you'll get (expect 3%) because Cash is King in Costa Rica, something you need to know about
before you travel to Costa Rica, click
Have A Great Tip for Living in Costa Rica?
Do you have a great tip for living in Costa Rica?