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Family moving to Costa Rica

Hello everyone!
We are a family of five (our children are 6, 4, and 2 years old) moving from the US to Costa Rica 2017.  We are generally mountain people but are looking forward to the beach as well.  Our only requirements are good internet (for my husband's job) and a good school for the kids.  We are really just looking to slow down, spend time as a family outdoors, and to be immersed in a culture that we can really experience and appreciate.  We don't speak Spanish yet but will be starting classes soon.  Our main area of interest seems to be the Puerto Viejo and Cahuita areas.  Does this area seem like a good fit?  Any other areas to recommend? We generally like smaller towns rather than larger cities.  Does anyone know more information about Internet access on the Carribean coast?  Thanks in advance!!!

Those areas may not be the best for internet connection although internet is said to be getting better, but for a business this may not be enough.
Realize that as Rentistas under the age of 55 you will likely have to pay the mandatory $450 CAJA premiums

Have you ever been to this area? As far as I am aware there isn't much in the way of private schools there. I suggest you come and check it out, prior to making a move. Many public schools are seriously lacking. Your children are required to be legal residents to attend public schools

Thank you so much for the info!  We are visiting in August but really want to have an idea of where we want to be so we are not driving around the entire time.  Can you suggest another area?  There is a wonderful private school near Santa Cruz which looked perfect but I was worried it may feel touristy with Tamarindo right there...although Brasilito looks really charming.  Internet should be better here maybe?  Thanks again for your help?

Your choice  locations in the Limon province are just as touristy...but not as safe and definitely 'more rustic'.
At least in my opinion.  :cool:

Only you can choose what is acceptable for you and your family.

As a 'tourist' your internet options may be limited. Not every house has a phone line or cable to provide access. Your neighbor could receive a good signal...and you, a pretty bad one. Note too that electrical storms cause the power to go out quite often.

Thank you for your response! It sounds like this area might not be best for us.  Do you know anything about Santa Cruz or Brasilito? There is an amazing school nearby.  Seems rich in culture and beautiful.  Thank you for your help!

Please do not base your decision on what may suit You but not ME. Our requirements and expectations are very different.
I don't know either very well, either Santa Cruz or Brazilito very well, but they, too, are very  different. Santa Cruz is a nice town and Brazilito makes for a nice vacation.
Again, you need to check them out starting with the schools, conveniences for groceries, hospitals, etc

Hello. There are many things to consider when moving to CR. Health insurance is probably the most important one. Now you have to be a legal resident to join the social security (CCSS). I would not recommend the beaches, I lived there for 10 years and heat drove me away from them, beach towns are not what one may think they are, living cost is more expensive, although most rentals are furnished. Internet is fine , The faster,the pricey it gets, as with anything. For a 3 Mbps connection the price is $30, you can get 10 or higher speed connection though. You can get your kids enrolled on any public school, no sweat. Private school tuition averages $300/mo. Like I said, I moved from the beach to a very nice  and quite town, 40 mins from San Jose and 1 hour from the beach. I wouldn't suggest the Caribbean coast for many reason, one being it rains more than the rest of the country, the other is that the Caribbean is CR poorest neighborhood. There are many other things to consider, feel free to ask.

We have a friend who is a public school teacher in Cartago, and even she couldn't get her stepson enrolled into a public school there. Another friend who was a school superintendent told us that legal Residency is required or at least proof that the application is in the process, but the final word often depends on the 'cooperation of the teacher'...and more likely to occur in the more rural schools.
This is why the private schools have been so successful here.

But we all know that rules may change due to the person you are speaking with...at that particular time so make sure to ask and not presume that your child will be able to enroll in any/all public schools.

Try  the Central Valley  such as  our area , Concepcion de San Rafael a 15 minute bus ride  to Heredia lovely quiet safe town from GREAT country atmosphere YET minutes to town by bus,,surrounded by local schools one at the bottom and the top of our road and others in 2 villages 5 minutes by bus in either direction..
Locals say we have the BEST climate in Costa Rica no matter what the unlicensed " realtors " say It  is mild breezy and sunny spring-like year round.about 75/80 F
As for Caja Govmnt, health system...  I have paid only 17,000  colones monthly for years but things change here I have NEVER heard of a  "manditory $450 " but check it out I  shall when time allows , ask my llawyer.
Definitely omit the Caribbean area due to crime and awful heat and infrastructure. Try other areas and try not to get suckered ointo Gringo Gulches " those same "realtors steer you there because prices are higher for everything.then the Heredia hills area. Good Luck!

I do not understand why is it some people like to see everything as a problem, ie, public schools. I enrolled my first daughter after three months of moving here to Costa Rica, and I came as a tourist, stayed as one for 5 years and the girl never had problems enrolling. I am not a single case, know 10 more cases like mine and with families of 3 or more kids. But do not take my word for it. I just speak from my own experience. Maybe others have had problems. One more thing,I got my residence without the service of a lawyer and three months after applying for it. Others have spent lots of money and time and have not gotten their residence yet. It all about the right set of mind.

MauroN, you wrote this earlier post #2, "private school vs public. I'd go for pubic schooling. after 6 years of paying for private (which was good), I moved my kids to public and it took off the tuition burden; and the learning is just as good.

And yes, it is usually faster and much easier to get residency with the birth of a Costa Rican born child.

Pebs, an article explaining new and much higher CAJA rates Sorry my post should have read 'mandatory affiliation at approx. $450 (prices have risen slightly since the article was written)

As always even after living here 25 years I am willing to lern BUT that link does not open !

Kohlerias, you're right, If you add up 6  years of private and 4 of pubic you get the 10 years + I lived in this country. maybe there were 5 years of private, but who's counting. My point is that one can't always say "it can't be done" until trying. I was a resident of the US for 10 years and got my residence relatively easy without the need of a lawyer. Others, under the same conditions, have spent thousands on lawyers without any luck. I stayed 5 years as a tourist  in CR, never went out to renew my visa and when applied for residency, was given to me .  I try not to see the dark side of things until it gets dark. BTW, you have a good memory; I do not remember what you have written previously.

Pebs, Here it is again Article regarding new and higher CAJA rates Similar articles appeared in many English language 'papers'.

MauroN, I remembered thinking that your child had an added benefit of speaking Spanish when you first arrived here.

Like you Mauro I am an Optomist :)

Quote  from kohl    "Pebs, Here it is again Article regarding new and higher CAJA rates Similar articles appeared in many English language 'papers'. {

LINk still won't open .....

It is opening on both my computers.

Thank you SO much for your reply!  We had originally ruled out the Heredia area because of it's close proximity to San Jose.  After your recommendation we really researched the area and it looks wonderful.  San Isidro de Heredia looks really interesting to us.  We love the close proximity to hiking and rafting.  Do you have any additional info about San Isidro?  Also have you heard anything about The European School in Heredia?  Again, thank you SO much!

Kohlerias, you're right again, good memory. Of course my children speak Spanish, and English. I do not talk to them in Spanish, never have. I can mention many US friends with kids who did not speak a word of Spanish when they came, now all the kids are bilingual and went to public school the moment they got here.

I will just repeat my comment made from my acquaintances experiences  over the 17+ years we have lived here, in four different locations "...we all know that rules may change due to the person you are speaking with...at that particular time so make sure to ask and not presume that your child will be able to enroll in any/all public schools". :unsure

HeatherUS :

Hello everyone!
We are a family of five (our children are 6, 4, and 2 years old) moving from the US to Costa Rica 2017.  We are generally mountain people but are looking forward to the beach as well.  Our only requirements are good internet (for my husband's job) and a good school for the kids.  We are really just looking to slow down, spend time as a family outdoors, and to be immersed in a culture that we can really experience and appreciate.  We don't speak Spanish yet but will be starting classes soon.  Our main area of interest seems to be the Puerto Viejo and Cahuita areas.  Does this area seem like a good fit?  Any other areas to recommend? We generally like smaller towns rather than larger cities.  Does anyone know more information about Internet access on the Carribean coast?  Thanks in advance!!!

I know nothing about schools but some areas you may want to ask about are:
San Isidro de El General (Perez Zeledon) and the area between there and the beaches below (Dominical, Uvita etc)
San Ramon de Alajuela
Puriscal

These are 3 areas we looked at before moving to San Ramon.
Some like Grecia and Atenas (lots of gringos there) but it is substantially more expensive there.

I don't know how the private school issue is; although I know there is at least one in San Ramon.

Internet : be very careful in researching this.
We found that people 1/2 km away from us could get Kolbi / ICE internet but we could not. We are stuck with 2mbps which works well for us but having had 22mbps in the U.S. 2mbps is a big drop downward!

We had to get Claro service for internet and I want everyone to be aware of one thing that we got tripped up on:

Claro service offers 5mbps BUT it has a government-mandated 10 gigs per month data usage limit so if you watch youtube or netflix etc video you will use up the total 10 gigs in about 2-5 days and then they THROTTLE YOU BACK TO 256kbps! Yes you read that right: 256 KILOBYTES PER SECOND  - not even enough to check out a web page or check your email!

Problem was they did not TELL us about this throttling back nor the 10 gig per month data limit! So after the pain of signing up we had to cancel when we got throttled back.

Furthermore you can go on their web site right now and the site SAYS the plan is "UNLIMITED"! But it most definitely is NOT and we had to go through the pain of canceling the plan after the 2 hours it took to sign up for the plan, then it still didn't work right and we had to make several more trips into town to get it working at 2mbps Unlimited again!

So just be aware that Claro has LIMITED plans and the only UNLIMITED plan (i.e. you can download or watch as much video as you want ) is the 2mbps pre-paid plan.

So as to internet:
a) find out what ISP/ISP's are available at your EXACT address!
b) read the fine print carefully and ask questions about limited download/data and being throttled back to a slower speed after x amount of bandwidth usage/downloding/streaming.

While I'm at it, the same applies to mobile phone service:
Check a SIM card from the exact location of where you will buy or rent to live because it may work where you are but may not work 1km away. Luckily you can buy prepaid chips/sim cards for about $3 so try a Kolbi, try a Claro and try a Movistar and see what works best for calls and internet on your phone from your exact location.

kohlerias :

MauroN, you wrote this earlier post #2, "private school vs public. I'd go for pubic schooling. after 6 years of paying for private (which was good), I moved my kids to public and it took off the tuition burden; and the learning is just as good.

And yes, it is usually faster and much easier to get residency with the birth of a Costa Rican born child.

Pebs, an article explaining new and much higher CAJA rates Sorry my post should have read 'mandatory affiliation at approx. $450 (prices have risen slightly since the article was written)

Just fyi, this link re CAJA is over 2 years old. It may or may not be currently accurate.

I've heard from a reliable source that CAJA for pensionados is running around $50-75/month now if you are the low end of the eligible income. Is my info guaranteed to be true? No but this is what I heard from a residence attorney who I have found out, CAN be wrong.

Rentistas usually pay more but not always as you can find out here in at least one thread I remember.

As mentioned earlier, it often varies depending on who handles your case, on what day, whether the moon is full or waning, and so on... ;-D

If anything, the cost of premiums will have risen, since there has been two increases per year, in the past two years for existing Residents.
While CAJA 'decides' on your Pensionado monthly premium, it will depend on the declared pension, and they may take your rent into consideration...but if you own your home, then there is no deduction for rent....however you won't know the exact amount of your premium, until they hand you the paperwork.

I think the post regarding the exceptional lower premium was in reference to an Inversionista application.

I guess the bottom line is there is no way to know how much your CAJA is going to cost as a pensionado but we've been told probably around $100 for the both of us based on our barely-qualifiying residency income. One can only hope!

I will go in with bills for everything. Does anyone know what are acceptable bills? I'll ask my attorney but I figure the more we show, the better:

car repairs
gasoline (we live out in the country side)
medical
caretaker for the property
internet
phone
marchamo
car insurance
household expenses
dental expenses
etc etc.
??

Thanks for your reply!! This has been so helpful!

To my best recollection, CCSS asked us about the following monthly expenses:  groceries, clothing, utilities, and rent.  I do not recall if there were other items, but they did not ask about annual bills, insurance, vehicle expenses, etc.  They seemed primarily interested in essential monthly living costs.

Hi! I live in Playa Tamarindo, and here we have one of the best bi lingual schools of all Costa Rica! and, plus, we are at one of the most beautiful beaches in the area! :)

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