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What to expect when moving to Costa Rica

Hello everyone,

Is there anything you wish you had known before moving to Costa Rica? For example, transportation, internet speeds, types of housing, aspects of the culture or social life.

In your opinion, what's the most important thing to know about Costa Rica?

When would you recommend someone should begin planning their move to Costa Rica?

What were the most helpful ways you found to get organised? For example, did you use a checklist, were there any particularly useful websites or apps?

What advice would you give to future expats preparing to move to Costa Rica?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

Expect the unexpected...  :cool:

Priscilla :

Hello everyone,

Is there anything you wish you had known before moving to Costa Rica? For example, transportation, internet speeds, types of housing, aspects of the culture or social life.

In your opinion, what's the most important thing to know about Costa Rica?

When would you recommend someone should begin planning their move to Costa Rica?

What were the most helpful ways you found to get organised? For example, did you use a checklist, were there any particularly useful websites or apps?

What advice would you give to future expats preparing to move to Costa Rica?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

The most important thing to know about Costa Rica is that it's very different from  the USA and though I haven' t been there probably Canada too and probably Europe as well.

People think different and act differently than you are probably used to unless you've lived in another Latino country. Things are done differently. Things like tech support, product returns, and business in general is not as "professional" as they are in the USA.

Like when I had a problem with Claro internet and they even admitted they were at fault and their negligence in explaining things to me cost me over $75... they still would not reimburse me, give me a free month or two, or make any attempt to appease me, as a customer who was wrongly charged for services not received.

You can get mad like I did and tell them they're running a lousy operation. But it won't help. (I learned my lesson and now just walk away and realize I can't win in such a situation. Why make a scene? It serves no purpose here. In the U.S. making a scene may get results. Here it usually will not.)

In other words, Customer Service is not valued here like it is in the USA. There's less competition here, but also they just aren't trained to care whether they keep you as a customer or not. There is no "customer retention" department to talk to, LOL! The workers are paid low wages - as are the managers - and they really don't give a ____ .

Warranties may be enforced but not as easily as in the USA. You have to really provide proof and they will try to do anything but give you money back or a replacement product.

This is just one area of difference here vs. the USA.

WHEN SHOULD SOMEONE BEGIN TO PLAN THEIR MOVE TO COSTA RICA?

NOT UNTIL THEY HAVE LIVED HERE FOR AT LEAST A FEW MONTHS! (Preferably longer!)

As to moving here and getting organized to do so I don't know about any apps.

I think it depends on the person. Are you moving your whole house's "stuff" down via a shipping container or are you moving like we did with 12 or so duffel bags, using 2 separate trips?

This actually could be a separate post re "what to bring" vs what to buy here.

Basically bring as much as you need and can afford because appliances and clothes and household stuff in general is
a) more expensive here and
b) lower quality here.

Even basics like stainless steel pans and non-stick cookware, coffee machines, toaster ovens... They have them here but they're more costly and not as good quality as what you can get in the U.S.. And no, you can't order via Amazon here. (Lord, do I ever wish you could!)

Be aware that washing machines and refrigerators are of course costly to ship here but be careful when buying here because some of the stuff sold in Gollo or Casablanca or etc are made in Colombia or ? and just not as good as U.S. made machines. And even U.S. made machines sold here may not be as good as the ones sold in the U.S.

Example: a Hamilton Beach coffee maker I bought here has a really lousy design that causes me to have to clean it constantly. I never had any other coffee maker - ever - with this problem. My belief - and based on things I've read online - is that some inferior products are sold in the "3rd World" (i.e. Costa Rica) when they did not meet U.S. standards of quality. Can I prove it? No. But this is what I've experienced here. My wife and I both feel that products here - even clothes - are basically lower quality than in the U.S.A.

So bring the stuff you use a lot and don't count on getting great quality products here, in general. Try to get U.S. made products when you can but you will pay nearly double when you do.

What we do now is bring stuff back with us when we go to the U.S. or have a visiting friend bring an extra bag of stuff for us that we order via amazon and have shipped to him before he comes.

p.s. Costa Rica USED to have quality products, stuff imported from Germany or the USA. But now the Chinese are favored and so almost everything is Chinese made junk. My Tico friends say President Arias from some years back "sold out" Costa Rica to the Chinese. So if you were here many years ago and saw a lot of quality products, well, it's not the same now.

Even basics like stainless steel pans and non-stick cookware, coffee machines, toaster ovens... They have them here but they're more costly and not as good quality as what you can get in the U.S.. And no, you can't order via Amazon here. (Lord, do I ever wish you could!)                                     So Sam RAmon, why can't we use Amazon here in Costa Rica?

rendrag :

Even basics like stainless steel pans and non-stick cookware, coffee machines, toaster ovens... They have them here but they're more costly and not as good quality as what you can get in the U.S.. And no, you can't order via Amazon here. (Lord, do I ever wish you could!)                                     So Sam RAmon, why can't we use Amazon here in Costa Rica?

Where did you get that idea?  I've ordered from Amazon multiple times.  They add the duties to your bill and you pay it to Amazon.   Third party sellers on Amazon probably won't work, however.

In the San Ramon post office yesterday I noticed at least 30 boxes from Amazon.  I've never shipped from them directly to CR.  Solely because we have friends that make frequent trips to the States and of course this helps a great deal with shipping costs and the ridiculous taxes that are added on when shipped.

- Expat Dave

Okay guys I mis-spoke re Amazon. Sorry 'bout that.

I shouldn't have said "you can't order from amazon here". What I meant is:

*You can't order DIRECTLY from amazon to have it directly shipped here (though I may have heard this is possible now in San Jose. Not sure on that. But as far as I know you have to have an intermediary like Aero Casilla. (?name?)

*You won't get it shipped directly to your front door and you certainly won't get it via Prime in 2 days! LOL.

*You have to use a shipping service like "AeroCassilla" or whatever they call themselves and you pay so much in import tax and shipping fees that it's hardly worth it.

I guess for some people with plenty of $ it is worth it but to me it's crazy to pay twice the price for stuff on amazon due to shipping and import taxes. I would do it only in an emergency like a car part I couldn't get here or something like that.

*So, yeah, you can get stuff from amazon but it's not at all the same deal you get from them in the states. That's what I meant to say.

By the way if I am wrong on any of the above please let me know with your different experience and details. If there is a way to order from them and get stuff without the ultra high import taxes and fees that nearly double the price of your order, I'd be thrilled to hear about it.

My only experience is from talking to AeroCasilla about buying some stuff and everything I wanted to order came out to be more than I wanted to pay for it with taxes and fees - about double the posted prices on amazon u.s..

And my opinion has been backed up by many other people who have also told me they won't order from AeroCasilla for the same reason.

However your experience may differ and your willingness to pay more may be different than mine.

They can ship to your local post office.

You can get it shipped directly to your door, assuming you give them an address that they can follow to your door, challenging in this country.  I've done this lots of times.   And this is directly from Amazon without 3rd parties involved.   Of course, it might not work for ALL items on the site, either.   Also, shipping backing to them is crazy expensive, so don't order anything you might return, unless you bring it back to the US with you to mail there.

rendrag :

They can ship to your local post office.

Has that worked out well for you? What I have heard is that sometimes if you get stuff shipped to your local post office it instead gets held up at Customs in some other city (San Pedro? the airport?) until you pay the import taxes. This of course requires travel to that place and standing in line to pay the import taxes.
I don't know if this is true but I've heard it from several people in the past. Maybe things are different now?
So is there a special "Costa Rica" amazon site or what? How do you know if the item you want can be shipped to Costa Rica?
I would love it if this really works, that I can have stuff shipped from amazon to my local post office and not pay high import taxes...!

Ours never make it to the post office.  Always get hung up in customs.  It is cheaper for us to use Aeropost (and they are expensive) than it is to chase parcels through customs.

Avoid sending through the postal service at all costs.   There's a good chance of getting it stuck at Customs, although their methodology for what gets held seems to be a mystery.   Some parcels get held and some don't, despite being similar cost.   

Amazon seems to use DHL a lot, and either they or Amazon is a broker, so Customs isn't an issue.  Costa Rican tax and duty is paid when you order.   They will deliver anywhere, provided you can provide a suitable address.

thewizz :

Amazon seems to use DHL a lot, and either they or Amazon is a broker, so Customs isn't an issue.  Costa Rican tax and duty is paid when you order.   They will deliver anywhere, provided you can provide a suitable address.

Have you successfully done this yourself?

ExpatDave :
thewizz :

Amazon seems to use DHL a lot, and either they or Amazon is a broker, so Customs isn't an issue.  Costa Rican tax and duty is paid when you order.   They will deliver anywhere, provided you can provide a suitable address.

Have you successfully done this yourself?

Yes, numerous times.   I'm in a gated community, so it might be easier for them to find.   A house, who knows!

You could set up your address in Amazon and try it yourself, just don't place the order unless you want to go ahead with it.

thewizz :

Avoid sending through the postal service at all costs.   There's a good chance of getting it stuck at Customs, although their methodology for what gets held seems to be a mystery.   Some parcels get held and some don't, despite being similar cost.   

Amazon seems to use DHL a lot, and either they or Amazon is a broker, so Customs isn't an issue.  Costa Rican tax and duty is paid when you order.   They will deliver anywhere, provided you can provide a suitable address.

I bet they wouldn't deliver to my house, down a bad road with an address like 500m south of the church... next to the _____.
LOL.

Thanks for the info though. I do have a post office box. I wonder if they'd deliver to that? If not, hmmm, I wonder how...

You see what worries me is "some parcels get held and some don't". I don't want any chance of my packages being held at customs!

TerrynViv :

Ours never make it to the post office.  Always get hung up in customs.  It is cheaper for us to use Aeropost (and they are expensive) than it is to chase parcels through customs.

Exactly. That's why I stated in my original post that amazon doesn't work here. Technically I was wrong but for many of us, from a practical standpoint, it's basically true.

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