What to pack for San Jose move?

We are moving to the San Jose / Central Valley area late this summer, and are going through stuff to see what to bring now, what to bring later, and what to get rid of altogether/ replace when we get there. We're on a budget, so we'd rather not have to buy things twice, and would like to bring things that we can in a suitcase. Because my partner will be flying back fairly frequently for work, we plan to only bring clothes and the essentials at first, then slowly bring stuff over each time he returns. I'd love feedback/ information on whether we should bring these items later, or not at all and buy in CR instead.

yoga mats
DVD player
stand mixer
nice picture frames (8x10 to 16x20)
all-in-one printer (Canon)

Also, what items do you recommend stocking up on in the States before moving? I'm thinking hair products, natural laundry detergent and Dr. Bronner's soap for sure.

Is this intended to be  short or long term living arrangement?
Personally, I would say that of the items on your list, the only thing I would bring is your mixer...
Kitchen tools could be lacking.
Spices are lacking.
It will depend on what is supplied in your 'presumed' rental accommodation....and where it is located. If it is in San José, you will likely find it much colder than you may expect.

dcatosjo :

We are moving to the San Jose / Central Valley area late this summer, and are going through stuff to see what to bring now, what to bring later, and what to get rid of altogether/ replace when we get there. We're on a budget, so we'd rather not have to buy things twice, and would like to bring things that we can in a suitcase. Because my partner will be flying back fairly frequently for work, we plan to only bring clothes and the essentials at first, then slowly bring stuff over each time he returns. I'd love feedback/ information on whether we should bring these items later, or not at all and buy in CR instead.

yoga mats
DVD player
stand mixer
nice picture frames (8x10 to 16x20)
all-in-one printer (Canon)

Also, what items do you recommend stocking up on in the States before moving? I'm thinking hair products, natural laundry detergent and Dr. Bronner's soap for sure.

Hola Dcatosjo,

Welcome to Expat.com!

As far as your list goes, all of those are available here.  Other things will just depend on what you like personally but may not find here.  Mine is licorice.  Nope, no licorice in this country.  😢   Well, that and quality tools.  We have quality tools available but they are literally two to three times the price of the States.  Once you are here for a while you will get a better feel for what "you" need.  If you already have those items and they'll fit in your luggage, I'd bring them.  If they are new, take them out of the boxes and if questioned, (rarely happens), then just say you are moving here and that they are used.

Price Smart is very similar to Costco and has many of the same type of items.  If I did it again I would not ship any furniture, appliances, etc.  We now have those here, although more expensive.  At the same time the cost of a shipping container makes it kind of a wash on the price.

With your partner flying back and forth to the States on a regular basis you will be in a better position than many.  Shipping things here is very expensive.   So bringing things in your luggage will save you a lot.

Another thing to consider is if you partner is flying back and forth, he can bring items back for other people and charge them a fee.  And a caveat to that, make sure you only take things that you know 100% what it is.  A way to make some extra money since you said that you'll be on a tight budget.

Hoping that you have a great adventure in Costa Rica!

- Expat Dave
Expat.com Team Member

Thanks, kohlerias and Dave.

We will be here at least 2-4 years, but would like to stay for as long as possible, ie, forever. At this point, I have a 2 year renewable contract. I've just heard that some things are so much more expensive that I planned on bringing the ones we already have in luggage (such as my slow cooker, sewing machine). I won't need them all immediately, but will want them soon enough, and for things I know we won't be taking, I'd like to get rid of them right away, since we're selling our house and working to declutter it.

We're definitely not going to be shipping furniture. Or shipping anything, for that matter. If it doesn't fit in a suitcase, it will stay behind. But I'm getting an allowance for additional baggage, so I'd like to use it as effectively as possible. We won't be bringing kitchen items or decorative things, aside from a few family photos, the first trip, until we know what our furnished home includes. But my husband will be returning after 1 month for a few days work, and will be able to bring things then-- or give them away if we know we're not going to need/ use them here.

How much do all-in-one printers run?

I'm more on the fence about the stand mixer. I have a hand mixer, and it works perfectly well, and takes up very little space. The stand mixer is not KitchenAid or anything fancy, so I might just get rid of it.

We just bought a Canon all-in-one, color printer at Walmart for ¢25,000 - about $45.  I was surprised how well it works for a cheap printer.  If you want it for high quality photographs you would need to spend more.  For everyday printing it works great.

- Expat Dave

That's good to know, Dave. Our current printer is a pretty nice one that allows us to print beautiful photographs, but I don't think we need something of that level there, at least not for a while. Where do you get photos printed, other than Walmart?

What about sheets and towels? Bring them or buy them there?

I don't think Walmart prints photos here...
It sometimes is cheaper to buy a new printer than try to find and purchase replacement cartridges, as they dry out here, very quickly.

I agree, leave the mixer at home...

You should check very carefully that you can access good internet, if you are going to work online. It can change in a short distance and if you are not a 'legal resident' or in possession of a work visa (which will allow you temporary residency) , you may find it is much more expensive than you think and more difficult.

dcatosjo :

That's good to know, Dave. Our current printer is a pretty nice one that allows us to print beautiful photographs, but I don't think we need something of that level there, at least not for a while. Where do you get photos printed, other than Walmart?

What about sheets and towels? Bring them or buy them there?

There are photography stores in almost any small town and many in the San Jose/Heredia areas that will print from digitals.

If you have space to bring towels and sheets - YES, bring them!  I have not found good sheets here at any price.  And towels I've found but at ridiculous prices.  We always pick up those two items when we visit the States.  Also, mattress pad/cover.  Not sure, but I've never seen them here at all.

Also, if you wear contacts, stock up and bring saline solution.  Saline is about 10 times as much as the States.  I use the Equate brand but you cannot buy it at Walmart here.   Saline has to be purchased from a pharmacy or glasses type business.  One bottle can cost $15+.

And, as Kolerias mentioned, small kitchen tools - spatulas, large spoons, whisk, good set of knives, etc. The quality here is terrible.

- Expat Dave

ExpatDave, I think I saw Equate saline solution in the Liberia Walmart.

kohlerias :

ExpatDave, I think I saw Equate saline solution in the Liberia Walmart.

That would be nice if they now allow regular stores to carry it.  Thanks!

Great to know about the contact solution! I do have contacts, and still have some money in my HSA to use up before we move.

I will have a work visa, with internet arranged through my work, but my partner will be working online from home, so making sure internet is really good may be an additional expense we need to account for.

We're packing up all of our kitchen stuff (we love cooking and have nice stuff), but will wait to bring it at least until he returns to the States after the first month. Then, we can see what we need that isn't provided in our furnished rental, and save the rest to bring when we move to an unfurnished/ less furnished place eventually.

What else should I be stocking up on? We're not on any medications, the toddler will be potty training soon, and he wears cloth diapers now, so that diapers aren't a big issue. I'll get a new prescription and stock up on contacts before we leave, along with my hair products. Laundry detergent was another thing someone recommend we bring in when hubby flies back. Thoughts?

No idea why someone would say to bring laundry detergent.  We have both American brands and of course local brands.  Don't waste space and weight on that one.  Maybe they were joking?   :huh:

- Expat Dave

I don't think so. We use natural products (BioKleen for laundry, Dr. Bronner's for cleaning), and a friend recommended that we bring laundry detergent with us each time we come from the States because it would be hard to find, and that Dr. Bronner's would be really expensive.

dcatosjo :

I don't think so. We use natural products (BioKleen for laundry, Dr. Bronner's for cleaning), and a friend recommended that we bring laundry detergent with us each time we come from the States because it would be hard to find, and that Dr. Bronner's would be really expensive.

You would definitely not find that here.

I am wondering the same myself. I am moving to a suburb in Alajuela for a teaching position with my hubby and kiddo. The school will provide furnished housing, but I'm not sure how furnished exactly. We're kind of foodies, so we'll have to figure out how to get our favorite cookware and kitchen tools in.

Someone mentioned that it is colder than we might expect. What can we expect? What kinds of jackets should we bring?

LolaNayeli :

I am wondering the same myself. I am moving to a suburb in Alajuela for a teaching position with my hubby and kiddo. The school will provide furnished housing, but I'm not sure how furnished exactly. We're kind of foodies, so we'll have to figure out how to get our favorite cookware and kitchen tools in.

Someone mentioned that it is colder than we might expect. What can we expect? What kinds of jackets should we bring?

Hola Lola,

Welcome to Expat.com!

Seeing that your coming from Maryland, let's just say that it will never get "that" cold.  In the summer it averages around 85+ pretty much every day and 65 at night.  In the winter 80 degrees most days and down to maybe 60 degrees average and as low as 55 at night (it would be rare to get that cold).  On a rainy cloudy day in the winter I would guess that it averages 70 degrees for a high. 

In eight years I've worn jeans maybe 5 times - much more comfortable with short and flip-flops.  The only time I've worn a jacket is if I was riding my motorcycle.  At the same time my daughter wears a hoody fairly often in the winter.  So it just depends on you and your tolerance for what is perceived to be hot and or cold.   ;)

Please, if anyone wants to correct or clarify the temps, please feel free.

Hope you and your family have a wonderful adventure with you new life in Costa Rica!

- Expat Dave
Expat.com Team Member

While it may not actually be very cold, it does feel very cold when the winds are blowing between Dec-March, especially in the morning.

I'm more of a jeans or sundress person, and I love the warm/ hot weather. So it sounds like my zip-up track jacket, jean jacket, rain jacket, maybe a fleece would be handy.

New topic