Things To Bring To Costa Rica When You Move Here
I had read forums for years off and on but never found a good thread about what you should bring with you and particularly not one that is currently updated to today's economy in Costa Rica.
So here is a list of things we didn't bring that we wish we would have.
All of these things are either about price or quality so i will designate whether it's price, quality or lack of availability that made me add it to this list:
- suntan lotion - price. This is near the equator and the sun is HOT. It will burn the hell out of you if you don't put sunscreen at least a couple times a day. However, sunscreen costs about TWICE what it does in the U.S. so bring a gallon or so.
- men's underwear - price, lack of availability. Oh sure you can find underwear but good quality cotton in larger sizes, uh uh. I like my underwear loose and so I'm not fat I wear extra large boxers for comfort. Guess what? They are super hard to find in sizes bigger than what I would call a U.S. "medium". In fact I went to one store which is owned by a Chinese family (many Costa Rican stores are now owned by the Chinese) and I bought some "Extra large" cotton boxers. (By the way the cotton is very stiff and not good quality soft cotton like I buy in the U.S.) Anyway when I got them home to try them on they were maybe a U.S. size "Small"! I took them back to the store and told the girl at the counter and she laughed when I told her they didn't fit because they were way too small. Draw your own conclusions!
- plates and bowls, cups and glasses - lack of availability of non-Chinese items.
I don't know about you but I am afraid of buying Chinese items to put liquid or food in because the Chinese are known for putting lead in glass. We have looked and looked and so far we have not found any plates or bowls that are not made in China.
- Pots and pans - lack of availability of quality items and price. You can find pots and pans but if they're good quality you'll pay 50-100% more than in the U.S. We so far have only found a German brand but aren't sure if it's good quality or not, plus the price is fairly high.
- Coffee makers, blenders, toasters and other small appliances - price and quality - You will find many to choose from here but they will be about 50-100% higher here than in the U.S.. Example: My Cuisinart coffee maker cost me $30 in the U.S.. Here it is selling for $70 at 2 different stores where I've seen it. Otherwise you will fiind Black & Decker - not my choice for kitchen appliances - and brands I never heard of but that don't look like high quality to me, at twice U.S. prices. i.e. a typical $20 "Mr. Coffee" will cost $40 here if you find one.
Shoes - price, quality, fit. Bring 'em! Especially if you wear bigger than U.S. size 9, bring them or you will be very limited in your selection and pay a higher price.
- Blankets, sheets and other 100% cotton items - Price, quality, availability. It is very hard to find a good selection of good quality cotton anything, and if you do find it, it will likely be 50-100% more in Costa Rica. So if you are like us and you like sheets and blankets that breathe, bring 'em! Or be prepared to look hard for them and pay a much higher price.
- Tools - Price, quality. Good quality tools are expensive here. They are also heavy so this is a trade off vs. shipping cost. But smaller tools like pliers, wrenches, etc I would consider bringing especially if you use them a lot.
- Electronics - price and availability. The price of all electronics here is high! Phones, computers, mp3 players, speakers - all these kinds of things cost more here! Example: My LG phone that I paid $350 for in the U.S. is around $600 here! And here the plans are high priced too so I would recommend buying your phone and then getting a service plan for it without including a phone. Computers - nearly double the price. MP3 players, speakers - much less selection here, off brands and lower quality. USB drives, headphones, watches, etc etc are going to be a lot higher in Costa Rica.
You also won't get a cheap extended warranty like you can at Amazon or Best Buy and you may not find the brands you want here. So bring your electronics for sure! (Maybe even bring a backup!)
Do you have more things to add to my list? Things you wish you'd have brought? Or things you brought that you didn't need to bring? Please comment below with those things for our readers to see!
MORE STUFF TO BRING WITH YOU TO COSTA RICA:
I am adding stuff here as I think of it:
- Health items like your favorite herbal throat spray for sore throat, other herbal stuff like St. John's Wort, astragalus, ginseng, etc. You CAN get stuff here BUT it's going to be maybe double the price and they are not likely to have the brand you want nor the exact formula you like
- Vitamins - the same as above. You CAN get vitamins here but you'll pay a lot more for them and the quality may not be as good.
- Brown unbleached coffee filters - can't get 'em in Costa Rica! (If you know of a source please comment below and tell me where! We have searched high and low for them to no avail.)
- A permanent coffee filter - also not available for the most part, except where the screen is some sort of plastic. I don't know about you but filtering my coffee through plastic is not what I want to do. I have seen #4 permanent filters in a metal that I THINK is stainless steel (?) but I have found NO #2 filters which is what I need for my Cuisinart.
- Medicines - Depends on what it is. If it's generic it may be cheap here but it's probably cheaper in the U.S. now.
Costa Rica USED to have cheap pharmaceuticals - but not any more. Not sure what happened... But I went in to buy my Flonase (fluticasone) for my nasal allergies and it now costs about $20 in the USA for a 3 month supply at my dosage. Here? $55! So bring your prescriptions! I think they'll allow at least 6 months worth though I'm not sure. I'd split them up into various piles, one in one suitcase and one in another etc... Checked baggage plus carry on...
- Shoes - If you have big feet you may have trouble finding the size you like here plus they'll no doubt be more expensive unless you're used to buying expensive shoes. We always bought ours at Ross so we'd get great quality name brand shoes for like $12-20. Here you won't find 'em for that.
- Pocket knives - more expensive here.
- Coconut oil - How is this possible?! A country that produces coconuts by the ton charges double or more the price for coconut oil??!! It's true. Bring it!
I don't mean to imply that everything is more expensive in Costa Rica but lots of things are.
What is cheaper - and balances out the cost of living - are labor of almost every kind, fruit and veges, property, doctors, dentists etc.
Where else can you get hard labor or a maid for under $3/hour? Where else can you get a nearly 2 acre ocean view property for $55k?
Where else can you get dental implants for a third or so the price of the USA?