Travel Insurance for Costa Rica

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many countries are requiring tourists to purchase travel insurance prior to visiting, and Costa Rica is no exception. Even as a seasoned traveler, it may not have been your habit to acquire travel health insurance. But in the new reality of pandemics, it is something to be considered even if not required.

Beautiful Costa Rica luxury Villa overlooking the Pacific

The government of Costa Rica is currently requiring tourists to purchase health insurance covering the exact number of days you plan to be in Costa Rica. The insurance must cover medical and accommodation (lodging and food) expenses for 14 days of quarantine should your stay need to be extended due to exposure to the virus. The coverage amount required is $20,000 USD in Covid-19 medical coverage if you use a Costa Rican insurance company. Currently, there are two companies approved to sell Covid insurance: INS (the government insurer) and Segicor (a private company). Policies can be purchased on their websites. Segicor’s rate is a flat daily rate, which usually makes it less expensive for shorter trips than INS. The INS rate is variable taking into account your age and length of stay. INS is reportedly less expensive for longer stays.

If you use an international company, the minimum amount is $50,000 USD for health and $2,000 in case of quarantine. Tourists entering Costa Rica have reported using other international insurance providers that have been accepted by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute. To confirm your insurance will be accepted by the Costa Rican government, you will need to complete an Online Epidemiological Form (Health Pass) within 48 hours of your flight (NO earlier). You will be asked for personal information like your name, age, nationality, passport number, flight details, and accommodation arrangements in Costa Rica. You will then upload your insurance policy so that the Tourism Institute can verify it in advance of your arrival. If approved, a QR code is generated, which you will show on your mobile phone to immigration officials in the airport upon arrival.

One day (we hope) Covid-19 will be a thing of the past, and we will all be able to travel freely again without the fear of being attacked by a lethal virus while innocently sitting in an airport waiting room. But, you may ask yourself: is travel health insurance a good idea even in “normal” times? There is no better way to ruin a relaxing vacation than with a freak accident or sudden illness.

It may be that the local insurance company where you live will cover health care costs on foreign soil. To find out, you should call the customer service department of your health insurance company to verify whether their medical coverage extends to regions outside the U.S. Some insurers cover emergency situations. Some coverage may have limits on the amount of time you are covered so triple check. Medicare and Medicaid do not cover foreign health care costs. With regard to Canada’s healthcare coverage, the government website clearly states that it does not pay for hospital and medical bills incurred while abroad nor does it cover the expense of medical evacuations.

Some insurance companies allow you to add foreign coverage to your existing policy at an additional cost. Be aware that there are a lot of options offered by insurance companies – read the fine print. Other factors that may affect the cost are the country or countries you plan to visit, length of stay, and the total cost of the trip. An excellent tool to simplify the process of comparing and choosing an insurer is the website TravelInsurance.com. Simply submit your trip information and you will receive multiple quotes from the best insurance companies, customized to fit your specific needs.

Should you have the misfortune of finding yourself visiting an emergency room during your visit to Costa Rica, be assured that the health care system here is one of the most advanced in Latin America. Public and private medical attention is readily available throughout the country, and that is no exception in the Playas del Coco area. Recently, Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health affirmed that no patient will be refused medical care because of their nationality or undocumented legal status.

Travel health insurance covers emergency medical treatment may be just the thing to relieve that last little bit of nagging worry prior to your trip, allowing you relax completely during your visit to the tropical paradise that is Costa Rica.

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Interested in owning a property in Costa Rica, checkout some great options here

Ship your stuff or not?

Shipping to Costa Rica

Your move to Costa Rica is a chance to start over, start fresh. Surely you won’t need to ship all your personal belongings to Costa Rica. You are going to get rid of everything and live the simple life. Well, not everything. In fact, there are a few sentimental things you simply can’t part with, like pictures and that antique vase. Those things will fit in a suitcase, you decide. Should you ship the rest?

But what about Grandma’s dresser? In fact, maybe it would be better just to ship down all your old stuff and not have to buy all new things when you get here. Wouldn’t that be simpler? Surely, they wouldn’t charge much for my old junk. What would it cost? How long will it take? Which items will they tax? Will they arrive damaged? Suddenly life doesn’t not seem so simple.

So which is better—ship items to Costa Rica or buying them here? You will need to ask: Is what I want, and/or need, available in Costa Rica? How do I go about shipping things to Costa Rica and what does it cost? How much will I pay in import taxes?

With the exception of Grandma’s dresser, most of what you need or want is available in Costa Rica. International retailers like Walmart and Pricesmart (similar to Costco) are countrywide. Appliances can be found there as well as in local appliance chains such as El Gollo and Casa Blanca or Monge. Well-known brands such as Samsung, Whirlpool, Oster, Frigidaire, GE and others are available . Check out these stores’ websites to compare prices. Many household items–from linens to lamps–can be found at inexpensive prices in Pequeno Mundo, a national chain with a store in Liberia, Guanacaste. Better quality home goods can be found in stores such as Cemaco and Aliss in the Central Valley. Unless you have a favorite platter or vase you cannot live without, it is unnecessary to ship household items. You will find what you need here at comparable prices.
If you choose to ship Grandma’s dresser and that oh-so-comfortable recliner to Costa Rica, your possessions can be packed in an ocean freight container. Stackable steel cargo containers measure approximately 8 feet wide by 8 feet tall and come in 20- and 40-foot lengths. The 20-foot model will accommodate a 1- 2 bedroom household, and the 40-foot model is large enough to hold the items from a 3 -5 bedroom household. A vehicle can also be shipped in the container, but it takes up a lot of floor space and you can’t pack up to the ceiling unless you build some sort of framework over it. If you have just a few items to ship, you can place your items on one or more pallets and ship them in a shared container. This is called a “less than container load” (LCL).

As far as cost goes, when you opt to use an entire container, you pay a set price no matter how much or how little you pack into it. The cost of a shared container is based on volume and weight. You will want to contact a shipping company and ask for a quote.

I did a quick search for the cost to ship a container from ports on the East Coast of the United States to Puerto Limon, Costa Rica’s Caribbean port. The search revealed an average cost of $1200 for a 20-foot container and $1700 for a 40-foot container. However, the costs don’t stop there. You will need to pay warehousing fees until your shipment can be inspected and import duties calculated. Customs officials will review the inventory of your shipment and assign a value to each item, whether new or used. Generally the tax is between 13% and 49% of the assigned value. A list of items and their tax rate can be found at https://www.costaricatax.com/import-tax.htm. Reviewing these lists will help you decide whether an item is worth importing. After paying the import duty, you will need arrange for transportation of your goods from the port to where you live, and if that is Guanacaste, the land transportation could be as much or more than the ocean passage.

If you are considering importing a vehicle, be sure to consult the official government website https://serviciosnet.hacienda.go.cr/autohacienda/. Enter the make, model, and features of your vehicle, and the calculator will tell you how much the tax will be. Be warned that vehicle import duties range from 52% to 79% of the Blue Book value. You are better buying a new one here.,

As you can see, it is extremely important to do your due diligence before deciding to ship everything you own. Knowing what is and isn’t important to you will be a lot easier when analyzed in the light of time, effort and costs. The answer to the question of whether you should ship your things or not is very individual, very personal. If you make an informed, well-thought-out decision, your move to Costa Rica will be as easy and refreshing as you always dreamed it would be!

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Interested in owning a property in Costa Rica, checkout some great options here

Build a Home in Costa Rica, Save on Taxes

Are you thinking of building your dream home in Costa Rica? I have done it 2 times already. It can be a very fulfilling experience; it can also be a nightmare if you don’t choose the right builder. Fortunately, I got lucky with both contractors I selected.  They were great.

New home being built in Costa Rica
A Lot of people are intimidated by the idea of building a home in Costa Rica, even if they have visited the country many times.  Also, the thought of building a home when you may not be here to watch every step of the construction can be scary as well – there are just too many unknowns. However, if you choose the right contractor, it is not as bad as you may think.

When building a home, it is important to know that in 2019 the Costa Rican government passed a law stating that all services used in the construction of a home are required to pay the mandatory 13% VAT, or value added tax. The good news is, the Costa Rican government has rolled back that law due to the Covid-19 pandemic in order to help re-activate the building sector.

What does this mean for you? If you decide to build that dream home in Costa Rica it will cost you less provided you start construction before August 31, 2020.

Here is a breakdown and timeline for paying less taxes:

Law 9887 adds a new transitory V bis to law N. 9635, Strengthening Law Public Finance, to Promote Economic Reactivation, and its reforms, establishing reduced rates for engineering, architecture, topography services and civil works construction when such services are provided to projects that are duly registered before the Costa Rican Engineers and Architects Association (CFIA).

1. From September 16, 2020 to August 31, 2021 (inclusive) will be fully exempt from the VAT.
2. From September 1, 2021 to August 31, 2022 (inclusive) a reduced rate of 4% VAT.
3. From September 1, 2022 to August 31, 2023 (inclusive) a reduced rate of 8% VAT.
4. From September 1, 2023 forward, these services will be taxed at the standard rate of 13% VAT.

What does this mean in real dollars? Well, that all depends on what you are building and how big the property is. Some engineers and architects charge a percentage of the size of the and scope of the work. Others charge a flat fee.
If you are considering building your dream home make sure you save this article and confirm with your builder, engineer, architect and surveyor to make sure you are not charged extra.

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Interested in owning a property in Costa Rica, checkout some great options here

Realtors, How to Choose in Costa Rica

Tres Amigos Realty logoKnowing how to choose a realtor in Costa Rica makes all the difference in whether your purchase or sale of real estate is a success or a struggle.  It can be a nerve-wracking process. It always involves money and unknowns, and, frankly, salesmen have been the subject of many jokes, even if they aren’t selling used cars. No one likes to feel like they are being swindled, and the feeling of uneasiness is even greater when you are selling or buying a property in a foreign land. To build your confidence and increase the chances of a pleasant and productive experience, here are a few pointers. This can truly be a Cinderella story, as you will see!

How to interview a realtorFirst of all, do your due diligence. Research the area you are looking at and read articles about the general condition of the market there. There are a lot of people writing blogs about every little aspect of life here in Costa Rica.  Some of these blogs are really good, some are people that just complain, but both can be a wealth of insider information.  But – beware of accepting just one person’s opinion.  As and example of how to go about finding a potential place to live in Costa Rica,  google the phrase “real estate Playa Hermosa”.  Select a site and start researching the property listings of the various real estate agencies and/or individual realtors in that area. Sometimes you can get a feel for realtors and their style through his website. Don’t be quick to judge a book by its cover! Some long-time realtors may not have a slick, modern websites, but they are a wealth of knowledge and experience.  On the other hand, a slick modern website indicates the agent is willing to spend hard-earned money to promote his listings. As a minimum send an inquiry and see how fast they respond.

Finding a realtor in Costa RicaThe next step is the Glass Slipper Test: Line up the prospective realtors and see which one the show fits, especially if your intention is to sell a property. Just because someone calls themselves a realtor, the only people that can legally sell real estate in Costa Rica must be members of NAR (National Association of Realtors). Request a meeting, and take note of qualities such as punctuality and appearance. Does he/she take a personal interest in you? If you are not a high-dollar client, do you still feel your business is valued and important? Trust your instincts; it is very hard to change a first impression. Ask a lot of questions. How long have they lived in Costa Rica – specifically the area in which you are interested? How long have they worked in real estate? Are they legally allowed to work in Costa Rica, are they a SUGEF registered real estate agent? Is selling real estate a full-time job or a hobby? Are they affiliated with any real estate associations in Costa Rica or internationally? What geographical area do they cover and what is their area of expertise? How and where will your property be marketed and promoted?

Realtor and buyer making a dealGood realtors should be able to list off all the promotional websites and platforms they will use. How many sales have they completed in the last year? Of course, the answer to that question may depend to some extent on the market in the area, so it is a good idea to investigate the market trends beforehand. If the realtor in question begins to make excuses for why they haven’t sold anything in 2-1/2 years when you know properties are selling like hotcakes in that region, well…you may have an ugly stepsister on your hands. Sanitize your glass slipper and try it on the next eligible one! If things are clicking and the shoe seems to fit, it is time to discuss fees and terms of the contract. Any agent worth his salt will have all that information readily available.

After the interview, ask yourself: Am I comfortable with the answers provided? Does the agent have experience in my target area? Does he have the best marketing plan for my property and enough tools to promote my property? Do I like him?

Home that is soldWhen you have reviewed the roster and chosen the realtor with whom you feel most comfortable, it is time to let him know. If you are selling a property, you will need to decide if you want to commit to an exclusivity agreement. It may seem like you will have better odds if you are non-exclusive with one realtor. Prince Charming may want to keep his options open! However, and this is important an exclusive sale agreement has benefits. Most real estate agents are not going to invest in advertising if there is a chance another agent is going to sell the property. The other agent could feel the same way, resulting in neither agent marketing your property.  Just because you have a lot of realtors involved in the sale of your property does not mean that you will get more buyers. Here in Costa Rica many sellers think this is the way to go. In reality, it takes longer to sell your property. It is much more productive to have one motivated, committed agent whose livelihood depends on selling your property and who will pull out all the stops to get it done.

I hope this helps you in your search for a princess or prince realtor, and that you live happily ever after in beautiful Costa Rica.

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Interested in owning a property in Costa Rica, checkout some great options here

Utilities in Costa Rica, Changing is easy!

 

 

Utilities in Costa ricaHow do I go about changing the utilities in Costa Rica, as in water, electricity and internet service, for my new Costa Rica property? This, is a question I get asked on every property I have sold and I am sure it will come up again, so I decided to do a short writeup about it.
When you purchase a property, part of the due diligence is to make sure that the utilities, like electric, water, cable and internet, that are servicing the property are first legal and second up to date. Let me explain item 1 first.
1) Believe it or not, there are some unscrupulous people in this world, even in Costa Rica, they will do just about anything to save a buck and pass the cost on to others. I ran into this situation with a property I was helping a client purchase. We had asked for the past 6 months of electric bills as a contingency of the offer. The client just wanted to make sure all was good.
Once we got the information, we noticed the first month of 6 seemed ok and reasonable, but the next 5 months were just out of control and almost 4 times higher. Even the seller could not explain it as he was not even living in the property but back in Europe. We contacted the electric provider to give a breakdown of month by month for the last year. Again, all looked fine except for the last 5 months.
To cut to the short of it, when the home inspections was being doing the inspector started checking the electric main on the street and noticed something funny about it, there was a wire coming out of the back of the meter box. Out of curiosity he tracked it. Low and behold the wire that was leading to the house next door. Basically, they were stealing the electric off of another person’s meter. Needless to say, that was rectified very fast.
Once the due diligence is being perform by the reputable legal team, all utilities are checked with the service provider to make sure A) the property has service and B) they are up to date on bills.
2) Up to Date utilities. When the due diligence is performed the buyers, legal team will request the utility account/contract numbers from the sellers or their representatives. With this information the legal team will then contact each service provider to ensure that the sellers are not delinquent with their bills.

Here in Costa Rica, the utility providers do not go out the day of closing to read the meters and give a final bill, like in most of North America. Instead every deal I do I always endure there is a hold back of money from the seller to cover any utility bills that come due after the closing. This prevents the buyers getting stuck with the bills of the sellers.

3) When we start talking about cable/ internet service which in today’s world is a necessity, it is a different ball game. The legal team will check to see if service is provided, but rarely do they do transfer the service. This is because the service provider requires new contracts for new clients. This is not a hard thing to get. Just going in to one of the service providers retail stores, show your passport and sign a contract and you are good to go. Of course, you need to pay the first set up.
Most good law firms will offer the service of changing the utilities to the buyer name or their Costa Rica corporation whichever way the buyer decided to hold the property. The law firm will require in most cases a special power of attorney to represent you in front of the utility provider. This is required when changing utilities if you are not present. Some folks say well I can do it myself! Yes, you can, if you speak great Spanish and have all the proper paperwork for changing it.

When you are purchasing a property, it is advisable to ask the legal team that is helping with the transfer of title if they will transfer the utilities as well.
Take it from me, when changing the utilities of your new Costa Rica property it is easier and faster if you just let the legal team do it, the cost is not much and save all sorts of frustrations.

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Interested in owning a property in Costa Rica, checkout some great options here

Help the local community, Please

help the communityDuring these crazy times of Covid, it is very important to help out the local community. No matter where you live. For me and the all the agents of Tres Amigos Realty it hits home stronger. I am asking you to open your heart help as well.
Some may ask what are you doing to help out? Well, I can honestly say that I have been donating to many different food drives to help feed people of the area every month and will continue to do so. I have also committed to sponsor an entire food drive in December. I am fortunate enough to have sold a property that allows me to give over 10% of my earnings. But it won’t stop there.


We have a strong commitment to our lovely area, many Costa Ricans in this area of Playa Hermosa, Playas Del Coco, Sardinal, Playa Ocotal and other nearby towns, are still struggling to make ends meet and are unemployed. Yes, there are some tourist arriving, but with lockdowns happening in many areas of the world, it is going to be a long time before our neighbors and friends are back to “normal” whatever that is now. These warm and dear people have graciously allowed us to call Costa Rica home and it is only fitting that we help out our neighbors and friends.
Please find it in your heart to help out. If you have been to Costa Rica or own a property in this area you know how wonderful the people are, any amount can help!

help
I want to share a letter my partner of Tres Amigos Realty Group, sent out to all of his friends and clients. Please read it and donate! It is easy see below.
Thanks for your generosity and may you always be safe and well with lots of love in your heart.
Hi Everyone
I hope you are safe and healthy in these crazy times.
Normally this would be the invitation to my annual BIG BASH AT CASA PILA. It would have been unlucky number 13, which fits, since everything about this year has been turned upside down.
I cannot justify celebrating when so many people are struggling. Nothing would be worse than for thousands of unemployed Costa Ricans to see photos of people partying and eating, when they are struggling to live on beans and rice.
I spend on average about $15,000 each year throwing my party and I feel it is the best interest of everyone in our area of Costa Rica for me to spend that money continuing our weekly food drives, as so many people are still going to be needing our help for months to come.
I want to thank everyone who has donated and continues to donate, the generosity has been overwhelming THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART. Please continue to donate, no amount is too small. You can PAYPAL or ZELLE at michael@tanktopsflipflops.com and put FOOD DRIVE in the subject.
Every year we always support the TOYS FOR TOTS organized by the Guanacaste Veterans Association as well as the TOY DRIVE by Patas y Manos and this year we will be collecting them again. I feel it is more needed now than ever, as so many children have suffered drastically due to the economic shut downs. Nothing puts a smile on the face of a child like a toy for Christmas.
Please find it in your heart to buy a toy, or 40, or as many as your pocket book will allow. We will have collection boxes at two of my TRES AMIGOS OFFICES.
Playas del Coco at the PACIFICO retail village.
Playa Hermosa at the original TRES AMIGOS office.
Please do NOT wrap the toys. Just bring it to my office. We are collecting NEW toys for CHILDREN 8 YEARS OLD AND YOUNGER ONLY.
If you cannot physically drop off a toy, you can send me money via PAYPAL or ZELLE to michael@tanktopsflipflops.com put TOYS FOR TOTS in the subject. I will then personally go shopping on behalf of all of your amazing donations. NO AMOUNT IS TOO SMALL.
Thanks again for your generosity. I look forward to seeing you all very soon. Please stay safe.
God Bless

I want to personally thank many of my friends and clients that have already donated to help the community. Your care and generosity is tremendously appreciated. THANK YOU!!

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Interested in owning a property in Costa Rica, checkout some great options here

 

Learning Spanish for Costa Rica

Learning Spanish for Costa RicaLearning to speak Spanish while living in Costa Rica is extremely important. It will increase your enjoyment of life, decrease feelings of frustration and loneliness, save you money, and you will even be safer if you can communicate effectively.

In my humble opinion, I think it is just plain rude not to try to talk to the people in whose country you are a guest. That said, there is no getting away from the fact that it can take a lot of time and dedication to learn a new language. Anyone who says you can be fluent in Spanish in just a few months is lying. I have lived here Thirteen years and I am far from fluent but do pretty good. However, living in Costa Rica and learning Spanish does not mean you have to study every waking minute either. Here are a few pointers to get you going on your journey learning to be a Spanish speaker.

1. Learn a few words (please, thank you, have a nice day) and start using them from Day One. Before you run an errand, practice a phrase you might need and look for a chance to use it.

2. If possible, spend an hour each day learning either with a textbook or an online course. Websites such as duolingo.com, babbel.com, fluentu.com, rosettastone.com all offer courses for every level of learner. If a daily goal is unreachable, try to study at least once a week. If you let months go by without learning, you start to backslide.

3. Better yet, take a course at a local language school. This has the dual benefit of making friends while you learn.

4. Watch Spanish TV and movies with English subtitles or the other way around. It helps you get an ear for the pronunciation and cadence of the language. For the same reason, listen to podcasts and audio courses.

5. Volunteer in your community. You will be immersed in the language and the culture, and you will also accomplish something good.

6. Find a language partner–someone who wants to learn English as much as you want to learn Spanish.

7. the cheapest way to learn is by using a translator as in Google translate. Start texting with a Spanish speaking friend. Don’t know what to write? Type what you want to say in English in the translator, then read the Spanish so you start learning the words, then copy and paste in the text message. It is not the most grammatically correct but it is a start.

Fortunately for us, Spanish pronunciation rules are few and very consistent, unlike English. The vowels have one sound each, and there are no exceptions. Almost all consonants have only one sound. There is only one silent letter (H). The accent is always on the last syllable except when the word ends in n, s, or a vowel or there is a written accent present elsewhere. That’s about it!

Did you know you already know hundreds of words in Spanish? That is because of Spanish cognates–words that are the same in both languages. Since Spanish and English both have Latin roots there are hundreds of words that are the same or very close. They may not be pronounced exactly the same, but once you have the rules down for Spanish pronunciation (see above) you have a huge, instant vocabulary.

The website realfastspanish.com lists hundreds of these words. Here is a sampling: actor, admirable, agenda, alcohol, animal, area, auto, bar, cable, central, cheque, chocolate, club, collar, confusion, decision, doctor, extension, familiar, festival, final, gas, hobby, hospital, hotel, idea, individual, invisible, legal, local, material, menu, metal, multiple, musical, natural, normal, original, pasta, perfume, personal, popular, region, religion, rural, sexual, social, solo, superficial, taxi, television, terrible, total, tropical, universal, and visible.

Here is another interesting fact about Spanish words that will help you express yourself. Most nouns ending in ’tion’ in English can be coverted to Spanish by replacing with ’cion’. Words ending in ’ary’ can be converted to Spanish by replacing with a ’ario’. Examples: anniversary=aniversario, temporary=temporario, and so on. English adjectives ending in ‘ic’ can be converted to Spanish by adding an ‘o’–authentic=autentico, basic=basico, electronic=electronico and so on. And finally, English adjectives ending in ‘ous’ can be converted to Spanish by replacing the ending with a ‘oso’. For example, delicious is delicioso, and precious is precioso. Got it, it is not that hard learning Spanish
When learning Spanish or any other language the important to try to remember is to stay humble. But TRY to talk Spanish, this is the most important part. Your humility invites other to help you and their support, in turn, sustains you to stay motivated even when you think it is hopeless.

You may be embarrassed to stumble on your words, but Ticos love for you to try to speak their language. They will never make fun of you; rather they will encourage you to keep trying. So, stay humble and motivated, learning Spanish is a great way to make new friends!

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Want more information about Costa Rica in general visit https://www.costarican-american-connection.com/Costa_Rica_FAQs/page_2575549.html

Interested in owning a property in Costa Rica, checkout some great options here

Shopping Options in Plays del Coco

The Playa Hermosa and Playa del Coco area of Costa Rica has so many great restaurants, and grocery stores for shopping because sooner or later you just need to stock the refrigerator with items. Where do you go for the staples? What if you need to buy something larger like appliances, housewares, or electronics? In recent years, the infrastructure has expanded rapidly in the area and so have the shopping options. Here is a list of grocery stores and other shopping options

shopping in Playas del Coco AutoMercado
Conveniently located in downtown Playas del Coco, AutoMercado has the widest selection of any grocery store chain in Costa Rica. You’ll find a wide variety of imported wine and cheese as well as an array of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. The meat department includes a deli and a seafood section, and there’s a bakery with specialty loaves and pastries. Because of its wide selection, Automercado may be the only place to find that special taste you miss from back home. The prices are higher than other shopping opportunities, but the quality and service are second to none.

Luperon supermarket in Playas del Coco Luperon
This is a family run grocery store that has been a landmark in Playas Del Coco for over 30 years. The selection is good and you will be surprised at the selection. Luperon is a full-service grocery store for all your food shopping needs with butcher and deli section, bakery, fresh produce and of course dairy and dry good. They also have a great selection of wines and liquor if that is your desire. The staff is very friendly and willing to assist. This is where I do most of my shopping

Super Cpmpro supermarket in Playas del Coco Mega Super and Super Compro
These are 2 other national brands in Playa Del coco. Both stores cater more towards the local market, however that are full-service grocery store.

 

Walmart in Costa Rica

Walmart
Yes, I wrote Walmart! Some hate it some love it. The first time you step into a Walmart in Costa Rica, it will seem both familiar and strange at the same time. That’s because it’s basically a hybrid–part North American Walmart and part Costa Rican supermarket. It offers local products as well as some of the brands that you’re used to seeing in North America. The Walmart brand “Great Value” has arrived! The local and international foods are side by side on the shelves much like the Ticos and Gringos happily coexist around the Gulf of Papagayo. The grocery section of the store has a produce department, meat counter, and deli. Like Supercenters in North America, Walmart in Costa Rica sells clothing, housewares, sporting goods, electronics, home appliances, and more. The presence of Walmart in the country has lowered the price of many items including cheese, chips, and canned goods. Walmart is located just 5 miles east of the Liberia International Airport and only a half-hour drive from the beach.

Image of PriceSmart in Costa RicaPriceSmart
PriceSmart is Costa Rica’s shopping answer to Costco and Sam’s Club. Like them, it requires a membership to shop. Presently, the annual fee is $35 and includes cards for two family members. Also like Costco and Sam’s, almost everything is sized extra large. The big packages can translate into big savings on things like pickles, peanut butter, and mayonnaise if you have room to store them. PriceSmart is also a good source for pet food and supplies. Its inventory includes many items to outfit a household: appliances, mattresses, linens, and the like. There is a tire and battery shop, a selection of tools, and furniture. Did I mention clothing and electronics? You can find almost anything in PriceSmart. And don’t forget to pick up a pizza or roasted chicken while you’re there–they’re made fresh every day right in the store. You’ll find the newly opened PriceSmart right in front of the Liberia airport.

Importadora Monge in Costa Rica Importada Monge and Gallo  

 

 

 

These 2 stores, located right in Playas Del Coco, are basically appliance stores. Need a new coffee maker? How about a new washer/dryer or rice cooker? Don’t be surprised when you pull into their parking lot and see motorcycles or scooters for sale, they sell these as well – along with computers, cell phones and everything electronic for the house. This could be a one stop shopping experience for your electronic needs

When making Playas del Coco your home base, rest assured there are good shopping opportunities to be had without the hassle of having to drive to the capital, San Jose.

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Updated COVID Requirements Costa Rica October 23

Updated COVID requirememts CROn Thursday, October 22, 2020, the Costa Rican government along with the Minister of tourism, Gustavo Segura have updated Covid requirements for travelers entering Costa Rica – both tourists and residents.
Image about Updated Covid requirements for travelers to Costa RicaThe great news with the updated requirements is that starting October 26, 2020 tourist arriving no longer a need for a negative Covid-19 PCR to enter Costa Rica. Having said this, some of the other requirements are still in place. Here is a refresher if you have been keeping track or are planning a trip to Costa Rica soon.

A) All people entering Costa Rica must complete the digital epidemiological form. This is known as the “Health Pass” or “Pase de Salud.” https://salud.go.cr/

B) Tourists must purchase health insurance that covers accommodation in case of quarantine and medical expenses due to COVID-19. This policy can be international or purchased from Costa Rican insurers. The Minimum is $50,000 USD health and $2,000.00 for lodging and needs to cover you for the total time you are in the country:

Here are links to 2 Costa Rican companies that offer the required insurance. Instituto Nacional de Seguros) https://www.grupoins.com/seguroparaviajeros , or Sagicor https://tiendasagicor.com/en You can use a foreign policy but it must cover COVID-19 medical expenses and extended lodging as listed above.
Image indicating Costa Rica borders are open

Starting November 1, 2020, the Costa Rican Government updated the countries that are allowed to visit Costa Rica. They basically opened up to all countries around the word, so come and enjoy the Costa Rica Pura Vida!

In addition, the requirements for citizens of Costa Rica “Ticos” to return home have been updated. As of October 26, Costa Rican citizens returning to the country by air will not be required to quarantine for 14 days as before. Unfortunately, there was nothing stated or mentioned about quarantine for foreigners who have temporary or permanent residency. Hopefully, that will be updated as well in the coming days.

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Mistakes to avoid when visiting Costa Rica

Costa Rica MistakesThose of us who have lived for years in Costa Rica would like to help those of you who are just arriving not to make some of the mistakes we made! Maybe I am being helpful; maybe humble; maybe I just do not wish my old “lack of local knowledge” on anyone. Whatever the reasons, here I go with basic mistakes to avoid!

 

Map of Costa Rica - Costa Rica is not an islandFirst of all, Costa Rica is not an island. If you are thinking of visiting or moving here, study a map of Central America first and familiarize yourself with the geographical locations of the region. Our Caribbean cousin Puerto Rico is an island, of course, and many get the names mixed up. Now you don’t have to.

 

Rainbow over the Pacific in Costa RicaCosta Rica is intoxicatingly beautiful.  But just like other intoxicating substances, don’t let it dull your senses and lull you into a false sense of security. Petty theft happens here, and you can never think something will “be all right for just a little bit.” Never leave your car unlocked or valuables in sight (even if locked). Always have one of your group stay by your things on the beach. Mistakes like these can ruin your trip.

 

 

Night driving in Costa RicaAvoid driving at night unless you are really adventurous. Driving during daylight hours in Costa Rica is an adventure in itself depending where you are. but driving at night can be downright dangerous if you are not comfortable doing so. Poor road conditions in a lot of rural areas, unmarked roads (i.e. non-distinguishable lines or guard rails) and non-existent signage, at least the type that can assist you.  Also, heavy rain and/or fog – depending on the season – makes it a smart decision to arrive at your destination before nightfall.

Image of many cell phonesDon’t think that your phone plan from back home will provide you with cell coverage and data service here (even if you checked with them and they said they would). Some say the exception is T-Mobile, which they say offers a good international plan. AT&T network is good as well. That said, most visitors find that they end up paying a lot for extras when they get their bill. Instead, make sure your cellphone is unlocked to international service, and after you arrive in Costa Rica stop at any corner store, buy a local SIM card ($2), and insert it in your phone. Download both Waze (for directions) and WhatsApp (to communicate) on your device.

Exotic bug in Costa RicaI hope this doesn’t come as too much of a shock to you, but there are insects in paradise. Don’t come here expecting to have a bug-free experience. Most of Costa Rica is a rainforest. Even the most expensive hotels are going to have insects. In many areas of Costa Rica the nights are cool enough at night to not need AC, but that means you will likely want your windows or sliding doors open. It may surprise you to learn that screens are not a given like they are in north America. If bugs are a big thing to you, do not make the same mistakes I did 20 years ago.  Do your due diligence before arriving. Those of us who have lived here for years have learned to coexist with the insects. Well, not some of the really strange ones but they are still cool to look at!

Don’t base travel times on distance and think that just because something is “close” you can cram it into a day trip. Travel time is measured in minutes and hours, not miles (or kilometers). Roads may be in poor condition or traffic could be heavy and it will often take you longer to travel to a destination than you anticipated. A map may indicate it is only 10 miles from point A to point B, but that trip can take an hour and you may need a 4-wheel drive vehicle. In place of a map, use the Waze app.  In my opinion Waze is better than google maps in Costa Rica. It accurately reports traffic conditions and estimates travel times.

On a related note, do not try to see the whole country in 3 days! Driving here is not like driving on a freeway in the US with the cruise control on and one finger on the steering wheel. It can be a draining, white-knuckle experience; it may feel like you are dodging and weaving among obstacles like in a video game. So, take your time and do not overbook your schedule. This is one of the many mistakes I made the first time I visited Costa Rica.

Thunderstorm forming over Costa RicaDon’t believe that it won’t rain in the ‘dry’ season. There are varied weather patterns all over the country, this all depends on what part of the country you are in. That said, you’ll never suffer weeks on end of drizzly, gray skies. It rarely remains overcast for more than two days in a row. When it rains, it POURS here, and a tropical downpour complete with thunder and lightning is a wonderful experience itself. Enjoy it!

Don’t leave all your reservations until the last minute. Rooms fills up fast the same with rental cars. So, if you have your heart set on one particular place, book online but call to confirm your reservation. Ticos like to do business in person. The same goes for tour operators.

If you want to carry the local currency, which I recommend, go to any bank but you will need to show your passport to exchange money. You can pay in US dollars but the exchange rate is best at the banks.

So, I hope you find my friendly advice helpful, so when you visit Costa Rica for the first time you won’t make some of the same mistakes I made years ago. And make sure you say Hello to everyone you meet.  You will be surprised at how nice and friendly the people of Costa Rica are.

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Want more information about Costa Rica in general visit https://www.costarican-american-connection.com/Costa_Rica_FAQs/page_2575549.html

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