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Moving to Costa Rica – What to Pack?

Maybe, like me, you want to move to Costa Rica and leave your things behind. You picture a place where you can leave you belongings and buy all the things you might need for pennies on the dollar.

shipping costa ricaBefore you decide to get on that flight to Costa Rica with just the shirt on your back and a few thousand dollars to replace your personal items that you have left behind or sold, you might want to make some decisions on what to bring to Costa Rica and what to leave behind.

You may think decide that computer will take up too much space in your carry on, your coffee maker is too big to pack, or that the half used shampoo is not worth taking on your flight. Just wait until you pay $8 for a bottle of shampoo in a coupon-less country! Let’s talk about the cost of items in Costa Rica.

Shipping 40 foot container can cost from $7,000 – $12,000 when you are relocating to Costa Rica. When you budget your move and decide what to take and what not to take this figure might sound high. Most people have a thought in their head that they are moving to a 3rd world country so everything is going to be cheaper to just replace in Costa Rica.

If you buy wood or bamboo furniture and local appliances you may be able to find some deals, however, if you want to have the luxurious comfort and perfect functionality that you are used to, you will be looking at prices significantly higher than in the States.

Homes (to buy or rent) here often come without refrigerators, stoves, and laundry machines. A stainless Frigidaire side-by-side refrigerator costs $1,700 in the States and $2,800 here! That $7,000 fee for a shipping container is not looking so bad when you think of how many appliances you’ll need at these outrageous prices! Things as simple as vacuum cleaners and ladders cost $60-120 or more.

Electronics in Costa Rica usually run about 60% to 70% higher than the prices in the USA. Yes you are going to have to pay import taxes on your items but most shipping companies know how to price your items on the invoice to pay as little as possible.

That $1,700 fridge and $800 washer and dryer set can be priced as used on the inventory list at around $400 so you are not going to be paying the 30% import tax on $2,500, you are going to be paying it on a fraction of that.

This is one of the biggest reasons to use a shipping company to help you with you move, getting your items through customs quickly, efficiently and with the least amount of taxes as possible.

You may still think, I really just want to start over and do not want to bring my things down here. I remember moving Costa Rica Shippingfrom one apartment to another be in during college or afterwards when moving from one side of Houston to the other.

I hated moving and packing. Each time I would end up leaving a bunch of things behind that about a month after I moved wished I had brought. Then I would end up fighting traffic or driving around searching for some place that had a chair I liked or a table that fit with my home décor.

In Houston I could hit 4 stores in an afternoon that were next to each other and usually find what I needed. Do not count on that in Costa Rica.

Finding what you need in Costa Rica is not an easy task especially if you live outside of San Jose (Even if you live inside of San Jose it is a pain). If you live for example in one of the beach towns in Costa Rica which is where a lot of people decide to relocate to in the land of Pura Vida or if you decide to move to Atenas or another small retirement type community in Costa Rica there are only usually 2 or 3 stores at which you can search for household items.

Most likely they will not have exactly what you want. After spending a couple of days in your area you then decide to take the trip to San Jose to find the furniture you need or the appliances you require for your home. This will require dedicating usually a 2 day trip to search the stores in the Central Valley, find what you need (usually priced about 25% to 40% higher than the USA), find a transportation company, and finally have these items dropped off at your house. The entire time thinking to yourself, I should have brought this from home.

Then there are the little things! Your favorite books, the casserole dish you use every week, extension cords, the collection of cooking utensils, Christmas decorations, and blankets. Do you want to pay to buy all of them again with at least a 25% mark-up?

Anything you don’t have but plan to buy once you get settled- think about getting them at a garage sale. I spent a lot of money on plates and forks and coffee cups that I could have bought for 25 cents at a garage sale. You will also save money because you are importing the items used, which means fewer of your dollars going to pay high taxes.

What about the things you can’t buy but think you won’t miss-I’m talking about family photos, souvenirs, and crystal glasses from your great-grandmother. I thought I wouldn’t need things like old scrapbooks but sometimes I look around and see that it seems my life started 2 years ago. There is nothing to remind me of the past.

Moving is a big deal! You will be surrounded by a foreign culture. Maybe it’s worth spending the time and money to take your things with you and start over with them here to make your new home feel like home.

From We Love Costa Rica

If you are thinking about moving to Costa Rica, moving out of Costa Rica, or importing a vehicle, get your free e-book from Shipping Costa Rica to help you obtain more information about the process.  They are also very highly recommended as a company to use for your shipping needs.

Click Here for Your Free Shipping Ebook.

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  1. dwayne said:

    When I moved here permanently again in 2004. I got a select numbers bed king size. It comes in a big box the padding foam rubber was in a shrink wrapped I left that alone. . I opened it and packed a few more things. then you could transport 70lbs. I had other boxes and trunks TOTAL 8 extra from the two we were allowed and one carry on like 14 pieces in all!. My wife and I combined came to the airport in Houston. The baggage guy continental went crazy. I said I called ahead got all the print out Had each every box, bag and trunk inventoried Total came to $800 in baggage fee/s extra. Due to over sized mostly. They told me all this might not make it on the flight down. It all did. Now in Customs I got a guy to help and a trolley.. We went to the inspector opened like two boxes with my list and put as personal we sailed though. I am glad I got the bed something comfortable and it still the best thing I brought here along with quality sheets. Of course desk top computer dishes I had I figure in all I was ahead rather than shipping and dealing LATER WITH CUSTOMS..

    • admin said:

      A lot has changed since 2004 in regards to extra bags on airplanes it is much more expensive. So you might want to check with airline to see what their fees will be.

      This is for United most are about the same – Customers traveling to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America (except Brazil) with checked baggage weighing more than 50 pounds (23 kg), but not exceeding 70 pounds (32 kg) will be charged at the rate of $200 per piece. For bags exceeding 70 pounds (32 kg), but less than 100 pounds (45 kg), the rate charged will be $400 per piece. Brazil is subject to charges for baggage exceeding 70 pounds (32 kg).

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