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Early on in the year I had posted some information about the cost of living in Costa Rica and since we are almost at year-end I thought it would be a good idea to provide you with an update to see where those costs are today. I hope that anyone who may be thinking about whether or not an adventure like this is something that they can do financially might take an interest in seeing what these regular expenses can be like. Arguably, coming from Canada we have an incredibly high cost of living (which varies considerably depending on where you are in Canada). Not unlike Canada a similar concept applies in Costa Rica...wherever you decide to settle down in the country needs to be a serious consideration as costs can vary considerably (if that's important to you of course).

Before I jump into things, it might be a good idea to put a few disclaimers to the information being provided.

  • These costs are based on our experiences and purchasing / lifestyle habits

  • We are located in the province of Guanacaste, and more specifically just outside of the tourist hotspot of Tamarindo, so you can expect the cost of goods and services to be higher than many other parts of the country

  • We only purchased a vehicle in November of this year, so our cost of gas does not reflect a full picture for the year, neither does any type of vehicle maintenance since we haven't needed any yet

  • We own our house so there is no monthly rent factored into our monthly costs shown below

  • We are a family of two (zero kids) and not here full-time

Monthly average spend on basic requirements (all costs shown in USD)

Groceries: $560 (includes alcoholic beverages)

Electricity: $178

Water: $12.50

Internet: $30

Cellphone service X 2: $5

Entertainment / Dining out: $144

Propane (bbq/pizza oven): $10 (refill of 100lb tank twice per year)

HOA: $180

Fumigation: $70

Total average monthly costs (not including the "additional" category listed below): $1,190 USD

Some of the additional expenses to consider (but not limited to):

Insurance (car, house, health)

Other expenses (tools, gas, furniture, repairs, general house/property stuff, pool supplies, etc)

Property / Corporation taxes

Legal fees

Border runs /trips outside the country (as a non-resident on a tourist visa you must leave the country every 90 days or less depending on the visa stamp provided to you upon entry)

Unexpected emergencies

Travel / touring the country

Remember, these are our average monthly costs for the essential stuff, groceries, utilities, internet, phone, HOA, etc. The costs will vary depending on your individual situation. If you move down here expecting to consume all of the brand name foods that you've grown to love in Canada or the USA or wherever you are from, then your costs will undoubtedly go up significantly (assuming you can find all of those items). Also, if you can't live without A/C running 24/7 expect a nasty surprise in terms of your electric bill. Generallly speaking, electricity is not super expensive here, but as soon as you throw A/C into the mix (as well as a clothes dryer), you'd better be ready for the potential sticker shock when the bill comes in.

For what it's worth here are my two cents...

I think that many people move here thinking they will just bring their North American lifestyles with them which I guess is fine (to each their own), but doing so pretty much defeats the purpose of coming here. You are moving to a foreign, developing country, either you learn to appreciate and adapt to a new and different way of life or be prepared to pay the price and perhaps end up regretting your move (people will not adapt to need to adapt to them). If you aren't willing to adjust from your sacred 1st world problems / privileges then you might want re-think what you're intent is. Living in Costa Rica isn't for everyone, yet so many people get wrapped up by the beautiful beaches & tropical lifestyle that they don't even consider the true reason they are making the move. Every day is not "happy hour" at the beach bar filled with endless 2 for 1 guaro sours or cervezas.

....if you've ever dreamt of doing something like this, make a plan and stick to that plan as much as possible (of course a little flexibility doesn't hurt, and if you can predict the next global pandemic maybe try planning around that as well - don't make the mistake we made), otherwise stick to your plan. Most importantly be realistic and ask yourself if this is something you and your family really want to do. It was a passion of ours for years, we made our plan, we did it and are loving every minute of it.

...till next time

Pura vida

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

Up until now I really haven't had a need to head up to Nicaragua but since my visa was set to expire in Costa Rica in about seven days and god knows I was in no mood to fly to the wintry cold of Canada, it was time to try one of these so called border runs. Now a lot of people would probably hop in their car and drive up to the border, park their vehicle and walk across, do the song and dance and come back...I didn't want to fuss around with that, I wanted to do this as simple and efficiently as possible, so instead, I a border run through a local tour company Native's Way Costa Rica. This was by far one of the best decisions I've made since I've been here. For a mere $65 USD, this tour company picked me up just outside of my gated community, did all of the leg-work to make sure the entry and exit of Nicaragua would go as smooth as possible including the various taxes that would need to be paid. Sounded pretty slick and almost too good to be true but what the heck?

I booked my trip for December 11, as they only do this group border run on Sundays. The tour starts in the morning by picking up other clients in the Playa Langosta and Tamarindo area. My pickup at the soccer field in Villareal was scheduled for 7:10am with a disclaimer that they could be up to ten minutes late. I arrived at the pickup point at 7am just to make sure I wouldn't miss it. At about 7:15 I see a Mercedes Benz passenger van heading my way, and sure enough it was Native's Way coming to pick me up, right on time. I board the van and off we go. We made our way up towards the next town over (Huacas) where we stopped and picked up a few other clients. Then we hit the road towards Liberia, with a stop at the intersection to Playa del Coco and then a stop in Liberia proper, and finally a direct shot to the Peñas Blancas border crossing. The ride up to the border was pretty much uneventful and the scenery was not all that different than that of what I've been accustomed to in our part of Guanacaste (the one difference I noticed though was the amount of banana plants as we got farther North.), they seemed to be everywhere. I kind of want to try growing a banana plant now!

As we approached the border crossing we came upon a gigantic lineup of cargo transport trucks, it had to be somewhere in the neighborhood of about three miles long, just truck after truck after truck, many of which looked like they had been camped out there for days. To be expected I guess, as the road we were travelling on was the Pan-American highway which pretty connects the Americas together and serves as a major roadway for truck cargo traffic...I couldn't help but wonder what kind of goodies were in some of those trucks, just knowing how far south some of them had likely originated, and what some of those countries are known for...

Anyways, we pulled up to the Costa Rican exit at about 10am where our guide requested all of our passports so he could go get the exit stamps done and pay the subsequent taxes.over to the gate attendant. A few minutes later the guide comes back and we proceed to a parking area where we were instructed to leave our bags in the bus and only take our passports, wallets, vaccine / COVID information with us from that point, only brining the bare minimum so that we wouldn't have to pass through scanners. We made our way to the first stop which was just two Nicaraguan gentlemen and had to show them our passports and our COVID info. Neither of the gentlemen seemed to really give a crap about what they were looking at in our passports and COVID information...I'm sure it was all just a loose formality as a result of government bureaucracy. After that quick stop we proceeded to a small sanitario (sanitary) booth located just before the lineup to the entrance of the Nicaraguan immigration building. At the booth you either had to show a recent PCR test or your vaccine card, the attendant then stamped a little piece of paper with the date, handed it to you, and that was it. As the group of eighteen of us were taking our turns going to the sanitario booth, our guide told us all congregate to the left side of the immigration entrance (the right side of the entrance was the maze of people standing in line just waiting for their turn to get into the office and go through the immigration process). Once we had all finished providing our COVID info, we were taken directly into the immigration building, handed our passports to the guide again (that was a little scary considering my passport was brand new and I wasn't too keen on giving it up too easily...but alas, I had to give it to the guide). Our guide walked away past the immigration kiosks and into an office while we all waited patiently to see what was next. About fifteen minutes later, he came back with batches of the passports we had handed to him, handed them to a particular immigration officer, she stamped them and then we were whisked away across to the other side of the building which was the Nicaraguan border exit...stood in line there for another ten or fifteen minutes, got our passports stamped with an exit stamp and then we each got our passports back. As our guide was handing us our passports he told us we should immediately head over to Costa Rican immigration because there were long lines of people to get into the country...I thought to myself "oh great this is where things will slow down and what was a pretty smooth border run would get spoiled"...but nope...there were maybe five people ahead of us in three different less than ten minutes later we were getting our new Costa Rican visa stamp. It's important to note that when entering Costa Rica as a tourist, you must have an exit ticket as proof that you will be departing the country within 90 days, and you must know where in Costa Rica you will be staying. It's hit and miss whether or not the immigration officer asks for this information but you need to have it. In my case, I was asked where I was going and that was it, and he proceeded to stamp my visa for 90 days - Woohoo!

All in all, from the time we arrived at the Nicaraguan immigration building to the time we left and we're crossing back into Costa Rica, we spent no more than maybe 40 minutes in Nicaragua. I was blown away by how quickly everything happened...meanwhile, the folks that were just showing up to the border crossing on their own, were likely not as lucky as they couldn't simply bypass the long lines, I can only imagine how long of a wait they had to endure.

Once we had all gotten through the Costa Rican immigration process, we boarded our lovely Mercedes Benz van and away we went heading back home. I was dropped off at the soccer field in Villareal, and made my way back to my house by 2pm...the entire trip from start to finish was right about seven hours...incredible!

It was actually a very uneventful trip (which is good), any snag with anyones passport could have caused massive delays at the border...people have asked if we got to see some of the sights of Nicaragua, and check out some shops...nope, there was nothing of the sorts in the immediate area, and really, that was far from being the purpose of this trip. Next time, perhaps we'll spend a few days in the country and check things out, but for now, the trip did exactly what it was intended to do - renew my visa.

It's pretty surreal how quickly the passed six months have gone since landing in Costa Rica. I remember arriving here on April 1 thinking to myself "is this for real or am I in some kind of sick April fools joke". Thankfully it was for real. I still wake up every day so thankful and appreciative of being where I am and being in this position. Was it easy? No. The years leading up to getting here were hard as hell, but I can honestly say, the roller coaster ride was well worth the price of admission. If I had to do it all over again I would however there are for sure a few things I would change, but fact of the matter is everything happens for a reason, and I'm here now and am finally living my best life every step of the way.

Despite being in one of the worlds happiest countries (according to some travel magazines) the first few months once I got here were a little tough. It wasn't long until we discovered we had leaky roofs on our brand new house (you may recall from a previous blog post), a process which alone took the better part of four months to resolve and believe it or not we're still waiting for our builder to come clean up his construction garbage...In the end of June I also had the misfortune of being victim of a home robbery while I was fast asleep, resulting in my passport, birth certificate, iPhone, a few watches, and some cash being stolen. It's one of those situations that you know can happen but you never think you will be the one that falls victim to it...unfortunately it happened to me. The next month and a half was focussed on dealing with the robbery, applying for a new passport and birth certificate, and beefing up our home security. While all of this was happening, we are still dealing with a very green rainy season, which means a lot of yard up-keep to try to stay on top of weeds, decide what we want to do for landscaping (which got us to decide to get all of our teak trees cut down). This process of cutting the teak and cleaning up the yard started at the end of August....and believe it or's still not done. Things move so slowly here it hurts..we knew that being in Costa Rica was going to have its challenges and for me I think the biggest challenge I have been facing is dealing with the pace that things get done here...and not so much the pace, but more-so the incredible lack of follow-up from people / companies who you have hired to do some work. The tree cutting people for instance said that it would take one week....we're now going on 5+ weeks with no clear end in sight. I know that in the grand scheme of things these issues are really not a big deal but to me they are consuming a good part of my day as I worry about whether or not the work will be done before dry season comes along. And before our first guests arrive at the end of October! Here comes #costaricavacation #puravida #lovinglife

At the end of the day, the many experiences I've had in the past six months have only strengthened my desire to be's just so different than the mundane rat race of a life in Canada. It's the Pura Vida life here and we are embracing it every step of the way. Next step...figuring out how to buy a car when the main hiway between San Jose and Liberia suffered a significant washout with lives lost, and now a major hiway that won't reopen for at least three months...(I was planning on buying a car from San Jose...) Life goes on, and like everything else we'll figure it out!

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