This is something that people always want to know. What's the cost of living like in Costa Rica? It's really not as simple of an answer as one would think since the answers can vary quite a bit depending on whereabouts you are situated in the country. I'll answer based on our experiences (so far) being in Guanacaste - arguably the hottest and driest climate in the country, and likely the most touristy which may cause some of the costs to be a little inflated compared to other areas in the country. Here goes...
We have an internet plan with 100 Mbps download speed and unlimited data for right around $30 USD per month
When it comes to mobile phones we chose to just buy a SIM card and pre-load for minutes/data whenever we are running low. So far have spent maybe $5 USD per month on one phone.
This one had me a little worried since we didn't really know what to expect for a monthly bill considering we have a pool. Well, turns out even with a pool our monthly water bill has been right around $12 USD per month (keep in mind we have very little landscaping at the moment so there is no irrigation going on to keep plants alive).
I'm not going to lie, the cost of electricity was keeping me up at night until we finally got our first couple of bills. A few things to consider: we have all LED lights in our house, an efficient water pump for the pool, high-efficiency appliances, and also have four mini-split A/C units throughout the house. It's important that I mention that we are also being careful with our electricity usage, especially with the A/C units, but even with it being the driest (and hottest) time of the year, our electricity bill is averaging about $155 USD per month. I'm sure if we kept the A/C going non-stop, the monthly cost would jump much higher than I care to know.
Obviously, there are more bills to pay than what I've listed, and I'll get to those in the coming month or so as we get a better idea of some of the costs (insurance, groceries, etc). Also, stay tuned for a big announcement in the coming days!
I'm not going to lie, it's been a long couple of years and I think pretty much everyone can agree with that at this point. The world has been literally turned upside down with this darn pandemic and it seems there are new curveballs being pitched every other week which makes the end of the pandemic seem so far away....but, despite all of this churn in the world we are finally at a point where we can travel #Costaricaherewecome . We are so excited to finally be coming to our new home, the anticipation of this trip has been unreal and it kind of feels like a dream right now.
We've been waiting for this moment to be able to come down to Costa Rica for a while, and we made sure to give ample heads up to our construction team that we would be coming down, so to make sure that a few key things were done in time for our arrival:
1 - internet - how sad is it that this is number one on a list of must-haves these days
2 - a bed, since our shipping container is lagging behind
3 - working appliances and air conditioning
4 - a finished pool
Not a huge list, but still these were the top things we needed to make sure were done for us when we got to our new home. Thankfully the majority of the list was completed, but sadly, not the number one most important item - again, being internet. Seriously, it seemed like a pretty simple ask, one of which was a no-brainer. We were at least assured that the cable/internet provider we really wanted to have was able to provide service to our property. Believe it or not, certain internet providers cannot currently service all of the properties in our gated community....how does that work? Just another weird thing that we need to get accustomed to as we learn to live in a developing country. The good thing is, despite not having internet for the day we arrived, we were assured we would have it sometime during the week - great!
What we didn't anticipate was that the "sometime during the week" would mean 6 days later, which so happens to be one day before I return to Calgary for a few months. You can imagine I wasn't super thrilled at this delay, it was super important to me that we had good working internet and stuff set up in the house before I leave, as my wife was staying in Costa Rica for a while longer and it's kind of important to be able to communicate! no internet means pretty much no communication in this day and age...
Anyways, moving on...this trip to Costa Rica was going to be a doozey...we were travelling with 8 suitcases and our 17 year old cat - sounds like a great time! In all honesty, the actual trip went pretty much flawlessly our cat Mercedes was such a trooper, she didn't make a peep the entire trip, stayed snuggled up in her cat carrier the whole time (we had done a few weeks of practicing having her in her carrier, and oddly enough she just loved hanging out in there). It was definitely a long trip for all of us, and Mercedes hung on until we finally got to our rental car and then couldn't hold it anymore and relieved herself before getting a chance to set up her travelling litter box. Needless to say, I don't think she was very happy at that point, the first thing we did was wipe her down with some wipes to try to clean her up a little, then we were off on our merry way...We knew at this point it was going to be important to get her to our new home pretty quickly, to wash her down a bit more and start getting her settled into a brand new environment. But before we could do any of this we had to make a dreaded trip into the local Walmart in Liberia - after all, we're setting up a new house, so needed to get some essentials, which included totes, food, cleaning products, cat litter, cat food, etc.
The trip to Walmart (my least favorite store in the world) had to be quick but effective. We didn't want to leave Mercedes on her own in the car for long because of the heat but also didn't want to leave windows open since we had a ton of stuff in the rental car. Turns out, there is so much security in the Walmart parking lot that I think we could have left our windows open..but...no thanks. We both ran into Walmart, had our list of stuff, and every couple minutes I'd run back to the car to turn on the A/C and make sure Mercedes was doing ok - again, she was such a trooper. Finally after about 45 minutes we had rounded up the majority of the essential items we would need to be able to make things work in the house. Hopped back in the rental and off we went! Excited as ever knowing that in about an hour we would be pulling up to our new home!
We'd done the drive from Liberia to Villareal on several occasions over the years but, everything down there tends to look the same (small towns), so we needed to make sure to pay attention to the roads, looking out for the traffic signs because the last thing we wanted was to take a wrong turn and get lost - we didn't have GPS...We had pre-planned to be at the house for about 1pm since that was when our project manager and builder were going to be there to meet us and walk us around the house. I think by the time we got to the gate of our gated community it was around 12:30 maybe a little earlier then that...and we were met by the security and an unfamiliar man at the guard gate...
....stay tuned for the next blog post to find out what happened next.
Well it's been a very long time coming, a lot of anticipation, a lot of anxiety, and a whole lot of uncertainty, but it finally seems like the airlines in Canada are starting to open up and include sunny destinations in their flight schedules for this Fall. I'm not going to lie, over the Summer I often found myself checking out flight schedules to Costa Rica in hopes that I'd see some good news but was often disappointed when flights would suddenly disappear from the airline websites. I know I shouldn't be surprised, after all we are now in the midst of a 4th wave of this corona thing. On the bright side earlier this Fall Canada decided to slowly start opening its borders to non-essential travel and so did many other countries across the globe. Most importantly (for my wife and I anyways) was that Costa Rica has been open to tourists for several months and has loosened it's entry requirements specifically to those that are fully vaccinated -woohoo! All of these signs that were starting to unravel were incredibly encouraging...and low and behold, all of the sudden Westjet airline came out with a seat sale to sunny destinations including, yes you guessed it, Costa Rica. Guess what we did, as soon as that happened we hopped online and our tickets are booked!
Considering we haven't stepped foot on our property since March of 2020, you can imagine we are just a wee bit excited, as a matter of fact we are ridiculously happy - we finally get to go see the home we have been building over the past three years. The last time we stepped foot on our property, the roof had just been put onto the main structure and everything was still open air. Since that time so much has been done and we have been in the final phase of the build for a few months now. It's all about the finishing touches, as we picked our air conditioning units (what an ordeal that was to figure out the best A/C package), we picked out our patio roof material, the outdoor kitchen is well under way (not without a glitch - the country ran out of metal beams and we still needed two to finish the roof structure!). And just last week we sent a few options for appliances, oh and I can't forget, my BBQ has made it in stock and is just waiting to be picked up @MundoBBQ in San Jose. Things are finally looking up!
Obviously our journey is not done yet, it's really only starting - even though it feels like it's been going on for a lifetime...it seems we're still in the toddler stages in our journey but we may have just passed the terrible two's - or at least I hope so. Despite all of the obstacles, hurdles, and what have you, we've kept a positive outlook on everything and it's helping us stay on course. I think if there's one thing we've learned throughout this house building process is that you need to be flexible, be prepared to make some small changes, and be ready to make some concessions - especially if you are building a house from 4000 miles away - things don't always go as planned. We learned early on in the process that it was going to be important to keep in close contact and establish good relationships with our building team, and we have done just that - of course it hasn't been without issues and frustrations but at the end of the day everything is working out and our house is going to be better then we could have ever imagined.
Here are a few recent photos of some of the finishing touches going on. The large outdoor covered patio is done, including the ceiling fans and lights, the perimeter of the house now has landscape lighting, and same with the outdoor patio areas.