Are you planning to ship your entire household down to Costa Rica when you move there?
Based on personal experience, you may want to rethink that.
When I first moved down to Costa Rica, I planned meticulously for months what to pack. I jammed every single thing that would fit into two enormous oversized bags, each big enough for a pro hockey player’s equipment.
I lugged them to the airport, paid extra for being overweight, lugged them off the plane and to my new apartment, almost couldn’t get them up the stairs to my room...and then proceeded to not use even half of the stuff over the next year or two.
Remember that you’re moving to Costa Rica to get away from your normal life in the US, Canada, or abroad, and that may mean easing up on possessions and material things. In Costa Rica, you’ll need a lot of flip flops, a beat up old pair of running shoes, a bunch of swim shorts, plenty of tank tops, and probably a laptop. Anything that’s expensive, rare or hard to move is actually a huge liability down there: humidity, seawater, dust, incessant rain, and ladrones (thieves) can be hard on your things in Costa Rica!
I learned very quickly that possessions won’t equip you for success in your new life in Costa Rica - your mindset and attitude will. So I encourage you to only bring the essentials at first.
You can get most U.S.-style goods in San José these days, and if there is something you really need from back home, go back with an empty bag when you travel back to your former homeland to visit once or twice a year, filling it up and bringing more stuff down. Or, you can ask your friends or friends of friends that are come down to visit Costa Rica to add a few extra items to their bags for you – probably the most effective method.
If you do need to ship things down to Costa Rica, here are some tips:
• Shipping your worldly goods down to Costa Rica can be a very expensive process, so researching the right company can save you a lot of money
• A shipping container coming from the United States, usually measuring 20 or 40 feet in length, runs $6,000-$15,000, including taxes and delivery
• Generally, you will be responsible for packing all boxes and loading the moving truck, and the company will take care of the rest. This includes transportation to the closest domestic port, maritime transportation, offloading in Costa Rica, local customs, and delivery to your new home
• The process can take up to two months for U.S. shipments
• Remember that the same amount of money could easily furnish a big house two or three times over in Costa Rica
• Unlike in the US, most homes or properties you rent already come fully furnished, so you’ll need far less than you think
• You pay by weight, so be sure you pack light
• Electronics are expensive to buy there, bring those with you (but then again, do you really need a bunch of expensive and fancy electronics?)
• Make sure you do a careful inventory and record that in the manifest in case items are lost or stolen
• You will need to hire two shippers, one in your home country to get it to a port in Miami then to Costa Rica, and then another one to receive it from the port in Costa Rica
• You can save money by packing the items from home yourself, but it is way better to hire someone, especially if you have expensive or delicate items
• Once your stuff gets to the port in Costa Rica, it goes through customs duties and they may or may not examine it
• The best way to go about selecting a company is to first speak to people (other expats) in Costa Rica to find a reputable shipper/company. Then, go with a recommended local (US) mover, as they will have people and or companies they usually work with and they can help you save a lot of money by minimizing the cost of tariffs
• When shipping internationally, the average container is 40 by 8 by 8 feet
• One is allowed to ship using a quarter, half or full container as most shipping companies consolidate
• For this option, it is important that the items are 6 or more months older, or you will be charged expensive import fees
• For the average person moving down there, the best bet is to travel light, cramming everything you’ll need into check baggage on the plane (even if you are charged the extra baggage fee)
For bigger items you can use air cargo:
Have fun and enjoy your new life in Costa Rica!
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