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10 Tips to Make a Smooth Long-Distance Move to Costa Rica

Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

10 Tips to Make a Smooth Long-Distance Move to Costa Rica

Planning for a smooth long-distance move to Costa Rica? The world has become a lot smaller since I moved here.

That was 40 years ago this year, and it seems like it was yesterday. There was no internet back then. And we spent 11 hours between flights, in the middle of the night, in Tocumen International in Panama. The airport was closed, you couldn’t even buy a cup of coffee.

Travel is now so much easier, and so is communication. We’d write letters, not emails. An international phone call was expensive, there was no Magic Jack or Skype.

Nonetheless, if you’re not a professional traveler, a long-distance move is still a big deal. And, of course, you don’t want to belong to that group of expats that fail in that move and become unhappy.

Therefore, I’ve put together 10 simple tips to follow to make it affordable, successful, and most of all smooth long-distance move to Costa Rica.

1. Start in Time

You have to start putting the planning together well in time. Moving to Costa Rica is something that you don’t do overnight. Only losers do that!

So, start planning at least a year ahead. That will give you plenty of time to get a serious plan together.

10 Tips to Make a Smooth Long-Distance Move to Costa Rica

2. Make a Checklist

Fortunately, the best place to get started is the internet. That way you can learn from others and their mistakes.  There are many online moving abroad checklists that will save you a lot of time and effort. Don’t try to make your own, learn from those who are experienced such as Expatica.

3. Start Reading

Take the time to do your research. Always look at the date on the article, it might be old and not up to date. A great source is our own blog or Ivo’s blog. because they are specifically about moving to Costa Rica.

4. Move Off-Season

Trying to calculate the total cost of the long-distance move seems like a good idea. You can best plan of moving to Costa Rica in the offseason. Not only will your airline tickets be cheaper. You’ll be able to save quite it bit of cash on other things during non-peak season.

5. Find a Mover

Assuming you have already bought or rented a home, it’s really important you find a moving company. I suggest you find one in Costa Rica and ask for referrals in your area. The reason is that anyone can pack a container and ship it to a Costa Rican port. BUT the Costa Rican company will have to get your container through customs, which is the most difficult part. Learn how to keep the import tax on your household low by talking to your mover. Discuss if you will need to take insurance on your belongings with the moving company.

6. Prioritize packing

You will arrive in Costa Rica long before your household container will. Be aware of a delivery window. So prioritize what you will need to bring with you on your flight. But you don’t want to pack all your belongings either. You will need only a couple of blankets but bring a ceiling fan instead. Bring only those winter clothing that you will need to travel. But don’t forget to pack sunblock.

Get rid of all the stuff that you don’t need. Give it away, sell it on eBay or consign. Do not pack food, it might get confiscated in customs.

7. Essentials Bag

Every family has different essentials. Sit down and think about it, then make a list. Think about how long it will take between packing and receiving your belongings in your new home in Costa Rica. Which important items will fit in one bag?

10 Tips to Make a Smooth Long-Distance Move to Costa Rica

8. Document Storage

Put all your important documents in a safe place. You don’t want to wonder where you put them when arriving in Costa Rica.

9. Your Pets

If you have pets, their move will need much more organization than your own. Pets need paperwork done and might not be able to fly with you. Direct flights to Costa Rica are much easier on pets than a long-distance move with transfers. Do your homework, check our pet travel guide.

10. Cash

Don’t bring more than $10,000 per person when boarding your flight. Take into account that opening a bank account in Costa Rica is not so easy and quickly done, so bring enough. Check if your credit card company charges for cash withdrawals. Also bring small bills for tipping during your travels, baggage carts, and other needs.

Moving to Costa Rica is a big step, and it is not for everyone. But if you just follow the guidelines, you’ll experience a smooth long-distance move, I promise!

Are you just starting to shop around for a home in Costa Rica? Then now is the time to contact us. Our expert affiliates cover Costa Rica from coast to coast.

Feel free to leave your comments on this blog. If you like this article, please feel free to share it on your social media.

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Ivo Henfling

Your West-side of San Jose real estate agent, covering Escazu and Santa Ana, Rohrmoser and Ciudad Colon. If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the Central Valley or looking for any property for sale in Escazu or Santa Ana, you need to contact Costa Rica real estate agent Ivo Henfling. Ivo has been selling Costa Rica real estate on the westside of San Jose, in the locations of Rohrmoser, Sabana, Escazu, Santa Ana and Ciudad Colon for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and those other areas. For Ivo, a deal is not a good one unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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2 thoughts on “10 Tips to Make a Smooth Long-Distance Move to Costa Rica”

  • Irina Just

    31 October, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    Well, we did just about everything wrong, per your article. But 8 years later, we couldn’t be happier and are aware every day that we made a great move. Of course, Brooke Bishop had a HUGE hand in finding the (still) perfect house for us and helped us with several bureaucratic adventures that could have easily turned into nightmares.

    • Ivo Henfling

      31 October, 2020 at 4:50 pm

      Thanks for your comment Irina. Glad everything turned out okay and without nightmares!


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