What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Playa Hermosa de Jaco
Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.
The items I wish I had brought to Costa Rica - or maybe I should say as an expat living in Costa Rica I wish I had brought more of - are bed linens, pillows and bedcovering (lightweight as it's warm at the beaches), another set of kitchen pots/pans, a quality sound system for the outside, exercise clothes and quality footwear for hiking.
Items that I wish I had left at home: We moved to Costa Rica 17 years ago and did not use a container service. We basically packed our goods up in plastic containers for the airline and moved in that manner. Items that I wish I'd left at home are not many to mention. I probably bought too many clothes. (Being a woman, that's what we do!) I have clothing for colder climates but have never used them being at the beach. By using the airlines (and the help of friends too!) as a means of transportation, everything was scrutinized prior to packing as far as if we really "needed" it in Costa Rica (CR) so I'm proud to say we didn't bring much that we are now regretting.
What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?
Spend time in the area and get to know it's full time residents. Participate in community activities, fundraisers, church activities if you are inclined. Eat at the local restaurants, shop locally, go to the local farmers market. Visit your prospective neighborhood at various times of the day especially at night to see if crime is a problem or noise issues. A community feels very different when you spend time with its full time residents and not tourists. You can truly gauge the area determining if it's a good fit for you, your family and your lifestyle. Get an honest lawyer to determine if the house you are interested in has a clean title (and the same for raw land). Get references for doctors and medical facilities in the area. In a nutshell, tourist activities are fun but it's far from reality of every day life. Think about what your day entails in your home country and perform the same activities in your prospective desired area!
What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?
We live in single family home in a remote and mountainous area. The other homes in the neighborhood are the same. However, the beach closest to us is primarily condos due to the proximity to the water. Being a popular beach town, the condos are privately owned and very popular seasonal rentals.
How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?
Our first home in Costa Rica (CR) was strictly by word of mouth. We had lived in the area for a few months and told just as many people we trusted that we were looking. In just a few months time, we looked at many properties. We got to know the area very well by renting so we knew the neighborhoods we liked and knew what a good price was to pay. We were in no hurry as we were renting at the time so we didn't appea anxious or desperate to the seller. The purchasing process was a breeze. After 8 years in that same location and home, we decided we wanted a quieter area and we finally were able to realize our original dream of having a water view property. 17 years total in CR ... it's working for us!
Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?
Our housing costs are lower than in the states. Taxes are very inexpensive in CR and the taxes in the states substantially higher. Private home insurance is less expensive in Costa Rica from our experience. It is very hard to determine the average cost of housing. In this area, the closer the location to the beach, the higher the price. Direct waterfront may cost well over $500,000 to the millions depending on amenities. However in a lower profile condo building with less amenities, you can absolutely find something at half that price. Knowing the market is really key here and return on investment must be weighed in if you plan to rent the unit, seasonally or long term.