Welcome to Part 2 of our Costa Rica Moving Checklist! (Not quite this close to your goal? Check out our Moving to Costa Rica Checklist, Part 1 – from 12+ Months to 2 Months out.)
Can you believe that you’re so close to calling Costa Rica home? It’s an exciting time, albeit a busy one. To help keep you organized and on track, we’ve pulled together this list of do-this-for-your-sanity, don’t-forget, and you’ll-be-glad-you-were-this-organized items to take you from one month out to feet on the ground!
Costa Rica Moving Checklist: 1 Month Before the Move
The time is almost nigh – almost. You still have plenty of days left to finalize your plans and make sure you’ve checked all the absolute musts off your list. Here are the big ones:
✓ Get a Miami P.O. Box
Whether you need to receive mail regularly in Costa Rica or just want to make the occasional online purchase from the U.S., your best bet will be a Florida P.O. Box (almost always based in the Miami metro area).
There are many services available and their benefits, while similar, do vary. For example, the Costa Rican government’s Box Correos will deliver to any Correos de Costa Rica (Costa Rican Post Office) location, while private companies like Aeropost will deliver to your door (certain locations) or to their own set locations.
You should know that there are restricted items – and they’re not always the ones you think! For example, while it’s understandable that you can’t forward fireworks to Costa Rica, you may be surprised to learn that these companies cannot ship credit or debit cards. Additionally, you will be required to pay Customs duties and handling on most imported items.
(Please note that the above links to Box Correos and Aeropost are not intended as recommendations; they’re simply two of the larger mail forwarding companies. Ask in your relocation groups for recommendations!)
✓ Set Up Mail Forwarding (& Go Digital)
Now is also the time to set up mail forwarding through your home post office. You may or may not want to forward to your Miami address, though.
Here’s the problem: Mail forwarders charge by weight and, depending on where you’re from, you may receive quite a bit of junk mail. And you probably don’t want to pay to ship your junk mail to Costa Rica… So, if possible, forward your mail to a trusted relative or friend.
Additionally, call your utility companies, credit cards, and other recurring billing items and be sure you’re set to online bill pay, auto-pay, and/or digital billing, so you no longer receive paper bills/invoices in the mail. Now is also the time to cancel magazines, catalogs, and other bits and bobs you no longer wish to receive.
✓ Confirm Utilities Cancellation
You have already begun canceling services; now’s the time to confirm that those services are canceled. (There may be a few hiccups. Better to handle them while you’re still in country!) Be sure to confirm that your utilities and other must-haves will not shut off until Moving Day.
✓ Unlock Your Cell Phones
If you purchased your phone on contract, it may be locked to your home carrier. To use it in Costa Rica, you’ll need to contact your carrier and request unlock for use abroad. You may also want to check your specific model at GSMArena, to be sure it works on one of Costa Rica’s cell phone frequencies.
✓ Confirm Your Residency Documentation
If you haven’t yet submitted your residency application, confirm with your attorney that you have all the required residency documentation.
This goes beyond the standard, “yes, I have my birth certificate in hand.” Be sure that you also have all required apostilles or other certifications AND that your documents are still considered valid in Costa Rica. (Various documentation has an expiration date in Costa Rica – usually, 90 days from the date of issuance – but your mileage may vary!)
Costa Rica Moving Checklist: 2 Weeks Prior to Moving to Costa Rica
Moving Day is approaching quickly. You’ve finished all the Big Stuff and now, it’s time to cross your t’s, dot your i’s, and put the final flourishes on your plans.
✓ Confirm with Your Movers
If you’re moving with anything more than a suitcase, now’s the time to confirm all the details. Make sure you’re well packed – and by that, we mean not only that all your goods are packed, but packed well: Fragile items and valuables should be bubble-wrapped and otherwise protected. Per your moving company, you may also be required to compile a detailed list of all items and their value.
✓ Double-Check Your Reservations
Whether you’re staying at a hotel, vacation home, or with friends when you first arrive, confirm your reservations. Additionally, if you’re renting a car (or have hired airport pick-up), confirm those, as well. Ducks, meet row.
✓ Pack Your Suitcases
Now’s the time to set aside all your must-take items and pack your suitcases. Double-check with your airline regarding luggage restrictions. During certain times of year – usually the high-travel months from mid-December through March – some airlines restrict passengers to a maximum of two bags, with no overweight luggage allowed.
✓ Confirm Pet Travel
If a fur baby is moving with you, confirm all his or her arrangements now. For larger or multiple pets, this probably means contacting your pet travel broker; for smaller pets, it may be as simple as phoning your airline. Be sure that your pets have all required import paperwork, including current vaccination status and an International Health Certificate.
Costa Rica Moving Checklist: 1 Week through Moving Day
Inhale, exhale. Breathe regularly. You got this.
✓ Empty Out Your Home
You’re entering the final stretch, which means it’s time to get rid of anything that doesn’t already have a new home. Sell, donate, and give away what you can. If you presold any items, call in the new owner(s) for pick-up.
✓ Last-Minute Details
These last-minute details are very much about you and your lifestyle. For example, if you have kids, you may want to consider making playdate arrangements or booking childcare for the day that the movers show up. Own a safety deposit box? It may be time to clean it out! Leaving behind a home? Give a trusted neighbor a key.
✓ Make Copies of Everything
From your passports to your credit cards, you should make copies – digital preferred, so they can’t be lost or stolen! – and either save them to a secure cloud service, password-locked email, or another safe and/or encrypted source for safekeeping. (These copies will come in handy if you lose anything or simply need reference numbers for identity verification.)
✓ Survive Moving Day
Whether you’re doing the whole shebang with movers or simply schlepping to the airport with several hundred pounds/kilos of luggage, Moving Day is probably not what you’d deem a picnic.
That said, you just have to get through it: Get as much sleep as possible the night before. Hydrate (the plane is dry!). Eat low-sodium, high-nutrition foods to maximize satiety and minimize bloating. Pack plenty of entertainment. And embrace your excitement!
Costa Rica Moving Checklist: Arrival in Costa Rica
You’ve settled into your hotel or vacation rental. You can’t believe you’re here. And maybe, you’re just a little overwhelmed by how to proceed. This list will help.
✓ Get a Local SIM Card
You can purchase pre-paid local SIM cards everywhere in Costa Rica; just look for a sign that displays the Kölbi, Movistar, or Claro logos. (Ask someone regarding which works better in their area.
If you’re not yet comfortable in conversant Spanish, you can ask like this: “Buenas, me gustaría comprar una línea prepago de Kölbi/Movistar/Claro.” (“Hi. I’d like to purchase a pre-paid Kölbi/Movistar/Claro cell phone line.”) The line usually costs ¢1,000 (less than $2) and will include that ¢1,000 as prepaid credit. Your phone number will be written on the packaging; don’t lose it! You should also ask the shopkeeper to activate the line for you, “¿Me podría activar la línea, por favor?” (“Could you please activate the line?”)
✓ Install Waze and WhatsApp
You’ll quickly learn that everyone in Costa Rica uses Waze (GPS/directions) and WhatsApp (text/voice messaging and WiFi/data phone/video calls). Both apps are free and you’ll use them all day, every day.
✓ Start Searching for a Long-Term Rental
Unless you’re very familiar with Costa Rica and have visited long-term, you’ll probably want to begin by renting: This will give you the opportunity to not only get a feel for various regions and areas, but to try out individual locations and even neighborhoods.
Because, while Costa Rica may seem like a tiny country, its variety is staggering. Not only are there dozens of microclimates – you can literally drive 5 minutes and transition from one to the next! – but different towns and neighborhoods have their own personalities. One may be very active and friendly, while another is more sedate and private. Renting allows you to get a feel for anywhere you’re considering home.
✓ Shop for Transportation
Believe it or not, buying a car is one of the more straightforward and easily accomplished tasks in your new life. Before you buy, there are four primary considerations: brand, purchase price, roads where you live, and gas costs.
From there, it’s time to start looking for your chosen make and model. Cast your net wide and the perfect vehicle is sure to make itself known! (Learn more about buying a car in Costa Rica.)
✓ Connect with a Real Estate Agent
We know how it sounds, but it’s true: If purchasing a home is in your future, now can be a good time to find an agent you can really connect with.
Here’s why: Depending on where you’re looking, inventory might be low. Or, the type of home you’re looking for could be uncommon. Or, if you’re looking for something very specific – ex. titled beachfront or a home within a 10-minute drive of your kids’ school – then it may take a while to hit on that just right property.
Getting a jump start is just that. Or, it should be. Connect with the right agent and you won’t feel pressured. (And at Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica, we’re really and truly committed to you. Not to selling you a property or spamming you with all the options, but to helping – genuinely and with good intent – match you to the perfect property for your needs and wants. We haven’t met a square peg that we couldn’t match to a square hole. You’ll see!)
Over the weeks and months, we’ll send you new listings and properties that meet your specific requirements. Along the way, you’ll begin to understand the market and get a feel for what you might like to purchase. And, as you learn more about the communities you’re renting in, you’ll slowly narrow down your final decision – where you will ultimately call home.
Questions About our Costa Rica Moving Checklist? Or About Living in Costa Rica, Generally?
You have questions, we have answers! Whether you’re counting down to paradise or are already here, the journey has just begun! And we’d love to help you explore all the many possibilities, joys, and roads to life in paradise.
At Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica, we thrive on relationships and promise the fastest communication and best services in the industry. We will work to deliver on your dream. We will never pressure you. And we hope we’ll become friends along the way.
We’re proud to offer some of the best Costa Rica real estate, from condos and homes to land and businesses for sale. So, go ahead – try us. Give us a chance to show off our expertise – and wow you with the possibilities! We look forward to it.