Welcome to our RetireForLessInCostaRica.com Newsletter!
In This Issue:
- So, What’s Up with the Yeatmans? Our monthly update to answer the #1 question people ask us, “What do you DO all day?”
- Our Monthly Budget for January & February
- Paul’s Monthly Tip to Live for Less in Costa Rica: Save on Car Repairs
- Paul’s & Lance’s Monthly Weather Report **NEW** now includes weather data from Atenas
- The Weather – Another Reason We Stay in San Ramon
- When is the Best Time to Visit Costa Rica?
- Featured Real Estate — Enchanting Rural Retreat Above Cartago-$149K
- Featured Real Estate — Vistas de Puriscal Spec House-$118K
- Info About New License Plates in Costa Rica
So, What’s Up with the Yeatmans?
February was a quick month; so quick we missed doing a mid-month newsletter. But we were busy, as usual. We helped some nice folks explore the western Central Valley to see if Costa Rica might be right for them. We had a great Beach Day at Playa Doña Ana with friends.
The first was the 6th Annual Atenas Charity Chili Cook Off to benefit Hogar de Vida. “Many of these children come to Hogar de Vida from poverty conditions, have been abandoned or come from abusive situations – including sexual, physical or emotional. Hogar de Vida’s mission is to give love, protection and a substitute family for these at-risk children. Hogar de Vida helps to meet the children’s needs by offering a stable home, good nutrition, clothing, education, trustworthy authority figures and spiritual training.” This was a record-breaking event, raising $20,000 for this worthy charity! Congratulations to Tom and Kay Costello who started the event and their great team of volunteers. Thanks to our friend, Earl, who made this video of the event.
Later in the month, we had our first big trip of the season to Isla Tortuga. More than 20 of us enjoyed a great day on the water, snorkeling in crystal clear waters, a full day on the beach, and a great BBQ lunch. We’re doing it again on March 16th, if you’d like to join us!
We still took time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, like watching the sunset over the Gulf of Nicoya and the white faced monkeys dine in the trees around out house.
Here’s another one of Earl’s videos of the monkeys in the trees just off our back porch:
And for more monkey fun, I spent some time “monkey-sitting” for our friends at Spider Monkey R&R. Here’s a photo of Lolita checking out the camera.
As most of you probably know, we moved from our “all inclusive” cabina to a private house in mid-December. So from this point on, we are paying our own utilities and other expenses in addition to the rent. So here is how it shakes out for January and February:
In the past, our normal expenses in the category, “Rent/Phone/Utilities” came to about $655/month. That included $600 for our cabina, with all the utilities, security system, weekly cleaning, gardener, Sky TV, Internet, and more; plus about $55 for phone (cell phone and Vonage VOIP phone).
In January, this same category breaks out as follows, for a total of $722.16:
In February, the category “Rent/Phone/Utilities” breaks out as follows, for a total of $860.10. The reason it’s higher in February is that we needed to purchase a new cell phone, as the old one decided to go snorkeling with Paul on our Tortuga Island trip.
We also had some regular maintenance work done on our car, which raised our transportation costs. But everything else was in line with normal spending.
- Our 2012 Annual Cost of Living Update-First Six Months
- Update on Our Cost of Living in Costa Rica (May 2011)
Paul’s Monthly Tip to Live for Less in Costa Rica: Save on Car Repairs
Car repairs are a real bargain in Costa Rica.
I know I write about cars a lot — should you buy or not buy a car? Should you ship a car or get one here? For us expats, a car also acts like a barrier to integration, even though it’s very convenient. And plenty of Ticos have them too. When you don’t have a car, your life is simplified and you save money, sometimes as much as $300/month.
The car issue is a complicated one. We recommend not buying a car if you want to save money. Several of our friends live here without cars and do quite well. They walk and take buses and taxis. Quite often, they’ll hitch a ride with someone who has a car and split the cost of gas.
However, most Americans, like us, will want to buy a car sometime after arriving in Costa Rica. The good news, and it’s my money-saving tip of the month, is that car maintenance and repairs are very reasonable. Every time I take my car to the repair shop, I’m reminded of what a great deal it is. Like in the U.S., a good, honest, car mechanic is like gold. I’ve got a good one. Unfortunately, even in Costa Rica, sometimes you have to go through a few in order to find that special one whom you can trust. Luckily, you can ask other expats whom they might recommend.
Recently, my mechanic:
- repaired my window-washer fluid line (which much be functional at the yearly required inspection)
- adjusted my brakes,
- adjusted my clutch pedal so it would spring back
- examined my exhaust system for leaks (there were none)
- aligned and balanced my wheels
Total cost: $40. Such a deal! Plus he’s a great guy with a great family. His father and son work with him too, and he speaks excellent English, having lived in the States for a number of years. So, if you get a car — once you get a car — the maintenance and repairs will be easily affordable. One thing to remember, car parts may be more expensive that what you’re used to. The big savings really comes in the cost of labor.
- Paul’s Monthly Tip to Live for Less in Costa Rica: Don’t Buy a Car
- Paul’s Monthly Tip to Live for Less in Costa Rica: Taking the Bus
- Shortcut to all of Paul’s Money Saving Tips
Paul’s & Lance’s Monthly Weather Report – February 2013
It’s been comfortable at dinner time, about 72.5°f average, but the winds can make it feel cooler and they can also blow our candles out. We still live just 10 minutes and 4 miles from San Ramon central, which can be quite warm. The “Christmas winds,” which started on October 25th, are slowing as the transition to the dry season is complete. We’ve had less than 2 inches of rain since October 25th. And let’s not forget that there are completely different rain patterns on the Caribbean side of the country, where it falls throughout the year so there is no extended dry season.
As usual, we took the temperature at 6am, mid-day, and 6pm daily, as well as rainfall totals for the previous 24 hours, measured at 6am. All temperature readings are taken in the shade (just like official meteorologists do). If taken in the sunshine, the temps are usually 8-10 degrees higher. You also have to take into account the altitude — the higher the elevation, the cooler the temps. It gets warmer by about 4-5 degrees per 1000 feet as you descend in elevation.
Following is our rain and temperature data, at our home in San Ramón at 3,000 ft. elevation, for the month of February 2013:
- 0 inches of total rainfall
- 2 days measured trace amounts of rain
- 26 days with zero rainfall
- 6am average: 63.2°f (lowest reading was 60°f on 3 days)
- Mid-day average: 81.25.°f (high of 86°f on 1 day & the lowest high of 78°f on 1 day)
- 6pm average: 72.5°f (lowest reading was 67°f on 3 days and highest was 74°f on 1 day)
To give you an idea of the difference that elevation has on temperatures, here is the breakdown of temperature data from February last year when we were living at 3,950 feet elevation, about 1,000 feet higher than we’re living now:
- 6am average: 59.2°f (lowest reading was 57°f on 2 days)
- Mid-day average: 76.6°f (high of 83°f & low of 73°f on 2 days)
- 6pm average: 64.3°f (lowest reading was 62°f and highest was 66°f )
Our friend, Lance , recorded day-to-day overnight low temperatures and daytime high temperatures at their home in Vista Atenas at an elevation of about 2700 feet. The temperatures may differ from the town of Atenas itself where the elevation is lower, or other nearby places where the elevation is even lower or higher. As is characteristic of Costa Rica in general, the Atenas region has many microclimates. A few hundred feet can make a significant difference.
- Overnight lows (about 6am) Average: 64.7°f (lowest reading was 59.7°f on 1 day & highest reading was 68.7°f)
- Daytime highs (about noon) Average: 88.1°f (high of 93.3°f on 1 day & low of 82.9°f on 1 day)
- Daytime humidity average 35% (range 20%-50%
- Nighttime humidity average 77% (range 60%-100%)
We’ll continue the weather info next month.
- Our Weather in San Ramón de Alajuela, Costa Rica – 2011
- Our Weather in San Ramón de Alajuela, Costa Rica – 2012
- Where We Live: Santiago de San Ramón
Some people noticed that the weather was not one of the 10 reasons we chose San Ramon. But after almost four years living here, we can accurately report that it is one of the reasons we stay here. Matter of fact, it’s the 6th reason we chose to stay in San Ramon.
Generally speaking, the weather in the Central Valley is similar. It varies a little from town to town, depending on elevation. The greatest differences in temp and rainfall are in the hills that surround all the towns in the Occidental (western Central Valley). These include Grecia, Sarchi, Naranjo, Palmares, and San Ramon. Most of these towns sit at about 3,000 feet, except for San Ramon at 3,450 feet elevation. Again, all these towns have hills around them with more rain and cooler temps. Check out my weather map and enlarge it; the darker the blue areas where the hills are, the more rainfall.
San Ramon is a little higher than other Central Valley towns, and some consider it not to be part of the Central Valley, but rather in the “Occidental.” Because San Ramon is a little higher, it’s cooler with a little more rain and clouds. San Ramon gets 60-80 inches of rain per year, with more in the surrounding hills, like at the Cabinas (at 3,950 ft. elevation) where we lived for almost 4 years. Gradually, we got used to the weather, and now that we’re living at 3,000 ft. elevation, we have to get used to it all over again.
Either way, in town, the hills, or where we live now, the weather is delightful. Pleasant temps, breezy, and cool at night for sleeping, with lows about 60°f and highs about 80°f during the day). We love it! What more could anyone ask? So, in conclusion, we’ve got another reason to stay in, and love, San Ramon – the weather.
Many Costa Rica websites lead you to believe that the dry season (high season) is the only time to visit Costa Rica. Generally, they are referring to the time between December 1st and May 1st, when it is drier in the Central Valley and on the Pacific Coast. They insinuate that the rainy season is less desirable. But as many of you know, there are many reasons to come during the “green season” (rainy season):
- It can be less expensive – hotels, parks, and generally all tourist attractions typically charge less.
- It’s more beautiful – more lush and green.
- The weather is more predictable, usually with sunny mornings, clouds rolling in around noon, and rain in the afternoons. On the Pacific Coast, the rain doesn’t usually begin until about 4pm.
- It’s slightly cooler at the beach and less crowded.
- The days have a built-in time for reading a book or taking a nap during the afternoon rains.
So, take advantage of the rainy months, especially May, June, July and August. Remember, 70% of the rainfall for the season falls on just 15 days. It doesn’t rain all the time, nor does it rain every day – just a little most afternoons. Sometimes it doesn’t rain at all, especially during July’s veranillo (“little summer”). It’s a great time to be in Costa Rica. Everything is green again and you can still enjoy all of the fun things – zip lines, white water rafting, and beaches – and at better rates. You can save up to 50% on hotels and attractions in the green season when the occupancy rates are typically down.
Featured Real Estate — Enchanting Rural Retreat Above Cartago-$149K
Property ID: Guindo
Enchanting rural retreat at 6000 feet. 22km above Cartago in a beautiful, safe farming community.
60ft waterfall to your left, sweeping views of the valley to your right.
Open floorplan with windows everywhere. Perfect for bird watching from bed or yoga with amazing views.
Appliances included (washer & dryer, electric range, refrigerator, microwave, dehumidifier).
Huge deck and separate patio.
Beautiful, mature landscaping perfect for an avid gardener.
Jungle trail with hidden writing cabin perfect for bird watching.
Furnished (down to the coffee mugs). (Note: The tile-topped tables are not included, and the bed, which is included, is a Murphy Bed, custom-built from a furniture-maker in Sarchi.)
5 minutes from Pacayas, a charming town with restaurants, grocery stores, banks
30 minutes from Cartago
45 minutes from Tres Rios
90 minutes from the airport.
Public water, electricity and telephone are already in service. Low taxes and no heating bills!
This magical casita was custom-built for us in 2005, so has had only one owner. Make an offer!
Property ID: VDP1
Click here to check out our other properties under $150,000 and read about what to do before you buy.
Info About New License Plates in Costa Rica
As often happens when new laws are enacted in Costa Rica (and, I am sure, elsewhere in the world), there is a lot of confusion about the details. The issue of new “mandatory” license plates is no exception. The Tico Times recently published an article that explains that the new plates are NOT mandatory yet and the the process of converting over to the new plates begins this April but will be implemented over the next three years. So don’t panic, especially if you have an older model car, as new cars will be the first to be issued new plates. Here’s a link to the story: Rumors swirl around new license plate rules.
And here is link to more information on the Lake Arenal Forum: Mandatory New License Plates.
What’s New on the Website
Check out our newest posts on www.retireforlessincostarica.com:
- Meeting You Face-to-Face
- Five Good Reasons to Consider Retiring Abroad
- Our Weather in San Ramón de Alajuela, Costa Rica–2013
- Paul’s Monthly Tip to Live for Less in Costa Rica: Rent a Post Office Box
- Healthcare in Costa Rica — Our Recent Experiences (January 2013)
- Waiting to See the Doctor, by Jo Stuart
- Seven Compelling Reasons to Invest in Coopenae
- Types of Costa Rica Residencies, Requirements, and Benefits
- Time to Trim the Banana Plants! – Video
- Reflections on Five Years Living in Costa Rica
- MythBusters: What’s it REALLY Like to Live in Costa Rica??
- So What Would It Cost ME to Live in Costa Rica?
- Our 2012 Cost of Living Summary
- Our December 2012 Budget
- Healthcare in Costa Rica—Our Recent Experiences
- Moving On: Part III—Settling In and Coming Full-Circle
- Paul’s Monthly Tip to Live for Less in Costa Rica: Buy Just What You Need
- CPI’s New Online Spanish Classes
- Update: America’s No Place to Get Old In