Apr 26 2019

In the Mailbag: Getting Mail, Buying a Car, and Retiring for Less? 

We always get lots of responses and questions from readers, both newsletter subscribers and on Facebook.

Hi Gloria,

I was wondering if you have or use a stateside PO box or address?  I was thinking about when the banks send new cards. I’ve seen some advice for those moving to get a PO box or mail forwarding service. Do you know anything about that?
Teri G.

Hi Teri,

We do not have a PO box in the States but we do have one here in Costa Rica. “Paul’s Monthly Tip to Live For Less: Rent a Post Office Box” explains what we do.  

There are several mail/package forwarding services, the most commonly used of which is Aerocasilles (Aeropost): https://aeropost.com/site/en.

Hope this helps!


Hola Gloria! Quick question. We are intending to buy a used car as soon as we can in CR, have been looking in the websites like CRautos. I’m sure we can get a better deal with cash, but have hit a roadblock about bringing up that much ($10000) into the country without a bank account. Once we are here, I love your strategy of “paying yourselves” from US bank accounts. The FB group sites seem to suggest “muling” in that amount in a money belt, but that sounds dangerous and maybe a customs problem. Any ideas – traveler’s checks, cashier check to deposit into an account we open in CR?

Thanks so much, and Pura Vida.

Hi Cristina,

Regarding money to buy a car, it’s correct that you can’t bring in more than 10,000 USD cash. What we did is used a car buying service and wired the money directly to them from our bank. The other option is if you arrived on different flights, you could each bring in 10,000 legally. You definitely don’t want to be caught bringing a higher amount of undeclared cash — they will think it’s drug money. I would stay away from travelers’ checks as they can be viewed as somewhat suspicious here. Any checks from outside the country, even cashiers checks, would take about 30 days to clear so that may not be a good solution.

Hope this helps!


Jonathan G. wrote to us:

Maybe you should change the name of your Newsletter to ‘Retire for More in Costa Rica’. After 3 years living in Costa Rica and buying my produce and fruits every week at the feria, I determined that I could no longer live in Costa Rica on my one Social Security check. The only thing less expensive than the USA was housing and rents – everything else was the same and even more – such as gas for your car. So, I moved to beautiful Cuernavaca, Mexico and I’m living on 48% less than Costa Rica. 

Stop painting a picture that you can live in Costa Rica for less? It is not an accurate picture.
We are actually happy to share emails such as this one. It gives us the opportunity to clarify our position on the topic. One needs to read beyond the title of our website to understand the cost of living in Costa Rica. Here is our response:

Hi Jonathan,

Thanks for getting in touch. We agree that Costa Rica isn’t inexpensive. However, for us, living is much less expensive than it was in Baltimore, Maryland. Here’s an article we wrote about it: https://retireforlessincostarica.com/so-what-would-it-cost-me-to-live-in-costa-rica/. Housing and utilities are much less for us. Food and gas for our car, not so much. But car repairs are less expensive, as is car insurance. 

I’m sorry that Costa Rica didn’t work out for you. Hopefully, Mexico will be a better fit. We love Mexico and spend part of every year there so we know it’s less expensive. 

Best wishes,


Note: when choosing to live in another country, the cost of living is just ONE thing to consider for a happy life. On our website, we try to address the other important factors as well. And we’ve never said that it’s cheap to live in Costa Rica. It isn’t. But for us, and our lifestyle, it’s less expensive than where we came from. For more info, read another of our past articles, “Why the Higher Cost of Living in Costa Rica Is Worth It.” 


Permanent link to this article: https://retireforlessincostarica.com/in-the-mailbag-getting-mail-buying-a-car-and-retiring-for-less/

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