Dec 26 2017

In the Mailbag – Suspending Caja Fees, Body Donation, Simplicity, and Thoughts About Paradise

emaildelivery-200pxWe always get lots of responses and questions from readers, both newsletter subscribers and on Facebook.

After reading our August Cost of Living report, Nancy contacted us with the following question:

Hi Paul and Gloria,
We certainly enjoy reading your monthly newsletter.  However, it brought to mind a question that we have been wondering about.

You mentioned that you didn’t pay the Caja monthly fee when you went to Mexico for 2 months, thinking that it was suspended because you were gone.  It sounds like that was not true, and that you needed to be gone for more than 3 months to have it suspended. Is that correct?  Do you know how long you can suspend payments, if say you were out of Costa Rica for many months at a time?

We just got our residency, finally, and have been on Caja for a month or two and are planning on a long trip to the States to help our daughter, 6 or more months.  Any information you may have would be helpful, or even if you can direct us where to inquire about this.

Thanks much!!
Larry and Nancy J.

Hi Nancy,

It’s a great question. A friend who comes to San Ramon for 6-8 months each year told us about the ability to waive payments when we are out of the country. As it turns out, it only applies if you are out of the country for at least three full months. We returned to Costa Rica for 3 weeks in August and came back to Mexico on August 31st. When we return to Costa Rica on November 27th, we will have been out of the country for only 2 months and 28 days and that, evidently, does not qualify us for a waiver of Caja payments, or so we have been told. However, if one is out of the country for at least 3 months, my understanding is that showing your passport with exit and entry stamps is all the proof that is needed.


P.J. had a question about our article on End of Life Issues – Body Donation:

Interesting article. Unfortunately, since reading it, I have contacted the facility twice and they haven’t answered. Any suggestions?”

Hi PJ,

Thanks for letting us know. We contacted Judy Kerr who wrote the article for us. Here is her response:

I had no trouble getting a response. It may be of help for this person to have a Tico friend attempt to contact the office. Since I do not speak Spanish very well, I had a Tico friend contact the office. That being said, there have been primarily English speakers who have had success in scheduling an appointment.”

Hope this helps,


We received lots of comments on Facebook to our article, “Simplicity – What is It?”

Ronda-and-John-H commented:

People in the States ask me what I love about C. Rica and I tell them that among a bunch of other things it is less complicated here. And they usually ask, “How so?” The example I usually use is going to the grocery store. In the States I go to buy a box of cereal and there are literally over 200 to choose from. Heck, there are 8 different varieties of Cherrios! Here…. maybe 8 total to choose from. Who needs 200 choices of cereal?”

And Ray E. commented:

For us, the answer is both…and neither. After many years of working towards a primary goal of being able to go where we want, when we want, when it became clear that this goal would be achieved we started simplifying. Even took up yoga, lost weight and got into the best shape I had been in for 20+ years. This happened several years before we came to Costa Rica. Sold the “toys”, the houses and eventually the cars and most of our household goods. After making my first overseas move in my 20’s (and several moves since then) I knew that a new culture, language, etc. would keep me busy while transitioning from an 80 hour workweek to a 0 hour workweek….and as it turns out that was the right decision. I can’t say we don’t enjoy many of the same things we used to, but we no longer feel the pressure to work all of our fun into a few short days. “Permanent vacation” as it were. For us, Costa Rica is simply a pleasant base of operations as we get out more and enjoy what the world has to offer. We don’t plan to stay here forever, but aren’t in any hurry to leave either.”

Our article,“Misconception #6: Living in Costa Rica is paradise, right?” elicited the following comments:

Raymond J. commented:

I think 90% of it is your attitude. I had visited many times yearly before 2000, and have lived / traveled internationally. so when we moved here in 2000, we had zero expectations that anything would be “as easy, or even remotely the same as back in US/Canada.”

I expected to have to relearn basic things and methods. Learn new skills, unlearn old habits. As far as I am concerned after 17 years of my family growing up here, going to school here, opening and doing business here. its just another way of doing things, not better or worse, not cheaper or more expensive.just different.

I watch the pain folks are going through living in the 2017 USA/Canada, and I’ll take Costa Rica life every time.”

Shirley S. commented:

Folks need to read, research, visit, and have an open mind and heart. I love my new home and do not find the frustrations overwhelming – there are always other people to help you maneuver your way through the unfamiliar. The arrogance of many gringos, who think the US/Canadian, etc. way is the only way is extremely distasteful. Those are the people who leave Costa Rica after a time. And the ones that stay and continue to bad-mouth Costa Rica and its people and culture would be happier if they left (and so would the rest of us be happier to see them leave!)”

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