Welcome to our Retire For Less In Costa Rica Newsletter
In This Issue:
- Monthly Costa Rica Weather Report for 11 Towns in Costa Rica–March 2016
- Significant Earthquakes in Costa Rica Over the Last 100 Years
- Featured Property-Tranquil Home with 2nd Building Site $196,000
- Our Ultimate CR Healthcare Tour
You’ll notice that we now show rainfall and temperatures for eleven towns in Costa Rica:
- San Ramón de Alajuela
- Nuevo Arenal
- Near San Isidro de General
- San Rafael de Heredia
- San Marcos de Tarrazu
- El Cajón de Grecia
- Grand View Estates, Siquirres
- Volio de Cachí, Orosi Valley
This isn’t weather forecasting. We report after the fact to give you a much better picture of the weather in each of these areas. You can click on the map above to enlarge it and check out the average rainfall for the towns in which you are interested.
Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for March
Paul’s San Ramón Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for March:
- The lowest monthly temperature for March was 60.0°F (15.6°C) and the highest reading for March was 83.0°F (28.3°C). Fifteen days were 80°F (26.7°C) or above. Five days came in at 79°F (26.1°C).
- It was warmer in the town of San Ramón, which is 500 ft. higher in elevation than where we live. Even though our rental home in Magallanes de San Ramón is lower in elevation (2970 ft.) than the town (3450 ft.), the temps are usually a bit cooler.
- March, April, and May are the warmest months in Costa Rica. We sit at 10 degrees north latitude (10 degrees north of the equator). The sun is at the equator on March 20th (the Spring equinox) and moves north 1/4 of a degree every day. So, 40 days later (approximately April 29th), the sun is directly above us at 10 degrees north latitude.
- We just got back from the International Living conference in New Orleans and will write more about our trip next month. For now, let’s just say we ate a lot of great food and listened to a lot of great music!
- Our rental house is still for sale. You can read about it in the featured property listing below. We are still looking for a great rental in downtown San Ramon.
- We had only one tour in March, to Lake Arenal. This tour was real estate oriented at the client’s request, both rentals and to buy. The client is interested in the Tileran side of Lake Arenal and the towns of San Luis and Tronadora.
- Total rainfall for the last 3 years in our area of San Ramón:
- 2015 – 103 inches
- 2014 – 120 inches
- 2013 – 111 inches
Lance T’s Atenas Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for March:
- The weather in March was quite boring in Atenas. Whenever it got hot (equal to or greater than 90°F/32.2°C), the humidity was quite low. With winds and breezes the “feels like” temperature was frequently less than the actual air temperature. Compared to last year, March temperatures were a bit higher but not much. Unlike last year, there was a measurable amount of rain on one day and some unmeasurable trickles on a couple of other days. The maximum “feels like” temperature with heat and humidity combined was 92.3°F (33.5°C). This is not particularly uncomfortable if you choose not to exert yourself.
- Our house without air-conditioning actually remains a few degrees cooler than outside temperatures. It has a tiled roof (real tiles and not plastic or some other composite) and the roof is shaded by palm trees. This is good during the day and more than good for a comfortable sleep at night. In the cool early mornings, we can be obliged to draw up a comforter, but that is better than having to turn on an air-conditioner, which attracts the relatively high electricity rates in Costa Rica.
- Total rainfall for the last 3 years in our area of Atenas:
- 2015 – 63.70 inches
- 2014 – 73.59 inches
- 2013 – 63.84 inches
John’s Nuevo Arenal Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for March:
- March was a beautiful month, weatherwise. I took advantage of it by swimming in Lake Arenal for the first time this year.
- We’ve been in Costa Rica for over 25 years and own the B&B, Chalet Nicholas, located in Nuevo Arenal.
- Total rainfall for the last 3 years in our area of Nuevo Arenal:
- 2015 – 208.34 inches, setting a new record!
- 2014 – 184.95 inches
- 2013 – 164.75 inches
Lance M’s Central Pacific Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for March:
- In Quepos, everyone was staying in as cool a place as they could find. The local folks who have lived here all their lives said this has been the hottest and driest dry season they can remember.
- There have been water shortages and our never-run-dry-well has run dry once, but thanks to the spring that feeds it, it filled back up. Makes you stop and think about water usage. The good thing is that our landlord had two 500 gallon holding tanks installed, one for his house and one for our house, so we have never ran out of water; we just have to conserve a little. Ranchers are really hurting for water for their livestock. It could be worse. We only had 9 days that were 100 degrees plus.
- 2014 rainfall for the Quepos area of the Central Pacific was 73.54 inches (as of February 2014 when I started measuring it for this newsletter).
Gordon’s Villa Nueva (San Isidro de El General) Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for March:
- March was another warm month, with a new high of 91°F/33°C, breaking last month’s previous high of 90°F (32.2°C). We also saw the greatest variances in the lows and in the highs this month. The lows varied by as much as 8°F, (4.4°C) and the highs by as much as 9°F, (5°C). Previously, as an example, the highs were varying 4-6 degrees F. Possibly a result of El Nino? March was also the month that we our first recordable rainfall since the middle of December. Now, 0.2″ (.5cm) may not sound like much, but it sure was a sweet sound on the roof!
We also had some company from Canada and the U.S. in March. They were only able to stay for a week, as one of them is a teacher and that was all the time she could have off, but we made the best of the short time they were here. We all agreed one week was just not enough time to see even a fraction of this beautiful country, but time together with old friends is always special.
- We are looking forward to the rainy season so we can get more flowers and finish off our landscaping – watering every day is fine, but there is nothing like good old rain water! (You may want to remind me I said that when it is the middle of next November!)
Steve’s San Rafael de Heredia Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for March:
- After three months, the cumulative rain total for 2016 comes to 8.3 inches, a little below normal. We got a tenth of an inch on March 2nd and then on the seventeenth, a whopping two inches. Because we usually get a couple or three good soaking rains in March, after the seventeenth we waited for another rain, but it never happened.
- The lack of rain has kept me busy watering the gardens, particularly the vegetable garden, and topping up the pond. The last monthly water bill came to 19,000 colones ($36), representing the highest water usage we’ve ever had in Costa Rica. Our average water bill is around 6,000 colones ($12). When we lived in South Carolina our average bill was about $60, so even though we use huge amounts of water here, it is much cheaper. We do conserve water in as many ways as possible. A couple of examples, when I take a shower I run the water into a bucket until the water starts to get warm (most people just let the water run down the drain). I then use the water in the bucket to flush the toilet. This saves, on the average, one flush a day. Another thing, as I rinse the dishes I dump the water into a bucket and then dump the bucket onto the compost pile, which usually needs it. When we rinse fruits and vegetables, that water is also collected and goes to the compost pile or used to water the plants on the veranda.
Besides watering the garden, I also change the birdbaths daily and water the chickens. I figure about a hundred gallons evaporate daily from the pond, so keeping it topped up puts a demand of more than 3,000 gallons a month during the dry season. One big water demand is the filtration system for the pond. During the dry season it takes 40 gallons of water a day to clean the system. So I’m using more than a thousand gallons a month just to keep the pond clean. But this water is not thrown away. The dirty water is pumped down to holding tanks in the vegetable garden and from there I can use it to water the vegetables, route it to the bog garden, or parts of the flower garden. Believe me, nothing gets wasted.
- March stands out as the hottest month we’ve experienced in six years of recording weather data. The average daily high was 81.8, five degrees above the figure for February. In a land of very even temperatures, five degrees is a huge difference.
- On another topic, my wife, Maria, and I are avid backyard birders. March is the month to watch for raptors on their annual northerly migration. Maria has the sharp eyes and she is usually the one who spots the bird first. Then I identify it in the field guide and take a picture. This March was one of our best ever, as we saw many groups of hawks rising in the thermals. The term birders use to describe these large groups of swirling raptors is “kettle.” This March we saw several kettles containing more than a thousand hawks each. It is one of Mother Nature’s more spectacular events. If you’re not a birder, a kettle looks like a bunch of small dots in the sky. Nothing to get excited about. If you’re a birder, it gets your heart pumping.
- Total rainfall for the last 3 years in our area of Heredia:
- 2015 – 144.9 inches
- 2014 – 115.1 inches
- 2013 – 111.3 inches
Bonnie’s San Marcos de Tarrazu Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for March:
- We have recently moved and will continue our weather reporting from our new location in May.
Irina’s El Cajón de Grecia Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for March:
- We recorded the highest temperatures to date during March — it was generally 2 degrees Celsius hotter, with 14 days when temperatures soared above 30°C (86°F). The lows, too, were approx. 2°C higher than in previous years. By comparison, previous years showed an average high of 27.3°C (81.1°F) last year, 27.4°C (81.3°F) in 2014, and 26.9°C (80.4°F) in 2013.
- average high: 58.3%
- average low: 20.9%
- average humidity for the month: 39.6%
- Although barely measurable, we had a little rain (less than 1 mm) in March of the past 3 years as well. Our latest measurable rainfall was last December — needless to say, it’s been very dry in el Cajón. We’ve heard thunder and saw dark clouds, but nothing came down. We can’t wait for the rainy season to start, so we can fix our caña living fence, transfer some shrubs and plant a few trees.
- We’re looking for a white Hong Kong Orchid tree to plant on our beloved dog Zooey’s grave. We have a purple Hong Kong Orchid tree which does wonderfully and hope the white variety will do equally well. On a brighter note — several of our various orchid varieties, which we have either grafted onto trees (especially the “sandpaper tree”) or planted in the ground, are starting to bloom and our orchid garden looks very colorful right now.
- Let’s hope for rain.
- 2015 rainfall for year: 107.6 inches (273.23 cm)
Mike’s Grand View Estates (Siquirres) Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for March:
- March in the Caribe was quite warm. We recorded 18 days with no rain, and a further 6 days with just a trace. As a result, we also had no cool days (or nights), as reflected by our average daily high of 29.°C (85.6°F). The thermometer topped 30°C on 16 days, and at night only fell below 20°C once.
- Total rainfall for the month was 153 mm (6 inches), which was 1 mm less than we recorded in March last year.
- My niece from Ottawa visited Costa Rica and rented a house that was perched up on a hill outside of Atenas. We went to visit them. We found the countryside far different from our part of Costa Rica. Very brown, and somewhat reminiscent of the Italian countryside when viewed from our vantage point. We found it extremely hot (the thermometer reached 36°C (97°F) one day), and the low humidity caused our skin to dry out and itch almost instantly. And the wind! We had to keep the patio doors closed all the time despite the high temperature, and I swear there were whitecaps on the swimming pool. Sometimes it sounded as if the roof were being torn off. Atenas advertises itself as having the best climate in the world; it didn’t show off its best side to us. We were glad to return to our land of green, bathed by gentle zephyrs from the Caribbean.
- Total rainfall for the last 2 years in our area of Grand View Estates:
- 2015 – 305.7 inches
- 2014 – 208.2 inches (May through December)
Juan Miguel’s Volio de Cachí Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for March:
- We do get some rain even in the dry season, but it has been steadily decreasing while temperatures are gradually increasing. I was thinking how we needed some more rain, since a few things have been a little “wilty” in the mid-afternoon, until I made a trip to Alajuela and realized how much drier and brown everything was there by comparison. A few miles do make a tremendous difference here in PuraVidaVille.
- We had one very foggy morning and two additional days with mist for several hours, but no measurable rain on those days.
- Our average overnight humidity was up to 87% this month and the average daytime humidity was 66% again. Daytime low humidity was 50% and daytime high was 77%
- Goat update: the adorable little buckling, Hombrecito, was taken to his new home and exchanged for a Flemish Giant rabbit. These are not your average pet store kind of rabbit. Trixie is the size of a Lhasa Apso.
Tim’s Escazú Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for March:
- March came with typical dry season days, with some hot nights.
- We had a little rain — just a trace (.04″) on Sunday, March 13th.
- If you are in the market for insurance — automotive, homeowners, liability or medical — contact us at Garrett Brokers, a family owned business that has serviced the expat community for more than 35 years.
- Escazú County is one of 20 counties that make up the San Jose Metropolitan Area. It is west of the downtown San Jose area, with the Escazú mountains as its backdrop.
Costa Rica Weather Report for March 2016
Our Weatherguys and Weathergals
Our San Ramón Weatherguy, Paul Yeatman
Meteorology has been Paul’s lifelong hobby. As a child, he devoured books about the weather and earth sciences vigorously. Later, he took a few college courses in meteorology, and still later, he served as a meteorologist for the U.S. Army in Vietnam. Now, Paul gets to practice his avocation in Costa Rica, albeit on a very small scale with just temperature and rainfall data, probably the two most important factors regarding the weather. He wanted to include weather info on our website to help people decide where to live, although weather is just one of many factors to consider in determining where to relocate. Current weather data is from our current home at about 3,000 ft. elevation and 10 minutes outside the town of San Ramón. Weather data prior to December 2012 is from our previous home at about 4,000 ft. elevation and 10 minutes outside the town of San Ramón.
Our Atenas Weatherguy, Lance Turlock
Lance and his wife, Diana, moved to Costa Rica over 4 years ago after living 30+ years in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia (Vancouver and environs). They live in the Central Valley near the town of Atenas and are at an elevation of about 2700 feet. They have no need for air conditioning or heating. Overnight low temperatures are comfortably cool (low 60’s). Daytime highs can be relatively hot (high 80’s, low 90’s), but rarely uncomfortably hot.Lance started to keep track of daily temperatures and rainfall in order to have factual ammunition to help disabuse friends, relatives and acquaintances of any misconception that the weather must be like that of a tropical jungle.
Our Nuevo Arenal Weatherguy, John Nicholas
After many visits to Costa Rica, John and Cathy Nicholas moved from New York to Costa Rica in 1991. They chose Arenal for its sacred, majestic beauty, its lush wildlife, its relaxing lifestyle, and its proximity to activities and sites such as the Volcano Arenal and the beaches. They own the B&B, Chalet Nicholas, which has been in operation since 1992. Temperatures and rainfall are measured at Chalet Nicholas which is located at approximately 2,200 ft. elevation and 1 mile west of the town of Nuevo Arenal.
Our Central Pacific (Quepos) Weatherguy, Lance Miller
I was born in a very small town in northwest Iowa and raised on a farm. When I was 18, I joined the service, in which I spent 22 years before retiring in 1990. For the next twenty three years my family and I lived in south central Pennsylvania. After having a stroke in 2012, I was unable to work and that is when my wife and I began talking about retiring. Thanks to your newsletter and a website we found about San Isidro, we began looking at Costa Rica. We came down in March 2013 and looked around for a week. Went home, packed up, and moved here in April. We settled in a small village called Playa Matapalo which is located between Quepos and Dominical. We later moved to Quepos. The word Playa means beach. It is so nice to lie in bed and listen to the ocean. Pura Vida.
Gordon and his wife Bea moved here from Lloydminster, Alberta, Canada, where he used to track the correlation of the winter hoer frost and the spring/summer rains. After 30+ years as a Purchasing Agent for a retail lumber yard/Homes Manufacturing company, he decided to say “Adios” to the snow and ice. They arrived in Costa Rica Oct 2, 2014, and originally lived in Quebradus, which is 15 minutes NE of San Isidro de El General, but as of November 2015 now live in Villa Nueva, which is 10 minutes NW of the city. They are at a altitude of about 800 meters, living in a rental house that friends built on their acreage. The fruit trees are abundant, and in the rainy season the water in the nearby streams can be heard from their deck. They overlook a beautiful valley, and enjoy watching the sun setting behind the hills every night!
I’m a weather geek and have been recording daily weather data for the last 4 years in Concepcion de San Rafael de Heredia. We live at 5,000 ft. (1,500 meters) elevation, above San Rafael centro on a low ridge that comes off of Cerro Chompipe (between Barva Volcano and los Cerros de Zurqui). We have a 60 mile wide view from Turrialba Volcano east to somewhere around Cerro Turrubares west. I first lived in CR as a Peace Corps volunteer (1968-71), married a tica school teacher, and moved back to Costa Rica in 2009. My wife grew up in downtown San Rafael just three miles away, and the weather is quite different there. I am also an avid gardener and birder.
Bonnie, her husband Joe, and their dog Marley moved from Tucson, Arizona, to San Marcos de Tarrazu, in mid-2015. Bonnie was a CPA, turned software engineer with IBM for 20 years and later opened and operated a specialty coffee shop, founded a non-profit dedicated to connecting musicians with appreciative audiences, and managed a school district theatre. A self-professed “data geek”, she looks forward to being our weathergirl while pursuing her other passions which include traveling, gardening, cooking, hiking, meeting people, and hanging out with Joe and Marley. They are enjoying retirement life in the town of San Marcos which lies at about 4,800 ft. in the heart of Costa Rica’s prime coffee-growing region.
Our El Cajón de Grecia Weathergirl, Irina Just
Born in Germany, Irina spent 40+ years in the USA (all on the Pacific coast) before she and her husband Jim moved to Costa Rica three years ago. For the 20 years prior, they owned and operated a vineyard in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, famous for award-winning pinot noir. During that time, it became critical to keep precise records of daily temperatures, rainfall and pertinent weather patterns to accurately forecast seasonal tasks, such as when to prune the grapes, when to harvest, when to protect them from an early or late frost. As little as one degree made the difference between a bountiful harvest – or a lost crop. After moving to el Cajón de Grecia, the Justs continued to take daily readings of temperatures and measurements of rainfall because they quickly discovered that the micro-climate in the foothills of Poás differs widely from the weather in nearby Grecia.
Carmen and Mike Wise, together with their 2 large dogs, drove to Costa Rica from Calgary, Alberta a little over 3 years ago. Carmen is a professional musician. She was a guest clinician at Suzuki workshops in Costa Rica for many years, so developed good friendships here. Their network of friends helped them ease into the Pura Vida life! They built their own home in the gated community of Grand View Estates. It is located about 9km ESE of Siquirres, at an elevation of 200m. Their home has expansive views out to the Caribbean. Although the climate is tropical rain forest, it never gets too hot. They don’t need air conditioning. They run a small bed and breakfast (seewww.amapolaBnB.com). Mike still works as a financial advisor, serving his Canadian clients. Telephone, email and Internet, supplemented by occasional trips back to Calgary, make living and working in a remote location possible. He does his own research and writes a quarterly newsletter Investing Wisely (see www.wiseword.ca).
Our Volio de Cachí (Orosi Valley) Weatherguy, John Michael Arthur
Tim Garrett was born in Costa Rica, and with an international background, with strong European and Latin American influence. He loves spending time outdoors with whatever activity that comes his way. He works as General Manager of Garrett Brokers(www.garrettbrokers.com), a family owned insurance broker, that has serviced the expat community for more than 35 years. They handle Automobile, Homeowners, Liability, Medical insurance and more. Garrrett Brokers, where both English and Spanish are spoken, is even a stop on theRetire for Less Ultimate Healthcare Tour.
- Costa Rica Weather Report: 2016 Monthly Temps & Rainfall
- Costa Rica Weather: 2015 Monthly Temps & Rainfall
- Our Weather in San Ramón & Atenas Costa Rica – 2014
- Our Weather in San Ramón & Atenas Costa Rica – 2013
- Our Weather in San Ramón de Alajuela, Costa Rica – 2012
- Our Weather in San Ramón de Alajuela, Costa Rica – 2011
- 15 Days
- El Nino – What is it?
According to a CNN article today, “the death toll from Ecuador’s magnitude-7.8 earthquake climbed to 654 Saturday evening, according to the country’s Risk Management Office. The agency also reported that 58 people remain missing since the April 16 quake and 12,492 are injured. It also announced that almost 26,091 people remain in shelters.”
We have friends living in Ecuador, so this tragedy hits home for us, and we join the rest of the world in mourning the loss of so many lives and the massive destruction.
In researching this, I found the most complete and reliable source of data to be the Significant Earthquake Database of the U.S. National Geophysical Data Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). You will need to enlarge the chart below by clicking on it. The chart includes the dates of all significant earthquakes in Costa Rica for the past 100 years, indicates if there was a tsunami associated with the quake, gives the location, depth and magnitude of each quake, and records the loss of life, injuries, and property damage.
Though we make it a practice to show you properties for sale at $150,000 or less, we are making an exception this one time. This is the house that we have been living in for the last 3+ years and have called our home. Many of our readers have visited us here and have found it to be a special place, just as we have.
Sell: $196000 USD
Area: 11658 m2
Construction: 2000 ft2
Years Built: 2010
If you are looking to live in communion with nature, surrounded by wild life including monkeys, parrots, macaws and toucans, with an unobstructed view to the Gulf of Nicoya and mountains, and with your own river and waterfall behind your property, then this is the place for you.
Secluded but not isolated, in an area with a healthy mixture of locals and expats, a wonderful community only 5 kilometers from downtown San Ramon, 45 minutes from the beach, 40 minutes to Juan Santamaria Airport and one hour from San Jose.
The property is slightly over two acres and has a 2,000 sq.ft. house and a large, flat area where to build a second home, rancho, pool, etc.
The home was built in 2010, has three bedrooms and two baths, loft, hot water throughout, high ceilings, lots of windows, laundry room, pantry and a wonderful, large roofed terrace overlooking the jungle where you will want to spend all your time. Other extras include alarm, exterior shower, ceiling fans and views from every room in the house.
Most of the furniture and all appliances including dishwasher and washer and dryer are included in the sale.
In a corporation for easy transfer.
Property ID: 288
Click here to check out our other properties under $150,000 and read about what to do before you buy.
Our newest tour is the Ultimate Healthcare Tour of Costa Rica. When asked what he liked best about our healthcare tour, one of our guests wrote, “the wide variety of places we saw, the experts that Paul arranged for us to meet and talk with, and an emphasis on all aspects of health, not just doctors and hospitals. Mental health is just as important as physical, if not more so.”
We’ve lived in Costa Rica for over six and a half years and have used the Caja, Costa Rica’s public healthcare system extensively, as well as the private system, when needed. We’ve learned the system and have been referred up the ladder to see specialists in the maze that is the Caja system. Gloria’s even had surgery here.
Our blend of personal insights and on-the-ground experience combines to answer your questions about whether or not Costa Rica’s healthcare system could meet your individual needs.
But, while it is focused on healthcare, you will learn a lot more about living and retiring in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. Most of the second day of the tour takes place in the town of San Ramón where we live and use the services. And you will come to our home for lunch that day to listen to two of our featured speakers.
Our tour is designed to save you both time and money, packing a lot of information into a short period of time. Our goal is to show you the possibilities and to try to demystify Costa Rica’s healthcare system. Our tour lasts two days and 1 night and includes lodging, transportation, meals and non-alcoholic beverages.
- At least two private hospitals in San Jose area
- Hospital Mexico, the largest and best public hospital (they even do open heart surgeries there)
- An insurance broker for a presentation on the various supplemental health insurance options, including public, private, and international plans
- A senior living retirement community
- CPI language school for a presentation about how learning Spanish increases your options for healthcare and some basic medical Spanish.
- Our local hospital here in San Ramón
- A local EBAIS (community clinic)
- A local private medical and dental clinic
- A local Seguro Social office where you would sign up for the Caja (national healthcare coverage)
- A pharmacy
- A health food store (macrobiotica), and more!
- If the Costa Rican healthcare system could meet your needs and put your mind to rest, once and for all, about this sensitive subject.
- About the public system and how it works, about the private healthcare system, and how you can use a combination of both to your advantage.
- About the EBAIS – where healthcare starts in Costa Rica.
- Approximately how much you would pay for Caja.
- About medical tourism in Costa Rica.
- About home health care in Costa Rica.
Introductory prices: $550 for a couple, $450 for a single.
Please contact us if you are interested in booking this tour. Space is limited.
- Paul Gets a CAT Scan Through the Caja
- Integration 102 – Speaking Up at the Hospital
- Waiting to See the Doctor, by Jo Stuart
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Check out our newest posts on www.retireforlessincostarica.com:
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- Costa Rica Weather–February 2016 Observations, Facts, & Tidbits
- Costa Rica Weather Report: 2016 Monthly Temps & Rainfall
- Gardening in Costa Rica with Steve: Gardening in the Wind
- In the Mailbag-Everybody’s Talking About the Cost of Living in Costa Rica
- Costa Rica Winds (Video)
- A Windy Day Bus Ride in Bajo La Paz
- Our February 2016 Costa Rica Cost of Living Expenses – $1991.73
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