Welcome to our Retire For Less In CostaRica Newsletter
In This Issue:
- Monthly Costa Rica Weather Report for 9 Towns in Costa Rica – December 2015
- Featured Property: San Ramon – Modern 3 Bedroom House: $136,000
- Our Ultimate CR Healthcare Tour – 2016 Dates Released!
You’ll notice that we now show rainfall and temperatures for nine 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
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.
We’d like to introduce our newest Weatherguy: Mike Wise, who lives in Siquerres, is our first Weatherguy located on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica.
Carmen and Mike Wise, together with their 2 large dogs, drove down to Costa Rica from Calgary, Alberta a little over 3 years ago … a trip of over 10,000 km crossing 7 international borders. Before switching careers to become a financial advisor, Mike worked overseas extensively as a geologist and mining engineering consultant. Carmen grew up in Peru, and they lived for a number of years in Asia. Their dream was to retire in a nice, inexpensive tropical country. That dream was always “next year” until Carmen slipped on some ice and received a terrible concussion. “Next year” became “this year”; 6 months later they were on the road!
Carmen is a professional musician. Her instruments are violin and viola. She was a guest clinician at Suzuki workshops in Costa Rica for many years, so developed good friendships here. She also came to Costa Rica for surgery on her shoulder, after being caught in wait-list limbo in Calgary. So Carmen and Mike arrived in Costa Rica with a good network of friends who have helped them ease into the Pura Vida life!
They built their own home in the gated community of Grand View Estates, which is the largest development of its kind in the Caribe of Costa Rica. It is located about 9km ESE of the city of Siquirres, at an elevation of 200m. Their home has expansive views across the Caribbean plain out to the Caribbean Sea. Although the climate is tropical rain forest, it never gets too hot, and they don’t need air conditioning. They run a small bed and breakfast, called Amapola BnB Guesthouse (see www.amapolabnb.com).
Mike still works as a financial advisor, serving his clients who are mainly located in Alberta. He has found that telephone, email and Internet, supplemented by occasional trips back to Calgary, make living and working in a remote location a viable alternative. Although he switched careers out of engineering, he is still obsessed with hard data and information. He filters through the deluge of financial information and reports his findings quarterly in his newsletter Investing Wisely (see www.wiseword.ca). And of course he records the weather at his new home in Paradise!
Paul’s San Ramón Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for December:
- We only had one day of rain the entire month of December, measuring .375 inches, or a little over 1/3 of an inch.
- Costa Ricans say that the San Ramon area is warmer and less wet than many years ago, which affects the coffee plants.
- We’ve been in our $500/month rental house in Magallanes de Santiago de San Ramón for three years, and this is home to us in Costa Rica, where we’ve lived almost 7 years. Some say the lower part of Magallanes, at 3,000 ft. elevation, has the best weather in San Ramon, but we get over 100 inches of rain here, 20 inches more than the nearby town Santiago or downtown San Ramon.
- Still, when the weather is nice, the views from this community are spectacular — to the Gulf of Nicoya, the lights of Puntarenas at night, and the mountains of the Nicoya Peninsula beyond. (picture)
- The coolest night was 61 degrees, once, and the warmest day was 76 degrees, 3 times.
- The owners of our rental house plan to sell it in 2016 and we plan to move to downtown San Ramon for a different experience. Our plan is to eventually live part of the year in Oaxaca, Mexico, and the rest of the year here in San Ramón.
- 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 December:
- Supposedly, we are now in the dry season. December 2015 was unusual only because we did get a bit of rain (including a not insignificant deluge of over 2.5 inches on one day). We had absolutely no rain in December 2014.
- Otherwise, daytime high temperatures and overnight low temperatures were more or less normal. In other words, quite comfortable days without any need for heating or air conditioning
- 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 December:
- The winds have picked up as usual for December and the western end of Lake Arenal is a windsurfer’s and kite-surfer’s delight. Even if you are not a participant in this sport, it is fun to watch.
- 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 December:
- Lance and his wife were traveling for most of the months of December and January. Lance will resume his weather reports for the month of February.
- 2015 rainfall in our area was 130.3 inches through the end of November.
- 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 December:
- Talk about consistency! January had 11 mornings with a low at 70F (21.1C), 17 morninga at 72F (22.2C), and 3 mornings at 73F (22.8C), for an average of 72.3F (22.4C) at 6:00am.
- The highs for the day were also very similar: 9 days of 81F (27.2C), 14 days at 82F (27.8C), and 8 days at 84F (28.9C), for an average of 82F (27.8C) at noon.
- Most every day here is just terrific, and the others are only nicer!
- The rain is definitely gone for the season….we only had 1 day with 3/10″ (7.62 mm) of rain, and 5 days where at least 20 drops fell!
- The town was busy with the usual shopping as the locals got their 13th month of pay. December is not the month to have car problems. Our vehicle went into sick bay with a ceased engine just a few days before most garages closed Dec. 24 to Jan. 4, so it is still awaiting time in the operating room as of this writing!
- We attended a Christmas dinner hosted by one of the ex-pats at a local restaurant, for all the fellow ex-pats in the area. It was well attended and it was good to see everyone. Best wishes to everyone for a happy and prosperous 2016!
Steve’s San Rafael de Heredia Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for December:
- December and the Trade Winds – At 5.8 inches the rainfall for December was about average. Each December we brace ourselves for the arrival of the Trade Winds. They last through March. The winds at our house come through the Cordillera Central at a pass called Alto La Palma. This is near where Route 32 (the highway between San José and Limón) goes over the mountains at the Zurquí Tunnel. Trade Winds in the northern hemisphere have a tendency to veer to the right, especially when they get riled up at places like Alto La Palma. So the winds make a right turn after coming through the mountain pass and the first ridge they come to after that is the one our house is on. The winds hit our ridge at a right angle, making it a particularly nasty place to live during the dry season (if we had only built the house a mile to the southwest below the crest of the ridge we would have been out of the worst winds, (ha-ha, too late now)). The one good thing is (as you will see in the data below) they bring us rain during the dry season. Fortunately this December the winds have been noticeably less than normal. We are grateful.
- Record Rainfall and El Niño – At 144.9 inches, 2015 was by far the rainiest year we’ve had here in Concepción. This doesn’t seem to make sense because we live on the Pacific side of Costa Rica and El Niño was supposed to bring less rain here, and more rain to the Caribbean side. This happened because we live only a few miles from the Continental Divide and the Trade Winds bring us slop-over from the Caribbean.
Five Year Totals – I began taking weather observations in July 2010, and with the December data, I now five calendar years of information. Here are some totals and averages:
- TOTAL RAINFALL PER YEAR (INCHES)
- 2011 – 129.9
- 2012 – 97.4
- 2013 – 111.3
- 2014 – 115.1
- 2015 – 144.9
- Average – 115.5
- AVERAGE RAINFALL PER MONTH (INCHES)
- Jan – 3.7
- Feb – 3.5
- March – 3.1
- April – 6.0
- May – 12.7
- June – 14.4
- July – 11.9
- Aug – 7.5
- Sept – 15.3
- Oct – 23.9
- Nov – 12.2
- Dec – 5.4
- AVERAGE DAILY HIGH TEMPERATURE PER MONTH (FAHRENHEIT)
- Jan – 76.9
- Feb – 77.7
- March – 78.2
- April – 79.8
- May – 79.2
- June – 78.5
- July – 78.4
- Aug – 79.7
- Sept – 78.9
- Oct – 78.6
- Nov – 77.3
- Dec – 77.3
- AVERAGE DAILY LOW TEMPERATURE PER MONTH (FAHRENHEIT)
- Jan – 59.5
- Feb – 59.3
- March – 59.6
- April – 61.8
- May – 61.5
- June – 62.6
- July – 62.4
- Aug – 62.6
- Sept – 62.4
- Oct – 62.9
- Nov – 60.9
- Dec – 60.6
Bonnie’s San Marcos de Tarrazu Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for December:
- Before moving to Costa Rica, when people asked what the weather was like, I told them that the high and low temperatures only vary by 20 degrees and pretty much stay the same throughout the year…only the rainfall varies. I stand corrected, at least in San Marcos de Tarrazu. During the month of December, our highest high was 92.1, and our lowest low was 53.0…over 39 inches apart!
- I don’t have a way to measure humidity, but the air here in Los Santos just feels drier than other parts of Costa Rica that we’ve visited. Because of that, our warmest days don’t really feel very hot.
- 2015 rainfall total is 37.9 inches for the months of August through December.
Irina’s El Cajón de Grecia Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for December:
- Surprisingly, we had more rain this past December than during the past 2 years combined. We measured 40.5 mm (1.59 inches) of rain last December compared with 19.9 mm (0.78 inches) in December 2014 – and only 12.8 mm (0.50 inches) the year before.
- But – our 2015 annual rainfall of 2,732.3 mm (107.6 inches) still fell short of the 3,644.1 mm (143.5 inches), measured in 2013 and the 2,980.4 mm (117.3 inches) in 2014.
- I understand that we experience a true water shortage in Costa Rica and that water-reducing measures in the most affected communities (such as Atenas or Santa Ana) might be adopted very soon. So far, this has not been proposed in the Grecia area.
- December temperatures were a bit higher than in previous years – 27.1°C (80.8°F) was last month’s high, compared with 26.4°C (79.5°F) in 2013 and only 23.7°C (74.7°F) in 2014. The lows came in proportionally – 18.3°C (64.9°F) in 2015; 16.9°C (62.4°F) in 2013 and 16.1°C (61.0°F) in 2014.
- The dry season is here to stay for a few months (epocca de varano) and what isn’t yet in the ground should wait until the next rainy season, to avoid watering and/or drying out.
- Our acidic air is corroding metal fences and support beams, so this is the season for home repairs, particularly painting and repaving but also for fixing leaky roofs and general home maintenance.
- December humidity:
- average high: 88.3%
- average low: 50.1%
- 2015 rainfall for year: 107.6 inches (273.23 cm)
Mike’s Grand View Estates (Siquirres) Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for December:
- Greetings from the “green” side of Costa Rica! It certainly was green this year; also rather on the damp side. Annual rainfall for 2015 came in at a whopping 7.77m (306 inches). I started taking rainfall measurements on May 1, 2014; rainfall for the last 8 months of 2014 was a mere 5.29m (208 inches). Anecdotally, I think the rainfall for both years was atypical. The January-April period in the Caribe is generally fairly dry.
- We built our home in that period in 2013, and construction was never affected by rain. In 2014, snowbirds had to leave the Caribbean coast early because there was no water. In contrast, 2015 saw 2 meters of rain from January to April.
- May-July is our season of great, booming thunderstorms that can shake the whole house. This year it also saw record flooding on the Caribbean plain, though we were not affected. We recorded 4 meters of rain over those 3 months.
- August-November is possibly the best time to visit the Caribbean beaches as the waves are much subdued and the water is nice and clear for snorkeling and scuba diving. We received a little over 1 meter of rain in this period, which is much less than we got in 2014. Perhaps El Nino is dying out, and we are returning to a more normal weather pattern!
- The December monsoon never appeared. We had our usual wet Christmas Day, but the rainy period seems to have lasted only from Dec 21 to Jan 1. We’ve had negligible rain since then. Once again, 2015 was substantially drier than 2014.
- Despite what seems like an enormous amount of rain, a third of the days in 2015 recorded no rain at all, and over half of all days had less than 1/4″ of rain. Most rain occurs at night and/or in short showers; most days are substantially dry.
- Santa brought me a min/max thermometer, so now I can record the daily highs and lows. Our temperature tends to be pretty uniform throughout the year. So far this year, the daily high has ranged from 28.8 to 29.6c, while the nighttime low has ranged between 21.2 and 22.3 Celcius.
- Total rainfall for the last 2 years in our area of Grand View Estates:
- 2015 – 305.7 inches
- 2014 – 208.2 inches (March through December)
Costa Rica Weather Report for December
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 about 2 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.
- For a “Just the Facts” Version of our 2015 Weather: 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?
Two Story, 6 bedroom, 2.5 baths home with double garage and big yard. In San Pedro of San Ramon, only minutes to the University and Downtown San Ramon.
Tiled Flooring, Ceramic Bathrooms, Many windows to let in the natural light.Hot water throughout home.
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:
- Our December 2015 Costa Rica Cost of Living Expenses
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- Monthly Costa Rica Weather Report for 8 Towns in Costa Rica–November 2015
- Our November 2015 Costa Rica Cost of Living Expenses
- 8 Reasons Why Your Property in Costa Rica Has Not Sold in 7 Years
- Monthly Costa Rica Weather Report for 8 Towns in Costa Rica–October 2015
- Gardening in Costa Rica with Steve: Heliconias
- Buying Organic Produce in Costa Rica
- Snapshots of Life in Costa Rica
- Due Diligence – Our Take on It
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- When, How, and What They Spend in the U.S.A.