Jun 22 2016

Retire for Less in Costa Rica – June 22, 2016

Welcome to our Retire For Less In Costa Rica Newsletter

Paul and Gloria

In This Issue: 



Monthly Costa Rica Weather Report for 11 Towns in Costa Rica–May 2016


You’ll notice that we now show rainfall and temperatures for eleven towns in Costa Rica:

  • San Ramón de Alajuela
  • Atenas
  • Nuevo Arenal
  • Quepos
  • Near San Isidro de General
  • San Rafael de Heredia
  • Tinamastes, Perez Zeledon
  • El Cajón de Grecia
  • Grand View Estates, Siquirres
  • Volio de Cachí, Orosi Valley
  • Escazú

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.

Do you track the weather data for your town in Costa Rica? If so, we’d like to talk to you about including it in our monthly report. Anybody interested?? (NOTE: we plan to include weather reports for both Puriscal and Santa Cruz in the coming months.)

Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for May

If read every month, the following “observations, facts, & tidbits” can give you great insight into the areas of the country in which you might be interested. They are personal insights from folks with their feet on the ground in these towns.

Paul’s San Ramón Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for May:

  • The month cooled off considerably from April’s average high temperature of 80.1°F. It cooled off by over 4 degrees to an average high temperature of 76.0°F. That’s a big drop in one month. Two days in May did hit 80°F.
  • This was the rainiest May in the 8 rainy seasons we’ve been measuring rainfall. We had double the average rainfall for May in San Ramon, and 14 inches more than last May. (Remember, we live at 3,000 ft. elevation, yet only 10 minutes from the town of San Ramon by car.) With all the micro-climates, it probably rained less in town and was probably a little warmer too.
  • We got 22.45″ of rain for the month, and 3 days accounted for 16.25″ of it.
  • On our rainiest day, we got 6.25″ The morning was sunny; all the rain fell during the afternoon and evening.
  • We feel so lucky:
    • We’ve got each other
    • We’ve got our health
    • We’ve got enough money to live in Costa Rica
    • We have a strong sense of purpose
  • costa-rica-map_cropped4Total 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 May:

  • Not much to report except for a dramatic rainfall in late May, signifying the onset of the rainy season. Despite dribbles and drabbles of rain in many days of the month, late May brought one day with upwards of 4 inches.
  • This was symptomatic of the first day we arrived in Costa Rica 5 years ago on May 31, 2011. The heavy rain was incredible then. It remains so today, when it happens – a great experience.
  • 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 May:

  • We were unable to report  temperature readings from May 21-23 because the screen on our atomic clock went blank. The last time this happened was in February, when there was extreme sunspot activity which interrupted radio communication here on Earth.
  • 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 May:

  • Well, May did not start out dry like the last 2 years. On the first 2 days, we received 5.5 inches of rain and wound up with 18.5 inches total. The ground absorbed all of it and the grass began to grow like weeds. I have had the grass cut twice in the month. Hope it slows down.
  • The high season is winding down and our sleepy little town is starting to get back to normal. The big news is the one lane bridge into town was closed and is being replaced by a new two lane bridge, but in Costa Rican fashion, it well take about a year to complete, barring the money doesn’t run out.
  • Our Landlord has been working on improvements around the property, and has built a carport for us to keep us dry while unloading our car, and he is now working on a new driveway.
  • Map_Quepos_SanIsidroTotal rainfall for the last 2 years in our area:
    • 2015 – 130.3″ / 330.96 cm
    • 2014 – 73.5″ (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 May:

  • April was another great weather month for San Isidro de El General, with an average low of 72.3°F / 22.4°C and an average high of 82.5°F / 29.5°C.
  • The coolest morning was 70°F / 21°C and the warmest day was 88°F / 31°C.
  • We had 19 days with a measurable amount of rain. The most in one day was 1.8″ / 4.6 cm, for a monthy total of 11″ / 27.9 cm.  There were 6 days with no rain at all and 6 days with a trace of rain (less than .1). It sure is nice to see all the countryside green again!
  • My wife’s knee that had the stem cell transplant done is doing very well.  We were back at the doctor’s office for a 3 week check up and he was surprised to see the speed of her walk, (with a cane), and pleased with the fact that she had no pain. (Never did!).  He wants her to keep using the cane for June, then we go back for a final “blessing” on July 5.
  • We are taking a 2 week river cruise in Europe down the Rhine river, (it’s our 30th anniversary). We are thankful she is able to walk pain free, as there are lots of side excursions we want to take.

Steve’s San Rafael de Heredia Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for May:

  • Not in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I’d be writing about volcanoes in a weather column, but we happen to live downwind from a volcano that has awakened from its slumbers after centuries of inactivity. And, during the past month, the ash fall has been one of the most significant meteorological factors in our neighborhood. So there you have it. Heredia-Map
  • On May 11 Turrialba Volcano cleared her throat and sent clouds of ash several thousand feet into the air, and continued to do so for the remainder of the month. For the first two weeks, the winds were blowing the ash in our direction (we live 18 miles away) and it was not raining, so each day we received a dusting. How serious was it? Well, I’d say if I’d measured it, total accumulation might have come to a 32nd of an inch. Nothing to scream and shout about. Eventually the winds died down and the rains started up again, so life has returned to normal.
  • The ash fall was so light, it was difficult to see, but it seemed very hazy over San Jose to the south of us, where the ash was a little heavier. I’d never experienced volcanic ash first hand. We had to sweep it off our veranda every morning. Dust might be a better word for it. It is black, and gritty like sand, but much finer, maybe like silt. Despite hype in the social media, it is not toxic, but can cause respiratory problems and eye irritation (it gave me a sore throat, which then developed into a full-blown head cold). During the 1963-64 eruption of Irazú, many people in San Jose suffered from serious respiratory problems, which in some cases were fatal. My wife knows because one of her brothers died from respiratory complications during that period. To put things in perspective, the ash fall from that eruption was more than this one by a factor of about a thousand. The recent eruptions have had an economic effect in San Rafael though – the car wash places are doing a booming business.
  • The heavy rains in April got us expecting more of the same in May, but after a downpour at the beginning of the month, the rain fizzled. The water company even began rationing. They cut the water off at about seven in the morning and it didn’t come back till seven at night. Incidentally, I saw an article in La Nación stating that 47-67% of drinking water is lost through leaks in pipes. So there is no water shortage, only a poorly maintained infrastructure. The rains did start up again late in the month and even brought us back to a normal reading of 12.5 inches.
  • 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 Tinamastes, Perez Zeledon Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for May:

  • After almost a year in the coffee mountains of San Marcos de Tarrazu, Joe, Marley, and I moved to Tinamastes which is in the Southern Zone, about 20 minutes up the mountain from Dominical and 30 minutes west of San Isidro de el General. We were drawn to Tinamastes because of its temperate climate as well as its proximity to the beach and to Feria Organica Tinamastes, our weekly organic farmer’s market.  It took a lot to get us to move from San Marcos as there is a lot to love about Los Santos, but we found a place with a beautiful ocean view that is only a five minute walk to the feria, so off we went!
  • TinamasteMap


    We love walking to the feria on Tuesdays to buy fresh, organic produce, freshly baked bread, and a variety of other items and to mingle with the friends we’ve been making there. We used to drive 40 minutes each way to “shop” at our friend, Tony’s, organic farm near Copey about once a month.  Now we can buy from him every Tuesday, and consequently, a much larger portion of the food we eat now is organically grown.

  • We miss having only a five minute walk to the center of San Marcos to buy groceries and run errands as well as our daily interactions with the vibrant Tico community there. We have also come to appreciate the quality infrastructure that we had in San Marcos, especially living five minutes away from a very clean, well-staffed, and relatively efficient Ebais with 24×7 urgent care services, having water and electricity to our home that were reliably available, and sidewalks! We were able to walk on a sidewalk for a couple of km either direction from our house in San Marcos, but here, we have to walk in the grass next to the highway and sometimes even on the highway itself to walk to a grocery store, feria, or café.  And on the rare occasions when the water was shut off in San Marcos, a truck with a loudspeaker came around in advance to let everyone know the times that it would be off, usually with enough warning to take a shower, wash the dishes, or do a load of laundry.
  • We are adjusting to our more rural lifestyle, and we appreciate having the nice-sized city of San Isidro de el General just 30 minutes away. We’re beginning to find our way around San Isidro, and we’ve been able to find most of what we need there.  We have not felt a need to go to Cartago or San Jose for anything since we moved here.  We do miss being able to buy high-quality dog food at a reasonable price and a few other favorite items from PriceSmart, but we find that it’s less expensive to buy dog food from a veterinarian in San Isidro than to drive to the San Jose area to buy it.  Still, we may venture down to David, Panama, sometime to explore a new area and stock up on dog food at PriceSmart.
  • Our temperatures here rarely venture outside of the low to high 70’s vs. the wide range of temperatures that we experienced in San Marcos. The tradeoff has been much higher humidity and all that comes with that.  The biggest positive for me has been that the arthritis that had been keeping me awake many nights in San Marcos has disappeared here, either because the barometric pressure is higher or the nights are warmer.  Whatever the reason, I’m very grateful for the pain-free nights of sleep.
  • We love being able to take day trips to the beach and have now done that several times, checking out beaches in Dominical, Dominicalito, Matapalo, Uvita, and Manuel Antonio. We love the spontaneity of going to the beach now without all of the expense and work it took to find pet-friendly lodging and the long drives to get there and back.  And we especially love coming back home in the afternoon and enjoying the cool breeze and view of the ocean from our outdoor living room.

Irina’s El Cajón de Grecia Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for May:

  • ElCajonDeGreciaMapWe all knew that it rained a lot in May — in fact, it rained more this year than during the same month the previous three years.
  • We measured:
    • 374.9 mm (14.76″) in 2013,
    • 333.5 mm (13.13″) in 2014 and,
    • only 253.9 mm (10″) last year.
    • This year’s rainfall, measured at 486.2 mm (19.14″), is almost twice as much as last year.
  • However, we found the average high temperatures slightly higher in May, which came in at 27.8°C / 82.0°F. In 2013, the average high was 27.0°C / 80.6°F; in 2014, it was 26.7°C / 80.1°F, and last year it was 27.3°C / 81.1°F, while the average low temperature came in about the same as the previous three years, with the exception of 2013, when we measured an average low of 19.6°C / 67.3°F.
  • May 17th was a very unusual day. We had simultaneously over one inch of rain AND the highest temperature of the month, 31.3°C / 88.3°F. Some folks think that it must be colder when it rains a lot, but May 17 proved otherwise.
  • Right after the first aguacero (downpour) in May, the hills across our canyon turned white with millions of very fragrant coffee flowers. It’s Costa Rica snow, they say.
  • Coffee plants are self-pollinating but need the rain to produce the flowers, which fall off after a day or two, leaving tiny green “baby” coffee beans. The green beans turn yellow and orange, then red and fully ripen by November, the beginning of the coffee harvest, which stretches over 4 months.
  •  2015 rainfall for year: 107.6 inches (273.23 cm)

Here’s another poem that Jim (my husband) wrote:

Morning coffee

One full week
afternoon aguaceros.

Ridge patch and row
tumesce and emerald
coffee trees plume
faeried in virgin
perfume of bloom
sweet cream the air.

Parakeet fleck
parrots blue.

Mike’s Grand View Estates (Siquirres) Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for May:

  • SiquirresMapMay’s weather at Grand View can broken into two parts. The weather up until May 13 was hot and dry. It was so dry that the local river, which is the source of our drinking water, dried up and we were without water for 1 day. The locals said that this had never happened previously. Thankfully, the weather pattern changed, and we began to transition into our mid-year rainy season. The rest of the month saw alternating days with some rain and no rain. Temperatures were also cooler. The average high for the first 12 days was 32.8°C / 91.0°F; the average high for the final 19 days was 31.4°C / 88.5°F.
  •  The mid-year rainy season in the Caribbean is a nice time of year. It is typically sunny in the morning, then the clouds build up and we’ll get an afternoon or evening thunderstorm. We haven’t had any of the thunderclaps that shake the whole house from the sonic boom, but they will come as we get into the peak of the season this month and next.
  •  If we try to make a conclusion based upon only 3 data points, last year was atypical because of El Niño. May’s rainfall this year was similar to that recorded in 2014 (74% of the 2014 rainfall).
  • The Pacuare River, reputed to be one of the world’s best white-water rafting rivers, is only 15 minutes from our home. The river is running nice and high, and fast. We had guests last week who took in the adventure, and they returned excited from the experience. Their photos were awesome!
  • Turrialba Volcano - 2 June 2016

    Turrialba Volcano – 2 June 2016

    On a totally different note, I happened to be out walking with our dogs early in the morning of June 2 when Turrialba Volcano started to erupt. Here’s a photo I took.

  • 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 May:

  • Our days of rain DOUBLED this month!map-Cachi
  • Despite the increase number of rain days and the increase in total amount of rain, the highest daytime humidity recorded was down to 86%.  That’s because it was mostly overnight rainfalls or they occurred very late in the day, usually about 5 pm.  I know because that’s when I go to do the evening milking and, several times, I went down to the barn dry but came back to the house wet!
  • Our average overnight humidity was up to 96%  this month and the average daytime humidity was 55%.  Daytime low humidity was 43% and daytime high was 86%.
  • Finca Update
    • We had a surprise hatching of ducks.  We already had 8 little ones swimming around, but on the last day of the month, there was suddenly a clutch of 12 more.
    • The guineas are growing fast and I’m working to keep them very tame.  Since these two were “new guineas” to the finca, I named them Papua and Indonesia—get it?GuineaHens
    • Also, with both goats milking now, we’re getting over 6 liters a day; so there’s been lots of cheesemaking going on.
  • Our little country, mountain village may only have a population of 3000, but they put on quite the “Festival Cultural.”  Over a span of a week we had several guest orchestras, bands, dramas, modern dance, poetry readings, story-telling, a guitar quintet, a violin camerata,  and a cultural lecture series.

Tim’s Escazú Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for May:

  • The rainy season has set in, with afternoon showers being predominant close to the end of the month.  A couple of nice good old rain storms too!EscazuMap
  • 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 May 2016



Our Weatherguys and Weathergals

Our San Ramón Weatherguy, Paul YeatmanPaulHubPhoto

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

LanceM2I 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_photo_croppedOur Villa Nueva (10 minutes NW of San Isidro de El General) Weatherguy, Gordon Stanley

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!

SteveJohnsonOur San Rafael de Heredia Weatherguy, Steve Johnson

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.

BonnieViningOur San Marcos de Tarrazu Weathergirl, Bonnie Vining

Bonnie, her husband Joe, and their dog Marley moved from Tucson, Arizona to Costa Rica 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 enjoys 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 Tinamastes in Perez Zeledon which lies at about 2475 ft. elevation, after moving from San Marcos (4,800 ft. elevation) in the heart of Costa Rica’s prime coffee-growing region.

Our El Cajón de Grecia Weathergirl, Irina JustIrina-with-mariposa-at-la-P

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.

mike-wise-photoOur Grand View Estates (Siquirres) Weatherguy, Mike Wise

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 (see www.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).

JMArthurHeadshotOur Volio de Cachí (Orosi Valley) Weatherguy, John Michael Arthur

Mike uses the moniker Juan Miguel in Costa Rica. He and his partner, Michael, both native Texans, moved to Costa Rica a year and a half ago and they have never looked back.  Mike spent thirty years practicing medicine as a Family Practitioner in his hometown near Dallas.  The retirement destination was quickly narrowed down to Costa Rica and, after three years, they found a 3 1/2 acre farm complete with a river in the Orosi Valley.  Mike spends his life now as what one of his heroes, Thomas Jefferson, called a “gentleman farmer.” Days are spent tending to the over 125 fruit trees in the orchard, milking the goats for homemade ice cream and cheeses, gathering eggs from the chickens, ducks, and geese and turkeys and like Jefferson, creating special nurseries for monitoring and recording the best vegetable and flower results, and finding creative ways to use the river and land.

Photo-Tim-GarrettOur Escazú Centro (Barrio Los Profesores) Weatherguy, Tim Garrett

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 the Retire for Less Ultimate Healthcare Tour.

Related Articles:


‘Tis the Season…for Mold and Mildew

While we love living in the tropics, there are challenges, especially during the rainy season, when we get over 100 inches of rain each year. While the moisture in the air is great for our skin, it can lead to mold and mildew in our home. Because we love having our doors and windows wide open, and because we want to minimize our usage of electricity, we’ve chosen not to run a dehumidifier, though others do. To use a dehumidifier, you would need to keep the doors and windows closed and we really love the fresh air. Instead, here are some of the actions we’ve taken to minimize the problem in our house.

  • Paint the walls with an anti-fungal paint. When we lived at the Cabinas, we picked the colors and bought the paint, and Cesar, the manager of the cabinas, painted all of the interior walls of our cabina with “anti-hongo” (anti-fungus) paint. The result was a brighter cabina that’s more resistant to mold and mildew.
  • Improve drainage and coat the foundation and tiles with a sealant. Our cabina was at the bottom of a hill, so when heavy rains would fall, water would seep in through the foundation. The property manager here at the cabinas improved the drainage and applied a sealant to both the outside and inside of the back of our cabina where we were having the problem. Since then, no water seepage and a drier cabina.
  • Increase air flow. We keep our doors and windows open most of the day for good cross-ventilation (and because we like it!) Of course, once the rain starts coming down heavy or the fog starts to roll in, it’s time to close the windows to keep additional moisture from coming in the house. You can also run fans to increase air flow. We benefit by the smart design of the folks who built our rental house — they even thought of windows or other openings in the closets to increase air flow!
  • Buy anti-mildew mattress and pillow covers. This was important for us because we were both breaking out in hives due to mildew when we lived at 4,000 ft. elevation. I found a great source online at National Allergy Supply.
  • Install lights in your closets. We bought a few inexpensive lights and either put them directly into our closets or clamped them on the closet doors. This small step, surprisingly, goes a long way to prevent mildew from taking hold on your clothes.
  • Hang out your clothes on sunny mornings. The combo of sun and gentle breezes combine to stop mildew in its tracks before it becomes a problem. Otherwise, you have no other choice but to launder them.
  • Keep a supply of white vinegar on hand in a spray bottle. If you see the beginnings of mold on leather chairs, belts, and other surfaces, spray them with straight white vinegar and wipe them down with a soft cloth or paper towels. Once you’ve removed all the mold, treat leather surfaces with a leather conditioner. We do this at least once a year with our Costa Rica  rocking chairs.
  • To minimize waste, buy items like flour, salt, sugar, spices, etc. in small packages and, as much as possible, store them in your refrigerator. Don’t store items in cardboard boxes (pasta, oatmeal, etc.) in your cupboards for long periods, even if they are in plastic zipper bags. It’s amazing how easily moisture can get into sealed plastic containers.

There has been a lot written about fighting mold and mildew, as well as dealing with allergic reactions. Here are some links that we found helpful:

AM Costa Rica Article on Fighting Mold & Mildew






Could a Hurricane Hit Costa Rica?



June 1st was the official start of hurricane season, though it’s possible for them to occur prior to June (see graphic, courtesy of the U.S. National Hurricane Center). While we have sometimes experienced the effects of hurricanes since we’ve lived in Costa Rica, so far, we haven’t received a direct hit.

Is it even possible for Costa Rica to get a direct hit from a hurricane? According to a Tico Times article entitled, “Why Hurricanes Rarely Hit Costa Rica,” the answer is “…yes and no, meaning ‘yes’ they do receive the tropical aftermath of one, like heavy rains  of what Tropical Storm Tomas did in November 2010 that caused sever damage and deaths.” The article goes on to explain, “Costa Rica is located at 9.55 degrees north of the equator, below the path of most hurricanes. There are seven tropical cyclone zones “basins” where storms occur on a regular basis and Costa Rica is not located in the affected areas.”

IMN-logoBut, just in case, the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional de Costa Rica (National Meteorological Institute) has a plan to inform residents so they may reduce their risks and take appropriate measures to reduce their vulnerability to the natural phenomenon of hurricanes. Here is a link to the complete original source document (in Spanish) and our English translation below of the most relevant sections:

Hurricanes and Their Effects in Costa Rica

Hurricanes are atmospheric phenomena that cause more damage to Costa Rica, either through severe flooding, mudslides or landslides.

In recent years, hurricanes (Joan in 1988, César in 1996, and Mitch in 1998), and tropical storms (Alma in 2005 and Thomas in 2010), have caused severe damage in Costa Rica, especially Hurricane César , which caused loss of human lives and extensive damage to the national infrastructure.

Although hurricanes form in the Caribbean Sea, they affect the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, due to the circulation of winds and the movement of the Intertropical Convergence Zone into the country.

The following table shows tropical storms and hurricanes that have affected Costa Rica in one way or another. It is a historical record that goes from 1950 to 2012.



Usually, when a tropical storm or hurricane forms in the Caribbean Sea, it affects the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. To illustrate this involvement, take Hurricane Mitch as an example, which produced a significant amount of rain on the Pacific side, contrary to the Caribbean slope, where the rain was scarce.

Look at the map below, produced by the IMN with respect to Hurricane Mitch. It clearly shows the effects that this type of atmospheric phenomena inflicts on the country. You can find some comparative data regarding other hurricanes, like César and Joan. In addition, Hurricane Mitch has been considered the most devastating hurricane in the history of Central America. However, Hurricane Cesar, a hurricane categorized as less strong, caused much more damage in Costa Rica.



Can a hurricane directly affect Costa Rica?

What does history show? The following map shows the paths of hurricanes in 1887:




Recorded history shows that while the possibility of a direct effect occurring is low, it is not quite zero.

Featured Property-Grecia: Small Home with Great Views on 1/4 Acre $120,000

8240_0Property ID #8240

Price: $120,000

City: Grecia
Neighborhood: Calle Rodriguez San Isidro

Construct. area: 750(sq. Ft.)
Meters Squared – Hectares: 1000
Acre – Lot size (sq.Ft): .25 acres

Year Built: 2012
8240-5Bedrooms: 2
Full Bathrooms: 1
Phone lines: 1



Great altitude and location, there is a lot of potential in this home! This small home is located in one of the best areas of Grecia.  The house is off a main street so it is quiet, but the main street is easily accessible where there is bus service.  The house features views to the east of the Central Valley and the coffee fields that abound in this area.  The dining area, living room and kitchen all have these views.



There are 2 bedrooms and one bathroom, the master bedroom also has a room with plumbing to be converted from the office to another bathroom.



The yard is a quarter acre and is terraced, ideally you could build a garage with a deck or balcony above accessible from the dining area where there are glass sliding doors to take advantage of the great views and lovely climate.



Property ID #8240

Click here for more photos and to contact the realtor for this property.

Though we recommend you rent, rent, rent when you move to Costa Rica, we realize that some folks will still choose to buy, either early on or after they’ve been here for a while. We recommend purchasing properties under $150,000 because they are both easier to buy and easier to sell. Though we are not realtors, we work with trusted realtors who have many other properties in this price range available. The homes we feature are just a sample of the properties the realtors we work with have, both above and below $150,000.

Click here to check out our other properties under $150,000 and read about what to do before you buy.


Our Ultimate CR Healthcare Tour: Announcing a Special Tour with Focus on Cancer Treatments in Costa Rica

We are proud to offer 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 HCTOUR_030arranged 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.”HCTOUR_008

We’ve lived in Costa Rica for over seven 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.

Sample Itinerary

You’ll visit:

  • At least two private hospitals in San Jose area
  • Hospital Mexico, the largest and best public hospital (they even do open heart surgeries there)HospitalMexico
  • 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 local feria (farmer’s market) where you will see the abundance of fresh food available.
  • The local Cruz Roja (Red Cross) to learn about their services and programs.
  • A health food store (macrobiotica), and more!


You’ll learn:

  • 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.

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