Mar 28 2016

Retire for Less in Costa Rica – March 29, 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 – February 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
  • San Marcos de Tarrazu
  • 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 February

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

  • February was another extremely windy month. The windy season started late this year.  These high winds which can occur between December and April are not unusual. They happen every year, but their severity and duration can fluctuate yearly.monkeyinporotree2
  • Our coolest nighttime average of 60.8°F was the coolest it’s been in the 7 years we’ve been living in Costa Rica.
  •  We had 3 days with lows of 58°F. Contrast that with 3 days of highs of 78°F, and our highest reading of 79°F.
  • Once again, we had absolutely no rain for the month.
  • Our house is still for sale and we are still looking for a great rental in downtown San Ramon.
  • We had 7 people on our last healthcare tour, learning about the private and public medical systems in Costa Rica.
  • The white-faced monkeys have been out in full force, drinking the nectar from the blossoms of the beautiful orange Poró trees.costa-rica-map_cropped4
  • 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 February:

  • February was generally mild and breezy, sometimes with moderate gusts of wind but not with any dramatically high gusts as reported in some parts of the country.
  • There was no rain the entire month of February.
  • Typical of the dry season, and taking into account daily low humidity, many days in February (actually 21 of 29) had a daytime high “feels like” temperature which was less than the measured air temperature. The difference ranged from about 0.1 °F less to about 2.6 °F less, the latter occurring on a day when the humidity dropped to 28% as the day went on. Coincidentally, the hottest “feels like” temperature and the hottest measured air temperature were the same (89.4 °F), although on different days. So, during the entire month, neither the real temperature nor the “feels like” temperature ever reached 90 °F in our little corner of the country.
  • 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 February:

  • It was a cool month, indeed.
  • The rainfall was average but the winds were very strong.
  • Our atomic clock, which provides us with the time, dates, and both indoor and outdoor temperatures, began acting mysteriously. Several times we saw nothing but a blank screen. Even after changing batteries, the screen remained blank. However, after 24 hours or less, we got back all the readings. We discovered that these “blackouts” corresponded with extreme sunspot and solar wind activity, which we found by Googling NASA’s website.
  • 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 February:

  • It seems like more than two months since my last weather report. When we traveled back to the States in December, it was for just a three week visit, which turned into a six week ordeal. I had an EKG done and they found a flutter in my heart causing my heart rate to increase and my shortness of breath. My cardiologist said I needed a heart oblation performed. He set me up with a elecro-cardiologist. I had the procedure done by cauterizing the nerve that was causing it. Now my heart rate is back to normal and my breathing is normal. It was really nice to get back home to Costa Rica.
  • February was a no days under 90 and some as high as 99 with a heat index of a 116 degrees.
  • We had zero rainfall, which has caused the grass to brown and a lot of watering of the small young plants and trees. Almost everyone is ready for the rainy season.
  • 2015 rainfall in our area was 130.3 inches through the end of November.
  • Map_Quepos_SanIsidro2014 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 February:

  • January was another dry month for San Isidro de El General.  We did get a few spots of rain on January 28. Well, enough to make the pavement wet, but that was all. That was the first rain since December 16, 2014, when we got a similar “downpour!”
  • But things are consistent here in San Isidro de El General – here is a recap of temps for the last four months:     SanIsidroWeather
  • February saw us busy around the yard working on landscaping. We purchased a number of plants for several areas and spent the next two weeks watering them morning and night to make sure we didn’t lose any. So far, so good. The landlord brought in some crushed rock to put around the perimeter of the house, then we added some larger rocks in areas where the crushed rock had to be contained.
  • We also had some company from Minnesota for 9 days. Always good to see old friends, talk about old memories, and make new ones.  More company from Canada and Oregon coming in March!  Life is good!

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

  • Heredia-MapAfter a very dry January, the rain and the wind picked up in February. We got three storms: the first one lasted nine days; the second, five days, the third, four days. We’re hoping for a calmer March.
  • From time to time, I’m reminded that I’m good at recording the weather, but not so good at predicting it. No sooner did I predict a severe dry season than the rains came and the grass got green again. This is good.
  • When the rains began, my water storage tanks were empty. After 5 inches of rain the tanks had collected 4,000 gallons.  Our average annual rainfall is 115 inches, so, let’s see, that means I could potentially collect 92,000 gallons of water a year. Oh baby, you know what I like!
  • The big event of the month was the arrival of our son Joe for a three-week visit. He’d been coming at Christmas, but when he’d get back to Boston he still had a long stretch of winter ahead of him. So this year he got smart. One day I exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, it only got up to 73 today.” Joe responded, “Dad, that’s 60 degrees warmer than Boston.”
  • Total rainfall for the last 3 years in our area of Heredia:
    • 2015 – 144.9
    • 2014 – 115.1
    • 2013 – 111.3

Bonnie’s  San Marcos de Tarrazu Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for February:

  • 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 February:

  • ElCajonDeGreciaMapAgain, we had no rain whatsoever – not even a trace, compared with 1.7 mm last year; 2.0 mm in 2014 and .1 mm in 2013.
  • Like almost everywhere else in Costa Rica, the number one topic in February was the wind. In el Cajón, winds topped 90 kph, ripping roofs off or folding them over to reveal shabby construction, loose wiring, and disjointed boards underneath. Many of them have not yet been repaired.
  • Toppled trees and uprooted bushes were everywhere; we personally only lost one “tree” – a pencil cactus which we since have successfully replanted in a more suitable  location.
  • Because of the strong winds, we were unable to water in February, leaving the ground very dry and some plants very thirsty. However, this being the tropics, once we were able to water again, all sprang back to life very quickly. We are aware of water being a precious resource and only spot-water where needed, using mostly buckets or perfectly aimed sprinklers with a smaller radius.
  • I think one can tell the gringos who live here permanently from the vacationing tourists — we love the rainy season and very much look forward to its start, hopefully next month.
  • 2015 rainfall for year: 107.6 inches (273.23 cm)

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

  • SiquirresMapFebruary turned out to be a bit wetter than the same month last year, thanks to one 5-day spell in which 453 mm (17.8 inches) of rain fell. That represented around 2/3 of the month’s total wet stuff. Included in this blast was a 1-day rainfall of 170 mm (almost 7 inches), and 3 days with 388 mm (15.3 inches).
  • Other than that, we had 12 days in February with no rain, and another day with just a trace. The temperature broke the 30°C (86.0°F) mark on 3 days, and fell below 20°C (68.0°F) on 7 nights. We are looking forward to March, which is typically our driest month.
  • Satellite data ( shows a persistent area of clouds and high moisture out in the Pacific roughly between the Galapagos and Cocos Islands. This system sends tendrils of moisture northeasterly towards Central America; we seem to get our rain when one of these tendrils falls across Costa Rica, interrupting the trade winds as they try to cross the Central America cordillera from the Caribbean side. We blame El Nino.
  • 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)

Juan Miguel’s Volio de Cachí Observations, Facts, & Tidbits for February:

  • map-CachiBecause we live smack-dab in the middle of CR, our weather is affected by both the Pacific and Caribbean influences. As a result we get some rain even in the dry season.
  • Overall, February was a little cooler than January.
  • There were about 3 days when there were hectares and hectares of coffee fields all in bloom. It almost looked like snow—which is as close to snow as I care to be.
  • We had 13 days of measurable rain this month, 2 days of misty “pelo de gato” that was unmeasurable and 1 foggy morning. Because we had as much rain as we did, I planted 19 new trees, 40 birds of paradise, and several new shrubs this month. Ain’t it crazy how in a country the size of West Virginia, we have such a varied weather patterns?
  • We had a new baby goat born this month. He is so sweet and so adorable. Did you know that neutered male goats make great pets? They are like big, sweet dogs. We can’t keep him so if any of you are looking for a new (and unusual pet) here’s your chance.
  • Our average overnight humidity was 80% again this month and the average daytime humidity was 66% Daytime low humidity was 36% and daytime high was 85%

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

  • EscazuMapSome very cold days for Costa Rica.
  • We had a couple of days with some drops of rain, but only enough to wet the rain gauge, but not enough to get a reading.
  • 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 February 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 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 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 ( 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

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(, 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.

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Featured Property: Grecia – Well-Appointed House with Great Views and BBQ Rancho $150,000 Reduced!

7397_0Property ID #7397

Price: $150,000

City: Grecia
Neighborhood: San Miguel
Construct. area: 1 200(sq. Ft.)
Meters Squared – Hectares: 866
Year Built: 2008
Bedrooms: 2
Full Bathrooms: 2
Parking: 2
7397-3Phone lines: 1
Cable TV: Other Cable company
Internet Connection: Cable 256 kpbs and more
Added Security: Fence

7397-11Home Features

  • Appliances
  • Ceramic Floors
  • Hot Water
  • Laundry Room
  • Terrace
  • Mountain Views
  • Valley Views


2 bedroom 2 bath with fenced flat yard, garage, BBQ rancho and great views.  Price Reduced!

This Ranch Home features a two car garage, fruit trees, a BBQ rancho views and a flat yard.  With views of the entire Central Valley you will never tire of the changing landscape.  This low maintenence property is located only 15 minutes from Grecia.



The Garage is large and located right on the street.  The house has cement walls on the street side and an iron fence on the view side.  The outdoor rancho or patio area feature views to the west as well.  The yard is totally flat and there is a trail that winds down the property where there are citrus trees planted as well as bananas.


The house has two bedrooms and two bathrooms.  Both the bedrooms have large closets.  New windows are throughout the house, they slide open for the breezes to come in.  The master bedroom has a covered area that is fenced in, the laundry area is located there but it could be converted into a an additional patio as the views are also gorgeous.

There is a small living room with corner windows and an open dining room kitchen area.  Lots of Costa Rica hardwood cabinets make the kitchen pretty and easy to work in.  The view for washing dishes is amazing!


Property ID #7397

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 Healthcare Tour of Costa Rica

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 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 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.

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 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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