May 12 2018

Retire for Less in Costa Rica – May 12, 2018

Welcome to our Retire For Less In Costa Rica Newsletter

Paul and Gloria

In This Issue: 



Costa Rica’s New President Speaks about Immigration, The Importance of Diversity, and Climate Change

Shortly before his inauguration on Tuesday, May 8th, Costa Rica’s new president, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, spoke with Christiane Amanpour of CNN International (IN ENGLISH.) Congratulations to the citizens of Costa Rica who elected this progressive,  balanced man to lead this wonderful country. We are proud to be living here!

Entrevista Christiane Amanpour

Les comparto la entrevista que me realizó Christiane Amanpour para CNN International. En ella hablo de los retos de la región centroamericana y mi futura gestión como presidente de la República.

Posted by Carlos Alvarado Quesada on Thursday, May 3, 2018


Costa Rica’s Epsy Campbell Becomes First Black Woman in the History of the Americas to be Elected Vice President


Tico Times Interviews: Epsy Campbell

Watch Vice President Epsy Campbell describe her reaction to her historic election – and read the full story at Video by Alexander Villegas and Gaby Brenes for The Tico Times. Alexander Ramiro/ Gaby Brenes

Posted by The Tico Times on Wednesday, May 9, 2018


Why We Chose Costa Rica

We wrote this article back in 2012 and the reasons are still valid today. The recent presidential election just behind us is a good reminder of our reason #1: Costa Rica has had a stable democracy since 1821. 

People often ask, “Why did you choose Costa Rica?” In answer, we often cite the following:

  1. Stable democracy since 1821 (this may be the biggest factor of all).
  2. The people are warm and welcoming.
  3. Can drink water in 95% of the country. In some countries, like Mexico, it’s bottled water all the way.
  4. Energy self-sufficient (85% hydroelectric, plus wind and geo-thermal energy)
  5. Improving infrastructure (roads, communications, etc.) – we’ve seen many improvements since we’ve lived here.
  6. High literacy rate (97%)
  7. 20% of the population speaks English, with the goal of being a bilingual country
  8. Excellent and cheap transportation system
  9. No Army so defense funds go to other areas
  10. Freedom without major restrictions to do, say, and be what you like
  11. Good national universal healthcare system and affordable private healthcare
  12. The weather in the Central Valley is outstanding, with comfortable spring-like temperatures. Take a look at our weather data articles for specifics.
  13. Costa Rica is SAFER, and has a lower crime rate, than some of its neighbors, with 12.1 homicides per 100,000.
  14. It’s a small country, 51,100 sq km (19,730 sq mi) – twice the size of the state of Maryland and just under the size of West Virginia

A BIG advantage of Costa Rica is its small size. Matter of fact, it’s downright tiny, but good things come in small packages. It’s the third smallest country in Central America, measuring only 464 km (288 miles) in length, N–S , by 274 km (170 miles) in width, E–W.

This is not a disadvantage but rather a big advantage. Because it’s small, everything is convenient, usually just hours away. One can actually drive from coast to coast in about 6 hours. When I lived in Puebla, Mexico, it took me 8 hours just to get to Acapulco. I loved living in Cholula, Puebla, Mexico, but it was a long way to the beach, and as a whole, it was a lot more congested. Here, especially if you live in the Central Valley – where 70% of the population lives — everything is close, almost no matter where you live.

Related Articles:


Featured Property in Lake Arenal: Charming Renovated 3BR 2BA home in Nuevo Arenal-$150,000

Property: Ref # 218

Location: Nuevo Arenal

3 Bedrooms

2 Bathrooms

2,368 square feet

Acreage: .163 acres

Price: $150,000 USD


This beautiful home is one of the best buys in Nuevo Arenal. It’s located in a friendly, convenient residential section of Nuevo Arenal, on a quiet side street yet within walking distance to the town center. All the neighbors on this block have upgraded their homes and you can see the pride of ownership in this area.

The like-new charming home has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, glassed in porch, under roof tiled parking, a formal living room, 2 dining areas, 3 sitting room areas, a large back porch and washroom and a bodega in the ample back yard. It is being sold unfurnished and awaiting your personal decorating.

It is tiled throughout and has a new roof. Everything is freshly painted and all the doors and woodwork gleaming. Many rooms have overhead fans. The whole house is spanking clean and it is heartwarming to see the care added.

Property: Ref # 218

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

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


Cooking in Costa Rica: An Expat’s Guide to Buying Groceries, Cooking, and Eating in Costa Rica


I’m so excited to announce that my new book, Cooking in Costa Rica: An Expat’s Guide to Buying Groceries, Cooking, and Eating in Costa Rica is now available on! Here are a couple of my 5 star reviews:

“Outstanding. I have been looking for a book that would tell me where to buy certain items that are not available in the local Costa Rica stores and I found all of that and more. Information such as translation from English to Spanish and of course Spanish to English. This is helpful so when I am shopping I can find what I am looking for using the translation. There is a break down of measurements and substitutions that was helpful. I like the few recipes that are included, and can’t wait to try them. This is a great book with so much information to help you learn about cooking in Costa Rica. I love the layout of the book and the clear explanations, and its easy to locate what I am looking for without going through an entire book. Also the resources in the back have been super helpful. Thanks so much for the book.”

“Practical as well as scholarly, this is a must-have guide for any man or woman who commands a kitchen in Costa Rica. Wonderfully readable and quickly useable for whatever and whenever you may need to know all things culinary in Costa Rica. And if that were not enough, what an amazing tour guide for English-speaking lovers of food in a Spanish-speaking culture, where the recipes you know and have always loved can come alive in new and exciting ways. I just feel smarter having read it!”

When you move to a Spanish-speaking country, it can be daunting to stock your kitchen and cook meals when you don’t know what your ingredients are called in Spanish. And even when you know the Spanish translation, it can be a challenge at times to find what you are looking for.

You can download this practical, comprehenive guide and on-going reference tool on your smart phone or iPad so you have it with you whenever you shop. The table of contents is interactive, so you can easily click through to the meat section when you are at the butcher shop (carnicería) or to the dairy section when you are standing in front of the dairy case. Here’s what you will find inside:

  • A little bit about me, our life in Costa Rica, how and where we shop for groceries, what we spend, and some insights about grocery shopping in Costa Rica.
  • An English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English food dictionary, broken down into the following sections:
    • Fruits
    • Vegetables
    • Meat & Poultry
    • Fish & Seafood
    • Grains, Nuts, Seeds, & Baking Ingredients
    • Dairy & Eggs, Refrigerated & Frozen Foods
    • Beans, Canned & Prepared Foods
    • Herbs, Spices, & Seasonings
    • Condiments
    • Beverages
  • An English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English food dictionary in alphabetical order.
  • An English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English dictionary of things you find in the kitchen.
  • A Glossary of cooking terms and helpful adjectives to use when buying and cooking food, ordering in a restaurant, and reading recipes in Spanish.
  • Recipe substitutions for when you can’t find familiar ingredients here in Costa Rica.

Chipotle Beef Chili

  • Recipes which I have adapted to use with ingredients found in Costa Rica, plus some favorite recipes of other expat cooks in Costa Rica.
  • A U.S. Measure to Metric Conversion Guide for temperature, volume, weight, and length.
  • A resource section with links to expat cooking blogs, Facebook groups and pages, specialty products, and other food-related things.

Buy the print edition on

Buy the Kindle edition on

If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the Kindle app for your iPad or computer at this link.


I hope you enjoy my book and find it useful!


Our Ultimate CR Healthcare Tour

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_008David and Donna H. recently too our healthcare tour and had this to say on one of the expat Facebook groups: Donna and I just finished the medical tour that Paul and Gloria (Retire For Less in Costa Rica) offer. It was excellent! Two days of information and tours around hospitals and clinics as well as educational and cultural centers and even information on some of the banking. The tour is designed to introduce a new arrival to the Costa Rican system of health care that includes, not just the body but the whole person. I highly recommend this tour to anyone that is new, or relatively new in country, especially to the people that live in and around the central valley. Paul taylors the two days to the groups needs as far as their ability, including any and all physical limitations, and his own experience and contacts with the people at the various institutions makes this tour extremely personable and pleasurable. It is a really great opportunity to learn more about the health care and how you can tailor it to your own needs, and learn more about what is available to enhance your experience while living in Costa Rica.”

We’ve lived in Costa Rica for over nine 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 that day to listen to two presentations.

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)
  • The office of our dentist in San Ramón
  • 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.

Prices: $650 for a couple, $550 for a single.
Please contact us if you are interested in booking a tour. Space is limited.

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