Nov 23 2019

Retire for Less in Costa Rica – November 23, 2019

Welcome to our Retire For Less In Costa Rica Newsletter

Paul and Gloria

In This Issue: 

What’s Up with the Yeatmans?

by Gloria

It has been a while since we sent out our last newsletter — three months, in fact, without monthly Costa Rica cost of living reports, featured properties, or anything else. A few folks checked on us via email to be sure all was well.  Thank you for your concern. We appreciate it so much.

We are doing well, living in Oaxaca, Mexico at the moment where we will be through the end of the year.  Since our website and this newsletter are about our lives and living expenses in Costa Rica, there hasn’t been much to report. However, we return to Costa Rica just after the 1st of the year so stay tuned for our January Costa Rica cost of living report which will come out in February.

Cost of Living Comparison

Many of you have asked how our living expenses in Oaxaca compare to our Costa Rica living expenses.  It’s difficult to say as our lives here are much different than in CR so we can’t compare “apples to apples”:

  • Transportation:  Here in Mexico, we don’t have a car and either walk or take public transportation wherever we need to go, which is a big cost-saver.  Buses are about the same in price as in Costa Rica, however, taxis are much less expensive. We can go just about anywhere in the city of Oaxaca for 50 pesos (about $2.70).
  • One of the more expensive comida corridas (menu of the day) we go to in Oaxaca. The price in USD ranges from about $4-$5.

    Food: Our grocery expenses are lower and our “Meals Out” expenses are higher. In CR, I cook dinner most days and we eat out only occasionally. In Mexico, we eat out often and I cook much less frequently. Restaurant meals tend to be much less expensive in Mexico than in CR and the food is varied and delicious. Of course, there is an abundance of Mexican restaurants and inexpensive comedores, which we love, as well as ethnic restaurants including Thai, Indian, Italian, and American.
  • Housing: In general, housing and utilities are less expensive in our part of Mexico than in CR in general. With utilities included, in Oaxaca, we spend about $250 less to rent a one-bedroom bungalow than we do in Costa Rica to rent a two-bedroom apartment.  In Mexico, electricity is subsidized by the government, so our monthly electric bill is about 25% of what we pay in CR. The negative is that housing prices in Oaxaca are shooting up. One big reason is that many owners are converting their rental properties to Air BnBs where they can make more money, leaving fewer rentals available for year-round and long-term residents.
  • Entertainment: Our entertainment expenses are about the same, however, we go out much more frequently in Oaxaca.  Most cultural activities are either free or low-cost. To give you an example, last week we went to the live broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera at the beautiful Teatro Macedonia Alcalá. Tickets ranged from 150-200 pesos ($8.11-$10.81). Tickets for the same broadcast in San Jose, Costa Rica ranged from 10,000-20,000 colones ($17.27-$34.54).  And last evening, we went to a concert at the same theater to hear Oaxaca’s Primavera Orchestra perform a jazz concert, which was free. So, we can afford to take advantage of more cultural activities, which we enjoy, in Oaxaca than we can in Costa Rica.  
  • Personal Care: Generally, hair cuts and other services are priced similarly in Oaxaca as in Costa Rica, and in both places, they are significantly less expensive than in the States. For example, I just got my hair cut and colored in Oaxaca and paid 270 pesos (about $14.50).
  • Healthcare: This category is difficult to compare. We are not part of any public or private plan in Mexico, so we pay for any needed healthcare out-of-pocket. The few times we have seen a private doctor (a specialist in both cases), the cost has been about 550 pesos (about $30). This is about half of the cost in Costa Rica. We have not needed any lab work or other diagnostic tests or scans while in Mexico, so we can’t speak to those costs. However, last year at this time, we were pricing PET Scans and discovered that they were about $400 USD less in Mexico City than in San Jose, Costa Rica.  We elected to have it done back home in Costa Rica where we could drive to the appointment and stay in our own home, versus in Mexico City where we would have had to commute 7 hours and stay at least one night in a hotel.   [Note: during our absence, we have continued to pay our Costa Rica Caja payments (public system) and our MediSmart membership (private system). When we return in January, we want to be able to take care of any medical tests and exams we need without issues or delays, especially Paul’s follow-up care for his cancer.]

Daily Life

In Oaxaca, we live in a cute one-bedroom bungalow located north of the historic center. It takes us about 25 minutes to walk to our twice-weekly Spanish class and another 5-10 minutes to walk to the Zócolo (main plaza in the historic center). 

Bungalow

Our rental bungalow in Oaxaca

When we need to go to the grocery store about every 10 days, we take a taxi to Chedraui,  a Mexican “Walmart-type” store, for about $3 each way. We buy most of our fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, spices, and fresh flowers at one of the many municipal markets in town. 

Once a week, we go to Boulenc, a French bakery, to buy a loaf of freshly-baked sourdough bread.

Some of the bread at Boulenc. They have incredible pastries too!

We buy tamales on Sunday mornings from the lady on the corner and I buy fresh tomatoes from Carmen who lives across the street.

We walk three blocks to the lavandería at least once a week to drop off clothes to be laundered and pick up our clothes from last time. When we walk to town, almost every day, we stop to say hello to neighbors, to Samuel the locksmith who makes keys a few blocks from where we live, and to Aurelio who sells fresh pineapple juice and fruit salad from his truck a bit further down the street. 

We have to watch where we walk because the sidewalks, like in CR, are cracked, full of holes or being pushed up by the roots of trees.

As in CR, there is a rainy season in Oaxaca, however, a normal year gets about 30 inches of rain, as opposed to 90 inches or more where we live in CR. We call it “rainy season light,” and it’s just about over for the year. Oaxaca is known for its big blue skies and semi-arid climate. As I write this on November 19th, we are expecting a high of 79° F and a low of  55° F.

While Oaxaca doesn’t have the lush greenery that Costa Rica offers, we do have many of the same flowering plants — bougainvillea, heliconia, orange trumpet vine, hibiscus, morning glory vines — and a huge variety of cacti, agave, and ferns. We enjoy looking out the windows of our bungalow at the flowers and greenery just outside.  

We live in a development with seven rental bungalows. It reminds me of when we lived in the Cabinas in San Ramon, Costa Rica in the sense that we have neighbors nearby with whom we can visit, share a meal, watch the Democratic Debates, or split a taxi to the grocery store. There are also three “community cats” which we share feeding and taking care of since none of us are here year-round.  Whereas Costa Rica is an extremely pet-friendly place, Oaxaca isn’t.  The majority of rentals, including ours, do not accept pets. We are hoping to find a cat-friendly rental in the future. 

This is Gawdito. He looks a little like our Tori.

We have never felt unsafe in Costa Rica and we can say the same for Oaxaca. There isn’t a lot of crime here, with most of it being crimes of opportunity like pick-pocketing and stealing cell phones and cameras from tourists. There are no big problems with drugs, home invasions, or murders beyond what is typical in a city of this size — approximately 350,000 people. If things were to change, however, if the drug cartels were to move in, we would definitely move out. But for now, Oaxaca is peaceful and its people warm and welcoming. 

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My 2019 Healthcare Update, by Rob Evans

To review, I retired early to Costa Rica in 2014 since healthcare costs were too high in the US. My employer had paid most of the cost, and I never realized the true cost of healthcare until I had to pay it all myself. My payment went from zero to $14,000 a year, which meant I would have to continue working at a job with benefits until 65 to survive, or better yet, I could simply retire immediately to Costa Rica. I estimate my healthcare costs in the US would be $24,000/yr in 2019 compared to the $5000 I am spending here. Note: this is for a couple in their 60s. I am not sure what we will do when we reach 65 and are eligible for Medicare, which does not cover medical care outside the US. I will report back on that in four years.

I am skeptical about the future of Medicare because of the increasing costs of drugs and medical care, scarcity of doctors, a growing population of unhealthy people joining the rolls, etc. I think it will soon come to a head in the US, and something drastic will happen to available coverage and the cost. So, I am happy to be in Costa Rica and in charge of my own medical decisions and costs.

My strategy has been to get healthy and try to avoid going to the hospital. Healthy living (fruits and vegetables, no processed or fast food, plenty of sun and exercise) in Costa Rica has helped me lose 70 pounds and brought all my metrics – blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc. – into the normal range. We have annual physicals and see a private doctor and pharmacy for any minor problems. We pay for tests, treatment, and doctors out of pocket and have health insurance in case of major illness or accidents.

To make healthcare work for me in Costa Rica, I have assembled these products: private insurance, Caja (the socialized medicine program of Costa Rica), and a medical membership program. The first, my expat insurance from WEA, covers us worldwide minus the US. Why minus the US?  Because including the US doubles the cost since the US is so expensive. I figure with 150 countries to choose from, I am OK with that limitation. Why WEA? Because my insurance broker recommended it and it met my needs and was affordable. Also, we might like to move to another country one day and our WEA insurance will cover us whether we go to Mexico or Europe. I like the idea of not having to start over with a new insurance company each time we move to a new country. To be fair, my WEA policy includes $150 each reimbursement for any preventive care. We use the money each year for annual physicals, so the 2019 insurance cost in the list below of $3215 should be $300 less depending on how you handle your accounting.

To cover trips back to the US to visit family, I bought a travel policy that covers us for 30-day trips in the US. I can have as many 30-day trips as I want, but they need to be separate trips.  Note: travel insurance will not fix cancer. Travel insurance will only cover you if you get sick or injured, so we would need to leave the US to continue treatment after recovering. I could have purchased the travel policy trip by trip, but one annual policy vs. per trip was simpler and the difference in cost was insignificant.

Next, I pay a group rate for the Caja through ARCR (Association of Residents of Costa Rica), an expat advocacy group. In addition, ARCR also helps with seminars, banking, and residency. The Caja assigns you to a local clinic near our home where you can go for checkups and medical care. I don’t use it, but I feel confident that if I were in an accident, the Caja would take great care of me.

Finally, I joined Medismart, which is like Sam’s Club or Costco where I pay $15/month (two people) and get 10%-80% discount on medical treatment. A doctor visit is $15 at the hospital and $25 at your home. Medical costs are hard to compare, but as an example, I think my insurance company in the US paid $3000 for my colonoscopy, while I paid $600 in Costa Rica of which $150 was covered by the WEA preventive rebate and it included an endoscopy as well. I should mention that pharmacists in Costa Rica are qualified to recommend treatments for general ailments such as flu, stomach aches, cuts, burns, etc., and because you don’t need a prescription for most drugs, your first stop in many cases might be to the pharmacy where a doctor or pharmacist will discuss your symptoms and give you the treatment you need—all in one place.

In the table below you can see my overall costs went up 16% Year to Year (YtY) from 2018. Some of that is to be expected since my wife reached age 60, apparently an important marker for the insurance company, as you can see by the WEA insurance increase of 24% in 2019 and 40% the year before when I turned 60. I don’t want to be alarmed, but I am keeping my eye on the YtY increases and hope they slow down now that we have both reached the 60 mark. Plan B is to increase my deductible from $2500 per person to $5000 per person which could halve my annual premium. While that deductible seems high, I bought insurance to cover critical illness, not ordinary day-to-day care. Moving on, my travel insurance, Caja, and Medismart YtY costs did not increase significantly.

You can buy WEA insurance from their website or through a broker. There is no cost difference between the web price and broker price. I bought my policy from Perfect Circle (PC) in Escazu, Marge Esquivel. I can submit my claims to PC and they make sure I have all the documentation to help them sail through, including calling the doctor and speaking to them in Spanish to resolve issues or to get more documentation. Some people worry that expat insurance like WEA is not local to Costa Rica and therefore cannot be sued in Costa Rica if something seriously went wrong. I hope that never is an issue for me but people should be aware of that concern.  Note: I receive nothing from recommending Perfect Circle.  I just like the service they provide.

Finally, to double-check things, I found an expat health insurance company called Safety Wing using Google.  I know nothing about this company besides that it is used by many digital nomads. Their site quotes a monthly premium of $127.68 for an adult over 60. They include travel insurance back home and exclude care in the US except during a 30-day travel period. If I take that quote and convert it into an annual rate for two people, I get $3064 compared to my WEA+Travel Insurance combo of $3568. If I take out the $150 x 2=$300 rebate for preventive care, I get a new total of $3268 annual cost for two 60-year-olds, so my costs appear to be in the ballpark with this one. A consideration is that the Safety Wing policy does not cover pre-existing conditions nor cancer.  Bottom line: I think my choices are priced correctly.

 

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In the Mailbag: Caja Payments, Retiring Overseas, Reading, and Cooking

We always get lots of responses and questions from readers, both newsletter subscribers and on Facebook.

Hi Gloria,

I will be leaving Costa Rica July 22nd with a scheduled return on November 15th. How does this affect my CAJA payment? 

Charles

Hi Charles,

Thanks for getting in touch. You have two options as far as Caja payments are concerned. If you are going to be out of the country for at least 3 months, you can have the payments waived for the months you are gone. The procedure is in this article on our website: https://retireforlessincostarica.com/caja-payment-exemptions-for-snowbirds-rainbirds-and-other-part-time-residents/.

The other option is to catch up on your missed payments when you return. When you come back on November 15th, the first Caja payment you make will be applied to August, the second payment to September, and so on. This is what we are choosing to do this year as we will be gone for 6 months and want to be able to use the Caja right after returning.

In other words, it will take four payments to make you current. The only way to not pay the missed payments is with the procedure in the article above. 

Hope this helps!

Gloria

 

Hi Gloria,

My friend and I are seriously considering relocating to either Costa Rica or Mexico…we just need to get our ducks in a row. He is still running his business but I took early retirement with an excellent, transportable pension. Even if we just snowbird for a bit to transition. I am so looking forward to that.

I read your newsletter diligently and admire and envy the life you have built in CR.  Since I have you on the line I will tell you that I really enjoyed the video you took of the area around your home. I really like the no muss no fuss of it and how straightforward it was to give me a real idea. I spent a month two years ago in a little beach town in Mexico that was very very authentic and your video reminded me of that. 

Thank you for sharing your life and Inspiring us on.

Pura Vida

Teresa

Awww, thanks Teresa. We really appreciate your kind words. I think my overarching aim for our website is to show people that it can be done and inspire them to choose their own happiness overseas if that is what is right for them.

Warm regards,

Gloria

 

Hi Paul and Gloria,

I used to use my son’s library card in San Antonio to download free books through the overdrive system with Libby application.  I read on my android tablet.   I like it better than amazon, it doesn’t try to sell you anything, you have to put the books on hold and may not receive them for a while but most of the popular books are available, FREE.  

When my son didn’t get around to renewing his card and I was frantic for books I found out I could join the library for $200 a year OR….join the Philadelphia Free Library which has the same system and books, for only $50 a year.   I use a US mailing address (my daughters) to join as that is the same one I use for credit card and started reading the same day.  If anyone else loves to read and doesn’t have other access to plentiful top rate NY times bestsellers, etc.  check it out.

Brenda

That’s very helpful, Brenda. Other voracious readers (like us) will appreciate the information! 

 

Hello there.

Thank you for your awesome blog. And for the cookbook. I haven’t used it yet but can’t wait! 
I would love some help. In March of this year, my husband and I bought a house in [Costa Rica]. We are age 53 and 55. We thought we would rent it (that has been going well) for about 7 years and then retire. But now we really have the bug to get down there full time. We are yearning for the Costa Rican life. I have been scouring your blog for information. I guess the biggest unknown/uncertainty is healthcare and the other question we ask ourselves is “what if we run out of money?” I know you guys live on $24,000/year. Do you calculate that out by your estimate remaining lifespan and call it good? We have a financial advisor and accountant.  I guess I am just wanting someone who is actually living it to tell me we can do it without worrying if we have X number of dollars saved. Plus social security when it kicks in. We are also interested in your healthcare tour.  
Thanks. 

Christine

Hi Christine,

Thanks for getting in touch. And thanks for buying my book! I hope you find it helpful.

About our cost of living, what we write about is our actual spending, not necessarily a “budget” based on what we have to spend. When we came to CR, we really didn’t have anywhere near what we would need to live. We had Paul’s Social Security which, at the time, was only $922. (The requirement for residency in 2009 was only $600.) I was able to work online the first year for my former employer and we were able to bank most of it. Our savings, after buying a car, totaled about $28,000. I was only 52, so years away from Social Security. That’s one of the reasons we started our website and tours, in hopes of supplementing our income. We are in better shape now, though I am still not collecting Social Security. We invested our money wisely, then sold our house in Baltimore which netted us some profit. 

All that is to say that I have no idea how much money you will need for the rest of your lives. So much depends on your lifestyle, where you choose to live and whether you will buy or rent. In general, private healthcare here is a bargain compared to prices in the States. Take a look at MediSmart’s discount plan which we have used for a couple of years now. Besides the Caja, it’s all we have currently. 

I wish I could be more encouraging. We would love to have you join one of our healthcare tours. Maybe some concentrated time here investigating healthcare, costs, etc. would help you make a better decision for your situation.

Warm regards,

Gloria

Hi Gloria, 
I hope you and Paul are doing well and that recent medical issues are behind you.  

So we have house and garden projects to work on… and I’m cooking more, on which subject I’m writing to you today.  Last time we were departing out of Tambor I watched a young woman sipping thick cream (?) from a baggie.  I didn’t get to ask her about it, but this trip I discovered Natilla in the grocery store.  Thinking it was heavy cream, I got some for my coffee.  Come to find out it is a bit like sour cream though not so sour…and, actually, do-able in coffee though not what I would necessarily choose.

A quick glance at your book and I do not see it.  Maybe it’s called different names? Online search translates it as thickened cream, or sour cream, or custard.  Quite the range!  

I read it is a staple in Costa Rican cooking, especially breakfast.  I’m wondering if you can help me unlock its mysteries: What am I actually getting, how do I distinguish between the types of Natilla in their unassuming baggies, and what kind of yummy CR recipes have you found that use it?

Thank you… looking for rainy day-night activities and cooking is certainly a good one.

Pura vida! All the best, Elisa


Hi Elisa,

Great to hear from you! I can only imagine what natilla in your coffee tasted like! It’s definitely not what that person was drinking. Natilla is listed in my book as “sour cream.” It’s not exactly the same, but I use it like I would use sour cream in everything from baking to dips to serving it with Mexican food — tacos, burritos, and in a sauce for enchiladas. I have used it in a sour cream coffee cake, served it with baked platanos (plantains) and with eggs. You can use it in any recipe calling for sour cream. It is usually sold in bags of various sizes or tubs. It comes in a “light” version or as the full-fat version. And you can buy it everywhere! As you noted, it is very commonly used in CR!

Hope this helps,

Gloria

 

Featured Property in Lake Arenal: Lovely 3 BR 2 BA Home Built to US Standards with Lake View-FURTHER REDUCED to $75,000

Property ID #RS1500442

Location: San Luis, Tilarán, Tilarán, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Listing Type: Residential Sale
Bed/Baths: 3/2
Location Type: Countryside
View Type: Lake View
Total Lot Size: 300.19 m² (3,231.21 sq ft) Total Living Area: 103.00 m² (1,108.68 sq ft)
Total Area Under Roof: 95.00 m² (1,022.57 sq ft)

Property Description:

This thoughtfully-designed home is priced to sell! The owner took great strides to provide a North American standard home that is practical, easy to maintain and situated in a quiet location with views of Lake Arenal and Volcano Tenorio.

This 3 bedroom, 2 bath home has some unique features such as walk-in showers,no steps to trip over, on-demand hot water throughout, one level, easy access to all rooms and a spacious patio for entertaining or just enjoying the birds as they check out the various fruit trees that are planted on the property. Plenty of storage space. A must see!

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103 meters or 1,100 square ft – Move in ready, new, 3 bedroom 2 bath home. Spacious master bedroom with bath.

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High ceilings, ample storage, raised deck and includes new full-size appliances. Samsung 25cu’ side by side refrigerator with water and ice in door Frigidaire 30″ gas range with broiler Whirlpool stackable washer/gas dryer unit Eco Smart on-demand tankless water heater.

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The 300 meters lot is nicely landscaped and has some mature fruit trees. The adjoining lot of similar size is vacant and could possibly be acquired if more property is desired,

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Listing ID# RS1500442

Click here for more photos and to contact the owner of 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

PRINT & KINDLE VERSIONS AVAILABLE!

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 Amazon.com! 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 it’s 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, comprehensive guide and on-going reference tool on your smartphone 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 that 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 Amazon.com

Buy the Kindle edition on Amazon.com

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! Gloria

 

Our Ultimate CR Healthcare Tour

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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 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.”

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David and Donna H. recently took 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 tailors 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 make 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 more than 10 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 had out-patient surgery through the Caja and Paul was in a Caja hospital for 14 days to have his kidney removed after a cancer diagnosis. 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.

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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 the 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 (optional)
  • An in-patient drug-rehab facility (optional)
  • 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 dental office 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!
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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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What About Oaxaca?

If you have been reading our website for a while, you know that we have been traveling to Oaxaca, Mexico, for the past seven years during part of Costa Rica’s rainy season. Paul went to University in Mexico and the country and its culture have always been an interest of his. I have come to love it as well. Spending several months in Oaxaca each year has given us the best of both worlds — the beauty, tranquility, and kind people of Costa Rica and the culture, arts, and great food of Mexico. Our plan is to continue to live part of the year in Costa Rica and part of the year in Oaxaca. In 2020, we will be in Costa Rica from January through June and in Oaxaca for the months of July through December. If you are interested in learning more about why we spend part of the year in Oaxaca, visit our website, Retire in Oaxaca Mexico:

and our Facebook page of the same name:

 

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You can now follow us on Facebook and Twitter, so please “like” us on Facebook“follow” us on Twitter, and watch and share our videos on YouTube.  

What’s New on the Website

Check out our newest posts on www.retireforlessincostarica.com:

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