Apr 17 2014

Retire for Less Newsletter – April 17, 2014

Welcome to our RetireForLessInCostaRica.com Newsletter!

Gloria, Paul, & “Machito” – Yes, that’s a MONKEY on my head!


In This Issue:





Home Again…Again — How We Celebrated Our Five Year Anniversary of Living in Costa Rica

by Gloria

Our house, the last winter we lived in Baltimore (2009)

Our house, the last winter we lived in Baltimore (2009)

March 22, 2014 – We’re back in Baltimore for two weeks after five years of living in Costa Rica. We’re back in our old house, with most of our old things around us. And we’re saying hello to many friends and family members whom we haven’t seen in years. It’s different, this time in Baltimore. It isn’t home to us anymore. But it is the home of so many memories for us.

We came to sell our house and to deal with all of the stuff we’ve had stored in the basement for five years. To be honest, I was shocked at how much stuff was there. In my recollection, we had gotten rid of so much more when we were preparing to make the move to Costa Rica in 2009. But as I opened box after box, I found that they were filled with things we had accumulated that we no longer needed nor wanted.

A lot of things went straight into the trash: foodstuffs that we thought we’d be shipping soon after arriving in Costa Rica, toiletries that we had stocked up on that were now out-of-date, clothes that were worn out or stained after being packed for so long, books and magazines that we couldn’t even give away (doesn’t anybody read paper books anymore?) and all kinds of not-so-gently-used household stuff like dish drainers, trash cans, and half-full packages of things.



A little bit of our moving sale

We settled on the house yesterday (March 21, 2014), but had negotiated five more days to finish cleaning out the house. We planned a two-day “Moving to Costa Rica Sale” and are now through the first day. It’s a funny feeling, to see all of the possessions you’ve accumulated in a lifetime laid out for all to see and pick through. Many things were priced at just a dollar or two and, I’ll admit, I was a little bothered by the many people who came and didn’t buy a thing. And I was a little more bothered by the people who came and wanted to give us 10% of the low prices we were already asking. But that’s yard sales, I guess. To the people who come, it’s just somebody else’s junk. To me, it’s my life, my memories.

Things that I didn’t even remember we still had, and that I hadn’t thought of in years, all of a sudden had new significance. “I can’t get rid of that dress. I wore it to a wedding the first time Paul met my family. And that bedspread, it covered the antique white wrought iron bed that I used when I was single and loved so much.” Paul keeps reminding me that it’s all stuff, and that we can’t take it with us when we die. It is stuff, but it seems to be alive with moments of my life, and of our lives together. I always tell people who are trying to downsize in preparation for moving out of the country, “If it makes you feel bad, or nothing at all, when you look at it, get rid of it. If it makes you feel good, and it brings back good memories, keep it.” I guess I wasn’t prepared to have to deal with so many good memories in such a short period of time.

Our back yard and water garden

Our back yard and water garden

It’s not even just the stuff. It’s this house that no longer belongs to us, where we’re sleeping on a mattress on the floor of our old bedroom. It’s the room where we would sleep on spring nights with our windows open and listen to the frogs croaking in the pond in our back yard. It’s the back yard where we’d sit on a swing every day when we got home from work, watching the fish, listening to the waterfall, and catching up on each other’s day. It’s the house that we bought together and moved into a couple of months before our wedding; where we put up a Christmas tree every year and lit fires in the fireplace. It’s where we had dinner parties and movie nights with good friends; and where everyone looked forward to our yearly 4th of July parties, followed by walking to the fireworks display at the elementary school just four blocks away and then vanilla ice cream with strawberries and blueberries from the bushes in our back yard. It’s the house that some of our friends called “the fairy tale house” because of its charm and warmth. I have to keep reminding myself that the warmth came from us, and that it follows us wherever we go.memories

I know I might sound sad, but I’m not, really. I’ve been preparing for this letting go. And I know that these things, big and small, are not really the repositories of my memories, they are just touchstones. I can choose to remember all of these experiences whenever I want, wherever I am. And I can choose to let the things go without letting the memories go.

April 1, 2014 – Today we got on a plane to return to our life in Costa Rica, five years to the day after we first moved there. It seems fitting, after all. It’s where we’ve made new friends and have created a rich and satisfying life for ourselves. I am eager to get back to the place that we now call “home,” bringing some of the reminders of our lives here in Baltimore with us, though leaving most behind. And that’s okay with me.

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Coming in June and July: Our New Ultimate Healthcare Tour!

We’re putting the finishing touches on our newest tour, the Ultimate Tour on Healthcare in Costa Rica. We’ve lived in Costa Rica for five 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 because we’ve had yearly checkups, 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. Our tour is designed to save you both time and money, packing a lot of information into a short period of time.

Our tour lasts two days and 1 night and includes lodging, transportation, meals and non-alcoholic beverages.

HospitalMexicoSample Itinerary: You’ll visit:

  • Two private hospitals in San Jose area
  • Hospital Mexico, the largest and best public hospital (they even do open heart surgeries there)
  • An insurance broker for a presentation on the various supplemental health insurance options, including public, private, and international plans
  • A senior living retirement community
  • A language school for a presentation about how learning Spanish increases your options for healthcare (you can do this).
  • Our local hospital here in San Ramón
  • A local EBAIS (community clinic)
  • A local private clinic
  • A local Seguro Social office where you would sign up for the Caja (national healthcare coverage)
  • A dentist
  • A pharmacy
  • A health food store (macrobiotica), and more!

EBAISStaffYou’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.

Cost $550 for a couple, $450 for a single.

Please contact us if you are interested in booking this tour. Space is limited.



In the Mailbag

Following is one of the several thoughtful comments we received in response to Gloria’s article “Sad Reminders of the Uncertainty of Life” which appeared in our last newsletter.



Saddened to hear of the passing of those 2 friends of yours.

Throughout the trials and tribulations of my life, I have always kept a poem uppermost in my mind. A poem entitled “Otherwise” by Jane Kenyon:

Take care…

Wayne S.


I got out of bed

on two strong legs.

It might have been

otherwise. I ate

cereal, sweet

milk, ripe, flawless

peach. It might

have been otherwise.

I took the dog uphill

to the birch wood.

All morning I did

the work I love.


At noon I lay down

with my mate. It might

have been otherwise.

We ate dinner together

at a table with silver

candlesticks. It might

have been otherwise.

I slept in a bed

in a room with paintings

on the walls, and

planned another day

just like this day.

But one day, I know,

it will be otherwise.

     ~ Jane Kenyon


And, in response to the video of Paul dancing in the park from our February newsletter:

Hey Guys,

As always, I enjoyed ya’lls newsletter. I don’t think I’ve seen such a big smile on your face before, Gloria. Apparently, having a baby monkey on top of your head makes you very happy! A beautiful thing.

Paul, I knew we had more in common than a gift for gab (well, you more than me) and a love of Spanish: I, too, danced at the same park about a year ago, tho’ did not get it on video and I think the same man was running the class. I will never forget the old dude who took a shine to me (no other way to put it)who danced my damn legs off once we were paired up. He had obviously gussied himself up for the day with a starched, collared shirt neatly tucked into slacks with a skinny little belt (his waist was probably smaller than mine has ever been) and neatly shaved and cologned (don’t think that is a verb). But, you could tell, he was having the best ever time as was everyone (including me) and he was so reluctant to let me go (I was exhausted way before him), but I couldn’t keep up the pace…But it was great fun and for me, anyway, totally spontaneous and a highlight of that particular weekend! Good to see you enjoyed it also.

Mariana L.

If you missed the video, here it is for your viewing pleasure:



Monthly Weather Report for San Ramón, Atenas, Nuevo Arenal, & Playa Matapalo  – March 2014

You’ll notice that we are now showing rainfall and temperatures for four towns in Costa Rica.

You can still click on the map to the right to enlarge it and check out the average rainfall for the towns you are interested in. Remember that the areas shaded in darker blue tend to be higher and also the places most expats choose to live.

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

  • We live at what I would call a “cool 3,000 ft.” above sea level.
  • The beaches at this time of year have highs of 90-100° F.
  • We live only 50 minutes from the closest nice beach with monkeys.
  • We haven’t had any rain yet in 2014.
  • Total rainfall in 2013 was 110.95 inches in our area of San Ramón.

Lance T’s Atenas Observations, Facts, & Tidbits:

  • As of March 31st, still no rain. Since December 15th of last year, that’s 106 days without rain.
  •  The highest temperature so far this year was 92°F on March 30. But it was a relatively dry heat. The accompanying humidity was 28%. So, using the heat index formula of the  U.S. National Weather Service, the resulting “feels like” temperature was 90°F.
  • Total rainfall in 2013 was 63.84 inches in our area of Atenas..

John’s Nuevo Arenal Observations, Facts, & Tidbits:

  • March 2014 had the least amount of rainfall for any month since I began keeping records in 2011.
  • The strong winds, which lasted through the month, kept things at a comfortable level and were welcomed by windsurfers and kite-boarders on Lake Arenal.
  • Tico Wind, one of the windsurfing sites, plans to be open until the end of April.
  • Total rainfall in 2013 was 164.75 inches in our area of Nuevo Arenal.

Matapalo map

Lance M’s Playa Matapalo Observations, Facts, & Tidbits:

  • Playa Matapalo is a small village, located between Quepos and Dominical on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast.
  • The word Playa means beach.
  • Our home is a stone’s throw from the beach.
  • Playa Matapalo is 122 km. from the San Jose International Airport and 220 km. from Arenal.
  • The southern Pacific weather region receives approximately 150 inches of rain per year.
Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.


Our San Ramón Weatherman, Paul Yeatman

Meteorology has been Paul’s lifelong hobby.  As a child, he devoured books about the weather and earth sciences vigorously. Later, he took a few college courses in meteorology, and still later, he served as a meteorologist for the U.S. Army in Vietnam.  Now, Paul gets to practice his avocation in Costa Rica, albeit on a very small scale with just temperature and rainfall data, probably the two most important factors regarding the weather. He wanted to include weather info on our website to help people decide where to live, although weather is just one of many factors to consider in determining where to relocate. Current weather data is from our current home at about 3,000 ft. elevation and 10 minutes outside the town of San Ramón. Weather data prior to December 2012 is from our previous home at about 4,000 ft. elevation and 10 minutes outside the town of San Ramón.

Our Atenas Weatherman, Lance Turlock

Lance and his wife, Diana, moved to Costa Rica about 2 years ago after living 30+ years in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia (Vancouver and environs). They live in the Central Valley near the town of Atenas and are at an elevation of about 2700 feet. They have no need for air conditioning or heating. Overnight low temperatures are comfortably cool (low 60’s). Daytime highs can be relatively hot (high 80’s, low 90’s), but rarely uncomfortably hot.Lance started to keep track of daily temperatures and rainfall in order to have factual ammunition to help disabuse friends, relatives and acquaintances of any misconception that the weather must be like that of a tropical jungle.

Our Nuevo Arenal Weatherman, 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 Playa Mantapalo Weatherman, Lance Miller

I was born in a very small town in northwest Iowa and raised on a farm. When I was 18, I joined LanceMiller_smthe 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 Pa. 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. The word Playa means beach. It is so nice to lie in bed and listen to the ocean. Pura Vida.

We will continue the weather info next month.

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