Jun 11 2015

Retire for Less Newsletter – June 11, 2015

Welcome to our Retire For Less In CostaRica Newsletter

Paul and Gloria

In This Issue:



Retire for Less Visits Cancún

We’re in Mexico for the month of June and are starting our adventures in Cancún, the location of this year’s International Living Ultimate Conference.


The view from our balcony on the 6th floor of the J.W. Marriott


Our presentation was called, “Retiring for Less in Costa Rica’s Central Valley”

Our presentation at the conference answered three big questions we get from people about retiring in Costa Rica:

  •  What is the cost of living?
  •  What about healthcare?
  •  What do you do all day?

After our presentation, at our table, we got to talk to lots of folks about Costa Rica and fielded questions about everything from how to get started, to bringing your pets, and finding a rental.

We are definitely not living for less here in Cancún but luckily, on this part of our trip, IL is paying our expenses. Once we move on to Mexico City and Oaxaca, we will be “traveling the retire for less way” and will be writing about it in upcoming newsletters.

Related Articles:


Our May 2015 Costa Rica Cost of Living Expenses

May was a busy month for us, with lots of tours and house guests. As a result, when not working, we spent most of our time at home. So, our groceries were on the high end of normal and just about everything else was on the low end, with one big exception.

Our Rent/Phone/Utilities category was much higher than normal because we bought two new cell phones. We wanted “smart phones” but we didn’t want to pay $400-$600 each for them. I guess we wanted “somewhat smart” phones. We thought about buying phones in the States and even had a friend offer to bring them down for us in his luggage. However, we decided against that, as phones purchased in the States are not under warranty outside of the country. It was worth it for us to spend a bit more for the phones in order to have them covered by a 1-year warranty.


Paul bought a Samsung Duo Prime

We shopped locally in our town of San Ramón,and also checked out PriceSmart and Walmart in Alajuela for the best deals, mainly considering Samsung and Huawei brands which are readily available and serviced here. After lots of shopping and comparing, we ended up purchasing two Samsung Duos from Celulares Orlich, right in San Ramón. They had a great selection and really listened to us and helped us find what we were looking for.

samsung-galaxy-ace-duos-300Paul wanted a phone with a large screen and a better camera. I wanted a smaller phone, mostly just for calls. We both got a lot for our money. For our two smart phones and two cases, we paid a total of 173,000 colones (about $328.00). My phone ended up being much cheaper locally (54,000 colones/$102) than the same model at Walmart (68,000 colones/$129). They only had one left, in white, and while I was planning on a black phone, I jumped at the price.

altimeterSome of our favorite apps that we’ve downloaded on both phones for free include the Runtastic Altimeter & Compass which lets you measure altitude in meters or feet, and also gives you sunrise and sunset info, compass readings, and GPS coordinates; What’s App? so we can call our friends for free; and Google Translate. which lets you translate with your voice, camera, keyboard or handwriting.

Housekeeping, which also falls under this category, was 25% lower than normal because our housekeeper wasn’t able to come one week. Our agreement with her is that if she cancels (and so far, she has always given us advance notice), we don’t pay her. But if we need to cancel for any reason, we will pay her.

As usual, to help put things into perspective, here are our expenses for the previous two months. If you want more information about a particular month, just click on the graphic for that month below:


Related Articles:


In The Mailbag – Cost of Living, & Being Happy in Costa Rica

emaildelivery-200pxOur newsletters and posts generate lots of discussion, on our website, in emails, and on facebook. Here’s a glimpse into our mailbag.

Cost of Living

In response to our Annual Cost of Living Issue for 2014, we received the following comment from Melanie:


I just wanted to let you know I appreciate your emails and newsletters.  We live in Brasilito with our family of 6 (kids are 7,9,11,15).  There is a big difference in costs living here.  I have been keeping track of our costs and they are $9-10,000 a month!!!   We could live 2 months for your 12!!   We do love being by the beach, despite the costs.  Thanks for sharing.”

Melanie E.

Our response?

Hi Melanie. Thanks for writing. Wow! $9-10,000 a month! But if you love where you are living and can afford it, why not? As long as you are happy. that’s the important thing.”

And here’s some helpful info on this topic from Mark and Debi C.

I just read your annual spending report.   Thank for the info. and thanks for the time it takes you guys to post everything.  What a good job!

schwab-logo-bankAn account with a USA Charles Schwab bank allows you to use a debit card, at any ATM, in the world with no ATM fee.  On the monthly statement, you will see all ATM fees charged by each bank, but the Charles Schwab bank refunds to you each charged fee at the end of each month.  So – just make sure you have money enough in the account to cover all the fees until the end of the month, when you get credited for all fees.

When my wife and I spent a month in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, summer 2013, we used the Charles Schwab card to withdraw enough cash to pay for all daily spending.  And all ATM fees were re-imbursed.  As far as I know I have never paid any fees of any kind, ( mo. or yearly ) and the card cost nothing to apply for inn the beginning. The bank pays a very small interest rate on any balance remaining in the account.  I keep only a couple hundred dollars in the account each month.

Additional good things:

  1. Single withdrawal cash amount can be set as low as you want, for security reasons.
  2. Total daily withdrawal cash amount can also be set, for security reasons.
  3.  If you need to make a large single cash withdrawal, simply telephone the toll free number on the back of the card and after going through security questions, tell them the amount you need, they change the allowance amount, you take out the money, and then you telephone them back and re-set to the lower level.
  4. The card can also be used as a credit card and the single transaction amount and daily amount can be set different from the cash withdrawal amounts.
  5. They also have a good alert system.  You let them know where you are going, and what you most likely will be spending your money on, and they will watch your account for fraud.

I hope this helps! Please stay in touch and please keep the newsletter coming.”

Mark and Debi C.

And, on facebook, in response to our article, Costa Rica Isn’t for Everyone?, we received these comments:

Great reply Gloria Yeatman! All the “griping” I hear here relates to not being willing to adapt to what is different from “back home”. Would I like to have some of “back home”? Definitely. Would I give up the gains we’ve found being here? No, emphatically!

Life IS what you make it. And it is about choices that we, the retirees, have to make in deciding to come here. Leaving friends & family behind has been the biggest negative. That said, Skype is a blessing. I see my 93 year old mother almost everyday.

I also note, as we’ve told our kids, we spent many hours and miles travelling to visit parents/inlaws in our younger years. We made the effort. Frankly, we EXPECT our kids to do some of the same now that they’re making the high wages we enjoyed when we were in the workforce. Selfish? Maybe & that accusation has surfaced. However, we made the firm decision that OUR lives, being able to retire comfortable, happy and living what we could only dream of years ago is what is THE most important thing for us.

Costa Rica is such a wonderful country, providing what we need & enjoy. The bonus surprise was how many others like us made the same choice and who now are our newest circle of friends.”

Bob & Linda B.

And from Ninfa D.:

Great Article Paul! I feel it’s what you make of any situation. I know people here that live in a Del Webb community with a beautiful home, a huge club house with just about everything you could ever imagine in a club house, yet they are bored and hate everything about the clubhouse! They complain about the city they live in and the weather and everything they can complain about. I feel Costa Rica is a great place if you want it to be like you and Gloria have demonstrated in your blog and newsletters!! Thanks so much!!”

Ninfa D.

Related Articles:


Community Action Alliance Hosts U.S. Embassy Consular Services

If you are a U.S. Citizen and are in the Central Valley later this month, make note of this special event, sponsored by the Community Action Alliance. Embassy staff will be available to accept adult passport renewals and to perform notarial services.

Date: Thursday, June 25, 2015

Location: Coopenae Credit Union, San Ramón de Alajuela

Members and non-members, alike, are invited to the first 2015 CAA General Assembly Meeting. RSVP is requested to nancy@actionalliancecr.com for this specific meeting as seating is limited in the General Assembly room, and to reserve a slot for on-site passport renewal and/or document notarization by the US Embassy.

Coopenae is located 50 meters north of the Tribunales de Justicia.





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 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 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!

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.
  • 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.

Related Articles:


Featured Property: Jaco Beach Area- Tranquil 3BR House-$148,000

900131017-902Listing ID# 900131017-9

Price: $148,000

# Bedrooms: 3

# Bathrooms: 2

Total SqM:  590

Lot Size (m2): 500

Built Area (m²): 91

900131017-901Year Built: 2013


Put this house on your list. This tranquillo setting is so relaxing you won’t want to leave!!

Situated at the base of the mountains and surrounded by a plantain grove, it has breath taking views in a beautiful setting and is only 2 minutes from Jaco.

This property’s open floor plan and cathedral ceilings give a sense of shear volume. Meticulously built,with living space abound . This floor plan makes this unit feel twice as large!!

Three nice bedrooms with vaulted ceilings, Granite counter tops accent this working kitchen. Come see this one!!


  • Garden
  • Near Public Transportation
  • View-Great
  • Near Shops
  • CATV/cable

Click here for more photos and information 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.


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What’s New on the Website

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

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