Jun 30 2014

Retire for Less Newsletter – June 30, 2014

Welcome to our RetireForLessInCostaRica.com Newsletter!

Paul and Gloria

Paul and Gloria

In This Issue:


It’s Pure Joy as Costa Rica Advances to the Quarter-Finals!

Costa Rica’s “la Sele” makes history as they advance to the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time ever after beating Greece on Sunday. What a fun time it is to be living in Costa Rica! To see more great photos from the day, visit La Nacion’s photo gallery.




Our May 2014 Costa Rica Cost of Living Expenses


We were at home for most of the month of May, leaving on the 27th for a three-week trip to Mexico. Our grocery bill was a bit lower and our meals out a bit higher, probably because we were so busy preparing for our trip. And our “Personal Care & Clothing” was higher, also in preparation for the trip — a haircut for Paul and for me, well, the works: haircut, color, pedicure, and two new pairs of shoes. Even with the works, it all cost me less than $100:

  • Haircut & color: $22
  • Pedicure: $22
  • Two pairs of shoes: $54

Transportation was somewhat higher because we wanted to make sure the car was in good service for our house sitters who would have use of it during our absence. We had new front brake pads installed which cost us $54.18 including both parts and labor. We also spent more on gasoline for the car as we took several trips to San Jose in preparation for Paul’s healthcare tours starting in June.

Entertainment included the usual Netflix and Baltimore Sun online subscription but also about $25 in used books we purchased at the Community Action Alliance’s 4th Annual Gran Venta de Libros, as well as a live theater production which cost about $18 for two tickets.

Pet care was higher due to a double vet bill. It was time for both Tori’s and Laura’s shots to protect them from rabies, parasites, and feline leukemia. Cost: 38,000 colones, or about $69.00. In the States, it was never less than $100 for one cat, so I consider this a bargain.

As usual, to help put things into perspective, here are our expenses for the previous two months:

Click to read the article.

Click to read the article.

Related Articles:


‘Tis the Season…for Mold and Mildew

Updated June 30, 2014

While we love living in the tropics, there are challenges, especially during the rainy season, when we get about 80 inches of rain each year. While the moisture in the air is great for our skin, it can lead to mold and mildew in our home. Because we love having our doors and windows wide open, and because we want to minimize our usage of electricity, we’ve chosen not to run a dehumidifier, though others do. Instead, here are some of the actions we’ve taken to minimize the problem in our house.

  • Paint the walls with an anti-fungal paint. When we lived at the Cabinas, we picked the colors and bought the paint, and Cesar, the manager of the cabinas, painted all of the interior walls of our cabina with “anti-hongo” (anti-fungus) paint. The result was a brighter cabina that’s more resistant to mold and mildew.
  • Improve drainage and coat the foundation and tiles with a sealant. Our cabina was at the bottom of a hill, so when heavy rains would fall, water would seep in through the foundation. The property manager here at the cabinas improved the drainage and applied a sealant to both the outside and inside of the back of our cabina where we were having the problem. Since then, no water seepage and a drier cabina.
  • Increase air flow. We keep our doors and windows open most of the day for good cross-ventilation (and because we like it!) You can also run fans to increase air flow. We benefit by the smart design of the folks who built our rental house — they even thought of windows or other openings in the closets to increase air flow!
  • Buy anti-mildew mattress and pillow covers. This was important for us because we were both breaking out in hives due to mildew when we lived at 4,000 ft. elevation. I found a great source online at National Allergy Supply.
  • Install lights in your closets. We bought a few inexpensive lights and either put them directly into our closets or clamped them on the closet doors. This small step, surprisingly, goes a long way to prevent mildew from taking hold on your clothes.
  • Hang out your clothes on sunny mornings. The combo of sun and gentle breezes combine to stop mildew in its tracks before it becomes a problem. Otherwise, you have no other choice but to launder them.
  • Keep a supply of white vinegar on hand in a spray bottle. If you see the beginnings of mold on leather chairs, belts, and other surfaces, spray them with straight white vinegar and wipe them down with a soft cloth or paper towels. Once you’ve removed all the mold, treat leather surfaces with a leather conditioner.
  • To minimize waste, buy items like flour, salt, sugar, spices, etc. in small packages and, as much as possible, store them in your refrigerator. Don’t store items in cardboard boxes (pasta, oatmeal, etc.) in your cupboards for long periods, even if they are in plastic zipper bags. It’s amazing how easily moisture can get into sealed plastic containers.

There has been a lot written about fighting mold and mildew as well as dealing with allergic reactions. Here are some links that we found helpful:


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

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

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

  • The rainy season usually starts in mid-May, with an average of 8″ inches of rainfall for the month of May. Last year, we got almost 15″ in May. This May we only received 6.6 inches, so this year’s rainy season is starting out light in our part of Costa Rica.


  • On May 27th, we left the country to travel in Mexico for three weeks, but our house sitters continued to collect weather data for us.
  • May in Costa Rica is the month for what we call “June Bugs” up north. This year the onslaught seemed lighter than in past years.
  • Total rainfall in 2013 was 110.95 inches in our area of San Ramón.

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

  • Remember that the temperature and rainfall records are for our area of Atenas. If you check the weather reports online for “Atenas, Costa Rica,” they are very often wrong. Usually the weather given online is for the Juan Santamaria International Airport and just generalized for other areas.  This is a bad assumption and doesn’t account for the many micro-climates in Costa Rica.
  • Total rainfall in 2013 was 63.84 inches in our area of Atenas..

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

  • We have had eleven Great Danes, called “The Noble Dog,” since moving here twenty three years ago. One of our current Danes, Muki, keeps setting new longevity records. She is now ten years and seven months old. None of our others lived more than nine years (average). We attribute this to a new and healthier nutrition regimen which we began several years ago. Danes are loving and protective friends.
  • Total rainfall in 2013 was 164.75 inches in our area of Nuevo Arenal.

Matapalo map

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

  • Well, the rainy season has started here. One important weather note for folks thinking of retiring in the southern zone to be aware of is the high humidity. The temperature may say it is 90 degrees, but you need to look at the humidity as it can feel like it is well over 100 degrees.This is called the “real feel” here, much like the heat index the weather man uses in the States.
  • 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.



PaulHubPhotoOur 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.

Related Articles:


What’s Ahead Weatherwise – El Niño!

The World Meteorological Organization says an El Niño is likely in the third quarter of 2014.

El Niño is a weather phenomenon characterized by unusually warm ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific.

The phenomenon, which recurs at two- to seven-year intervals, has a major impact on the climate around the world. It can also lead to extremes including droughts and heavy rainfall across the globe.

World Meteorological Organization Climate Prediction and Adaptation Branch Director Maxx Dilley said sometimes these conditions can be quite extreme.

“You have parts of the world, which experience dryer than normal conditions as a tendency during El Niño years,” Dilley said. “You have other parts of the world, which tend to get wetter. You have parts of the world that tend to get hotter and parts that tend to get colder. So, the effects can vary depending on which region you pick.”

Excerpted from InsideCostaRica.com.

El NiñoBut how did the last El Niño affect Costa Rica? The last one occurred in 2009, right around when we arrived in Costa Rica. We got here on April 1st, 2009 at the beginning of the rainy season. That year’s rainy season, from May through October, was one of the driest on record, with 40% less rainfall than normal. It was warmer than normal as well.

Why would a lack of rainfall be so negative for Costa Rica? The main reason is the resevoirs. They need to be replenished annually through rainfall to guarantee hydro-electric power to supply electricity to the country. Without it, Costa Rica must import more oil to drive the turbines that create electricity, instead of using the power of flowing water. Without rain, electricity prices will rise along with the price of oil in dollars (which are also rising). So there you have it in a nutshell. Less rain, more oil imports, higher prices for electricity as well as products and foods where electricity plays an important part in their production. And it’s all the fault of El Niño. It will last less than a year but it’s effects will be felt in Costa Rica and worldwide for some time to come.

We’re already feeling the effects of El Niño as in May and June we’ve had lower than normal rainfall. We are also just about to come into the Veranillo de San Juan (“little summer”) in Costa Rica when it often rains less, schools close for two weeks, and many people take vacations. The veranillo, which usually occurs in July, can last as little as one day or last all month and beyond.


Featured Property: Ready to Move Into Spacious Home in San Ramón – Just Reduced to $110,000

Property ID: 102

This 2,200 sq. ft. home in Magallanes/San Ramon has 4 bedrooms and 2 full baths and an attached 2 car garage with work shop and a large deep lot with beautiful views. The electrical and plumbing have been updated. This home is completely ready to move into.

Area: 0.24 Acres
Construction: 2200 ft2

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 2

Year Built: 2002

Secondary Options:

    • Workshop
    • Covered Parking

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.

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


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