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Before you move to Costa Rica ⌂ get rid of your stuff

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Before you move to Costa Rica ⌂ get rid of your stuff

Before you move: get rid of your stuff! If we were going to make a successful move to our new land, there was no choice but to sell our house. Most websites counsel you to take it slowly.

But, before you get rid of your stuff, decide if you want to buy or rent. Stay for six months or a year or more before you buy. Make certain you like Costa Rica enough as an ex-pat to stay. That sounds very simple, but for us not very practical.

We are not independently wealthy and we did the math. We had a first and a second mortgage. After “the great recession,” our home had lost at least a third of its value. And most of our equity had disappeared along with it.

Before you move to Costa Rica ⌂ get rid of your stuff

We did not have the luxury of shuttering our home or renting it out. We were self-employed and neither of those options would cover the two mortgages we paid each month. The economy and the housing market have improved since and perhaps, you won’t have to face our reality. I hope that is the case for you. For us, it was time to make that difficult, but obvious choice. If we were to fulfill our goal to retire in Costa Rica within a year, our house had to go on the market.

If you do need to sell your home before you head to beautiful Costa Rica, do it right. Get the necessary repairs done, get it spruced up, and consult a professional stager. Probably the first thing they will say is get rid of the clutter. Depersonalize it and make it possible for the person that ultimately buys your home to envision it with their personal touch already on it. This meant we had a great deal of work ahead of us.

A lot of stuff

If you are like us, you have managed to accumulate an enormous volume of “stuff.” There really is a simple, albeit painful answer, get rid of your stuff before you move to Costa Rica. We found unopened boxes that had arrived with us during our last move. That was when we left high-tech and changed careers twelve years earlier. First, we had to dig through the first layer of a life’s worth of accumulated possessions that resided on top of it.

The decision that you must make is whether to take it with you or get rid of the stuff we did not need. We could always buy what we would need when getting to Costa Rica. For us, the answer lay somewhere in between.

Even so, it meant making a decision to keep or dispose of virtually every single item we owned. Plus, even a few items we didn’t even know we possessed

  • the photos of ancestors tucked away in boxes in the closet and in the attic,
  • costume jewelry from Aunt Sally’s estate,
  • kitchen utensils mom gave you when you struck out on your own decades earlier,
  • and more “stuff” and memories in every drawer.

Before you move to Costa Rica ⌂ get rid of your stuff


That doesn’t begin to address the clothes, tons of clothes. Costa Rica is a warm and sometimes wet or humid place. Of course, depending Have a garage sale before you move to Costa Ricalargely on where in Costa Rica you decide to settle and the month of the year.

The bottom line:

  • lightweight shirts and tops,
  • airy full-length pants or a dress (maybe two),
  • a hat,
  • a swimsuit and an umbrella and you are set for any occasion, any time of the day, and any month of the year.

This eliminated the need for a lot of clothing. Unless you plan on pursuing a professional career in an office, there is little need for suits, forget about sweaters as a category. A windbreaker, maybe. We’ve been here for three months now, and I have not had need of a sweater even once.

Get rid of your stuff

We decided we had to get rid of the stuff before moving. So, we sorted through everything, clothes included and, with the help of a few very good friends we planned a weekend-long garage sale.

The sale was a big success, but with our adamant vow to never hold another. Then, it was numerous gifts to friends and acquaintances followed by many, many contributions to charities, shelters, churches, and others. This was followed by retaining local estate resellers, packing up and shipping off antiques for future auction sales, and then, god forbid one more garage sale. More on the ultimate disposal of the rest of our “stuff” later.

More on the ultimate intent to get rid of your stuff later.

Before you move to Costa Rica ⌂ get rid of your stuff

A permanent move?

Ours was a permanent move, which is a good way to get rid of your stuff. Try out residing in Costa Rica before making it permanent. It sure sounds reasonable—give it a try before you make the difficult-to-reverse commitment to stay permanently. For us, “reasonable” yes, but “practical” no.

What if you don’t have the luxury to keep your home in North America while you check out residing in Costa Rica? No Costa Rican pundit has really thought it through. It is pretty much a glossed-over topic. I think maybe there is a general feeling that all gringos, I’m including you Canadians here, are rich. And, by Costa Rican standards, that is true. But why is it, that I never felt that way back home?

Are you of a more independent means than we were when we decided to move to Costa Rica? Then I advise you to come down here for a long test run. However, keep in mind no matter what your financial status. It now takes seven months or longer once you have made an application with the help of an immigration lawyer to receive your “cedula” or Costa Rican immigration card.

Become a legal resident

Unless you buy a house in Costa Rica or start a business, you won’t be able to get the following without a cedula or legal residency

  • a bank account
  • get a landline phone
  • get an electricity account or satellite TV.

You will be limited to what your landlord has in place or is able to set up on your behalf.

The Author

The author of this blog, Ticonuevo, is a US expat who moved to Costa Rica and used the services of GoDutch Realty to purchase a property in Costa Rica. In his blogs, Ticonuevo describes his own experiences of taking the step of moving to Costa Rica and getting a new life started.

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