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Looking for hard to find articles in Costa Rica

Looking for hard to find articles in Costa RicaSometimes it’s really hard to find articles in Costa Rica. I’m going to mention a couple of more non-perishables before leaving the territory of hard-to-find products in Costa Rica. Here’s an eclectic list of a couple of expensive and hard to find articles plus a bit about cellphones.

Luckily, we shipped a couple of box springs in our container, because they are not part of the bedding commodity option in Costa Rica. (Bedding is typically available as a single piece, the mattress with the box spring support built-in.) The two most common mattress brands that are available in Costa Rica are Selther and Jiron and their lines do not include separate mattresses and box springs.

So, we were shopping for a mattress only and Ivo Henfling helped us locate a foam mattress manufacturer in Cartago. When we arrived at their showroom, we expected to load the mattress on top of our SUV and take it home with us. Not so fast. This turned out to be one of those hard to find articles. Their foam mattresses are all custom-made to your exact measurements and with your choice of ticking. It took over a month including several failed deliveries, but we eventually did get an 11” foam mattress to sit perfectly on top of our box spring.

Another option would be to stop at the showroom of U.S. retailer, Ashley Furniture, in Santa Ana where they have somewhat pricey in-store mattress selections and can also order from their larger U.S. selection.

Looking for hard to find articles in Costa Rica


We’ve also learned the hard way that table and floor lamps are not widely available and hard to find articles. That’s because Ticos typically use hanging lamps in their homes. It’s likely that table and floor lamps are not used much due to lack of floor and table space in the average Tico home. Maybe because of potential damage to such items in an earthquake. It follows that new lampshades would be in short supply here. This presented a problem when we tried to replace four lampshades crushed in our move to Costa Rica.

Looking for hard to find articles in Costa Rica

Unless you are really a fan of modern styles, the only lampshade replacement options we’ve found are very limited selections at Monnry in Escazu. This is a very nice, upscale home furnishing store that caters to gringo tastes. They carry a large selection of lamp sets and hanging fans. We also Googled lampshades and found:

  • Lampara Italia in downtown San Jose;
  • Ceramica Las Palomas, a ceramics outlet in old Santa Ana. They handmake one or two styles of shades for around $20 apiece
  • and Estiluz near the U.S. Embassy that also makes its own line of lamp shades for sale.

Looking for hard to find articles in Costa Rica

Luggage Repair

We are required to travel out of Costa Rica every three months until we are granted our cédulas de Residencia and our Costa Rican driver’s licenses. Therefore, we have put a lot of kilometers on our soft-sided luggage. They have suffered a corresponding degree of wear and tear. Therefore, some were in need of replacement. Individual suitcases and suitcase sets are hard to find articles and can be expensive just about anywhere. But because they are all imported into Costa Rica, they can be especially pricey to purchase here—even at PriceSmart.

Our solution was to have my brother-in-law purchase hard-sided luggage for us at Costco. We repaired one of our cases here for one last trip North. Then we filled it with gifts for friends and relatives. And after our arrival, we gave it to a local thrift shop in California.

Then we packed our new hard-sided suitcases with booty and brought them back to Costa Rica. (Editor: see luggage repair in San Jose)

Looking for hard to find articles in Costa Rica


Here are a couple more hard to find articles. My extension pole pruner-trimmer from the States disappeared somewhere between the States and our new home here. After some searching for the complete set, I found that the pruner-saw was readily available. But the heavy-duty pole had to be purchased separately. The same was true of my new fruit picker.

Looking for hard to find articles in Costa Rica


Cellphones fall into the electronics category. This category, by and large, is another area where tariffs and import costs make them more costly here than in the States.

Another difference between cellphones here and the ones available in the States is that most cellphones in the U.S. are locked. Meaning the SIM card is hardwired in your phone to be used exclusively with your provider’s cellular service.

Don’t count on it, but there are a few exceptions where your hardwired cell SIM card can be unlocked, called a “jailbreak,” by a “specialist”. Most of all cellphones sold in Costa Rica are unlocked with one or two empty SIM card slots. Here you can add the card from any local cellular provider. Most U.S. cellphones are unusable in Costa Rica. With the corresponding SIM card added from the local cell service provider, the unlocked cellphone can be used just about anywhere in the world (even the U.S.).

Before coming to Costa Rica, I bought an unlocked phone from an international online website. My unlocked phone provider was LightintheBox and my cellular provider in Costa Rica is I.C.E. The phone I bought is a Samsung “smartphone” clone made in China. I got it up and running immediately when I signed up for my Costa Rican I.C.E. cell service and inserted their SIM card. It is working just fine a year and a half later.

The Author

The author of this blog, Ticonuevo, is a US expat who moved to Costa Rica. He and his 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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