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How to save money on liquor in Costa Rica

How to save money on liquor in Costa Rica How to save money on liquor in Costa Rica ⌂ photo by Signbiblio

If you don’t drink any liquor before you move to Costa Rica, there are several reasons you could start doing so pretty soon.

It can be pretty warm some days and for many there is nothing nicer than a piña colada when you’re sitting next to your pool.

Others, like me, prefer a rum ‘n coke when I have great company.

Depending on your ability to adjust to your new life in Costa Rica, or on your personality type, you might be needing a stiff drink, because you can’t put up with it anymore.

Of course there are other reasons to start drinking if you’re not already an alcoholic when you move here, but then I suggest a visit to a bilingual shrink.

Alcohol, or liquor, can be quite expensive in Costa Rica, depending a lot on what you drink and how much.

How can you keep your bar stocked on an affordable budget?

How can you keep your bar stocked on an affordable budget?

Duty Free stores

We all know that liquor pays a lot of tax in most countries. If you travel to any country in the world, you will have a certain amount of duty free allowances.

In U.S. airports, you have a duty free allowance of 1 liter of alcoholic beverages.

European countries allow 1 liter of liquor and 2 liters of wine + 50 Ml of perfume.

Buy when you leave

It is normal that you purchase your perfume and liquor at the airport of the country you are leaving and not in the country you’re arriving. The store attendant will ask you to show your airline ticket, put your purchases in a bag and seal it. In some airports they will give you the bag and in others they will deliver to the aircraft.

IMAS duty free stores

The duty free stores in Costa Rica are run by IMAS, which means Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social or Mixed Institute for Social Aid. IMAS was created to finance social aid but was handed over to Aeris, the airport administrator, for 5 years.  In exchange, IMAS will be receiving $7M annually, all of it will come from the shopping travelers do at the tax free stores at the airports.

The IMAS stores are full-fledged duty free stores and have the monopoly in the Juan Santa Maria airport in San Jose as well as in the Oduber international airport in Liberia. The IMAS stores offer liquor and perfume.

If you're a rum fan, Centenario is a local rum and to my opinion the best

If you’re a rum fan, Centenario is a local rum and to my opinion the best

How to save money on liquor

Having said all the above, it is now time for you to learn that in Costa Rica, we do EVERYTHING different than anyone else.

You might not know this, but you are allowed to shop for your liquor in the duty free store when you arrive in Costa Rica.

Once you arrive in Costa Rica, and you go through passport control, just before luggage pick-up, there are two little stores on you right. One sells liquor and the other perfume and those little stores belong to IMAS. There is another one (in case there are too many people in the other stores) just before customs, also on the right. They have a really good selection of liquor but their wine inventory is terrible.

In those stores, each person of 21 years or older can purchase:

  • Liquor: 5 Liters
  • Fragrance: Reasonable Quantity For Personal Use

You can take your time to shop there before you pick up your luggage because it usually takes 20 – 30 minutes for your luggage to arrive on the belt anyway.

If you're a tequila fan, try Patrón Xo Cafe and Tequila Rose

If you’re a tequila fan, try Patrón Xo Cafe and Tequila Rose

The cost of liquor

I wanted to give you some idea of prices without posting a long list of articles. As this blog will be online for a long time to come and prices change, I will post the prices in the IMAS store and prices in the Más X Menos supermarket on September 12, 2016. I used the exchange rate of 546.37 Colones for US$1. Prices in other supermarkets and stores are similar to the Más x Menos prices. It’s amazing how much tax you pay on liquor and how much you can save.

Más x Menos             IMAS
Absolut Vodka 1 Liter                         $ 32,99                   $ 19.00
Bacardi  Gold Rum 1 Liter                  $ 16.35                   $  8,50
Centenario 7 year Rum 1 Liter          $ 23,23                   $  7.00
Patron tequila XO Café 750 ML        $ 51.86                   $ 24.00
Tequila Rose 750 ML                          $ 29.61                   $ 18.00

Amazing, right! So keep travelling and do your shopping at the duty free stores at the airport!

If you’d like to thank me for all this great formation on how to save money on liquor in Costa Rica, you’re always welcome to drop off a bottle of Centenario Rum (7 years or better) or purchase Costa Rica real estate through our GoDutch Realty agency. Contact us now.

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I DO want to remind our readers that we appreciate any referrals you can send us. I know you all meet people on the plane, in the supermarket, at yoga, at the gym, at the Blooms ladies club, at the potluck organized by your community. Please remember the GoDutch Realty agents when you talk about your home in Costa Rica, when you meet someone who wants to purchase one, we appreciate it.

We Love your Referrals at GoDutch Realty




Ivo Henfling

If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the central Valley, or looking for any property for sale in Escazu, you need to call me. I have been selling real estate in Escazu for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and other areas. To me, a deal is not a good deal unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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