Welcome back to “How to Ship Your Stuff to Costa Rica”. This Costa Rica expat interview about shipping to Costa Rica could also be titled “How to Shop Online and Get Your Stuff Shipped to Costa Rica” or maybe even “How to Shop on Amazon and Ship to Myself in Costa Rica”. (Amazon is after all, where most of us shop these days, correct?)
This is Part Three of our Expat Interview about Shipping to Costa Rica
My fellow expats here in South Pacific Costa Rica – Jerry and Lowell – own and operate a shipping company named Get It Here Jerry. Because the questions above are posed to me so OFTEN by new expats moving to Costa, I sat down with these gentlemen in recent weeks and spoke to them about their business and how it works.
It turned out to be a lengthy conversation.
Part One of that interview is here, which gives you specifics on how Jerry came to Costa Rica, how the business was born and his background.
Part Two of this expat interview can be accessed here, which covers how shipping to Costa Rica works (for online shopping), what the costs are and what you can expect the process to look like, and what things are NOT allowed to be brought into Costa Rica.
Today, to wrap up, I’ve asked both Lowell and Jerry to provide some recommendations based on their own experiences living in (and shipping to) Costa Rica for future expats.
Jerry’s Best Advice for a New Expat Moving to Costa Rica – Shipping & Otherwise
“While we try our hardest to make our shipping service risk-free for our clients, moving to Costa Rica does not mean you will have a risk-free life. We do our best at Get It Here Jerry to provide a first-rate service but sometimes we are limited in what we can do. We are living in a developing nation! We try to take the “third world” aspect out of the shipping process as much as we can, but the reality is that sometimes we are successful, and sometimes not.”
I can add in some real-world experience I’ve had in the past year with a shipment I brought in with Get It Here Jerry that is relevant. I ordered an expensive ceramic set of cookware and had it shipped to the Florida warehouse. I spoke in advance with the company to confirm that the cookware was being packed with extreme care for international shipment. They assured me it was. When the cookware arrived in Uvita and I went to pick it up, seven of the eight pieces made the trip just fine, but alas, my new kettle was smashed. Thankfully, I had elected the insurance option on the entire kit and caboodle, and my money for that portion of the shipment PLUS the value of the kettle was immediately refunded to me, no questions asked.
These guys offer great customer service.
I asked Jerry to comment more on life in general here along the South Pacific coast.
“This isn’t Kansas. Expectations have to be different here. I find the Ticos don’t understand the concept of inconvenience. Walk to the grocery four miles – so what? Get behind a truck and you’re 30th in line behind in traffic – tranquilo. Have to stand outside in the rain and wait for the bus….no problem. The flip side is that they don’t seem to recognize inconvenience….they don’t recognize that leaving you waiting is an inconvenience to you. It’s a very different mindset, both endearing and frustrating at times to the outsider. That’s something that most North Americans really struggle with, when they move to Costa Rica – expecting things to be “the same”.”
I concur: Your expectations of expat life will cause you to sink or swim here, pretty frickin’ fast.
Why do Younger People Choose to Move to South Pacific Costa Rica?
Lowell, the younger partner of Get It Here Jerry is in his early 30s. Moving to Costa Rica and living here for this age group – and in the more remote parts of South Pacific Costa Rica, frankly, would get boring I would think, wouldn’t it? I mean, I’m in my late 40s and I often get bored. My hubby and I take weekend “jungle breaks” in the form of short trips at least every three months.
Here’s what Lowell said.
“I lost 15 pounds when my wife and I moved here due to the cleaner, healthier diet we enjoy here along Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. And, also because we’re outdoors so much, versus being in a big city.”
Lowell and his wife relocated to Costa Rica from Hanoi, Vietnam.
“Yes, Hanoi is a huge urban jungle in Vietnam, which moving here was a huge change for us. For many buildings in Hanoi, you have 2,000 people in an apartment building.”
Wow. Here in South Pacific Costa Rica, I’d estimate you may have 2,000 people living in this area – TOTAL. That’s for Costa Ballena, anyway. It’s a very small puddle where everybody knows everybody, for the most part.
“What else do you like about living here?” I asked. “What else do you do, other than work?” The bulk of expats in South Pacific Costa Rica are retirement age, meaning 55+.
“We go to the beach every week and play beach volleyball.”
“But, don’t you get bored?” I queried. “I mean, let’s be honest, the bulk of your neighbors are 55+ and have adopted the tropical schedule of going to bed at 8 p.m. and getting up at 5 a.m. Not too exciting for someone – even a couple – in their early 30’s, is it?”
Lowell replied. “After living in monstrous Hanoi, it’s nice to not be doing things all the time. Plus there are a lot of 30-somethings in Costa Rica. So, we’re lucky because I know a lot of people because of the connections through our business. Plus, my wife teaches at a local private school and also volunteers at the local pet shelter, so we know a lot of people that way. Bottom line, we meet a lot of like-minded people and connect with them: people like us that want the simpler life you can find here.”
I have to admit I’m not convinced, recalling the more active scenes I enjoyed in my 30’s. “Where do you two live that you find so great for your age group here?”
The answer is Uvita, which is often referred to as Costa Ballena’s “downtown”.
“Uvita to Dominical and even up to Tinamastes has a much younger crowd for 30-somethings,” Lowell claims. “But even so, the hardest thing about living here is meeting people. But once you find them, the community is nice.”
Meeting other expats can be difficult, no matter how old you are, in a community that’s as spread out as Costa Ballena is….a 30-mile stretch of coastline from Dominical and Southwards to Tres Rios.
“How do we meet people?” Lowell thought for a moment. “You have to find activities like the volleyball game I mentioned on Sundays. There’s also softball games on Saturdays, fundraisers every so often in the community, events here and there, whatever. You have to be a bit outgoing in order to find people and you have to make an effort. But once you do, you’ll find people you like that are adventurous, just like you are.”
Is there much a party scene in Uvita or anywhere in Costa Ballena?
“If you’re coming to Uvita looking for a party, you’re in the wrong place.”
30-Something Advice for Expats Moving to Costa Rica
Lowell: “Come down. Live here for a few months before you make the permanent jump. Come experience it. And come down without expectations. Plus, rent for a while, figure out where you want to be. Every area has its own flavor and its own character.”
Well said. And I agree, even for as a real estate professional. It’s best to decide WHERE you really want to be – and that the lifestyle is for you – BEFORE you buy.
Again, special thanks to Lowell and Jerry with Get It Here Jerry for their willingness to share their Costa Rica expat story with me here at La Pura Vida Costa Rica dot com. It was a pleasure, guys!
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