When embarking on the journey of moving abroad, it’s essential to recognize that you can take it all with you! While I wholeheartedly advocate for minimalist moving, there are certain items that you’ll undoubtedly want to bring along. Here, I’ve curated a list of recommendations for your move to Costa Rica, encompassing both logistical necessities and lifestyle essentials.
**Disclaimer – You can absolutely move to Costa Rica with nothing but your passport and the shirt on your back! This is for those looking to come and ease into the PURA VIDA lifestyle.**
When embarking on the journey of moving abroad, it’s essential to recognize that you can’t take it all with you! While I wholeheartedly advocate for minimalist moving, there are certain items that you’ll undoubtedly want to bring along. Here, I’ve curated a list of recommendations for your move to Costa Rica, encompassing both logistical necessities and lifestyle essentials. I’ve included links to items that we have found very helpful to have on this journey. I hope this helps!
First thing first you need to get your stuff there! These black and yellow bins are famous with Expats on their trips to Costa Rica. They are tough and you can zip tie them shut so they don’t pop open or get rummaged through. We stick with the 17 gallon as it meets the size guidelines for a standard checked bag. A lot of other Expats will try to sneak by with a larger size but if the airline checks you will be smacked with an oversized bag fee.
We only brought a few pieces of art that had sentimental value to us. To get it here on the plane we used these tv moving boxes. They worked perfectly and nothing was damaged. TSA did open and search them but nothing was harmed or missing. Check with your airline as these may cost more as an oversized item depending on the airline and ticket type. We had no issues or additional fee with ours.
(Some of our many expat essential bins)
(Little Ocscar at MCO ready to fly)
If your fur babies are coming with you the size of their carrier is smaller on an international flight then it is on domestic flights. Check with your airline on all regulations regarding your pet on the airplane.
Don’t forget the calming treats to keep their anxiety away! I definitely think the treats with the melatonin and l-tryptophan work the best but you know your dogs and cats best. Don’t forget to check online before leaving to locate the pet relief area for the airport you’re
While you are in Costa Rica you are supposed to carry your passport on you all the time and you definitely need to carry it with you when you’re driving. Remember your visa stamp is your driver’s license until you get one from Costa Rica. It is very hard to find a wallet where you can have cash, cards and your passport. After much grief we have found this wallet from Bellroy that works extremely well for us. We both use and carry this wallet. It has two bill sections if you want to keep your Colones separate from your Dollars, plenty of card slots, and of course a spot to protect your passport. It comes in several different colors, I personally have the caramel one. If you are stopped while driving in CR and you do not have your passport the police will take your license plates and impound your car. You do not what to deal with that!
Get yourself something to keep your legal documents and veterinarian paperwork safe. Costa Rica can be humid and wet and you need to keep all your many needed documents high and dry!! We are using the sooze cute 5 pocket folder with labels from Amazon and we have been pleased.
(My personal Bellroy – Don’t leave the US without one)
Things like phones, computers and tablets are very expensive in Costa Rica. Especially Apple products. There is an authorized reseller called iShop located in the larger cities and you pay about double for your electronics. I would highly recommend that you upgrade your electronics before leaving for good. Sell or give away your old laptops before coming to Costa Rica. Customs will not be happy if you have multiple computers per person and may charge you import fees on them. It is best practice to just bring one so I recommend getting a new one that will last you a long time before heading to CR.
Definitely bring extra charging cables, a phone holder for the car, a car charger and an external backup battery (very important if you will be in a more rural area with the potential of power outages) with you. These things can be hard to find here and are expensive. HDMI cables are also expensive and lower quality here. If possible bring one for your tv hook up.
If you are working remote, digital nomading, or want a good home office set up you will want to bring a few office comforts with you! We brought several items from Satechi including slim collapsible computer stands down to CR with us and are glad we did. These type of products are just not available here. You can get good monitors here but webcams are low quality and expensive! Bring yours if you need one!
Get yourself set up with a VPN service ASAP! In Costa Rica most routers and tv components are produced by Huawei. These products are banned in the US for containing spyware. So protect yourself and your info by using a VPN on your wifi. Also, you can still stream all your favorite shows from back home, sign e-signature documents, and keep your privacy. Your steaming devices can easily be set up to use the VPN so you have no issues getting your favorite shows!
Other electronics we brought (because we are huge nerds) you might want to consider but are by no means necessary; wireless home alarm system, Google nest cams, color-changing string lights for our patio, and smart bulbs. If you are not a huge nerd like us or don’t want a smart home set up don’t worry about this stuff.
If you are a big into cooking you will probably want to bring some high quality cookware with you. It takes up a lot of space but there is very little selection and even something of modest quality will cost you big. There is one Crate and Barrel in Escazu but if you are not near San Jose or don’t have the big bucks to buy it here you might want to bring some. We did not bring any with us but we got so desperate my husband brought down a bunch of All Clad when he went up to the States for a visit.
(My beloved All Clad)
(A few of our many, many Yetis)
You will be sad if you do not bring some Yeti koozies and insulated cups! They make a huge difference in your beverage enjoyment here in the tropics. We also brought a new yeti cooler we use not only for the beach but for food shopping. If you are gonna be like us and drive 45 minutes to your closest PriceSmart (the Costco of Costa Rica) then you’ll want something to keep your frozen stuff frozen. Things do not stay cold long here!
If you have room bring nice sheets! You will be pressed to find high quality sheets here in CR. When someone asks on an expat Facebook forum what they should bring, it’s always a chorus of people saying sheets!
Again if you have room in a bin bring yourself some nice bath towels. We brought ours from Pottery Barn and I am glad we did. Don’t bring beach towels. They are everywhere here and you can get them in all types, sizes and quality.