When buying or selling a house here you need to be aware of the norm where appliances are concerned.  As far as that goes, when you are renting rules are pretty much the same thing.  Appliances do not come with the house.  Where in the states you rent a place or buy a place and have appliances as part of the package, that is not the case here.

You will need to bring or buy your own appliances if you are moving into a home here in Costa Rica.  I have shown homes to rent and buy and NEVER are appliances included in the package.

Curtains, light fixtures and appliances are all negotiable when buying a home.  Non are to be considered part of the deal unless outlined in the offer and accepted by the seller.

I have seen people take with them light fixtures from the bedroom and kitchen leaving nothing behind but bare wires for you to purchase and put in your own fixtures.

Don’t ASSUME anything comes with the house when negotiating your deal whether it be for rent or purchase.  Make sure whatever it is that you want is outlined in the lease/purchase contract.

Side note….make sure you have a 220 outlet for the stove in place as well as one for the dryer.  A lot of people here don’t use dryers so often times you get into a house that has hook ups for the washer but no vent and no outlet for the dryer.


Moving company

If your planning to move to Costa Rica you will need a reliable moving company. We use Ship to Costa Rica and they have been in business for several years and know their way around the customs confusion that comes with most moves.  Charles Zeller is the owner and can be reached at

As well as moving many of the clients of Guardian Angels CR, they have moved our personal items as well. We were completely pleased with the way things were handled and very thankful Charles was in charge of our move.  It made for far less headaches and trouble to have him heading up the move.


Passport/Perpetual Tourism

As of April 30, 2003 all visitors to Costa Rica must have a legal passport from their country of origin.  Prior to that date you could enter Costa Rica on simply your drivers license or some other form of ID.

Visitors from Canada, the United States and most of Europe don’t need to apply for visas in their home countries but instead receive, upon arrival in Costa Rica a stamp on their passport authorizing a 90-day stay.  When that 90 days is almost up, you need to leave the country for 72 hours before re-entry and a new stamp authorizing you to stay for another 90 days is entered into your passport.  Many foreigners make this trip out of the country every 90 days instead of working towards getting their legal residency status.  This is call perpetual tourism and is frowned upon by the Costa Rican authorities.  While nothing is being done at this time to prevent perpetual tourism there is no way to tell when immigration authorities might decide this is unacceptable and refuse your entry into the country for abusing the tourist visa priviledges.

If you have anything to loose, like a house or business you might want to seriously consider filing for the proper immigration status to prevent any unnecessary mishaps.  You never know when immigration will start cracking down on perpetual tourism.


Packing Pointers

Spring and summer are typical moving seasons, and whether you’re homeward bound or off to another exciting assignmnet, GACR would like to offer some tips that may help make the whole process go a little smoother.

  • Plan early. Organize your items into seperate categories, such as pack, charity, and toss out.
  • Keep valuables such as jewelry, original documents (birth certificates, passports, insurance papers), and cash with you as you travel. Also, keep favorite kids’ toys and security blankets seperate from packed items.
  • Fine art and fragile belongings require special packing. Ask your mover if they have a special packing division for this area.
  • Wood items such as carvings or furniture should be first protected by paper to absorb moisture as opposed to bubble wrap, which may cause condensation to build up.
  • Some countries like the United States does not accept shipments of self-packed items. Only certified professional packers are permitted to pack and unpack goods to ensure the contents are as listed on manifests.
  • Self-packed items are not usually covered by insurance.

Consult GACR regarding specific regulations of Costa Rica, as well as our complete list of services available.


Moving to Costa Rica

So your thinking of moving to Costa Rica?  There is a lot of things to consider but immigration and how to live here legally should be at the top of your list. There are several different types of visas but the most popular are Rentista, Pensinado and Investor status.  The laws and requirements for each of these is very different and if you would like more information email us at


How it began

I entered Costa Rica as an Expatriate along with my husband John, 3 children, 3 dogs, 3 cats and 2 birds. Upon arriving in Costa Rica, we were given the name of a realtor and basically left up to our own survival skills to handle everything else on our own in a country referred to as Paradise by everyone we knew. What could possibly go wrong in a country call “Paradise”? EVERYTHING!!!

The first week were were in Costa /Rica, we lost one of our dogs and spent a week searching (not knowing any Spanish) for the disappearing dog. Being rather fanatic about this dog, I passed out over 2000 flyers all over my part of Costa Rica and spoke to every day laborer I could find looking for information. Fortunately after placing many ads in newspapers, a kind-hearted Costa Rican brought Julie home and that problem was resolved.

I found that everything was a challenge unlike anything I’d ever encountered in the United States. Taking the children to school everyday was the easiest part of my day, and then I had to go out and face the real world. With no language skills, I had to buy groceries for my family, go to the bank, shop for school supplies and so many other things that seemed totally overwhelming at the time because of the great difference in the way things are handled in Costa Rica.

As children often do get sick at the most inopportune times, all 3 of my children had to be taken to the hospital for different reasons within the first few months of our arrival. Since we had been given no references of referrals for medical care, we went to the closest emergency room even though none of the incidents would have been considered an emergency. What else were we to do with no help in sight?

This among all the other little things that occurred caused John and I to argue like cats and dogs because we didn’t know the language or our way around Costa Rica leaving me feeling helpless and alone in this strange new country.

Grocery shopping, where once was an easy task, had become a grand adventure not knowing what was what or where to find anything familiar to me. No processed foods in Costa Rica!!! Even finding clothes or school supplies for the kids became a confusing hassle. The list goes on. Everything that was taken for granted living in the US was yanked out from under us upon arriving in Costa Rica. The onset of ‘Culture Shock’ had begun.

After 6 months or so things began to settle down a bit and we began adjusting to the new culture, making friends and started enjoying our new lives. Being very active in the kids school, I found that our family was not the only one experiencing such difficulty upon arriving in Costa Rica.

I took to heart the expression to learn from my experiences and not make the same mistake twice. I knew that no one could do this on their own without support from someone that had been through the experiences themselves. This is when the idea of Guardian Angels CR Relocation Specialists (GACR) was born. I though that if I could help one person through the transition of moving to a new country I could help more, and make it less painful and confusing for soneone put in my position when I arrived.

I have been fortunate enough to be able to help many people with anything from moving their family and pets to finding an attorney for assistance with residency. I answer questions on a daily basis via email or telephone working to make the transition less difficult for the next family coming in.

After going through all of the experiences both good and bad, my family and I have fallen in love with Costa Rica and now finally understand why Costa Rica is called ‘Paradise’. Costa Rica is a beautiful country with wonderful people and customs that we have taken as our own. Because of this love of Costa Rica, it spreads to each client that GACR services and we hope that sharing our experiences will make someone else’s transition less stressful and confusing.