Moving to Costa Rica: Our Process in Making the Move

View from our balcony in San Jose Costa Rica

Let me tell you, moving to a new country is no joke. There are so many things to consider and do and pack and unpack and organize and it’s exhausting just thinking about it. And doing it in a condensed amount of time makes it that much more chaotic. It seemed that throughout this process, the expectations didn’t always quite meet up with reality. So, here’s a bit of our process of making the move to Costa Rica.

  • sunbeams coming out of a cloud at sunset
  • the lights of San Jose at night

Packing Up Life in Canada

You don’t realize how much stuff you have until you have to do something with all of it. I have to say, it felt pretty great downsizing, decluttering and organizing all of our belongings. That being said, I did not think that packing up would be so hard and so time-consuming considering my sister was moving into our apartment which meant we could leave all our furniture and store our things in closets.

After approximately 5 trips to Value Village, 5 full recycling and garbage bins, and a generous distribution of trinkets to whoever would take them, we managed to fit everything we need and value into 4 checked suitcases, 2 carry-ons, and 2 backpacks.

Honestly, even though it was way more work than I expected, it felt so good to get rid of all the useless stuff taking up space in our lives. New life goal: live a more minimal life. There is no need to hold onto all my notes notes from every undergrad course I took, let alone essays I wrote in high school.

In addition to the packing, we had long to do lists including cancelling appointments, sorting out health insurance (RIP red and white health card), taking Toby to the vet, submitting paperwork, and then doing some more paperwork, and of course, throwing one heck of a going away party and going on a farewell tour.

Arriving to Costa Rica

Let me start with this: it was not always smooth sailing. BUT, why would you expect anything less when moving to a new country where you don’t speak the language.

Hot tip: If you are coming to Costa Rica, make sure you have a return ticket. Otherwise, they won’t let you on the plane, even if you are applying for residency. We learned that one the hard way. Luckily, we were able to quickly book a return flight while at the check-in counter at the airport. Our return flight may take us two days to get home, but it’s the journey not the destination, right?.

Once we got the flights all sorted it, it was mostly smooth sailing from there. This is somewhat of a miracle considering my recent series of unfortunate flight delays and cancellations.

We arrived in Costa Rica, all luggage accounted for, and our ride ready to take us to our new home. Luckily, we didn’t have to worrying about finding our own accommodations. Rob’s company found us a condo not far from his office. So, for the next year, we’ll be hanging out on the east side of San Jose and getting to know our new neighbourhood in Granadilla.

Unpacking and Settling In

Once we arrived to our condo, I immediately had regrets that we only brought 4 suitcases of ‘stuff’. Our condo is pretty large and pretty empty. Hot tip #2: the definition of a ‘furnished’ apartment in Costa Rica is slightly different than that in Canada, so plan accordingly.

While at first a little overwhelmed with what to do with all the space and lack of ‘stuff’, the lack of ‘stuff’ allows me to take my goal of living minimally to a whole new level. Challenge accepted. Who even needs chairs, anyway? That being said, our first task was unpacking what we brought, identifying what we forgot, and doing some shopping to start getting the essentials for the condo (ie. toilet paper, garbage cans, a desk for my at-home office). Now, we have quite the cute little set up.

Since arriving, we haven’t done too much exploring, but we have discovered three places near our home that play the NBA finals. Watching the Raptors’ was taking up most of social activity time, but totally worth it (#WetheNorth). Now, that the playoffs are over (WOO Raptors!), we will have more time to explore non-sports bar restaurants and have some non-sports social outings.

First things first, learn Spanish. While Rob’s Spanish is passable, mine most definitely is not and that is going to be a problem. So, Spanish lessons will be starting ‘pronto’ (that’s almost all I know!). Most of our first week was all about getting phones and internet set up, figuring out our new work environments, and practicing driving. We’ve started exploring our neighbourhood, finding cute little markets and ‘fairs’. We have been watching thunderstorms from the couch and sunsets (when it isn’t raining) from the balcony.

We are still adjusting and settling in and learning how to do life the Pura Vida way. At least once a day, I have a ‘holy moly, we live here now?!’ moment because it still feels so surreal. Even though the process of moving has been hectic and overwhelming at times, we are fully embracing our new life in Costa Rica and adjusting as we go.

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