Monday, July 16, 2007

Moving Information for you researchers out there.

I am making edits to this post as I think of things, or come across situations where there is information that I think will be very valuable to you. So, you will benefit from time, as well as experience. I will put numbers into the post, and you will find the explanation below this post.

I started this in July, and finished writing it today, so I'm not sure what day will come up on the post. If anyone is following this, I must apologize for not keeping up with my blog. Much has happened since I last wrote here. I made my trip to CR in Nov. 2006, and had a great time. I was fortunate to find a local family to stay with, and canceled my other boarding plans to spend the entire two weeks with them. I did a few one day trips and saw how beautiful the country side is. I loved what I saw and decided to move to Costa Rica as soon as I could get my things packed and finalize things at home. I hired Barry Wilson,, sold some things, and packed as much as I could get in a container and still have room for a car. I sold my sedan, bought a 4WD Geo Tracker and had it shipped within my container. That gave me 27 feet of space to put my belongings. Mostly, I am happy that I brought the things I shipped, (1) but like everyone I have talked to, there are some things I would have left behind and some things I would have waited to buy here, had I know what I know now. Hind sight...more about that below. Perhaps it has something to do with where one chooses to live in Costa Rica too (2). I have chosen to live in the Central Valley area, just north of San Ramon. It is so lovely here, and I could not be happier that I have chosen to make this my home. Each day is a beautiful day, even though it is the rainy season, it is not all rain like I was accustomed to in STL. There has only been a few days, since I arrived, in which the sun did not shine for a part of the day. Usually the mornings are sunny and very beautiful. After noon, it will rain for a couple of hours, and usually, it has cleared off by sunset so I can see the small town lights for miles up the valley after dusk. There is a place in the mountains that we call "stairway to the stars" which is a street of lights which seem to go straight up into the sky. I can see 6-8 small communities along the hill tops in the distance. On the nights of the full moon, it seems like time stands still as the country side is lit up with green billows. The trees look like green pillows. I’ve never seen it so light at night, and all from the moon and the stars.

For those of you who use this as a resource to find out more about Costa Rica, I am going to cut and paste pieces from emails I have written about some of my “hind-sights” about the “stuff” I brought to CR.

I came from the Midwest, St. Louis area, and it did make a difference in the delivery time for the shipment, but not any more than I expected. I shipped the last week of March 2007, and it arrived on my doorstep the 23th of May. The only damage I had was because I tired of packing late in the game, and should have packed one lamp shade, glass, better. I am going to list some of my observations, and things I would have done differently. Remember cost are what they were in early 2007…may vary depending on place and date.

1. I shipped a 40' container, and my car inside. I'm glad I did ship the Geo Tracker, 4WD; has come in handy here, low gas usage, and size for maneuverability(3). The moving company that loaded the household goods, measured and left enough room to load the car last. I had to hire a different company to load the car properly, on a flat bed, and raised it to back into the crate. They tied it down very well. Cost for loading car, $250.00, included tie downs.

2. The household mover was a separate cost. I packed the boxes myself, labeling each and numbering them for a complete packing document. I used Excel, and typed it from my hen scratching in a notebook. Then I emailed the finished list to Barry. The way you label the boxes can be very important(4). The local moving company came to my house, gave me an estimate, and stayed pretty close to the given price. The cost for local mover, including insurance (which was not much), was $2, 200.00. It took 5 hours, with 5 men, to load my things.

3. Now, about what I brought. There were many boxes, and am glad I brought most of my things, with few exceptions. I would have taken my "work clothes" to a resale place and sold them, if I'd have realized the total uselessness of most of them here. I worked in an office setting and have some very nice clothes, most are packed away now, and I may never use them. If they are not cotton, silk, linen, rayon, or denim, they are useless here. The more casual, the better. Even when we go out, we do not dress up. (5)

4. I shipped most of my furniture also. Now, I know what does not translate very well here. The padding used in furniture in the states is too heavy for here, mold is the problem. My sofa and matching chair are fairing pretty well (6), but my recliner has developed mold. I needed to have it recovered anyway, and will do that, so it was not a total loss. Reupholstering is reasonable, and great fabrics are bountiful here. Comfort is why I shipped the recliner. Having it covered here may change the situation, and I may be very happy I have it. If I had it to do over, I would have sold all the padded furniture and had rod iron made here, with removable foam covers. It would make washing much less difficult. Same goes for my table and chairs. I am going to have new seats made for the chairs, which I can remove and wash. Another thing I have noticed is that any dresser, chests of drawers, etc. are not real practical. I find the shelving units, which were built into the house, having more ventilation are best. My wooden drawer units, are developing mold also. Mold grows on anything that stands still for more than 2 minutes. As this is the rainy season, I am sure I have learned a valuable lesson. I will have upright units made, with shelves to accommodate and replace my chests of drawers. The clothing inside the drawers which are not used and washed weekly, develop mold. If the wood furniture has a high gloss finish, it may fair better. IKEA would be an excellent store here, for northerners. Units, baskets, and that kind of stuff, would sell very well here. They sell a lot of plastic units in the stores here, but most are flimsy, and very expensive. If there are units you especially like, get several and leave the other furniture there, would be my suggestion. Nice rod iron, with removable cushions, units for the yard work great here on patios, and some work well in the house also.

5. Some things will depend on your individual life style. Think in terms of that. Easy cleaning, light weight, easy drying, portable, airy are all good things here. Mold will form on any surface. If it is difficult to clean, you will hate it after a while.

6. Bring anything you love, even if you have to go buy it. Bring anything with an electrical cord. Bring fans! All electronics are very expensive here. Because of the higher price of DVDs here, many people bring a good library with them. I have Direct TV, but they repeat movies and shows, frequently, so a good movie is a break. once in awhile. I brought a large library of books to read. I am so glad I did. I am a knitter, crocheter, and beadier, so I brought a good supply with me, and am glad I did.

7. I shipped all my appliances, frig, elec. stove, washer, dryer, upright freezer. I have had 3 of the 5 repaired since April this year. But repairs are reasonable, verses buying new. Bring computer, laptop, printers, scanners, (lotza paperwork need copies), paper shredder, TV, stereo stuff (if you like to hear music), Linksys Wireless Router, wireless phone to use Vonage (is a reasonable cost alternative for long distance calls to the states). If you get a stateside number on Vonage, you will be able to receive calls here for a fraction of the cost. If you want to get Vonage, please let me know, and I will refer you, we both get a discount for it.

8. If you have certain cosmetics, hair products, or whatever you love, stock up on them and ship them. Just an example.... I love Bath and Body hand soap, sprays, etc. The hand soap in the states is approx. $4.50, here at the malls. the only place you can get it, the same thing is $35.00. I kid you not! Yes, the local brands are okay, lower price than an import, but not the same quality.

My crate 40’ cost about $6000. Plus, factor in an additional $2000-$3000 for taxes on the house hold things, car licensing, taxes, etc., at a minimum, and how you value your goods will make the difference. Again, I shipped much more than some people ship. Other than the specific things I listed above, I am glad I shipped what I did. All costs considered, I came pretty near to paying $10,000 for the move, lock/stock/and barrel. A friend moved two 40' crates, and some with another couples things. So, each person decides what to do, according to their life, and love of stuff, cars, etc.

Any questions, I’ll be happy to answer an email. Make a comment and leave your email address.

(1) As time goes by, I have grown less fond of most of the things I thought meant so much to me as I was sorting and getting rid of things before coming here. Along with a couple dehumidifiers for rooms you will put the things you do not wish to mold at all, i.e. photos, valuable family items...bring a couple digital humidity indicators. You can buy them many places, and The Weather Channel has a very good one for reading time, from a satellite and temperature as well as recording highs and lows.

(2) No, all of Costa Rica has a mold problem, and so any reference to mold applies everywhere, some worse than others.

(3) On Sep 27, 2008 - I continue to be very pleased that I brought the Tracker. It cost me less than buying one here, and I knew the car when I bought it from a neighbor. There are several great mechanics who can service it, and parts are easy to come by for it. As the price of gas continues to climb, it has proven to use far less gas than other cars my friends own. The 4WD has come in very handy many times, not just getting out of my own drive, and on dirt road which are slippery as ice during a rain storm, but as of this date, I have been in the ditch 3 times with it, and twice men were able to lift it out when it could not be driven out. Yes, it happens here, I consider myself a pretty good driver, and I know very few people who have not backed into a ditch that they could not get out of. If you have been reading my blog, you will know what I mean.

(4) Email me for specifics, as I do not want to put it here in my blog.

(5) We had a beautiful wedding here in June 2008, and sun dresses and light cotton/linen shirts for men were the most comfortable. Every thing looked very tropical. THINK TROPICAL!!

(6) Sep 2008 - When I brought my sofa and chair here, they were actually 14 years old, but did not look a day over brand new. Now, after the moisture...I am not happy with them at all. I will have them recovered, perhaps, depending on price, verses totally new wood, etc. The wood may not be a hard enough wood to handle the mold either. More research needed. I wish I had not brought anything padded, and had them made here. The one thing that has done well here, is my outdoor furniture! The padding is different from indoor furniture, and so is the fabric, so the mold has not gotten to it, and the framed furniture cleans up well with soap and water and a brush! Incredible!