This is one of the most frequently asked questions by people who take my Costa Rica retirement tours. The answer is, “Very few.” Everyday more and more products from the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Europe are available in Costa Rica. PriceSmart (like Costco), Hipermás (owned by Wal-Mart) and many of the other large stores and U.S. style malls here are filled with products from abroad.
When I first came to Costa Rica over 25 years ago, there were very few of the “goodies” from home. Each time I went to the States I would stuff my suitcase with items I couldn’t find here. But now all of that has changed.
However, if there are some things you really crave which you can’t find here, you can always resort to the Internet. It is easy to do on-line shopping from Costa Rica especially if you are a member of one of the private mail services like Aerocasillas or Jet Box. Both of these companies enable you to order a product on-line and then have it shipped here.
I use Aerocasillas and visit their office a couple of times a week. Every time I go there I see piles of boxes of items their clients have ordered from the States — everything from vitamins to large automobile parts and flat-screen televisions. You do have to pay duty on all of these items, but this doesn’t stop Costa Ricans and foreigners from using this handy service. The good news is that every six months you have the right to import electronics like cameras or ipods using your $500 tax exception.
What this means is that during your retirement and living in Costa Rica you don’t have to deprive yourself of some of the essentials from your home country. This really makes living here as easy and comfortable as ever.