Excerpts from an article on Q Costa Rica appear in the blog below. I liked the article so much it inspired me to write something similar on the subject for those thinking of relocating or retiring here. Q Costa Rica is an informative on-line publication for expats.
Retirees and other expats always wonder about shopping for their favorite products in Costa Rica. I have been asked on my relocation/retirement tours, if there is Costco in Costa Rica. The answer is no, but we have something very similar called, Pricesmart. In fact, many the products that are sold there are the same ones that Costco offers, like Kirkland.
To get started at Pricesmart, First, you need a membership card. The PriceSmart membership is non-transferable; if you lend your card to another person he/she will not be able to shop with it. Membership does come with two cards. The price for the is US$35 or equivalent in local currency) per year.
On my monthly relocation tours I always take my clients on a quick tour of Pricesmart to give them an idea of what products are available. I do the same thing at Walmart and Automercado, two other stores which stock many products from the United States and Canada. Pricesmart is a membership store and I sometimes arrive with 10 – 15 clients people. I tell the person checking memberships at the door, that I am bringing future customers to acquaint them with the store. They have never refused to let a group of my clients tour the store.
One of the major differences between shopping at Pricesmart and at non-membership stores, is the carding at the door and then the “check-off” on your way out. Annoying, but it ensures that only members – people like you – are in the store.
With the membership, many customers really don’t know this, you can shop not only at the six Pricesmart stores in Costa Rica, but also in neighboring countries like Nicaragua , and Panama where some products are often cheaper.