It was extraordinary to me that you contacted me in person by phone before I left for San Jose to get a feeling for my objectives in coming to Costa Rica and taking your tour. I know that not everyone on your tours is interested in seeing real estate, but I did appreciate and found it helpful to see a sample of different living situations as a a small part of your tour.
I thought your tour gave a very balanced view of how it would be to live in the Central Valley. You told us both the good and the bad, didn't sugarcoat or idealize any of the information and you certainly did not try to "sell" us on anything or any place.
The visit to Walmart was most instructive. I had heard that prices in Costa Rica are higher than in North America for many goods. However "higher" is a subjective word. As a Canadian, I did not in fact find most retail prices to be any higher than in Canada, and some were actually lower. The trip to the outdoor farmers market showed how cheaply one can purchase terrific fresh produce. Strawberries for about 65 cents Canadian in September!
The walk around Atenas, followed by the trip up the hill to where there are North American style enclaves was very helpful in putting the things I read online into context - so important. And lunch at the restaurant where they roasted the chicken over coffee plant wood was seriously the best chicken I have ever have tasted. You certainly fed us well on the tour.
Your followup service has been great so far, starting before I even left San Jose.
I firmly believe that contacts with the right people (competent, responsive, and willing to help) are the single most crucial thing no matter where you live, but particularly when coming to a strange country with a different language. Through you, I was put in contact with the Association of Residents of Costa Rica (ARCR), a terrific resource (and one of the main reasons for choosing Costa Rica over Ecuador), a great realtor and with a lawyer who has proven to be knowledgeable and a good communicator (which is important when trying to find your way through legal processes in a strange country).
Because yes - we have decided to move to the Central Valley! I hope to see you when John and I come back in January to start the residency process and hopefully buy a house.
You and your network of contacts and resources are just the absolute best!