In this blog, I will cover some specific examples of shopping for items and services that are inexpensive by comparison between Costa Rica and North America. Pretty much every inexpensive good or service mentioned in this blog is a result of Costa Rica having such a low cost of labor. There are many more solutions that involve a high percentage of labor compared with a smaller percentage of raw materials; putting the resulting cost below that of getting it made or repaired farther up North.
In the States, we always wished that we could afford a housekeeper. We just never could find a way to fit it into our budget, even if only twice a month. Here we are retired in Costa Rica and it wouldn’t it be nice to finally be able to give my wife and me a break, eliminate the sweat and drudgery, and free up our time for more creative and productive endeavors—well, we can and do. Not just twice a month, but Kathy comes every week for a monthly expense of less than one domestic helper’s visit in the States.
The same goes for gardening expenses. I enjoy working in the “yard,” but we have over an acre and much of it is still being landscaped. I can get help for “mowing,” “weed abatement” (don’t be surprised if weed hackers and machetes are the customary tools used for these activities), and planting for the equivalent of around $2.00/hour. (“Your price may vary” depending on your location.)
Costa Rica may have the highest per capita ownership of arc welders in the world
I’ll say again up front, always get recommendations for craftsmen and skilled professionals. I have an electrician that came recommended. He is U.S. trained, speaks English and knows how to build, repair and convert electrical projects to North American standards. Electrical components are priced about the same as in North America, but his skilled labor is on par with what you’d expect in the States for half the price or less.
I also have a theory that Costa Rica may have the highest per capita ownership of arc welders in the world. Should a census be done, I think it would confirm that nearly every other household owns one. Making repairs to things metal, connecting to existing things metal or building new things metal is commonplace and comparatively inexpensive. I harken back to previous conversations about McGyver, pronounced McGeever in C.R., and based on the old TV series previously in syndication here. This is where the hero could repair a diesel engine using anything handy, say for instance: a paperclip. To get past things not available or too expensive, Costa Ricans often get creative and innovative and “McGiver” a solution, and it often involves an arc welder. That is not to say that all arc-welding unit owners are good welders, but they do often give “McGivering” a try and they may be able to provide a solution unaffordable in the States.
This is MacGyver, pronounced in Costa Rica as McGeever
Custom made furniture, custom built-in cabinets or closets made of solid hardwood are quite often handmade by artisans and stained and finished to our specifications. Some of our inside drawers and furniture backs employ the use of melamine-faced composite woods to save a few dollars, but the end product was superior to anything we could have afforded in the States.
By comparison, Costa Rica offers these furniture and cabinet products and services for a very affordable price compared to North America. We have had the above items made from our custom designs, from a printed catalog and from online photos. The results we have had are spectacular. The woods used in making our furniture and cabinets are native Costa Rican hardwoods handcrafted by skilled artisans.
The author of this blog, Ticonuevo, is a US expat who moved to Costa Rica and used the services of GoDutch Realty to purchase a property in Costa Rica. In his blogs, Ticonuevo describes his own experiences of taking the step of moving to Costa Rica and getting a new life started.