Moving Checklist for Costa Rica


4 – 6 Months Prior

____ Create a List of Names
Start creating a list of people you need to contact about your move. At this point in your planning it is just a list. As time goes on you will think of more people to add to the list. I suggest creating a Word or Excel document. This way you can easily add people as you think of them.

Some of the obvious people to contact are:

  • Creditors
  • Banks
  • Magazine Subscriptions (You’ll want to cancel these)
  • Friends and Family
  • Lawyers

_____ Banking
It is very possible to bank overseas by simply internet banking. Most major banks offer them. The combination of internet banking and a Visa debit card will take of most of your needs. In due time, you could look into opening a local bank account.

It’s always a good idea to keep a bank account in your home country. Odds are, even after you move, you’ll still have bills of some sort to pay there.

_____ Medical
Get a checkup before you leave and any vaccinations you may need. There aren’t any vaccinations required to enter Costa Rica, but a Tetanus shot is good to have. It’s also not a bad idea to get copies of your medical history.

Costa Rica has respectable doctors and dentists. The dentists are much cheaper in Costa Rica than in the states. You will want to look up “international health insurance” before you move, as public health insurance is only for legal residents.

_____ Moving Planner
While this list will give you a good timeline of what and when things need to be done, it’s not comprehensive. If you are using an international moving company, they may be able to offer you one. This Site offers a nice planner with weekly email reminders. It isn’t geared toward moving overseas, but its better than nothing.

_____ Legal Documents
Get any and all legal documents for yourself and your family. Some items to look into are:

  • Passports
  • Birth Certificates
  • Drivers License
  • Social Security Cards
  • Marriage Licenses
  • Identification Cards

In addition to acquiring all these forms and documents, make copies of them. In fact, make several copies. Give one copy of all your legal documents to a trusted friend or family member to hold onto. This way, should something tragic happen, you will have a copies safe somewhere else.

_____ Planning to Sell
Start thinking about what you will be selling and what you will be taking with you when you move. If you are going to be selling most of your things, start thinking about garage sales, eBay sellers, or other means of selling. There may be something you want to buy in Costa Rica. Start making a mental list of what’s staying and what’s going.

_____ Permanent or Temporary?
Will you be moving to Costa Rica permanently or just for a few years? This needs to be thought about because it can affect your buying decisions, legal papers, and more.

_____ Research
Go get some maps and books about Costa Rica if you haven’t already. Learn about the culture, landscape, and different areas of the country.

_____ Finding People and Hobbies
Moving to another state can be scary, but moving out of the country can be even scarier. Spend some time looking websites and groups of other expats in Costa Rica. Some sites I recommend are:

3 – 4 Months Prior

_____ Contact Banks
You need to alert your banks about your move. Open a PO box or have your monthly statements shipped to a family members house for safe keeping. Better yet, get rid of statements altogether. Opt out of them or sign up for electronic statements. Let the bank know you will be moving out of the country. If not, using your credit and debit cards abroad will surely set off security precautions

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_____ Pick a Mover
If you will be using an international moving company, pick one now. Make sure to do your research though. A good mover can save you loads of money on import tax. Be sure to ask about this when talking to potential moving companies

_____ Start Selling
Start selling, giving away, or throwing away things you won’t be bringing with you. If you aren’t sure of what to bring or leave behind, spend some time on Costa Rican message boards. Find out what people wish they had brought and what they regret bringing.

_____ Talk to Lawyer
Do you have a will? Is it up to date? If you are selling your house and other items that were previously included in the will, make the appropriate changes. Have you added your new house or land in Costa Rica to your will? Which country will be in charge of probating your assets?

_____ Get Police Report
Getting a copy of your police report can’t hurt. (Unless you’re hardened criminal trying to escape the law) You may need this if you are trying to get permanent citizenship. Call your local police department and see what they need from you to get this started.

_____ Pick a Move Date
Pick the exact day you want to move. Start looking into plane ticket reservations, car rentals, and anything else you may need when yo arrive in Costa Rica. Create an itinerary of your first week in Costa Rica, starting with the minute you walk off the plane.

1 Month Prior

_____ School Records
If moving with children, get certified copies of their school records. Contact the schools your children will be attending and see if there is any additional paperwork needed.

_____ Medical Records
If you don’t have them yet, get copies of everything. Let your doctors office know that you are moving out of the country and to provide everything they can. If you have x-rays taken from past injuries, make sure to get copies of those as well.

_____ Cancel Utilities
Start working on getting your bills paid in full. If possible, setup the shut off date for utilities. See if you can have the companies email you your final bill. If not, make sure to note the day the bill will be due.

_____ Cancel Contracts
Cell phones, satellites, internet and other utilities are one a long term contract basis. Many of these have an early cancellation fee, start thinking about this now. See if there are ways to transfer accounts into someone else name. See if you can find someone who wants to take over you cell phone number or satellite service.

_____ Look Over Moving List
By now you should have sold or got rid of many of the tings you aren’t taking with you. Double check everything on your moving list, do you really need it?

_____ Cancel Magazines
Go ahead and cancel your magazine subscriptions. If you really want them, see if they offer an online version? You can also forward them to your PO box.

2 Weeks Prior

_____ Finalize all Travel Plans
Double check your plane tickets, car rental, shipping, and hotel information. Go over your itinerary for your first month in Costa Rica. If you need to, talk to builders, developers, etc.

_____ Clean House
Have your home cleaned out completely except for immediate necessities. If you rent, find out when you can schedule a walk through and where your deposit check will go.

_____ Bank Letters
If you will be banking in Costa Rica, get reference letters from your home bank. These letters should be addressed directly to the bank you will be using in Costa Rica.

_____ Get Ride to Airport
Make definite plans on how you will be getting to the airport and who will be taking you.

_____ Mail Service
If you are going to be using a private mail service, make sure it is setup. Call back to double check that everything is correct.

1 Week Prior

_____ Look for Hidden Items
Double check all of your drawers, cabinets, and secret hiding spots. Make sure you don’t forget anything. Now that the house should be virtually empty, this is a good time to look.

_____ Get a Babysitter
If you have kids, get a babysitter for moving day. It will make things move a lot faster and it will be less for you to worry about.

_____ Pack for Travel
Pack your suit case for moving day. Make sure to include everything you will need while your things are in transit.

______ Plan Meals
Plan meals that will use up the food you have left in your refrigerator and pantry.

2 – 3 Days Prior

_____ Clean Kitchen Items
Clean any kitchen appliances you will be taking with you. Let them dry out before you pack them. This will help prevent mildew.

_____ Pack Valuables
Make sure you pack all your valuable and paperwork that you don’t wish to ship. Things of value or importance like your passports and paper work should be carried on the plane with you. Make sure these get in your suit case and not packed into a box.

THE BIG DAY

What happens today depends on how you will be moving. If you are selling everything and leaving, there won’t be much to do today.

If you are using a moving company, you will have a lot to think about. The moving company will walk you through almost everything. They should advice you of what you can prepare to make moving day go smoothly.