What are the items that I should bring with me because they’re not available (or are too expensive) where I am going?
Costa Rica should have everything you need in a variety of price ranges. Also, you will have the choice of shopping at supermarkets, major shopping malls, boutiques and traditional markets. You may not be able to get the same kind of food or spices, but you will find a large variety of gourmet shops and most supermarkets are stuffed with products imported from all around the globe. Since it is prohibited to bring most food items into the country, we recommend not taking any foods from your country of origin.
Will anyone have particular trouble finding clothes that fit?
There should be no problem buying clothes that will fit. Costa Rica is comprised of many cultures from all around the globe, especially the U.S. and you will be able to find all kinds of clothing in all sizes.
What grocery stores do expats in your city shop at?
There are many general purpose supermarkets where you can find many imported products. The major shops are Walmart, Mas x Menos, Perimercados, Megasuper, Automercado and Pali.
Where can other household items (such as cleaning materials and home furnishings) be found?
In downtown San Jose, a few specialty shops and some department stores sell American-style clothing and other imported goods. San Jose's Central Avenue or Avenida Central has virtually been turned into a pedestrian outdoor mall and walking street. This section begins a block beyond the Central Market and ends at the east end of the Plaza de La Cultura. La Gloria department store, Lehman bookstore and the Universal department store are all found along this promenade.
There are a variety of shops around the Central Market that offer products at low prices. Prices in this section of town tend to be much more reasonable than in the local mega-malls. Boutiques, a multitude of shoe stores, a record shop, a pharmacy, an outdoor sidewalk cafe and fast-food restaurants like MacDonald's, Burger King and Taco Bell line both sides of the street.
For mall fans or mall crawlers, there are a number of local shopping centers that closely resemble U.S.-style malls. Plaza del Sol, Costa Rica's first U.S.-style mall, is about five minutes east of San Jose in Curridabat. A mall is also found at the Plaza Mayor Shopping Center in Rohrmoser. It has 21 businesses, including a movie theater, supermarket, bank, pet store, pharmacy and food court. In the suburb of Escazu, home of many foreigners and well-to-do Costa Ricans, a number of U.S.-style mini-malls have sprung up. Most of these newer stores have products that foreigners look for. The Multiplaza mega-mall, west of Escazu, houses a large mall and shopping center. There are the usual chain stores plus a host of specialty shops. Others on the east side of San Jose are Multiplaza del Este in the eastern suburb of Curridabat and Lincoln Plaza in Moravia.
There are also music stores and natural food stores located in the San Jose area. There are even arts and crafts stores and gift shops. Check out La Casona, the National Artisan Street Market or the new International Market of Arts and Crafts in the suburb of Curridabat to the east of San Jose.
What are factors that might affect my shopping habits in this country/city?
Because of the large number of U.S. and Canadian citizens living in Costa Rica, and a growing number of Costa Ricans exposed to U.S. culture by cable TV and visiting the States, there has been an influx of American products. The only problem is that many of these goods are more expensive in Costa Rica because of import duties.
Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.