Our Eight (or Ten) Suitcases

Our big move to Costa Rica is just a mere week away. As our pre-trip to-do list shortens and it gets closer to July 23, we are getting more and more excited. One of our last major tasks is, of course, packing. This blog explains why we’re bringing only what fits in ten suitcases and what each of those suitcases will contain.


Bananas on top of a truck Costa Rica Picture

Moving your entire life in only ten bags may sound extreme but upon considering the options, we’ve decided that it’s our best bet. Shipping via a cargo container didn’t make sense because, having previously lived in a small condo in the city, we simply didn’t have a lot to ship. Shipping is also more expensive and involves paperwork, as all containers arriving in Costa Rica need to be cleared by customs (and taxed). Plus, we knew that we’d be renting a fully-furnished home (common in Costa Rica), so there was no need to ship our furniture and other large items.

What We’re Bringing

The bulk of what we’re bringing is clothing. There are also several random items that are difficult to find in Costa Rica and/or much more expensive there. Below is an inventory of exactly what’s going in our bags. Keep in mind that since we will be checking our luggage, each bag contains a mish-mash of items so as to stay under the airline’s 50-pound weight limit. In other words, clothing will be mixed with electronics and towels will be wrapped around breakables.

Suitcases 1 and 2: Clothes (packed in Space Saver bags), including one formal outfit in case we need to go to a event like a wedding, baptism, or funeral. Costa Ricans typically dress up for formal events.

Suitcase 3: Overflow clothes, shoes, flip-flops, hiking boots, oh and the blender for refrescos (fresh fruit smoothies).

Suitcase 4: Pots and pans (extreme, we know, but Jenn loves to cook and our stainless steel cookware was the one impractical item we wanted to bring. We decided early on that we could bring something impractical, as well as something we didn’t necessarily need that would remind us of home.); coffee grinder (difficult to find in Costa Rica, and something we’ll surely need with all that delicious native coffee); and a wireless router.

Suitcase 5: One small tool bag with the essentials for basic auto and home repair (screwdrivers; wrench set; hammer; pliers, electrical tester); snorkel masks; flippers; water shoes; beach towels; binoculars; rainy season gear (rubber boots, ponchos, waterproof sandals); head lamps; and Red Sox baseball hats (a little piece of home).


Suitcase Picture


Suitcase 6: Travel books on Costa Rica, Panama, Central America; books on writing; file of important papers that are impractical to store digitally on a Cloud; road maps of Costa Rica; essential medications (cold and flu remedies) and travel first-aid kit; toiletries; lots of extra sunscreen (expensive in Costa Rica); and a few paperbacks of our own book, Two Weeks in Costa Rica.

Suitcase 7: PlayStation (plan to use this as our DVD player); DVDs of our all-time favorite movies; raincoats; lightweight jackets (for visiting cooler parts of Costa Rica, like the cloud forest); a couple sets of bath towels; two sets of sheets (we read on one of the moving to Costa Rica forums that quality sheets are hard to find); indoor grill/griddler combo; and our favorite kitchen knives.

Suitcase 8: Mini-speaker for iPod (hopefully this will do as a stereo system); travel alarm; hairdryer; a few essential kitchen utensils; four wine glasses (our casual, stemless ones that we used on our porch in Boston- another reminder of home); photo given to us by our friends at our going-away party, with messages written on frame; two small backpacks for day hikes; camera tri-pod; and an air mattress for those extra guests.


Moving to Costa Rica Picture


Suitcases 9 & 10: TBD- but nothing, hopefully!

Carry-ons: Two laptops (for writing/blogging, of course!); digital camera (electronics are much more expensive in Costa Rica); cell phones (unlocked phones for use in Costa Rica); Kindle; other valuables; and a gift for our Tico friend Roy.

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So What Happened Next . . . ?

In July 2013, we boarded a plane for a new life in Costa Rica. Want to follow our story as it happened? Check out the posts below to see how our dream became a reality and what it has been like so far.

First Impressions on Living in Costa Rica
Living in Costa Rica: One Month Update
Buying a Car in Costa Rica
Fun Facts From Our First Six Months in Costa Rica
Our First Year in Costa Rica
House Sitting: How to Live in Costa Rica for $2,000 a Year
Where We’ve Lived in Costa Rica

Post by: Jennifer Turnbull-Houde & Matthew Houde



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