Costa Rica is infiltrated with expensive luxurious vacation homes not ideal for someone on a budget looking to move long-term to this beautiful country. When I mean budget I am talking $200-500 per month for rent and utilities. It is easy to find a nice western style home for several thousand a month and maybe even more in the dry season. There are a plethora of condos sprinkled throughout Costa Rica, if that is what you are looking for the amenities of American living- gated community, A/C, granite counters, pools, no locals, etc.. However, for my husband and I we wanted to be living in Costa Rica not an American community so conveniently located in Costa Rica. We wanted to be surrounded by monkeys, locals and the jungle and of course close to the beach. We chose an area twenty minutes south of Samara, Esterones, a small village where we have American friends and Tico friends the best of both worlds. Finding a “budget house” can be difficult if you want a few western luxuries such as a washer machine, closed in ceilings so the bugs don’t come in so easily (many Tico houses leave a gap between the ceiling and walls), screens on the windows, and a stove/oven. These type of budget houses are usually not advertised on the Internet and are found more easily by being in Costa Rica driving around asking the locals and by word of mouth. Leases are also not exactly used like the states no background, credit checks or reference checks. Most places I would say are month to month or leased by a verbal contract- Pura Vida Needless to say after 2 months of couch surfing and cabina living we found the perfect home for us! We needed to outfit the house pots/pans, dishes, sheets/pillows, food stuff. The house came furnished minus some living essentials. The best place to shop and stock up on things is to make the trek to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. In San Jose you will find a Price Smart (Costco- you will need a membership- $30/yrs or a friend with a membership) where you can get good cheese, alcohol, etc., Pequeno Mundo is another good place to go it is comparable to the Dollar Store in the States. They have a variety of things dishes, silverware, clothes, food etc. We also went to the mall in Escazu which has a home store comparable to Z Gallery in the states, but you can sometimes find good deals here for better quality. We purchased a set of dishes for 4 people for $20. Plus, there is a movie theater here so once done shopping it is always fun to hit up a movie since it is a rare thing to do in Costa Rica unless you live in a bigger city with a movie theater such as Liberia or San Jose. EPA is another good place for house shopping it’s the equivalent to Home Depot in the states, your typical large hardware store. http://www.pricesmart.com/ http://www.pequenomundo.com/index-en.html http://www.pequenomundo.com/stores.html http://www.multiplazamall.com/ http://www.epa.co.cr:9080/PortalEPA/inicio.do?codpais=CR
Cusco is the hub to Machu Picchu. There are only a few ways to reach these sacred ruins. Either by hiking the Inca trail, about a four day trek taking Peru Rail into Aguascalientes then a bus to Machu Picchu. There are no roads leading into Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu.
We took the train from Cusco to Aguascalientes and you can mike from the town to Machu Picchu about an hour hike but we wanted to conserve energy and opted for the first bus before sunrise. Well worth to get up to Machu Pichu before the rest of the world does best photo ops and stunning to watch the sun come up over the mountains and lite up the ruins- breathtaking
We were able to buy our train tickets on Peru Rail’s website, but our Machu Picchu tickets we could not buy online and were worried they would sell out for the day we wanted (Machu Picchu now regulates how many people are allowed into the site per day only 2,500 and only 400 can get passes to hike Huayna Picchu). Fortunately our hotel Rupa Wasi in Aguascalientes had our entrance tickets and passes to hike Huanya Picchu.
We stayed 2 nights in Aguascalientes which was perfect for us we were able to go back to our hotel after hiking the ruins all days shower and relax. We also got to meet up with friends in Aguascalientes.
On our way to the wine country our hosts at the Fox Hill B&B told us about a waterfall we could check out. Our host also warned us that there maybe someone present to collect money for parking but that they were there illegally and not to pay them. Interestingly enough when we arrived a woman wanted our passport numbers, names and 2000 colones that she said was for volunteering to keep everyone’s vehicles safe…. We ended up giving her the money worried she may break into our cars while we were on the hike- but we did refuse to give her any personal info
The hike to the falls was about 20-30min and very beautiful– proving how wonderful God’s creations are!