There’s a lovely, powerful saying by which I live. It goes: "The more you complain, the longer God lets you live."* Poetic, isn’t it? And productive. My complaints about not being able to get my books cheaply to Costa Rica produced many helpful hints from the old-timers here. Er, long-timers.
By far, the best all-around method is to bring your books. As many as you can. We arrived with the maximum bags and boxes (four apiece, including carry-ons), along with a couple extra bags for which we were charged. I can’t remember exactly how much, but relatively little for the luxury of having our essentials with us.
There are still three 6′ tall bookshelves and several boxes of books waiting for us in Key West. For the books left behind in storage, you have a couple of options. Flying back to get them is, of course, out. Unless you have a friend with a private plane and plenty of time. This would be an exceptionally good friend.
If you have a boatload of books, you gotta consider shipping. We are. We don’t have a boatload of books, or even a container load. But we have other stuff to fill in around the books: furniture, pictures, artwork, guns. Yes, you can ship guns. They need to be registered once they get here in your name if you are a resident or in your corporation’s name. I don’t know what we’ll do with them once we get them here… I don’t think they have shooting ranges. But boys and guns. They just WANT one. Or two.
The shipper sends a container to your house, you pack it, they bring it to your door in Costa Rica where you unpack it. They can provide packers, if you want.
Our first quote for a 20′ container which will hold everything from a small 3-bedroom house and get it here in 30 days is $5,000. Plus 30% duty on the value of the items. You want a shipper who knows how to value your stuff realistically (as low as possible without having customs laugh in your face). I want my books. The question is: how much do I want my old stuff?
For those everday Amazon purchases, the best method for cheap delivery is the M-Bag. Everybody wants everything fast, cheap and perfect. We were in the printing business for 10 years where a typo can reck your life. Your standard firm reply to a fast, cheap and perfect request is "Pick any two."
Getting your stuff to Costa Rica requires similar compromise. I pick cheap and perfect. When ordering from Amazon, I ship the books to my mom in KY. She accumulates them. Once she has the most she can pack into an M-Bag and lift into the car, she drives to the post office and mails it off. Mom’s are great. It was an excellent idea for everyone to have at least one.
So far, the only M-Bag to have arrived here is the one I shipped from Key West August 3rd. They arrived October 2nd. The USPS must have walked them down. But it was cheap: 18 pounds for $18. And they arrived in perfect condition. You can’t beat that!!! You learn the true meaning of patience and tolerance living in Costa Rica. Not at all a bad thing.
*I just saw a bumper sticker that says: "The more you complain, the longer God MAKES you live." That is just so wrong.
One more thing: I try to link to the horse’s mouth when linking. But for the M-Bag link, the USPS doesn’t have a clear FAQs page. Why would this surprise me?