Things to Consider When Repatriating...


Those of us that made the leap to become expats know all to well the steps we went through to jump from A to B.  Some of those memories are painful while many are gloriously memorable. 

We are now facing the same issues as we jump back from B to A.

It's not a simple matter of just packing your bags and moving back home.  You have a life and it is loaded with loose ends.  You need to identify those loose ends and tie them shut before you take that momentous first step back to the Motherland.  Here are some of the loose ends you may want to consider.

Personal Healthcare

Most of us know, Costa Rica has some of the very best and affordable private medical and dental services outside the U.S.  Make sure before leaving paradise you stock upon any prescription medications you may need back home.  We are planning to bring back a three month stockpile just in case there are any delays in taking care of our medical needs upon arrival. 

Also, take care of any needed dental procedures.  Your savings will probably exceed 75%, so get it done now.  And to those who want a to enhance their appearance, don't forget to get that nip, suck, tuck, or lift before getting on that plane. 

And lastly... don't forget about your pets.  Both Úpe and Ashka had a major teeth cleaning at the vets office.  The total price was only $70 each and that included full anesthesia.  This would have cost us 5-7 times that back in the States.

Money Matters

Social Security

Many people who receive Social Security benefits have elected to have their monthly checks automatically deposited into a Costa Rican bank.  As soon as you have made the decision to return home, change your auto deposit back to your US bank account.  Some people have reported this process to be fast and easy while others have reported considerable difficulty.

As with everything in Costa Rica, processes here are consistently inconsistent.  Leave adequate time so as to complete  this process while you are still in country.

Your Bank Account

Drain your bank account before leaving.  Once you leave CR, don't think you can simply have your Costa Rican funds wire transferred to you.  Use your debit card to withdraw funds.

If you have large sums on deposit, seek the guidance of a competent financial professional, preferably one who is not currently under indictment. 

Closing Your Bank Account

Remember how difficult it was to "open" your CR Bank account?  Well they don't make it any easier if you want to close it. 

My friend Lenny went to close out his account a few months back.  After standing on three different lines and being told to talk to three different people, Lenny finally got smart.  Over the course of four days, he withdrew all his cash via ATM and simply walked away leaving 1000 colones in the account.  The bank will eventually close the account due to inactivity but what does he care; he's long gone. 

And that is how we plan to end our relationship with Banco Nacional.

Paying Your Bills

Pay all your bills before leaving but be careful that you are NOT paying any bills for future services.  That may include cable TV and cell phone bills. 

As for your electric bill, most electric meters are read on last day of every month and the bills are generated on or about the 12th. of the month.  

What we have elected to do is to ask a friend to make that  payment for us.  Since our bills normally run $250-300 each month, we will give our friend $250.  He will cover the balance (if there is any).  We then deposit any shortage into his U.S. bank account.

Moving Personal Possessions

When you first moved to Costa Rica, you probably came here bring everything that was near and dear to your heart.  In retrospect, a lot of what you brought you never used.  Am I right?  Now you want to return home and all you can think about is "OMG... I have to ship all this shit back!"  The answer is NO YOU DON'T... think first!

I have personal friends who came to CR several years ago.  They brought TWO 40' containers filled to the brim including an aged Chrysler mini-van.  After many years in country they decided to return to the States but this time filling only ONE 40' container.  Keep in mind, that is still 2560 cubic feet of stuff! 

When we moved here, we brought (a half full) 20' container or about 640 cubic feet of absolute necessities.  I am now estimating that we will return with less than 200 cubic feet, and of that, about 25% belongs to friends who have moved or are moving back to the States.

Going Back Skinny Can be Quite Profitable...

When we decided to finally pull the plug, it was our plan to leave behind all furniture and possessions that would not be of benefit to us in our new home.  Step one was to identify everything not making the trip. 

We looked at everything we owned and asked ourselves...

  • Do we need it?  If YES...

  • How old is it and does it still work?

  • Can we replace it with newer and better for less than the cost of shipping? 

Our rationale was simple...

  • Why ship home a 30 year old crock-pot when I can buy a new one at Best Buy for $20! 

  • Why ship back a 42" old tech flat screen TV that cost me $1000 here when I can buy a brand new 60" for $700?

The next step was to execute the plan.

Garage Sale Baby...

I created a website listing all the stuff we planned on selling including brand new recliner chairs down to a cheap Styrofoam cooler.  I even sold off my massive DVD collection (that I rarely watched) that contained over 300 disks.  I decided to rip them (digitize and transfer) all  the titles to a to a large capacity, 3 terabyte hard drive thereby allowing me to watch (if I want) any or all of the titles whenever I want. 

And the best part, we made enough money to pay 100% of our repatriation expenses.

And what about that car? 

There is so much to say about this topic, I decided to make it it's own separate article.  HERE


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