I have lived in Costa Rica for 4 1/2 years now but started vacationing here well before that. At one point prior to moving here full time I bought a car in Ontario and drove it here for fun. A friend from Toronto that spends the winters here in Playas del Coco jumped in for the ride. That’s another story for another day. I purchased a one owner 1996 Toyota Corolla as it blended in through Central America and when I got to Costa Rica I decided to keep the car for a runner as I enjoy traveling around the country. That’s where we get to the nuts and bolts of this story. My 1996 Corolla had a cost of $3,000 USD for duties, plates, Lawyers fees, safety check, insurance,etc. But after driving it all that way and the car running well, it was very convenient to just go ahead and import the car. I thought wow now I have about $4,500 dollars into a car that would get scraped in Canada. Then everything changed for the better. After moving here I decided to live in San Jose and Central Valley, Costa Rica and purchased a business. Having to drive into San Jose everyday, my wife and I decided it was better to drive and park the older Corolla in the city as much as possible. Sure enough after having the Corolla here for 7 years we have to do some maintenance. New rings and head gasket, complete brakes, windshield, Suspension front and back, tires and we had the car completely repainted. We used the base insurance as it was on old car and we weren’t worried about collision. Take a moment and ask yourself the cost of having all that work done in North America or Europe. Scary isn’t it. I would say all said and totaled including insurane over 7 years the total cost about $4,800 dollars. That is dirt cheap to have a car that is fit as a fiddle and it’s still worth more in Costa Rica then what I paid certified in Ontario. Last week I had new tire installed on our Rav4. So I took it over and had new struts installed and a 4 wheel alignment and complete suspension check. The complete labour was C 25,000 ( $ 40 USD ). I’m not suggesting to purchase on old car, or drive a car down here. It’s not for everyone. At the time it served the purpose. It’s no small secret that buying a car in Costa Rica can be expensive, but every time you have your car serviced you will walk away with a grin on your face. Remember to select something you really like and fits the terrain you plan on covering, because as you become more and more Tico you may find yourself keeping your car much longer then you normally would.
Theo Veenstra is a full time Realtor with Tres Amigos Realty Group, based out of Playas del Coco, Costa Rica.