Up until this point, this has been fine. Having a baby, however, has presented a whole new set of challenges. Here are our tips for buying baby items in Costa Rica. Where You Live Matters One thing to keep in mind is that where you live in Costa Rica makes all the difference with how easy it is to find baby things. Around San Jose, there are thousands of stores and even a handful that specialize in baby items. Where we live in the Southern Zone, for example, the nearest store that sells baby stuff is 45 minutes away.
Maxi Pali a Walmart-owned big box store found all around the country has the basics like diapers, tubs, formula, some clothing, etc. The same is true for smaller stores in our area. Not only did the stores around us not have what we were looking for, but they were still fairly pricey. At this point, it was early on in our pregnancy and we knew we still had plenty of time to gather what we needed.
For several months, we scoured Craigslist. Both of these items were located near San Jose this is very common as many expat families live in the Central Valley , about four hours from us, but we were able to get them delivered through the bus. The Encomiendra system, where you can ship things on the local buses, is a very easy and inexpensive way to get things in Costa Rica.
Both sellers that we dealt with were happy to get the item to the bus station if it meant getting rid of it for a decent price.
We take into considerations that we plan what we wanted our home be like or how we achieve a real good place to settle in. For several months, we scoured Craigslist. They are usually there for an average of 49 days before being placed with a sponsor, a relative, reunited with parents or deported.
You can also find used strollers, bath tubs, toys, clothing, etc. Interestingly, several were posted online over the six or so months we were looking, but they were expensive.
Price Smart also sells disposable diapers, which are very expensive in Costa Rica, for a reasonable price in bulk.
So we stocked up on those for the first month or so before we start using cloth ones, and also got some wipes and cloth-diaper-safe laundry detergent while we were there. You have to order things like that online, then they import it and you can pick it up a few weeks later. This is what we did for the crib. Panama Border If you live near the Panama border, it might be worth a trip there to pick up some things as well.
These sprawling stores carry everything from groceries to electronics and household items, all for a fraction of the price of things in Costa Rica. For baby stuff, we had the best luck at City Mall , the building farthest to the left from the border checkpoint coming from Costa Rica. This was a much better price than anything we could find in Costa Rica for a well-designed car seat that we were comfortable with.
These stores usually have everything that you need but are higher end so more expensive. One larger store that we recently visited is Bebemundo Baby World.
Bebemundo was right in between. It did have all the essentials, from name brand car seats, cribs, changing tables, and high chairs to humidifiers, breast pumps, and a whole aisle of baby bottles. But keep in mind that because this is a very high end store, prices are high end as well. We visited the Bebemundo near La Sabana Park.
They have two other locations in the San Jose area. You can find more information on their Facebook page. Other baby specialty stores can be found at the Multiplaza in Escazu.
Siman , a department store at the Multiplaza, is also supposed to be a good place to look. Amazon One of our recent big victories has been figuring out an easy way to get packages from Amazon. In the US, we absolutely loved Amazon. There was nothing like being able to find almost anything we wanted and have it at our door in two days with just a few clicks.
Although it does take a little longer to receive shipments in Costa Rica, Amazon has been wonderful for helping us get ready for baby. We were able to create an online registry so that family and friends who wanted to send us a little something could easily do so without us having to deal with customs. The way it works is Amazon takes care of customs and local delivery once the package arrives in Costa Rica. They estimate import duties in advance when something is purchased.
If the duties end up being less than the amount estimated, Amazon refunds the difference to the buyer. Box, called an Apartado in Costa Rica.
We simply put our Costa Rica shipping address into Amazon and can search for items eligible for international shipping. Whoever is buying the item still has to pay shipping costs, of course, but it is nice to have this option when things are difficult to find or very expensive in Costa Rica.
We did have a hard time getting the soaps and lotions, however, and needed to file some additional paperwork to prove their contents before they could be delivered. But we did finally get everything we needed with a little extra time. Do you have a tip for buying baby gear in Costa Rica or a favorite store that we missed? Share it in the comments below. Are you planning to start a family in Costa Rica? Check out these posts: Having a Baby in Costa Rica — Part 1: Our experience with prenatal care in Costa Rica.
Having a Baby in Costa Rica — Part 2 coming soon: What it was like delivering a baby at a small private hospital in Costa Rica.
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