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on September 15, 2011
Author Erin Van Rheenen says that Moon Living Abroad in Costa Rica "will show you the nitty-gritty of life...working, shopping, banking, buying or building a house, dealing with immigration, and arranging for the best healthcare." And a quick look at the Table of Contents shows that's exactly what the book will deliver.

This isn't a guidebook that merely paints a romantic picture of living cheap in a palapa on the beach. Instead, it's loaded with lots of practical information about getting yourself, your kids and your pets into the country, finding a place to live, getting a job and and financing your new lifestyle, obtaining TV and Internet service, making phone calls, and receiving and sending mail.

Movie buffs will appreciate the "Suggested Films" list which includes ones familiar to me (such as Endless Summer and Jurassic Park) as well as others that I've never seen, like Caribe, a 2004 film which was the first from Costa Rica to be submitted in the Academy Award competition.

If you went to Costa Rica thinking that's where the "real" Jurassic Park was located, after spending a few days in the capital city of San Jose you might say, as Erin overhead one tourist remark, "I want to get out of the city [and] see the rest of the island." While the Caribbean lies on the east side of the country, and the Pacific on the west, Costa Rica isn't an island floating about in the sea--it's a big chunk of Central America connecting Nicaragua to the north to Panama to the south.

The book divides the country into four "Prime Living Locations": The Central Valley and Beyond (San Jose is here; several national parks peppered with volcanoes are to the north of it); Guanacaste and The Nicoya Peninsula ("The Wild West" with "the lion's share of the nation's beach resort infrastructure"); The Central and Southern Pacific Coast (only a couple hours or so by road from San Jose); and The Caribbean Coast (which Van Rheenen says "seems much more remote and exotic than the west coast").

For each of the four geographical areas, the author sketches out "The Lay of The Land," gives the price of housing in various communities, and describes what it is like to live in each. If you never stopped being a kid you'll be pleased to learn that some expats actually reside in treehouses with Internet access and flush toilets.

Of course, the toughest decision to make about relocating to Costa Rica is whether to do it at all; the second question is where to live. In "Planning Your Fact-Finding Trip," Erin explains how to prepare for your first exploratory journey, and offers up proposed itineraries that will give you an opportunity to visit different regions of the country on stays of varying duration: 10-days, 2-weeks, and 1-month.

So, if you think it's time for you to say "Via Con Dios, America!", pack up your belongings, and emigrate Way South of The Border, Moon Living Abroad in Costa Rica looks to be your ticket to live in a banana republic.

And if Costa Rica is on your "bucket list," but you just want to go there on vacation, buy Erin Van Rheenen's iPhone and iPad app, "Costa Rica Trip Ideas" (iTunes App Store, $1.99).

(The author provided a complimentary review copy of Moon Living Abroad in Costa Rica to this reviewer).
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on May 12, 2013
Erin Van Rheenen's Living Abroad in Costa Rica belongs on the shelf along with works by John Howells and Chris Howard. It's an important book, especially for those considering a move to Costa Rica or planning an exploratory trip with an eye toward moving there. While it was "discovered" as an expat haven over two decades ago, people are still enthusiastic about moving there.

Costa Rica is a unique country, having no army but with a serious emphasis on education and taking care of the planet. It's also a friendly place, but as Van Rheenen points out, cultural differences do exist. Ticos, as they call themselves, are friendly and welcoming, but their politeness may prevent them from saying "no" to an impossible request.

The book has what people need in planning a trip with places to stay and sample 10-day, two-week and one-month itineraries. The high season, December through April is also the dry season, so your trip will cost less if you put up with rain. Speaking of rain, there can be a lot of it, falling hard, though rarely lasting all day.

A visit to Costa Rica is likely to begin in the Central Valley, specifically, in San Jose. About 100,000 expats live in or near the capital, San Jose, which has a population of about 350,000 and many cultural advantages such as the National Theater, the symphony and several museums. Getting around the city, however can be a challenge.

Van Rheenen cautions newcomers not to rent a car at the airport. "You've just flown in, it may be dark, you're tired, and you may never have driven in Costa Rica before. This is not the time to start learning." Streets are without signs, and ordinarily friendly Ticos are competitive behind the wheel. She suggests taking a taxi to your hotel, at least, then perhaps hiring a driver for nearby trips. If you really want to rent a car, have the rental company deliver it to your hotel. You might also consider taking buses, which are inexpensive.

Resources include five pages of important Spanish words and phrases as well as a page of real estate terms, addresses of consulates in the U.S. and foreign embassies in Costa Rica. There are also lists of colleges and schools, healthcare contacts, volunteer organizations, internet resources and more. The book is valuable not only for those thinking of living in Costa Rica but those who've already made the move.

The text is sprinkled with separately boxed anecdotes and first person accounts from expats there now and others who know the country well. Though you may be tempted to skip these when reading to glean basic information, they provide unique insights and are worth going back to and reading at leisure.

The book details the different types of residency. Immigration laws changed in 2010 and again in 2012, so be sure to check with the nearest consulate to be sure you have current information. Many people think of Costa Rica as a retirement haven, but increasingly younger people, including families with children, are now moving there as well. Among the expats are business people as well as artists and writers. Van Rheenen happens to be a writer of award-winning fiction as well.
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on June 3, 2011
This book has been our go to book for the last few months. we have not moved yet but will be in a few weeks. Lots and lots of helpful tips on preparing to move even some on our pet dog. I am sure that we will be using this book when we get there as well. I have bought a few books on the subject and this by far is the best one.

Ps We are a family moving with a dog and a six month old. This book helped with everything so far.
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on December 8, 2011
I found this book to be informative and up to date, as it was reprinted (with text changes) in October 2010, and that's the version I have. If you are considering a move to Costa Rica, this book should be on your required reading list.
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on September 24, 2014
For one considering moving to Costa Rica (aka CR) for retirement, this book is chock-a-block full of all of the info that you'll need; from the mores of the country, the lifestyle, weather, cost of living....Now all I have to do is to retire and pack my bags.
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on June 1, 2013
Very knowledgeable written book, it's truly a paperback book, it spells out what I believe you may want to know, Could of use a bot more on areas to visit for Ex-Pats other than the basics, realizing not ever ware is completely safe for everyone.

I enjoyed and recommend especially if you're heading to CR, definitely use as a reference guild
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on November 23, 2010
This book touches on just about every aspect of life in Costa Rica and everything one would want to consider before moving. Though it is vague in some regards, resources with more specifics are given. Two thumbs up.
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on September 15, 2011
Book is awesome. Perfect for finding out everything you need to know! I definitely recommend it to everyone and anyone seriously thinking about moving abroad.
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on February 5, 2014
Great reference tool for considering a move to Costa Rica despite being a few years old. Descriptions of the different regions of the country and the people who live and play there are extremely helpful.
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on February 9, 2014
I also bought the hard copy. It's a great source of information, suggestions. Answers just about any question you might have.
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