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21 Apr 2016
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Expat Living

For ex-pats living in Los Sueños, Costa Rica, “Chepe” (a local moniker for the capital city of San Jose) can be a getaway destination for much more than a night or two out on the town. 

Local shops and suppliers near Los Sueños Resort and Jaco may not offer the range of choice that San José can for household goods or DIY supplies. A trip to San José can provide a nice dose of cultural and retail therapy for ex-pats.

Angloinfo, an online A to Z business and service directory for English-speaking ex-pats, has recommendations and reviews for everything from boutique women’s clothing retailers to construction to travel services. The site sorts listings by category and provides links to the stores’ webpages and online catalog.

For do-it-yourselfers, Ferreterías EPA, El Lagar and Ferreterías del Mar represent Costa Rica’s version of Home Depot, Lowe’s and other American chain hardware stores. The EPA store in Escazú just misses the Home Depot standard, but it’s still an excellent resource for DIY materials—paint, tools, industrial equipment, plumbing, electrical and construction materials—as well as some how-to advice. Home repair projects or redecorating projects can mean multiple visits to multiple stores, so be prepared.

Retail therapy in San Jose includes the Multiplaza in Escazú or Zapote, or Paseo de las Flores in Heredia among other U.S. style shopping malls. The Multiplaza shops include high-end retailers within its 246 shops, a supermarket, theatre and a food court. 

Mercado Nacional de Artesania carries quality, handcrafted products, such as paintings, sculptures, ceramics, textiles, leather, woodwork, beadwork, jewelry and more, all made in Costa Rica. 

Ashley’s Furniture is a good choice for US-style furnishings and décor, such as hard to find table lamps, mattress and box spring sets. Ashley’s is located on the 27 freeway between Santa Ana and Ciudad Colon. For higher end, interior design quality furnishings, head through Escazu toward Santa Ana (and perhaps take a quick tour through Guachipilin)- you’ll find at least a half a dozen, or more, boutique interior design and furniture shops just driving down the main road. Specialty shops for lamps, art, upholstery, flooring and window coverings abound throughout the entire area. 

If you’re looking for upscale furniture and soft furnishings for outdoor living, the Bali Home Center, on the 27 close to the Ciudad Colon exit, will appeal to the interior decorator within.

Avenida Escazu,  located next door to Hospital Cima, is the newest and liveliest outdoor shopping center, with live entertainment, DJs, and dance performances along the car-free zone of high-end boutiques and hip eateries.  Shops, stalls and vendors line Avenida Central, in downtown San Jose, offering everything from coffee and fresh produce to cell phone accessories and clothing. 

Of course, life requires the more practical shopping too, and therein comes Pricesmart (Latin America’s own version of Costco), Wallmart, Office Depot, and Pequeno Mundo with its wide range of inexpensive products ranging from clothing to food, furnishings, household décor, toys and more. 

Shopping in San José also means you can take in live dance and theatre performances, visit exhibitions, enjoy the Saturday morning organic farmer’s market, go out dining or dancing, and treat yourself to a mini-break (as though you need one from the paradise life you’re living in Los Sueños, Costa Rica!)