Author Topic: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston  (Read 7149 times)

Capt Stubble

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 24
  • Age: 57
  • Location: US
Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« on: February 27, 2016, 05:36:03 PM »
I'm in the early "thinking about it" stage and I'm looking for ideas and suggestions to keep costs down while maximizing my time off and enjoyment. I'm looking into renting in a walkable area of San Jose and not owning a car, or alternatively renting in the suburbs and buying a cheap vehicle. My work schedule would be 6 on (in Houston) 8 off. With the commute it would be more like 7 on 7 off. I currently own a house that I like very much along with furniture, electronics and tools as well as a truck and a motorcycle. I'd be getting rid of all that and starting from scratch. My thoughts are a bit scattered at this stage so feel free to challenge me and ask questions to clarify. I think this will help me greatly to decide whether or not to do this and take the right steps along the way.

Are any of you doing anything similar to this (long commute)? Thanks for the input.

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 27888
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Traveling the World
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2016, 05:37:39 PM »
Sounds exhausting to me.

What would be the benefits versus just staying close to the job (and sometimes traveling during that 7 off)?

Where would you stay during the 7 on?
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

Capt Stubble

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 24
  • Age: 57
  • Location: US
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2016, 01:16:07 AM »
Sounds exhausting to me.

What would be the benefits versus just staying close to the job (and sometimes traveling during that 7 off)?

Where would you stay during the 7 on?
Yes, it's definitely nonstandard. I look at it as sort of quasi retirement.

I have a strong desire to live overseas, but I also like my job (airline pilot) and I'm not ready to give it up. I'm FI, but not ready to RE.

So, my schedule would be; day 1, fly from SJO to HOU. Spend the night in a hotel at my expense. Day 2-4, fly around the country. Stay in hotels at company expense. Night of day 4, stay in hotel in HOU at my expense. Day 5-7, fly around some more. Afternoon/evening of day 7, fly from HOU to SJO and chill for 7 days. I'd still be off more days of the month than a normal job. And with vacations throughout the year I'd probably actually average 11 days working per month.

Anyway, thanks for helping me apply some critical thinking to the issue.

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 27888
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Traveling the World
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2016, 01:20:57 AM »
So it sounds like the impact would be: weekly flight between sjo/hou twice weekly (or one round trip, depending on how you think of it). Hotel night twice weekly.

What's the cost of that?  What will you save living in San Jose?

Thus what will your overall net cost be, and is it worth that cost to be able to live there part time?

Need more data. :)

What are visa issues like?  Will you be okay going through customs, on both ends, that frequently?

We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

Capt Stubble

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 24
  • Age: 57
  • Location: US
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2016, 01:44:35 AM »
So it sounds like the impact would be: weekly flight between sjo/hou twice weekly (or one round trip, depending on how you think of it). Hotel night twice weekly.

What's the cost of that?  What will you save living in San Jose?

Thus what will your overall net cost be, and is it worth that cost to be able to live there part time?

Need more data. :)

What are visa issues like?  Will you be okay going through customs, on both ends, that frequently?
The flights would be free. Airport hotel would be between $40 and $60 per night. I'll have to dive deeper into the numbers, but I'm quite sure it's cheaper to live in SJO than HOU all other things being equal, even with the added hotel cost. And I wouldn't be doing it to save money per se, that would be an added benefit.

Good question about the visa. I haven't talked to other crew members who do this, but I know they're out there, so it is doable.

 I guess the real question is, is it worth the time and hassle to be able to live down there.

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 27888
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Traveling the World
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2016, 01:48:37 AM »
Try it out.

Go live in SJ temporarily. Rent a furnished apartment for like 2-3 months down there, while keeping your current place.

Yeah, you'll spend a little more to do that, but it's a pittance compared to moving and then deciding you don't like it.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9616
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2016, 11:03:25 AM »
For the nights you need to stay in Houston, you might be able to find an apartment share (possibly with other flight crew) for less than you would pay for the hotel.  Though the hotel option maybe offers a bit more flexibility/privacy.

Personally I don't think I'd do it for that kind of schedule -- two weeks on, two weeks off would maybe be better, giving you time to actually unwind when in CR.  But like ARS said, doesn't hurt to try it for a few weeks or months and see how you like it.  If it doesn't work out, you can move back to Houston (or try another location with a shorter flight distance -- maybe somewhere on the Gulf coast?)

Capt Stubble

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 24
  • Age: 57
  • Location: US
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2016, 12:46:54 PM »
The 2-3 month test drive is a great idea.

The apartment share you speak of lhamo, is called a crash pad in the industry and I've done it in the past. I didn't like it, but it definitely saves a few dollars.

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5635
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2016, 12:55:04 PM »
WE live in Nevada and my hubby had a contract job in SJ for almost a year.  The cheapest he could find was renting a bedroom in someone's house for 600/month.  He had no kitchen etc but did have his own bath. He bought a little fridge and microwave for some of his meals. He came home very weekend. He was making a ton of $ so it was worth it to us plus he loved the project he was working on.  I can't believe it is cheaper to live there then HOuston.

eliza

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 367
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2016, 01:01:14 PM »
I second @ARS suggestion to do a trial run.  Alternatively, if you don't have a lot of stuff that you are going to sell and would need to re-buy when you came back to the states, consider just jumping in.  If you hate it, you can always rent a new place in Houston.

I lived full time in hotels for a couple of years while travelling heavy for work and I greatly enjoyed it.  It sounds like you already have the inside line on cheap hotels near the airport -- but I can point you in the direction of a couple of tips if you are looking.

I used to stay in a place near ORD that definitely had a few rooms that were being rented as crash pads -- not sure if they were always rented with a roving set of people who might be staying in them on any given night, or if they just had a fantastic deal with the front desk for cheap rooms when needed.  If you know you are going to be staying a set number of nights per month/year near IAH, you might be able to cut a deal with a specific hotel.

One of my dream retirements that I like to imagine is getting a job as a flight attendant and travelling full time when I wasn't on shift.  Probably not realistic, but fun to dream.  My best friend is married to a pilot and I'm envious of all the non-rev travel they do. 

Capt Stubble

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 24
  • Age: 57
  • Location: US
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2016, 03:11:15 PM »
https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/san-jose-costa-rica?currency=USD

https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/houston

This was the comparison I looked at. I need to put boots on the ground to get the real story, but this site indicates that equivalent housing is a lot less in San Jose. Paying $600 for a bedroom and no kitchen is a non starter. If I can't do MUCH better than that I'll strangle this baby in the crib.


yyc-phil

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1027
  • Location: Yellowknife NWT
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2016, 03:26:47 PM »

One of my dream retirements that I like to imagine is getting a job as a flight attendant and travelling full time when I wasn't on shift.  Probably not realistic, but fun to dream.  My best friend is married to a pilot and I'm envious of all the non-rev travel they do.

I was a flight attendant for several years, after I got sick and tired of my "real" job. It was a real blast and I barely felt I was working, but the stress of traveling on non-revenue seats certainly took a toll on my mental health. With the airlines becoming more and more efficient at filling every single seat on every single flight, it is becoming increasingly difficult to go anywhere, especially if you have a travel companion. OTOH, if you are retired and have plenty of time on your hand AND lifetime passes, typically after working 25 years for an airline, then those non-rev passes are great...but unfortunately this would not happen if you become an FA later in life.

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5635
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2016, 04:43:06 PM »
I am now laughing at myself. I was thinking SAn Jose CA.

Capt Stubble

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 24
  • Age: 57
  • Location: US
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2016, 05:50:48 PM »
Lol, Cassie. I was confused there for a minute. I know Costa Rica is not as cheap as Guatemala, but I'm pretty sure it's cheaper than Silicon Valley.

Jacana

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 188
  • Location: Back in the DMV :(
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #14 on: February 29, 2016, 05:45:07 AM »
That's an epic commute plan! Why Costa Rica?

GuitarBrian

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 250
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Panama
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #15 on: February 29, 2016, 07:43:44 AM »
Hi, I live 4 months a year in Panama. I have been through San Jose a few times the last few months. Staying for a couple days there. Last week I was there. My thoughts are...

Costa Rica is expensive.

Not, crazy expensive, but.. Raw materials, food, cars etc.., are more than the states. Also you have to hunt for cheap restraunts, as it isn't a given.

You can get by without a car. There are cheap busses and taxis are everywhere.

Immigration shouldn't be an issue... Since you are not working there, you will be a tourist. No fee for a visa.

There is a $29 exit tax. This is paid at the airport. I would investigate if non revenue passengers have to pay. Since you won't be flight crew...

The airport is a good 30 minutes from downtown, with minimal traffic. Longer during mid day.

The climate is very nice. I really like it. Almost perfect really, a bit much on the summer rain... But temp wise, no AC, no heat.

If you arrive with a bunch of other flights, expect immagration/customs to take a long time. 1pm on Monday, the line was 1:30 hours long. I timed it.

There is a bus stop right out front. Less than a 5 minute walk. It takes you to Alajuela, or San Jose. They run all night, but can be hard to get a bus in the early morning hours. They bypass the airport. It costs a $1.

Southwest is now flying from HOU to SJO. Might be nice if you are more convient to HOU vs IAH. Otherwise lots of flights from IAH to SJO. Also direct flights from a number of other hubs, ATL, DEN, LAX, Newark, FLL, MIA etc. Not sure how your schedule is, but might make sense depending on where you end the day.

If you find a nice apartment, convient to the Bus line, it could be a fun venture. With the right mentality, you can make it work.

I, like others here... Would recommend trying it for a month or two or three. You won't know if it suits you until you try.

Capt Stubble

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 24
  • Age: 57
  • Location: US
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #16 on: February 29, 2016, 12:05:50 PM »
That's an epic commute plan! Why Costa Rica?
I want to try living out of the country for a while and Costa Rica checks a lot of boxes. I speak spanish, I can commute relatively easily, cost of living is low(ish), and it will be an adventure. I might just pull the trigger for 3-6 months and I can always change up the plan if it doesn't work the way I envision.

Good bullet points Brian. The exit tax would be a pain, but I might be able to weasel out of it because the FAA views a crew member occupying the jump seat as flight crew. The Costa Rican authorities might not agree, but paying the tax twice a month wouldn't be a show stopper.

Can you name some of the neighborhoods you'd target or avoid?

Jacana

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 188
  • Location: Back in the DMV :(
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #17 on: February 29, 2016, 02:51:10 PM »
It's a great place. I love it and wish I could move back, but I am heavily biased as I used to live there. I asked because if you have no family/friend ties, there are other countries and cities for you to explore in that region too. I left in 2003, and just from talking to my tico friends online I can see how much has changed in San Jose. It may not be as cheap as you think. A nice apartment with amenities in Alajuela could actually be $600/mo for an expat. If you rent in colones, it will probably be cheaper.

So +1 for trying it out before making any drastic moves. But I hope you love it there!

AZDude

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1298
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #18 on: February 29, 2016, 03:08:21 PM »
My brother recently visited Costa Rica. He loved it there but said San Jose was definitely the worst part.

Would you live in the city itself or in the beautiful surrounding countryside? That could add some more commuting time. 

Anyway, if you try it, let us know how it works out.

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6644
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #19 on: February 29, 2016, 04:09:51 PM »
Wait, you are talking about Costa Rica and Houston TX??

GuitarBrian

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 250
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Panama
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #20 on: February 29, 2016, 08:24:20 PM »
I am sorry, I can't help on specific neighborhoods. I suggest you stay in a hotel for a week or so... scope out the terrain. There is a super sketchy train, light rail? (no definitely not light rail status) trolly? thing running from down town out along the road to the airport. The horn is CRAZY loud. Insanely crazy loud. You will want to secure a location at least a few blocks from this...

Also, like all large central american cities... there are areas you just don't go, and a somewhat larger area of places not to go at night. But San Jose is a large, spread out metro area... so I am sure there is something to find that you are looking for.

LeRainDrop

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1841
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #21 on: February 29, 2016, 08:40:57 PM »
If you arrive with a bunch of other flights, expect immagration/customs to take a long time. 1pm on Monday, the line was 1:30 hours long. I timed it.

Two words, my friends:  Global Entry.  $100 for five years of expedited clearance through Customs/Border Patrol, plus TSA PreCheck is included for Americans.  Well worth it if you're going to be traveling in and out of the US with some frequency!  (P.S. I come back from the Dominican Republic tomorrow!)

http://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry
http://qz.com/478039/the-complete-guide-to-getting-global-entry-and-tsa-precheck/

ETA:  For clarity, Global Entry applies when you come back into the US, not when you arrive in the foreign country.
« Last Edit: February 29, 2016, 08:44:28 PM by LeRainDrop »

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 27888
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Traveling the World
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #22 on: February 29, 2016, 11:34:12 PM »
For clarity, Global Entry applies when you come back into the US, not when you arrive in the foreign country.

Right.  Going there was what Brian was talking about.

I'd assume OP already has Global Entry.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

LeRainDrop

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1841
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #23 on: February 29, 2016, 11:51:35 PM »
For clarity, Global Entry applies when you come back into the US, not when you arrive in the foreign country.

Right.  Going there was what Brian was talking about.

I'd assume OP already has Global Entry.

Yeah, I realized that after I posted, which is why I added the ETA.  And rather than delete my post, I thought it still might be helpful to other readers who would follow this thread.  I just learned of Global Entry in the last couple months, which is why I am still pretty enamored by it and preaching it to fellow American travelers!

Capt Stubble

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 24
  • Age: 57
  • Location: US
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #24 on: March 01, 2016, 07:33:27 PM »
Another possibility for me is to stay put, work a normal schedule, and take a month off 4 times a year. This would open up other destinations, including places I'll strongly consider living full time in retirement. There are several advantages to this, and about the only drawback compared to the week on/week off scenario is that I won't really be living in those places. And it would cost more since I'd maintain my current household in addition to the expense of an extended vacation (or mini retirement).

I really want to thank all of you for your thoughtful responses. It helps me to sharpen and/or shift my focus.

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 27888
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Traveling the World
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #25 on: March 02, 2016, 01:09:20 AM »
Another possibility for me is to stay put, work a normal schedule, and take a month off 4 times a year. This would open up other destinations, including places I'll strongly consider living full time in retirement. There are several advantages to this, and about the only drawback compared to the week on/week off scenario is that I won't really be living in those places. And it would cost more since I'd maintain my current household in addition to the expense of an extended vacation (or mini retirement).

I like this idea.  You could rent a furnished apartment for a month at a time, in different places, to decide where you want to move.  Basically use this as a trial run, and then pull the trigger by getting rid of your home when you know where you want to go.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9616
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #26 on: March 02, 2016, 07:38:17 AM »
Another possibility for me is to stay put, work a normal schedule, and take a month off 4 times a year. This would open up other destinations, including places I'll strongly consider living full time in retirement. There are several advantages to this, and about the only drawback compared to the week on/week off scenario is that I won't really be living in those places. And it would cost more since I'd maintain my current household in addition to the expense of an extended vacation (or mini retirement).

I like this idea.  You could rent a furnished apartment for a month at a time, in different places, to decide where you want to move.  Basically use this as a trial run, and then pull the trigger by getting rid of your home when you know where you want to go.

I agree.  This sounds like a much more preferable/interesting option to me.  You can get a pretty good sense of a place if you spend a whole month there.  You may even get to know it better if you aren't exhausted by the constant back and forth.  I know you fly for a living so maybe you are used to it, but the idea of having to fly back and forth every week just sounds exhausting to me, especially given that you are flying around all week when you are working.  The ability to just go somewhere and STAY for several weeks at a stretch sounds much more appealing.

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 27888
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Traveling the World
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #27 on: March 02, 2016, 08:24:33 AM »
The flying part sounds great to me.  The going through security, waiting through customs, and commuting to/from the airport?  Not as much.  :)
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

FrugalFan

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 910
Re: Commuting from Costa Rica to Houston
« Reply #28 on: March 02, 2016, 10:02:17 AM »
I would also take an option with longer chunks of time off hands down. All that flying back and forth would be exhausting to me.

I've worked in Costa Rica for years but am not a fan of San Jose. Too much noise and traffic. Would you consider Liberia instead (it is in Guanacaste province on the west coast)? There are direct flights from Houston. Much quieter, cheaper, and with access to amazing beaches and national parks.