Setting-Up a House in Costa Rica - Costs for Custom Made Furniture & Appliances

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Furniture prices in Costa Rica are considered to be expensive due in part to the fact that a majority of basic (ie: inexpensive) furniture is imported and taxed at a hefty 30% by the government.  For this reason many people moving, relocating, retiring or setting-up second or vacation homes in Costa Rica simply decide to ship their entire households declaring the items as 'used'.  Others purchase or rent fully furnished homes or apartments that require no local furniture or appliance shopping. 

However, there are costs associated with any of these import or rental options that may exceed buying these same items manufactured here in-country.

The trick is to do your homework!  Like most things Costa Rica; shopping for good deals on quality furniture or "muebles" can be daunting.  Unlike the U.S. and other countries where furniture super-stores and Internet or print advertising allow convenient shopping comparisons - Costa Rica generally consists of; chain stores specializing in 'financed' purchases for those looking at the 'convenience' of weekly payments, boutique furniture stores catering to high-end buyers and small independent furniture stores where you must ask the cost of each item and where your offered price may differ substantially from the price offered to other potential (ie: native) buyers.

Costa Rica chain stores such as; Casa Blanco, El Verdugo, El Gallo más Gallo, Importadora Monge, etc. offer both imported and locally produced furniture on the business model of U.S. stores like Rent-A-Center or used car dealers - they will finance your purchase so you can make affordable weekly payments; don't worry about the price or the 60% rate of interest.

Department stores here in Costa Rica that are often foreign owned such as Hipermas (Wal-mart) and Pricesmart offer imported items that are often of lesser quality such a laminated particle board construction where assembly is required (ie: Sauder Furniture products).

Boutique and independent furniture stores offer a mix of imported and locally manufactured furniture, but buyer beware on price.  Boutique stores such as Ethan Allen and Cemaco cater to foreign nationals and upper-class natives near the pricey enclaves in which they reside.  They feature quality furniture in opulent show rooms at nose-bleed pricing.  Independent furniture stores often have a nice mix of basic quality and higher quality furniture, but there are generally no marked prices and final costs will vary based on the buyer - which is not my preferred way to shop as a blond haired, blued eyed, English speaking "Gringo".

Classified ads both online and in newspapers can be another resource for buying furniture and other household goods.  However, English speaking ads are many times from those that paid too much in the first place and are trying to recover their costs.  Example:

Costa Rica Craigslist furniture for sale

In setting up my own home, I had the luxury of time in-country to know where to shop along with the time to research my options.  I made my list of needed items and visited countless furniture stores of all varieties.  I walked into each store with my legal notepad listing items I was looking for along with the categorized prices I had gathered from all previous stores I had visited.  I let each salesperson know I needed to fill a complete home and was willing to purchase all pieces from one store if the pricing was right.

After I had tabulated all my shopping results, I met with my neighbor who's cousin owns a furniture business.  My neighbor's cousin manufactures hardwood furniture, retails the furniture in his own stores and wholesales the furniture to other area independent and chain stores (ie: all Grupo M's namesakes: Importadora Monge, El Gallo más Gallo and El Verdugo).

My neighbor and her husband where kind enough to accompany me on a visit to one of her family members at their Muebles Alpes S.A store in Guadalupe.  The cousin went over my list and made detailed offers of items and prices that easily beat all other sources.  All furniture was custom ordered where I was able to pick; designs, sizes, finishes, fabrics, etc.

After placing the furniture order, I wanted a custom desk designed and made for my son's room ... so my neighbor and I visited the Muebles Alpes factory in the San Jose semi-rural suburb of Dulce Nombre de Vasquez de Coronado

Costa Rica furniture factory

Muebles Alpes S.A.
Dulce Nombre de Vasquez de Coronado, San José, Costa Rica
Teléfono:  2294-5670
Correo electrónico:  MueblesAlpes@ice.co.cr

Custom made Costa Rica furniture

Costa Rica furniture factory

All custom made furniture was completed, delivered and professionally set-up within one week.  The quality, price and experience were exceptional.

Custom made Maple furniture

Custom Maple Furniture - Couch & 2 Matching Chairs

Custom Maple Furniture - Dining Room Table & Chairs + Bar Stools

Custom Costa Rica Maple Furniture - T.V. Entertainment Center & Queen Bed

Costa Rica Custom Maple Furniture - Bunk Beds & Child's Desk

For the benefit of all those anticipating the need to set-up a basic Costa Rica house with furniture and appliances ... the following graphic details the real costs experienced in February, 2009.

Costa Rica cost of household furniture and appliances

Readers of this entry are encouraged to add resources and/or experiences in the comments section below so that others can have a better sense of direction when going through this same process.

¡Pura Muebles!

Costa Rica custom made Maple furniture or Muebles: Couch & 2 Matching Chairs (Sillon y 2 Sillas de Sala) 195.000,00 colones, T.V. Entertainment Center (Mueble T.V.) 125.000,00, Dining Room Table & Four Chairs (Mesa de Comedor y 4 Sillas) 200.000,00, Two Bar Stools (2 Bancos) 46.000,00, Queen Bed (Cama Matrimonial) 180.000,00, Bunk Bed priced w/bulk discount – converts to 2 single beds (Camarote) 99.000.00, Child’s Desk (Escritorio del Niño) + 90.000,00. Mattresses (Colchones): Queen Orthopedic Firm (Matrimonial Orthopedico Semiduro) 174.195,00, Single Orthopedic Basic (Solo Orthopedico Basico) 51.745,00, Single Basic (Solo Basico) 30.865,00

 

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Household Furniture

We had our furniture build by Fine Furniture of Sarchi. Hand made, teak and cedar. We learned that most Tico shops use 2nd and 3rd quality WET wood. Wet is so much less expensive . These guys, Tom and Adolfo were so polite. The prices are fair and they were on time with the delivery. They returned my Every e-mail. Our furniture is the most beautiful I have every seen. Our neighbors were astounded . Get a quote from the, tell them Mary Carter referred you.. www FineFurnitureOfSarchi com

your blog is a lifesaver

I have searched and searched for prices on furniture and appliances as I am purchasing a home in Arenal town in July and wanted to get a handle on what I should ship and what I should purchase. Your article was so informative and I plan on visiting your neighbor's facility when I am in the area. As I am moving by myself, I am in no real hurry to furnish this home so can take some time to shop. Thank you so much for providing me with an idea of how much it may cost to furnish my home.

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As a general rule, furniture that is purchased as a complete piece is often of higher quality than "flat-packed" furniture that is assembled at home. Though not a completely infallible indicator, this rule is hardly something to dismiss, either. Furniture makers that focus on quality do not want that quality to be diminished by a homeowner putting a piece together improperly

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