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grocery shopping in uvita supermercado

Grocery Shopping in Uvita

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Grocery Shopping in Uvita

When grocery shopping in Uvita, there are two supermarkets and a farmers market to choose from. The supermarkets are:

  1. Supermercado el Pacifico
  2. BM

Both of these grocery stores are located on the east side of Highway 34/Costanera Highway in Uvita.

Based on gossip I've heard (but have not confirmed), both stores are owned by the same person/company, so you would expect the brands and prices to be the same....but not quite.

supermercado del pacifico uvita grocery store
Supermercado del Pacifico, Uvita.
bm supermarket uvita
BM Uvita (under remodel)

Products

Before we get into the unique stores, let's talk about the actual products here in Costa Rica. You may have read that groceries are cheaper in Costa Rica than in the U.S., which is true if you don't have any U.S. brand loyalty. While there are U.S. products here that we love, like Oreos, they come at a price. The price is higher on these products since they are imports and have costs associated with getting them to and into Costa Rice.

Eggs in Costa Rica

eggs in costa rica

Eggs are sold by the weight, typically 1200 colones per kilogram, and are not kept cold as they are in the U.S. Eggs in Costa Rica are not power washed to get rid of salmonella like in the US, so they have their natural coating so they don't have to be in the fridge.

Yogurt in Costa Rica

costa rica yogurtThere is Yoplait yogurt here in Costa Rica and it is sold in plastic containers (buckets), but the local yogurt (Coronado brand) is sold in a jug and lasts about 2 weeks. You will find the yogurt to be more liquid than those found in the U.S.; but great the flavor is good and they have interesting flavors, such as blackberry, peach, lemon, mango, strawberry, etc.

Condiments in Costa Rica

Again there are the U.S. brands of condiments, such as Heinz Ketchup and Mustard, or Hellman's Mayo, but they may not always be the cheapest. Many of the brands, even those U.S. ones came in bags. My guess is that the locals will initially buy the bottle of condiment, but then use the bags to refill the bottle. The bags are significantly cheaper, no matter what brand you choose. However, we've found that using the condiment directly from the bag works just fine.

I'm not sure about you, but I LOVE mayo! (I know some of you may be Miracle Whip fans, but you're going to be out of luck). What I found interesting is that most of the mayo's have lime in them. I was able to find Hellman's brand that had no lime and came in light also.

Laundry Soap in Costa Rica

laundry detergent uvita bm costa rica

Many options of laundry detergent - most of it is sold in large plastic bags.

There are liquid laundry soaps in the stores, but I've found that most locals use the powder, which isn't that unusual in itself; however, the powder comes in bags, which I don't remember seeing in the U.S. (However, I used those awful tide pods that people ate!). If my calculations were right, the powder is cheaper also---but I really like having a nice sturdy container--so will be figuring that out shortly.

Dish Soap in Costa Rica

Similarly, there is liquid dish soap, but most people use the paste. There are different brands, sizes, and fragrances of these dish pastes. I really really like them!!! If I would have not used my dishwasher in the U.S. and done my dishes by hand, I would have loved to have this available. Basically, you just rub your dish rag/scrubber over the top and you pick up a little of the paste and go straight to your dishes. It saves filling the sink with lots of water and dishes seem to go faster (or at least in my head)!

dishsoap costa rica axion
Dish soap cleaning paste

Soups and Spices

Many of the spices and soups come in packets. And many times you'll find you purchase 4 packets at a time, such as our Pico Gallo seasoning.

Alcohol

While maybe becoming more popular in the U.S., we definitely didn't see 1) Smirnoff in cans--usually glass; and 2) mixed drinks in cans. Bamboo brand is mojitos or rum/coke in cans. At one smaller store we saw the BamBoo rum/coke in a liter bottle, which we actually thought was just a type of soda a first!

Both the Uvita BM and the Supermercado have an air conditioned liquor room - it's like a liquor store within a store. The beer is kept in the main part of the store, but liquor, wine and specialty drinks are kept separate.

grocery shopping in uvita bamboo alcohol
Bamboo alcohol
grocery shopping in uvita spices
Spices sold in packets
liquor store uvita bm
Refrigerated liquor area at Uvita BM

Both the BM and the Supermercado have a large variety of liquor and wine to choose from. Wine and liquor are sold in refrigerated portions of the store, in both cases. Although the Uvita store will soon be 100% air conditioned (the only one in the whole area between Palmar Norte and Quepos).

Grocery Prices in Costa Rica

You will find that there are different products available at different stores. For example, we use a Pico de Gallo dry seasoning, which comes in packets of 4---however, in a can at the Supermercado, but not at the BM in Uvita. Surprisingly the BM in Palmar Norte does carry it?!?!

The store brand (we'll call it) for condiments at the Supermercado seems to be "El Angel", but it is "Banquete" at the BM. However many of the brands are the same, such as "DoniaMa" for white sugar; "Bimbo" for bread; or "Dos Pinos" for milk products. Typically you'll find a standard brand, but then one store will carry a different brand than the other store as an alternative.

In an effort to maximize our food budget, we decided to compare prices of our typical groceries between the Supermercado and the BM. What we found is that out of 74 items, 21 (or 28%) of the products were the same brand and price between the two stores. Of the remaining 53 items, approximately half were cheaper at the Supermercado and half cheaper at the BM. However, the price differences weren't significant. For example, Betty Crocker cake mix was .04 colones per gram cheaper at the BM; but Lengena Spaghetti noodles were .08 colones per gram cheaper at the Supermercado.

It should be noted that we did our comparison on the gram, milliliter, and kilogram level (for the most part). You really do

grocery shopping in uvita ketchup

Larger packaging does NOT always mean larger savings.

have to look at prices per measurement, as cheaper overall price doesn't mean cheaper and larger package doesn't always mean cheaper. For example, the Banquete ketchup (photo/left): There is one for 1530 for 610 grams, or 2.51 per gram. The larger size is 2140 for 800 grams, or 2.68 per gram.

Now all of our comparison don't take into consideration any sales that are going on; however, I haven't figured out how to determine if there is a sale before going into the store--like you would in the U.S. There aren't advertisements on TV or in papers, that I've seen (could be, but I haven't seen them. However, it might be helpful to take a laminated copy of the brand, price per measurement when you do go shopping, so you can check as you go.

Be aware of "freebies". Many times you will see a separate (maybe not even related product) that is included with another product. Sometimes it really is free---for example, once I received a 18 oz Pepsi with my 2.5 L Tropical ice tea and the price was the same without the freebie. But many times that may not be the case, so do your due diligence. These are our experiences grocery shopping in Uvita so far.

Store Layouts Are Different

What is interesting about the grocery stores in Costa Rica (at least in Uvita), is the layouts don't always make sense. For example, cheese slices may be found in multiple locations. You may see a case for local versus import brands (or some other weird segregation), so be sure to look around before finalizing your shopping. The layout can make grocery shopping in Uvita challenging, until you learn where everything is located in each store.

Typically, in the U.S. the butter is found with the other dairy products, but in Costa Rica, there is a separate "cooler case" for butter, which is found by the bread--way across the store from the dairy?!?! Or as you can see in the picture below, ice cream is by itself at the front of this store, but all the rest of the frozen food is in the back of the store.

There may even be a specially section, where there is Dijon mustard which is nowhere near the regular mustard.

speciality items uvita grocery
Dijon mustard is nowhere near where the other mustards are located.

Store Qualities

A couple things that set the Supermercado and BM apart are:

  • BM is currently expanding and will be air conditioned by the end of the year.
  • BM has a section for pre-made meals and rotisserie chicken which I haven't seen at the Supermercado
  • The specialty food section was found at the BM, but didn't see anything similar at the Supermercado

However, there are similarities in the stores also:

  • Both have an air conditioned liquor room (not the beer, but wine and liquors)
  • Both stores offer house hold items, such as towels, shoes, pans, plastic storage containers, etc.
  • Both stores have provided a "rebate" when spending over 20 mil. So far I've gotten 2 at the BM and 1 at the Supermercado; which were between 1200-1400 colones. You present the coupon receipt at check-out the next time you shop. Usually valid for 30 days. I haven't found a rhyme to it yet, as sometimes I've spent over the 20 mil and didn't get one.

Uvita Farmers Market (El Mercado)

Finally, the cheapest price for groceries may not be found at a supermarket at all. Uvita's farmers market typically has cheaper produce available than the grocery stores. The Farmers Market also has a wide variety of produce and other items not always available at the grocery stores. It is a good idea to add the Farmers Market to your grocery shopping in Uvita buying routine. Uvita's Farmers Market is every Wednesday, from 8 am - 5 pm, at the Salon Comunal Bahia Ballena.

grocery shopping in uvita farmers market uvita
Uvita's Farmers Market has a large variety of locally grown produce.

In conclusion, this post gives you some ideas around grocery shopping in Uvita, but how you approach it really depends how much time you have, how much time you spend, your budget, and if you really end up saving money by going to multiple stores--we haven't figured that out yet!

Let us know what you think and what your experiences are like. We're new here - and we're still learning!

Amy & Jason

CRLiving@OsaPropertyManagement.com

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lisa and scott norman expats

Costa Rica Living Blog with Lisa and Scott Norman

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Costa Rica Living Blog

Lisa and Scott Norman are USA-Expats living in Costa Rica who want to share their stories with others who are visiting and/or considering a move to Costa Rica. They have experienced the highs and the lows of making a big move and will continue writing about their experiences here, on their Costa Rica Living Blog. Osa Property Management has provided them a platform for them to share their experiences in an unbiased, and personal, way.  The following post will provide a little about their background and what made them ultimately choose to move to Costa Rica. Enjoy getting to know the people behind the Costa Rica Living Blog - Lisa & Scott Norman!

Scott Norman

Scott grew up in Illinois, after attending college he began working in sales.  He first started at a automotive dealership as a scott normansalesman and over many years moved up to Vice President of the dealership.  As time went by, Scott decided it was time for a move to warmer temperatures.  He always loved visiting the beaches of the gulf coast and decided Panama City Beach, Florida was the place for him.  With his many years of sales experience, Scott quickly landed a job selling  yachts and sport yachts for the largest boat/yacht dealership in Panama City Beach.  Although Scott loved being around the yachts and especially the sea trials he decided it was time for his sales experience to go towards a new direction.

Scott had been introduced to a recreational vehicle dealer that was looking for an experienced salesman and Scott was just the man for the job.  Scott continued the rest of his career in the RV sales business and became the 'go-to-man' for Tiffin Motorhomes.

Lisa Norman

Lisa was born in Florida, but grew up in the southern area of Birmingham, Alabama. After graduating from the University of Alabama with her degree in Graphic Design and Photography, Lisa moved just a little north of her hometown where she landed a job in graphic design.  After three years, Lisa was ready to spread her wings and really wanted to move to Panama City Beach, Florida where she vacationed with her family.

Lisa was thrilled to find her 'dream job' and she moved to Panama City in November 1992 and started working as a graphic artist and photographer for a contractor on Tyndall Air Force Base.  Over the years Lisa became the main photographer on base, she documented all types of events to include: award ceremonies, graduations, change of command ceremonies, retirements as well as day to day activities all over the base and on the flightline.  She also shared the responsibility of on-call alert photographer for all after-hour emergencies.

lisa norman f15 camera

Lisa made many wonderful friends while working on base and spent many weekends SCUBA diving and spearfishing with the Tyndall Dive club.   Lisa spent a total of 21 years working at the base, starting off in the staff positions and moved her way up to assistant manager and finally Contract Manager for the Multimedia Center at Tyndall Air Force Base.  Lisa had the opportunity to photograph two Presidential visits as well as numerous other distinguished visitors over her many years on the job.

For all her years of hard work, the wing commander awarded Lisa the a flight in one of the base's F-15 Fighter Jets. Many years later,  Tyndall AFB changed from a training base to a combat base and, unfortunately for Lisa and her staff, at the end of  2013 most contractor positions were replaced by active duty personnel.  Her dream job of 21 years had come to an unexpected end.

Lisa norman f15 jet
After years of photographing F15 fighter jets, Lisa was awarded a flight of her own.

Scott and Lisa met in 2002 and later married in 2004.  They both love the Panama City, Florida, USA, area and the beaches of the gulf coast.  Both Lisa and Scott were very busy with their careers, and they spent most of their free on their boat with friends at Shell Island or riding their Harley Davidson motorcycle with friends.

lisa scott norman harley davidson
Scott & Lisa enjoying an afternoon during their "Harley Years"

In 2017, Scott was eligible for retirement and they decided it was time to sell everything and move to Costa Rica.  Since they arrived in Costa Rica, these Retire in Costa Rica Bloggers have learned many things; from opening a bank account to buying a car and eventually getting their Costa Rica residency. Keep following the Costa Rica Living Blog here at Osa Property Management to learn from their experiences.

Other posts by Living Costa Rica experts Lisa & Scott Norman

lisa and scott norman


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lisa and scott norman

Ex-Pat Living with Lisa and Scott Norman on Moving to Costa Rica

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This is the first of many 'Lisa and Scott Norman Ex-Pat Living' posts. We absolutely love it here in the southern pacific zone of Costa Rica and have been offered a wonderful platform to share our experiences, our learnings and our thoughts with everyone who wants to read our blog.

Trip #1: Guanacaste

We first traveled to Costa Rica in the fall of 2011 with family members. We chose the Guanacaste region because we had a timeshare condo there that we were using.  I vividly recall the winding roads being mostly dirt, not maintained, and lots of potholes, which was totally new to us (we lived in Panama City, Florida, at the time).  But the change was good. Different culture, exciting lifestyle and spending valuable time with family never gets old.

Total time visiting: ~1 week.

lisa and scott norman family

Trip #2: ARCR & Grecia & Atenas

Our next trip to Costa Rica was six years later, March of 2017 to be exact. By then we had decided we may want to retire soon and we had heard that Costa Rica was a popular destination for ex-pats.  With that in mind, we scheduled a very busy fact-finding trip.

At the beginning of this trip we attended a two-day retirement seminar put on by ARCR (Association of Residents of Costa Rica) in San Jose. There we learned valuable information about all things to consider when choosing to retire in Costa Rica.  After our two days in San Jose we visited the cities of Grecia and Atenas in the central valley, to see if these were areas where we might want to live.  These cities were chosen because of our research of having organized ex-pat communities and we wanted to stay somewhat close to the airport in San Jose (SJO - Juan Santamaria International Airport).

Since we were visiting in late March, everything was really dry. As we learned later this was about the end of the Costa Rica summer and not much rain falls during that season.  During this time we were staying in a small, country-side, hotel. It was cute and functional and we saw lots of birds and tropical vegetation.  We really enjoyed the area, appreciated meeting some ex-pats there but felt something was missing...we just didn't know what exactly.

Total time visiting: ~2 weeks

lisa and scott norman bridge

Trip #3: San Isidro del General

After our second trip to Costa Rica, we knew it was the country we wanted to retire in...the only question was 'WHERE in Costa Rica did we want to live?'.  We returned back to Florida and did more research online. It was decided we would head back down in a couple of months and explore the town of San Isidro de el General.  San Isidro (as it is often referred to), is located in a valley in the central-south-pacific area of Costa Rica.

They have flights from San Jose to San Isidro (Perez Zeledon airport), but we chose to drive along Ruta 2 of the Pan American Highway to get to San Isidro. This section of road is called the "Cerro del Muerte" (road of death) due to how dangerous it used to be to drive on. Now, there are breathtaking views, but it is important you pay attention when driving as the road climbs to over 11,000 feet in elevation. Although the locals can make the drive in as little as two hours, it took us four hours since we had never driven it before and didn't know the pattern of the turns.  That trip seemed like it took forever and we were happy to arrive into San Isidro!

We had arranged to stay in a nice house that we found on Air B&B.  It had a view of the city down below and we  began our search for a home to rent for our final move the next year.  We liked the area, it has plenty of shopping and great energy, but again, something just didn't feel right for us.

After a week in San Isidro we decided to take a different route going back to San Jose.  We chose the road that follows the Pacific coastline - called the 'Costanera Highway' (Highway 34 on a map). We saw some spectacular views of the water and finally felt like anywhere along that area would be a place we could finally reside. Having lived near to the ocean our whole lives, we both felt more 'at-home' near the sounds, sights and smells of the ocean.

We stopped for a short while and visited Uvita, Dominical, Quepos, and Jaco on the way back North. We did notice that financially the further North we went, the more expensive everything got.  It was quite a education and a lot of on-the-job-training.  Our thoughts were, we wanted to end up somewhere along the coastline but further south so we were thinking something south of Dominical (and we had 'beach homesickness'). The southern pacific zone has some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Costa Rica.

Total time visiting: ~2 weeks

san isidro del general cathedral
San Isidro's most recognizable landmark is the downtown cathedral

The One-Year Plan is Set

At this point, we knew we were making the right life changing decision of moving to Costa Rica.  I was close to retirement and put ourselves on a one-year plan. This meant that we had a goal of one year to prepare for the big move. This meant the start of letting subscriptions run out, becoming experts at selling our things on Craigslist, having a several garage sales, and whatever it took to sell all of our belongings except what would fit in a small storage building north of our hometown in Florida.

So, in the fall before the big move, we started looking for homes for rent and we picked an area between Uvita and Palmar Norte.  It was a little further south then most people look, but still close to the beaches.  We had scheduled our move for March of 2018 and wanted plenty of time to search for just the right spot.

We found osapropertymanagement.com through a Google search and spoke to the owner Nick.  He had some home for rent exactly where we wanted to be, between Uvita and Palmar Norte in a small community called San Buenaventura.  I thought it was smart to chose a property manager who knew the area and was someone who we could ask questions about where to shop, where to find a veterinarian for our English Springer Spaniel, and where the nearest banks were located.  It was important for us to find someone who actually had hands-on experience.

Trip #4: We found it! San Buenaventura & the Southern Pacific Zone

After taking several trips, and spending almost six weeks living and visiting several different areas of Costa Rica we were confident of our decision.

We made the move to Costa Rica in March of 2018 and have not regretted it one bit!  Nick and his company have been more than helpful, and we consider him much more than just another property manager.  His staff live in this area full time, are bi-lingual, and have been known to bring over some local cuisine for us to try after a Sunday family get together.  Now how can you beat that, there are such wonderful people down here.

Stay tuned for more information about our ex-pat living and all of the fun, adventures and challenges, we have in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica!

Pura Vida!

Lisa and Scott Norman

lisa and scott norman expats


Dominical, Uvita, Ojochal Property Management

Osa Property Management Experts  have lived and managed homes in the region for over 16 years. Not only do we live here, but we are one of the few LEGAL property management companies in the area with legally working, full-time, and fully insured employees (this protects YOU from potential legal problems also).

Our Team will ensure your property is well-maintained and actively rented (if you want to offer your home as a vacation rental).

We are focused on Hatillo, Dominical, Playa Hermosa, Uvita, San Buenas, Chontales and Ojochal property management.

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We ensure our clients, whether renting a home, or buying Costa Rica real estate to develop, have a positive experience.

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