What a month we had in July! We took a 12-day road trip to Costa Rica’s Southern Zone, continued our focus on natural health, and even got married (for the 2nd time!) As you can see, we are way over our $2,000/month budget but that is to be expected with a 12 day vacation. It will all even out when we do our 2016 Cost of Living Summary in early 2017. Without the expenses for the road trip, but counting in all other expenses (including rent, utilities, housecleaning, & phone), we would have spent $2059.59 for the month of July.
Our Road Trip to the Southern Zone – $1,114.35
First off, let’s look at the road trip. For over a year now, I’ve wanted to travel to San Isidro de El General to see several friends who have settled there. And Paul has been wanting to visit Drake Bay, located on the Osa Peninsula. We’ve been living in Costa Rica for more than seven years & had never been to the Southern Zone, never south of Parque Nacional Manual Antonio. Plus, we now have three of our weather guys/gals in the southern zone. So, we decided to take a 12-day road trip to San Isidro de General, Drake Bay, San Vito, Uvita, and Quepos. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to experience this part of our beautiful country and to visit folks along the way.
You can read all about our road trip in our article, “Our 12-Day Road Trip to Costa Rica’s Southern Zone.” But for purposes of our monthly budget, here is the breakdown:
We kept our lodging expenses low by staying with friends for four nights and finding inexpensive, clean hotels for the remaining seven nights of our trip. We ate most of our meals (other than breakfasts) at restaurants, often only eating two meals a day. We ate when we were hungry, but restaurant meals are usually larger than what we eat at home, so we didn’t eat as often. The most expensive part of our road trip was a tour to Corcovado National Park ($180 for the two of us).
Transportation – Other
In addition to gas, tolls, parking, and public transportation for our road trip, we had a few other car-related expenses in July.
First off, Paul ordered new front seat covers for our 1996 Toyota 4-Runner from a local auto decoration business. He was able to get them in grey fabric to match our car’s interior. Once he put down a deposit and the order was placed, it took a little over a month to get them in. But they look great and only cost 40,000 colones (about $75 USD).
He also got an oil change at our regular place in San Ramón, which cost just under $50 USD. And, of course, the total includes gas, tolls, and parking for our time back in SanRamón.
Healthcare – $421.88
July was a big month for healthcare expenses. Here is the breakdown:
As I have written in past newsletters, we have increased the amounts and kinds of supplements we are taking. I know that this is a controversial subject, but we are experiencing positive differences, so we plan to continue on this path. I have also started seeing an alternative health doctor in San Jose. The initial consultation was 40,000 colones (about $74 USD).
Paul and I both had dental cleanings locally in SanRamón. Our dentist does the cleanings herself. She does not have a dental hygienist. The cost for each of us was 18,000 colones (about $33 USD).
Also included in our healthcare expenses for the month are our Caja payment, the cost of a prescription not covered under the Caja, and our pro-rated monthly expense for MediSmart.
Pets – $64.82
Back in Baltimore, $64.82 might be a normal month’s spending for pet care, but here in Costa Rica, it’s high. In addition to cat food and litter, we needed to take both of our cats, Tori and Laura, to the vet. We noticed that their appetite was down and at least one of them (probably Laura) was throwing up once or twice a day. They’ve both been really healthy, and mostly stay indoors, so we couldn’t figure out what the problem might be.
Then we remembered that we bought cat food about a week before. Maybe we bought the wrong brand? On closer observation, the new cat food did look a little different from the old food (Cat Chow). So back we went to the store where we purchased the food and were told that the new food was, in fact, Cat Chow. But…the company had changed the formulation recently. The store took back the unopened bags we had purchased and I settled on a different food which I hoped would agree with both of our kitties.
We also brought them to our vet the very next day. She gave each of them injections to settle their stomachs, as well as their regular shots, and told us to give them 30% less food for the next five days, plus probiotic tablets which we were to break up and mix in with their food. Total cost for our vet visit, injections, and probiotics: 17,500 colones ($32.35). Luckily, we had a small bag left of the original formula Cat Chow, so I mixed it with the new food until it was gone. We were delighted to see that both kitties like the new food and there is no more throwing up!
Miscellaneous – $41.07
This category is a catch-all of donations, gifts, and anything that doesn’t fit anywhere else. The only expense of note was 12,000 colones ($22.18 USD) for me to sign up for an 8-week Spanish Conversation Class sponsored by the Community Action Alliance. They offered Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced conversation groups, with each class lasting 1 ½ hours. I have to admit, I have forgotten a lot of what I learned in our previous years of Spanish classes. I can make myself understood, and can understand most of what Ticos say if they speak slowly enough. But I definitely need to devote more time to practice. When we eventually move into town, I will have lots more opportunities to practice my Spanish!
That’s it for July. As usual, to help put things into perspective, here are our expenses for the previous two months. If you want more information about a particular month, just click on the graphic for that month below: