Jan 24 2013

Our 2012 Cost of Living Summary

If you like numbers, you’ll like this article.


The results are in. In 2012, after almost 4 years in Costa Rica, we were still able to live on less than $2,000/month, for a total of $23,525.05/year.

While we spent $1097.69 more in 2012 than we spent in 2011, we still come in under the 5% adjustment for inflation, which has been the norm for Costa Rica in recent years.

Our grocery bill went up 8% in 2012, attributed to increased food costs. We actually spent less in high-end stores like Auto Mercado and Pricesmart and bought more locally.

The 30% increase in transportation spending is mostly due to an accident in February 2012 that required $1,100 of body work to repair. Without that, there actually would have been a small percentage savings over 2011.

Bank fees went way down. Our system of writing a check to our account in Costa Rica, then converting it to colones and spending it down over a couple of months has been working well. Since we rarely need to withdraw money from our U.S. checking account, we rarely have to pay the $8/transaction fees at the ATM. $5.00 of that is assessed by Bank of America in the U.S., and the other $1.50 to $3.00 is on the Costa Rica end for using an out-of-country ATM card from a non-affiliated bank.

We paid 12% more for health care in 2012. Not sure why exactly. Maybe it’s because of all the shots and pain medication (just an anti-inflammatory/antioxidant combo) I’ve been taking for my sciatica. Our monthly Caja (Costa Rica’s national health care program) bill did go up by 23%, but that didn’t happen until late in the year. Still, we think that just over $2,000 for health care for the whole year is great. That includes medical, dental, Caja, any tests and lab work not covered under the Caja, pharmacy, and even vitamin supplements from the macrobiotica (health food store).

We spent 65% less on travel and entertainment than we did the previous year. Guess we’ve just been more content to stay home. But we sure haven’t suffered for it. On the other hand, we spent 65% more on personal care and clothing. Some things finally had to be replaced, plus Paul needed a new pair of eyeglasses.

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