May 12 2015

Our April 2015 Costa Rica Cost of Living

2015a_AprIn April, our Costa Rica cost of living almost came within our goal of spending under $2000, ending the month at just $38.90 over. We had some extra “maintenance”kind of expenses which can be both unexpected and costly. Here’s the scoop.

Groceries – $339.30

Nothing unexpected here, coming in between $300 and $350, as usual.

Transportation – $423.50

To get our 1996 Toyota 4-Runner ready for the rainy season, Paul had some regular maintenance done:

  • New pair of windshield wipers –  $15.21
  • Tune-up – $95.06
  • Oil change, filter, air filter – $65.26

Other expenses were the normal: gas, tolls, and parking.

Meals Out – $102.72

Though we ate lunch quite a few times at Paul’s famous $1 restaurant, we discovered a Mexican restaurant that we kept going back to, even though it doesn’t fit in with our goal of having inexpensive lunches. Luckily, we are usually so full from our lunches there, we don’t want dinner.MariaBonita

Located in Belén, not too far from the Cariari Mall, is Restaurante Maria Bonita, named in honor of the famous Mexican actress, Maria Felix. It is one of three restaurants of this name, the others being in Santa Ana and San Jose. These restaurants are owned and run by a family originally from Puebla, Mexico, and their menu is chock full of tasty dishes commonly seen on menus in Mexico restaurants – tacos al pastor, chilaquiles, enchiladas with salsa verde, even mole poblano. It’s definitely not your regular Tex-Mex. For the two of us, including beverages and a shared dessert, we spent $25-$30 each time.

Healthcare – $131.87

All the normal stuff here — Caja, one prescription that we pay for privately, and some supplements.

Rent, Phone, & Utilities – $824.18

This category was a bit higher than normal in April because it was our turn to pay our housekeeper’s Caja. Covering her and her children, her monthly Caja payment is under $40 (20,300 colones). She cleans our house one morning a week for four hours and we pay her 7,000 colones plus bus fare (a little over $13). Several of our friends and neighbors also use her services and we share the cost of her Caja. With our rotation, we each pay every 5 months so it works out for all involved, and we’re happy to do it.

All other expenses in this category were pretty normal. You can read our breakdown of this category in our article, “Rent, Phone, & Utilities: A Budget Breakdown” which we recently updated.

Other Household Expenses – $46.39

This relatively small amount was due to continuing problems with the fridge in our rental house. The repairman actually came by our house three times. The first time, he charged 15,000 colones, the second time he didn’t charge us anything, and the third time he wasn’t going to charge us but we insisted he at least take money for gas (5,000 colones).

So that's what a defrost timer looks like!

So that’s what a defrost timer looks like!

The new defrost timer he installed last month wasn’t working and everything in the freezer has thawed out. We had to toss some stuff and I went on a cooking spree with the rest. The refrigerator part wasn’t cool enough either, so we bought lots of bags of ice (4,400 colones) to keep food from spoiling. He ended up taking parts from the new timer he’d installed and used them with the old timer (that I luckily had not thrown away yet) and he got things working again. It’s amazing what this resourceful guy can do. Bottom line, the fridge is working again but we don’t know for how long. So, we’re shopping for a new one that, thankfully, the owners of our rental house will pay for. Refrigerators are very expensive here as they are imported items. We’ll let you know what we end up with even though it won’t be included in our monthly expenses.

Entertainment & Travel – $84.78

witopia_logoThe only item of note in this category is the annual renewal of our VPN service, Witopia, for $49.00.  While we mainly use our VPN connection to allow us to access U.S. programming (Netflix, network television, Hulu, etc.), there are a lot of other reasons you may want to consider signing up for a VPN connection which you can read about here.


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