May 24 2016

Our April 2016 Costa Rica Cost of Living Expenses-$2,260.63

Even though we spent more than our goal of $2,000 in April, we’re still happy with the outcome. Not only did we have a vacation in New Orleans, we bought some clothing that’s hard to find here in Costa Rica.

We traveled to New Orleans for International Living’s Fast Track Your Retirement Overseas Conference, where we talked with lots of people about what it’s like to retire in Costa Rica. We shared our experience and tried to help others figure out if Costa Rica’s a good match for their desires and needs.

After the conference, we stayed three extra days at our own expense to explore all that New Orleans has to offer. It was my first trip there since way before Hurricane Katrina, and it was Paul’s first time visiting there. We had a terrific time! There was music everywhere and lots of great food.

New Orleans Expenses

Here’a a breakdown of what we spent in New Orleans for 3 nights accommodations, meals, transportation around town, and our purchases. (Our airfare was paid by International Living.)

Accommodations – $235.00

We spent 3 nights in a private home through Air BnB. We had a private room and bath, plus kitchen access. The room was $70/night, plus a $25 cleaning fee.

Transportation – $39.00 

We took cabs, buses, and of course, streetcars. Daily passes for public transportation were very inexpensive — just $3.00 per person for a 24 hour period, and included rides on all the streetcar lines and buses. We only took taxis when we had our luggage with us.

As is often the case, we enjoyed it all, including riding the streetcars. Take a look:

Groceries – $34.59  

Since we had access to the homeowners’ kitchen, we walked about six blocks to a Whole Foods store and bought Greek yogurt, bananas, frozen fruit for smoothies, chia seeds, bread, and natural peanut butter for our breakfasts each day. It was not only healthier, it was less expensive than eating breakfast out.

Meals Out – $174.47

MulatesWe ate our other meals in restaurants and had some truly memorable meals. We spent just under $175 for three lunches and 2 dinners for the both of us. Our friends, who live in the area, treated us to a fun evening of Cajun food, music, and dancing at Mulates on the 3rd night. Thanks Bill and Barbara! You can see some of why we enjoyed it so much in the “Singing and Dancing in the Streets” video above.

Shopping – $315.09

We also did some shopping while in New Orleans. There is a great outlet mall on one of the streetcar lines and we took the opportunity to buy a couple pairs of shoes for Paul (it’s almost impossible to find his size in Costa Rica) and one pair for me. I bought a new salad spinner and some spatulas in a kitchen shop, some “intimate apparel” in another store, and a pair of cool earrings from the French Market. We also stocked up on some supplements, medications, and personal care items at a couple of pharmacies.

  • $124.27 – 3 pairs of shoes
  • $32.98 – Intimate apparel
  • $14.29 – Housewares
  • $138.55 – Pharmacy
  • $5.00 – Earrings at the French Market

Everything Else – $1,777.57

If you deduct our New Orleans expenses, that leaves just $1,462.48 for the rest of the month. But that’s not truly accurate because we would have spent the money for the clothes, supplements, medications, and personal care items one way or another. So, if you deduct just the travel, accommodations, meals, and breakfast groceries (a total of $493.06), we come up with “normal” spending of $1,777.57 for the month of April. We are more than happy with that.

After you take our our vacation expenses, some of the categories (Groceries and Transportation) were lower than normal,  since we were gone for 8 days. Some categories came in higher than normal because of our purchases (Healthcare & Clothing/Personal Care), and others stay about the same (Rent/Phone/Utilities).

The only Costa Rica expenses of note were both phone-related. First, we purchased an 8 GB SD card ($17.01) to extend the memory on Paul’s smartphone (instead of buying a new phone at a much greater expense), and a new case ($10.40) for my not-so-very-smart smartphone.

We got back to Costa Rica on April 19th from our New Orleans trip, and our expenses were very low for the rest of the month as we almost never left the house. First Paul, and then I, got sick, we think from picking up a bug on the flight home. We slept a lot, took lots of Vitamin C, and spent our time watching videos and reading. Over four weeks later, we still have traces of our colds, but luckily we never had fevers. It’s the change of seasons here in Costa Rica, with the dry season ending and the rainy season beginning and lots of locals are fighting colds, too. Hope you are healthy, wherever you are!

That’s it for April. 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:



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