May 29 2017

Our April 2017 Costa Rica Cost of Living

In April, we were happy to see a month well below our goal of $2,000. We came in at $1,733.87, with no major purchases to outfit our new apartment in town.

Transportation – $79.24

This was probably our lowest month ever in this category. We had no major car repairs or expenses. Here is the breakdown:

  • $13.14 – Public transportation
  • $49.92 – Gas
  • $7.19 – Car wash
  • $8.99 – Repair muffler

Living in town and leaving our car parked unless we really need it has been a huge cost savings for us!

Groceries – $505.66

April was yet another high spending month on groceries. Three of the last four months have come in around $500 per month for groceries. At least in April, I can say that we went to PriceSmart which accounted for $131.00 of the total. With easier access to organic produce since we’ve been living in town, we buy it every week, and that has contributed somewhat to our higher grocery expenses. We have also been doing a lot more entertaining now that we’re settled in.

I think that having easy access to grocery stores, pulperías, and carnicerías is a contributing factor to our higher spending as well. When we lived in the country and didn’t have something we wanted or needed, we would weigh a trip into town against what we wanted and often decided to do without or fix something else to eat instead. Now, with lots of options within a couple blocks of our home, it’s too easy to pick up this or that. We will either have to rein in this tendency or just accept the higher spending for groceries.

Of the total spent in this category, $455.56 (90%) was for food and the remaining $50.09 (10%) was for non-food purchases.

Meals Out – $92.02

With grocery spending going up, at least our meals out are a bit lower for the month. We spent $92.02 in April which includes seven lunches (for one or both of us) and two dinners out.

Healthcare – $199.50

In addition to our normal healthcare expenses (monthly payments for Caja and MediSmart), our healthcare expenses for April include two visits to the acupuncturist (Gloria), one massage (Paul) and various supplements.

Rent/Phone/Utilities – $738.99

Here’s the April breakdown:

Electricity continues to run around $60/month. We were hoping that would go down but so far it hasn’t. It’s most likely due to running the dryer every week. We really miss being able to hang clothes outside on the line to dry.

Pets – $37.56

A trip to PriceSmart always means picking up some scoopable litter for our kitties as, in our town, we are limited to bags of clay litter. A 42 lb. bag of Fresh Step costs 9,495 colones (about $17) at PriceSmart and we pick up a bag or two every time we go.

In addition to litter and cat food, both kitties also got new collars and we bought some more cat toys to hang on the scratching post I built for them.

Entertainment – $66.63

As usual, in April, we spent $10.59 for NetFlix. I bought a Kindle book for $1.99. But the bulk of our entertainment budget went towards a trip to Termales del Bosque near San Carlos. It’s our “go-to” hot springs. It’s more of a Tico family place than one geared for tourists. We like the natural setting there, especially the walk through the woods to get to the springs.

Hot Springs at Termales del Bosque

The cost for a day’s access to the hot springs is just 6,000 colones but if you include the full buffet lunch, the cost is 12,000 colones per person (about $21.50). They also offer massages and other spa treatments, either in their spa building or in a small treatment room located in the woods. While we were there, Paul had a neck and shoulder massage for less than $20 (this expense is included under healthcare).

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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