Sep 12 2014

Our August 2014 Costa Rica Cost of Living Expenses

In August, we once again met our goal of living here for less than $2,000 per month, even though our spending in some categories was higher than normal. 2014_Aug


We actually spent less than normal for transportation, mostly because we put off some regular maintenance on our car until next month when our schedule will be less hectic. I can guarantee you that next month will be higher than normal, but we’ll give you all of the details then.


We normally spend between $325-$350 per month on groceries (which includes toiletries and paper and cleaning products). Except, that is, for months when we visit the big box stores: PriceSmart and Walmart. And in August, we visited both of them. It’s our chance to pick up items we can’t readily find in San Ramon — parmasan cheese, large bags of almonds and walnuts, etc. In August, just the items in this category came to $40 at Walmart and about $68 at PriceSmart.

Meals Out

Because we were out and about a lot in August, we ate more meals at restaurants than normal, especially lunches which we almost always have at home or at Soda Kendy (AKA  “Paul’s famous $1 restaurant.”) in San Ramon’s Central Market. We also went to a Jazz Brunch to hear a great quintet of local musicians.

FreshStepPet Care

Because of our trip to PriceSmart, our pet care expenses were higher than normal. We go every few months to stock up on “scoopable” kitty litter which we can only get there. We bought two 40 lb. bags of Fresh Step litter and paid about $34.50 (18,590 colones, or 9,295 colones each). Unless we have a trip to the vet, our only other pet expense is usually cat food.

Other Household 

Even though our spending in this category was about normal, there is one expense worth mentioning. We had the repairman by to fix our oven again. While we couldn’t find the part we needed here in Costa Rica, he came by to switch the broiler ignitor with the oven ignitor and I could bake and roast again. (The owners of our rental house have since found the part in the U.S. and my sister will “mule it down” when she visits in November. Then I can bake AND broil. Woohoo!) For this “house call,” the repairman charged us a total of 10,000 colones (about $18.50).

Personal Care

While spending in this category was right on, there was one notable expense. Paul signed up for a couple of exercise classes at the University. We have a campus of University of Costa Rica (UCR) right in San Ramon, and they have a very active senior program. He signed up for a walking class two days a week, and a senior aerobics class two days a week. The term is about 12 weeks and the cost was only 5,000 colones per class. So, for less than $20, he has four hours of structured exercise each week. The class is mostly Ticos, so he gets to speak a lot of Spanish and meet some nice people while getting fit. It’s a chance for integration and Paul really enjoys it. (Since the classes are at 7am, and I am NOT a morning person, I don’t go along. Does dreaming of exercising count?)


This is the stuff that doesn’t fit anywhere else in our budget, and in August there were three such expenses. First, another neighbor’s daughter celebrated her Quinceañera (15th birthday), a very important birthday for girls in Latin America. We gave her a couple of little things and a cash gift to buy whatever she wants.

Item #2 in this category was the registration fee ($7ConfRescate0) for me (Gloria) to attend Costa Rica’s first Conference on Wildlife Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release. The three-day conference was held in San Jose and brought together wildlife rescue and rehab centers all across Costa Rica for the first time ever, to meet each other and share all of the valuable experience that each center has gained over the years. The expense was actually only 1/2 of the registration fee ($140 total), the other half being paid by Spider Monkey/Howler Monkey R&R. Thanks Michele and Paul!

Item #3 was a $50 notary fee, paid to the U.S. EmbassyWe needed to have a letter notarized for the company we used for travel insurance back in March, when we went back to Baltimore to sell our house. Before they would pay our claim, they required a notarized letter (written by us), stating that we do not have any other health insurance in the United States. More about this below in our article, “Update: Travel with Confidence When You Purchase Travel Insurance”. As usual, to help put things into perspective, here are our expenses for the previous two months:


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