Sep 14 2016

Our August 2016 Costa Rica Cost of Living

2016-aug2After our big 12-day road trip in July, it was nice to be back home and to have a more normal month of spending. But we have another big month ahead in October when we travel to Mexico for 30 days! And September is usually a big month because that is when we pay our twice-yearly car insurance premium as well as have our RITEVE (annual car inspection) done. But for August, there is not a lot to report, just a few interesting expenses and purchases.

Groceries – $349.34

Groceries came in right at our 2015 monthly average, even with spending $50 at the Nutresol distributor in Grecia. There, we can buy kilo bags of shredded, dry coconut, almonds, cashews, and other nuts, as well as green pumpkin seeds (so hard to find here), sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds. We eat lots of nuts and seeds for protein and good fats, and I make homemade granola with them. Dried coconut goes in the homemade granola too; I also use it to make homemade coconut milk. (Last time I mentioned this, I got lots of request for the recipes, so this time I’ve added the links. Hope you enjoy them!)

Transportation – $291.84

Other than gas and tolls, our only other car-related expense was 70,000 colones (about $128.00) for a bit of body work on our car. While backing up our long, hilly driveway one morning, Paul clipped a tree and dented the passenger’s side bumper, knocking out the blinker light but not breaking it. (In the two fender-benders Paul has had while living in Costa Rica, he’s only hit things, not people!) He took it to Manuel who does body work locally and he only charged 70,000 colones to fix and paint it. In the States, this would have been at least $400.

Healthcare – $216.48

Now that we are spending more of our healthcare dollars on vitamins and other natural supplements, I thought I would break out our monthly spending for August:


The $12.50 for MediSmart is the yearly total pro-rated over 12 months. Take a look at our article for all the details.

Rent, Phone, & Utilities – $786.78


Our electricity bill of just under $70 is a little higher than our bills in the dry season. The reason is that we run our ceiling fans all the time and also use our dryer almost exclusively on laundry days during the rainy season.

Our housecleaning expense was a bit higher than normal as our housekeeper comes on Wednesdays, and there were five Wednesdays in the month of August. We also gave her a raise that took effect towards the end of August. Instead of paying her 8,000 colones ($14.71) for four hours work, we now are paying her 9,000 colones ($16.51). Note: when she started cleaning for us over two years ago, we started her at the going rate of 6,000 colones.

Personal Care & Clothing – $123.40

Haircuts, clothes, and a new electric shaver/trimmer for Paul ($31.68) for at-home beard trims.

Office Supplies & Postage – $53.81

The bulk of this category was spent on three new color ink toner cartridges for our Epson printer ($48.30). We also spent $3 to mail our absentee ballot request to Florida in order to vote in the U.S. election in November.

Bank Fees – $11.00

Okay, here’s a category where we normally do not have any charges. We write checks from our U.S. bank to our Costa Rica Cooperativo (credit union). That way we don’t have the high ATM charges whenever we need cash. It takes a month for the check to clear but usually we plan accordingly. We should have written a check before our 12-day road trip in July, but instead, we waited until we returned to write the check. Bad move. The check didn’t have enough time to clear before we needed cash to pay bills in August, so we needed to use ATMs to access our cash. Gee, I hate to pay bank fees, don’t you?

That’s it for August. 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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