Oct 26 2018

Our August 2018 Costa Rica Cost of Living

Since Paul was in the hospital for the first part of the month (until the 13th of August when he was released), our spending in several categories was not typical.

Transportation – $159.50

We live in San Ramón and Paul was in Hospital San Rafaél in Alajuela, about 45 minutes away by car. Though we have a car, it has a manual transmission and I am not comfortable driving it. Since we live in town, it was simpler to take the bus to the hospital each day. I walked about four blocks to the bus station in San Ramón, caught the bus to the station Alajuela which was the first stop. Then, I walked to the hospital which was about three blocks from the bus station. In the evenings, I would reverse the trip to return home. When one of Paul’s nurses found out that I traveled back and forth every day, she said, “Qué amor!” I replied, “Where else would I be?” We all smiled and Paul said he felt 10 feet tall. “I’m a lucky guy,” he said.

On 11 of the 13 days in August that Paul was in the hospital, I took the bus round-trip at a cost of $5.15 per day. On two of the days — the day of his surgery and the day he was released — I took the bus one-way only at a cost of $2.58 (1,445 colones) per day. Since Paul’s surgery was scheduled at 7:15am, I knew I needed to get to the hospital very early in order to be sure I could spend some time with him before his surgery. I hired a local Uber driver to pick me up at 4:30am and take me to the hospital for a fee of 20,000 colones ($35.65). On the day that Paul was released, friends picked us up and brought us home.

In addition to the public transportation, we also had one fill-up in August ($61.67) with premium gasoline. Paul hasn’t driven since before the surgery but when we need to go anywhere by car, our friend, Bill, drives us in our car.

Groceries – $324.80

I’m actually surprised that our grocery bill came in as high as it did. I did very little actual cooking while Paul was in the hospital. But once he came home, I stocked up on healthy foods and cooked our meals every day. Also, our friend, Bill, came to stay with us on the 14th to take care of our cats and stay in our apartment during our planned trip to Mexico (which was postponed a month due to Paul’s surgery), so that accounts for part of the spending. Also included in the total is lots of bottled water (about $30 worth) which I brought to Paul each day in the hospital and bought for myself as well.

Meals Out – $105.93

Once Paul was recovered enough to take short walks around town, we ate out a couple of times — once during the Festejos San Ramón, our town’s annual festival which lasts about 10 days. Having a meal of barbecued ribs with friends Lorca and Robert has become a yearly tradition. However, most of the meals out in August were during the time Paul was in the hospital and I ate either lunch or dinner out. Usually it was cafeteria food at the nearby Mas x Menos grocery store for lunch or chinese carry-out for dinner at a restaurant near the hospital, averaging about $5.00 per meal. I wasn’t allowed to bring food for myself into the hospital, and the only food I was allowed to bring in for Paul was fruit (which I had to get special permission to bring for him).

Healthcare – $219.27

About $60 of the total went to our monthly Caja payment and the pro-rated monthly amount for our MediSmart plan.

The rest went towards medications – two prescription medications we were taking, and a variety of cold meds for Paul. When the bed became available at the hospital, he had a terrible cold, but when a bed is free, you have to take it or who knows when the next one would become available. I brought him strong cold medicine (which we told the doctors about) and he took it for the first week or so he was in the hospital. Thankfully, his cold was gone before his surgery was scheduled.

Rent/Phone/Utilities – $845.48

Most of our expenses were normal in this category except for two:

First off, we had our apartment cleaned five times in August instead of the normal four because of how the days of the week fell during the month, so our housecleaning expenses are a bit higher than normal.

The other high expense was a complete surprise. Paul and I both have pre-paid (pay-as-you-go) phone service through Kolbi. Once he was in the hospital, there was no Internet available for him. We also kept in touch by phone or text during the hours we weren’t together in the hospital. No problem, we thought, we will just add money to our phones as needed. What we didn’t realize was how expensive that would turn out to be! Of the total $126.67 we spent on phone charges for the month, $107 was for extra data and phone charges during the two weeks Paul was in the hospital. As normal, about $18 was for our Vonage service to the States and Canada.

Personal Care and Clothing – $54.14

Once Paul was home from the hospital for about a week, he was ready to try the steps (our apartment is on the second floor) and venture out. One of his favorite things to do is to visit Mega Ropa, one of the many local ropa americana stores. (We featured it in our recent video, “A Walk Around Our Neighborhood.”) Of course, since I was with him, I shopped also and we both bought several items for about $5 each. Also, during the San Ramón festival, I bought myself one of the red and white “San Ramón: Tierra de las Poetas” t-shirts for 6,000 colones (less than $11 USD). There is a new design every year, always in the colors of our town, red and white. It’s fun to wear it during special events and holidays.

Vet/Pet Supplies – $22.42

Since we were stocked up on kitty litter, our only expenses for Tori and Laura this month were for cat food. (Expect to see an increase in this category next month with a change in food and visits for them both to the vet.)

Entertainment – $135.63

Most of the expense in this category ($99) was for the annual renewal of our subscription to FMTV (Food Matters TV), a streaming TV channel offering a variety of health and wellness programming including documentaries, guided programs, and other videos about healthy eating, yoga, meditation, cooking, etc.

Also, with Paul’s cancer diagnosis, we are looking for natural ways to prevent cancer in the future so I bought a couple of books on the subject, with probably more to follow.

And then there are our normal subscriptions for The Baltimore Sun online (our hometown paper, $1/month) and NetFlix ($11.65).

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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