Jan 09 2014

Our December 2013 Costa Rica Cost of Living

Another calendar year has ended and, in our next newsletter, we’ll share our end-of-year cost of living report, including monthly averages for each category. In the meantime, here’s how we did for the month December, 2013.

Like most people, we spent more on groceries in December. We did more entertaining in our home, and Gloria did lots of holiday baking – Christmas cookies (including Italian biscotti, which has become a tradition), pumpkin bread, herb bread, and cranberry-walnut bread) and cooking. For dinner on Christmas day, she made an authentic Mexican Fiesta Mole which called for 19 ingredients in the sauce alone. And she turned left-over roasted pumpkin into pumpkin butter with the addition of spices and apple juice. So, it’s not surprising that we spent about $100 more than our average on groceries.

Ingredients for Oaxacan "Fiesta Mole"


Another category that came in higher than normal is transportation. Though we stayed close to home most of the month, we took an overnight trip to Nuevo Arenal, about a three hour’s drive each way, to visit friends and that, of course, meant an extra tank-full of gas. In December, we also paid our Marchamo (annual vehicle registration fee) which was just over $200 this year (100,141 colones). Though it’s mostly based on the value of your car, and even though the value of our 1996 Toyota 4-Runner decreased, our Marchamo increased a bit. Go figure.

Our “meals out” category was also a bit higher than normal. We ate out at restaurants during our trip to Lake Arenal. And we went out to a nice restaurant for Gloria’s birthday – Lira, in Palmares is our go-to special occasion restaurant.

Us at Lira Restaurant, all decorated for Christmas

Our “health care” category included Paul’s visit to the dentist for a cleaning (cost: 18,000 colones or about $36.00). Pet expenses were low, low, low. Guess we had stocked up on cat food and kitty litter the month before. Our “miscellaneous” category was higher due to some donations we made and gifts we gave to others. Paul and I don’t exchange Christmas presents anymore (part of our living simply/”less is more” philosophy) so that kept the gift expenses down. Nothing else is especially notable. All in all, it was a pretty good December as far as expenses go.

As usual, to help put things into perspective, here are our expenses for the previous two months:



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