Apr 11 2019

Our February 2019 Costa Rica Cost of Living

I was plesantly surprised with how low our monthly spending was for February. In fact, I checked my spreadsheet several times just to be sure I didn’t miss anything!  

Transportation – $57.24

In February, we didn’t have any car repair or maintenance, though we did buy new car mats for $11.08. Over the years, we’ve found the best prices for these at Pequeño Mundo. Otherwise, our only expenses were for gasoline and a couple of small tolls. When we head towards Grecia, Alajuela, the airport, or San Jose, we go through a toll which charges 150 colones (about 25 cents) in that direction only. There is no toll when we return to San Ramón.

Groceries – $435.91

Super Asia in Tibás

Once again, our grocery expenses totaled over $400 for the month, and February is a short month. We had house guests for the last week of the month so that accounts for part of it. Of the total $435.91, 88% was for edibles and the other 12% was for non-food items.

I am trying to do a review of what we’ve spent for various items over the years to get a better idea of how much prices have changed for items we purchase regularly, so stay tuned for that. We went to PriceSmart during the month to stock up on goodies for our friends’ visit. We also went to Super Asia, an asian grocery store in Tibás, San Jose, where I bought two packages of wonton wrappers, one bag of 20 gyoza dumplings, some fish sauce, soy sauce, and a bunch of Chinese veggies, spending $25.16.

Meals Out – $108.04

We ate 5 meals out in restaurants in February, hitting all of our favorites. In our town of San Ramon, we ate at both Filipos and Savory a la Thai, our two favorite restaurants. Filipos is located right in town, just outside the entrance to the Feria de Agricultura and very close to the Univesity of Costa Rica campus. Filipo’s mediterranean cuisine never disappoints. The menu varies every few months or so with new dishes added to the standard favorites. There is also a daily special and a featured dessert. My favorite is the gyro sandwich with either chicken or falafel, though you can order it with pork or beef as well. Our meal at Filipos came to less than $18 for two.

Fish Tacos at Mas Q Sabor

When we’re in Grecia, we love to eat at Johnny Lara’s Mas Q Sabor. They offer the best Mexican food we’ve had in Costa Rica, with everything from mole to incredible fish tacos (some of the best I’ve had anywhere) to traditional Tex-Mex favorites and fresh salads with a Mexican flair. For the three of us, our dinner cost $32.85, including one beer and a shared dessert.

Evidently, February was our month for ethnic food. One Sunday, we also visited Wong’s in San Jose for authentic dim sum with four friends.

Dim Sum at Wong’s

Wong’s is located near the Jade Museum so it’s easy to make a day of it and combine it with a visit to the museum or any of the parks. It’s great to go for dim sum with a group so that you can try more items. Dim sum, if you’ve never tried it, is a selection of small bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets or on a small plate, including various types of dumplings, pork buns, soups, and other appetizers. We mostly ordered off of the dim sum cart but also ordered a couple of items from the regular menu to share. Our friend, Annie, is Chinese so she helped us choose from the many selections available. Everything was delicious and no one went away hungry! Our meal for two came to $23.68.

Healthcare – $71.38

No big expenses in February when it comes to healthcare. The two expenses we always have are our monthly Caja (Costa Rica’s public medical system) payment of 26,772 colones ($44.25) and our monthly pro-rated expense for the MediSmart plan. If you aren’t familiar with MediSmart (a discount plan offered by Hospital Metropolitano), you can read more about it at this link. Other than these two expenses, our only other healthcare expense in February was for some supplements we bought at one of the local macrobioticas (health food stores).

Rent/Phone/Utilities – $763.81

We purchased a tank of propane in February which we use just for cooking with our gas stove. One tank lasts us about 3-4 months and costs less than $12.00. Electricity was about average, coming in at about $54.00 USD. Our rent of $550 is paid in US dollars so always stays the same, whereas our internet service through Tigo is paid in colones; though the billed amount is the same each month (22,775 colones), the dollar conversion varies with the exchange rate.

Personal Care and Clothing – $67.83

The hairdresser I had been using for the last couple of years moved out of the area so I had to find someone new to cut and color my hair. A new salon had opened in our block several months before so I thought I would give them a try. For the cut and all-over color, I paid less than $20 USD (12,000 colones), and I was very pleased with the results. 

The rest of the spending in this category went to clothes purchases for Paul. First off, he bought two beautiful like-new, long-sleeved shirts at Mega Ropa for $9.26 total (2800 colones per shirt). And later in the month, Paul picked up his tailor-made black khaki pants which he had ordered from William, el sastre (the tailor) down the street. He paid less for them (23,000 colones or $38.02 USD) than he would have for a similar pair from Lands End.

Pet Supplies – $22.75

Since we were stocked with kitty litter, our only expense in February was for cat food. We upgraded their food about 6 months back to Science Diet Urinary Care formula which is much more expensive in Costa Rica than in the States.

Entertainment  $46.74

In addition to our usually monthly costs of $11.68 for Netflix and $2.00 for Paul’s online subscription to the Baltimore Sun, we only had one other expense in this category. We went to a dinner theater presentation by Costa Rica’s own Little Theater Group. The event was held at Vientos Bajos in San Ramon in conjunction with their “A Taste of Spain” tapas dinner. It reminded us of how much we loved going to local and regional theater productions when we lived in Baltimore. It was a fun event and a great time shared by friends old and new.

FYI, Vientos Bajos Activities Center, near San Ramon de Alajuela, Costa Rica, is a state-of-
the-art sports and activities complex combining recreation, fitness, sports, and social
and cultural activities at one convenient location. The 10,000 square foot center
features two gymnasiums for pickleball, basketball, volleyball, and badminton; two
catering kitchens; a fitness area; ping pong area; and activities for cards, puzzles, board
games, or just relaxation. The focus of the center is on retired expats in the San Ramon
area. You can get more information by contacting vientosbajos@gmail.com

Services – $12.40

We have the luxury of having our clothing ironed, as needed, for less than $1 USD per piece. In February, we had a total of 15 shirts/slacks/blouses ironed by a lady in our neighborhool for a total of $12.40. As we have noted many times, services are a bargain here, whether it’s having the house cleaned, clothing ironed, or shoes and watches repaired.

As usual, to help put things into perspective, here are our expenses for the previous two months reported. If you want more information about a particular month, just click on the graphic for that month below:


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