Feb 09 2015

Our January 2015 Costa Rica Cost of Living Expenses


Groceries – $324.25

Our grocery budget was right on, falling between $300 and $350, just where we like it. We’ve been asked a couple of questions related to groceries that I would like to answer here.

First off, a reader asked for a breakdown between food and non-food purchases so we’ve started to break that down in our more detailed spreadsheet. Here’s the breakdown of the $324.23 total grocery expenditures:

  • Food purchases: $269.24
  • Non-food purchases: $55.02

The non-food items were cleaning products, paper products, toiletries, healthcare items, fresh flowers, charcoal for and fire starter for the grill, etc. The non-food expenses were probably a bit higher than normal since we made our once-every-few-month-stops at PriceSmart, Pequeño Mundo, and Walmart, stocking up on some things we either can’t get in San Ramon or can get much more cheaply there. It will be interesting  to see how this breakdown shakes out over the upcoming months.

One of our readers also asked:

I am in Atenas for a week now. Renting a small casita near town. I have noticed groceries are no less than in the US. Wondering how you only spend $360 per month or thereabouts on groceries month….

Are you eating meat?

Good question. To answer her question, yes, we do eat meat, usually one or twice a day. We don’t buy much in the way of packaged/processed food. I bake most of our bread and cook mostly from “scratch.” Also, groceries seem to be less expensive in San Ramon. There aren’t as many expats, mostly Ticos, and that seems to keep the prices lower. You can read more in our article, “Our Costa Rica Food Budget Breakdown.”

Transportation – $276.23

Car2In January, we had some maintenance done on our car, and we bought a part for some work we were going to have done early in February:

  • Repair a tire with a screw in it: 2,100 colones ($3.93)
  • Wheel alignment: 6,000 colones ($11.24)
  • Balance & rotate tires: 7,000 colones ($13.11)
  • Inspect & adjust brakes: 10,000 colones ($18.73)
  • Purchase a part to fix the “check engine light”: 30,000 colones ($56.50 USD)

The rest of this category is made up of gasoline, parking, tolls, and an occasional taxi or bus fare.

One thing to mention here is that gas prices have been going down in Costa Rica, just like in the U.S. At the highest, we were paying about $5.50 per gallon and it is now down to about $3.60 per gallon (about 95 cents per liter), the lowest it’s been during our 6 years in Costa Rica.

Healthcare – $145.87

As usual, this category is made up of our monthly Caja payment, one prescription we pay for out-of-pocket, and various other over-the-counter items like Paul’s Chanca Piedra which you can read about in the article below. This month, there is only one item of note. Our monthly Caja payment went up slightly for the new year, by about $3.RopaPurchases

Personal Care/Clothing – $21.45

Okay, I admit it…I went on a shopping spree, but at least it was at Ropa Americana! I bought a pair of denim shorts, a cute floral skirt, and four tops and spent a whopping 7,200 colones ($13.56). Also in this category, I bought a new pair of flip flops for the beach for 2,000 colones ($3.75) and Paul had a haircut for 2,000 colones ($3.75).

Office Expenses – $54.97

It was time to stock up on printer ink for our Epson XP printer. It uses 4 separate cartridges (black, cyan, magenta, & yellow) and they can run out at different times, so we try to keep an extra of each on-hand. Cost: 29,355 colones ($54.97).

NOTE: We’re still working on our 2014 Cost of Living Summary and hope to have it for you soon, so stay tuned!

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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