Feb 27 2017

Our January 2017 Costa Rica Cost of Living

January was our biggest spending month ever! We moved to our new unfurnished apartment on January 1st and, though we actually purchased some items in November and December of 2017, we elected to show the expenses in January so that our 2017 annual expenses will include all move-related spending.

$4,931.37 is a lot of money to spend, especially in one month. But if you take out all of the one-time expenses (furniture, appliances, household, hardware, and moving costs), our monthly living expenses for January are actually reduced to $1,945.52. And that includes the increased grocery spending to restock our pantry. So, all in all, we are pleased with what we spent.

You will see a new category in the graphic to the right, “Furniture & Appliances for Apartment.” Eventually, this will get rolled into “Household” but, for now, we wanted to show you how these items break out.

You can read more about our purchases and see additional photos in our article, “What’s Up with the Yeatmans? – Moving, Shopping, and Buying”


  • Used General Electric Smart Clean Large Capacity Washer: $250.00
  • Used General Electric Smart Dry Large Capacity Dryer: $275.00
  • New Atlas 6-burner gas stove: $347.89 (169,017 colones + 13% tax)
  • New Frigidaire refrigerator: $613.85 (298,234 colones + 13% tax)
  • Extended warranty (+24 months) on refrigerator: $163.92 (89,998 colones)
  • New Whirlpool microwave: $54.62 (26,539 colones +13% tax)
  • New Durabrand 18″ high velocity stand fan: $31.51 (17,300 colones)
  • New Proctor Silex 12-cup coffee maker: $23.15  (12,710 colones)
  • New 2-slice toaster: $16.45  (9,030 colones)

For those of you who know the saga of our old toaster, the one I didn’t want to get rid of just because the lever to put the toast down no longer stayed down without a folded piece of cardboard to hold it, nor popped up when done, we finally retired it and got a new one!


  • Queen-size, pillow-top, orthopedic mattress: $358.84 (197,024.64 colones including tax)
  • (2) Bar stools: $67.83
  • King bed frame & mattress (used): $200 + $27.32 (15,000 colones) to have it disassembled and reassembled
  • China cabinet: $163.93 (90,000 colones)

Rent, Phone, & Utilities – $935.58

In January, we actually paid some bills due on our past rental (electricity and water), plus rent and utilities on our new apartment. Here’s the breakdown:

Magallanes House expenses:

  • Water bill for our usage in December: $12.93
  • Electricity bill for our usage in December: $$77.61

San Ramon Apartment Expenses:

  • Rent: $550
  • Tigo offices in San Ramón

    Propane: New tank (for use with gas stove), plus parts and installation: $127.50 (70,000 colones)

  • Internet: $9.11 deposit + $31.61. Tigo, a local company offering cable television and Internet, was running a free installation promotion. All we had to pay in advance was a 5,000 colones deposit to set it up. The deposit was later deducted from our first month’s bill.
  • Phone: $61.23. This includes both of our cell phones and our Vonage line.
  • Housecleaning: $65.57. Our housekeeper came on four days and worked for four hours each time.

Other Household/Hardware – $309.55

  • Curtain rod, dish drainer, plastic holder for flatware, 6 glasses, plastic dishes: $47.487
  • Magnetic screen door (ordered from Amazon.com and brought down by a friend: $20.00
  • Duplicate apartment keys, soap dishes, can opener, 4 small trashcans: $22.13
  • Step stool: $44.80 (23,003 colones)
  • Dryer exhaust hose, super glue, washers to connect washing machine, battery: $5.57
  • Kitchen trash can, storage baskets, mop, soap dishes, 2 pillows, small trash can: $31.13
  • Longer screws for bar stools: $3.39
  • (2) large flower pots, potting soil, gravel, labor to divide and re-pot large plant: $31.88 (17,500 colones)
  • Picture hanging hooks, foam sheets to use for shelf liners: $7.61
  • Lots of miscellaneous stuff from Pequeño Mundo, including a small step-stool, light bulbs, pillows, doormat, bathmat, and more: $46.68
  • Curtains for living room window: $30.60
  • Digital kitchen timer (from Cemaco in City Mall) and picture hanging hooks & ceiling hooks (from EPA): $18.29

Moving Expenses – $81.97

As I mentioned in our previous newsletter, as I packed boxes during the month of December, we loaded them in the car and Paul took them to our new apartment where we stored them in the 1st floor garage. Problem was that on January 1st, we needed to get everything up to the 2nd and 3rd floor living space. We are thankful that two younger, stronger, friends helped us. They didn’t expect payment but we gave them each 10,000 colones as a thank you. It took them less than two hours of hard work to carry everything upstairs for us. Thank you again Dominic and Arturo!

The only other moving expense we had was to pay two guys in a truck to pick up our new used bed in Magallanes and bring it to our apartment in town. We got recommendations on folks who provide this service from friends in town who owned a used furniture business. Problem was the bed was too big to get up the stairs, though they did try. As I mentioned above, we ended up hiring someone to take it apart and put it back together again a day or two later.

Groceries – $491.09

When you are getting ready to move, as we were in December, you want to let things run out. You avoid stocking up or replacing products because that means there’s less to pack and move. So when January rolled around, it was time to restock our pantry, fridge, and freezer. The only big expense was a trip to PriceSmart that cost us about $120.

One thing I will mention about grocery shopping while living in town, it’s so easy to walk a couple of blocks to a grocery store whenever I am planning dinner or run out of something. So, it’s more frequent visits to the grocery stores and (usually) smaller loads since some of the time we’re on foot. I kind of like it, especially having a “mini-super” on one corner and a macrobiotica (health food store) on the other!

Transportation – $239.53

For 2017, I started breaking out our transportation spending into three sub-categories:

  • Public transportation: taxi, bus, shuttles, etc.
  • Gas, tolls, & parking
  • Car repair & maintenance

In future months, I will be writing more about the breakdown. Since we are now living in town and using the car a lot less, we expect the public transportation costs to go up and the car-related expenses to go down. Right now we’re still driving quite a bit as we’re out shopping for furniture and other stuff for the apartment. As I have mentioned before, there is no such thing as “one stop shopping” in Costa Rica. Everything takes longer, especially when you are looking for something specific.

The only spending of note in this category in January was $63.75 to have our car’s brakes checked and to replace the oil seal.

Healthcare – $234.03

Of our January healthcare expenses, only $23.67 was for pharmacy or supplements. The rest went towards medical care. And the bulk of that was due to our visits with an orthopedic surgeon. Paul has been having problems with his knee for years now, and I had been having some bone pain in my ankle. We each had an appointment with one of the ortho doctors at Hospital Metropolitano, through our MediSmart plan. We received a  40% discount off the office visit, so we each paid 18,000 colones instead of 45,000 (about $33 each). I also had x-rays done on both of my ankles for 45,000 colones (about $82) instead of the normal in the same building and receive a 40% discount off the 75,000 colones regular price. Our MediSmart membership has already more than paid for itself and we have been very pleased with the doctors we have seen.

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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