Mar 18 2018

Our January 2018 Costa Rica Cost of Living

In January, our spending was back to normal, totaling $1,826.57 for the month. Here’s the breakdown:

Transportation – $72.74

No car repairs this month and only one fill-up totaling $54.66 for our Toyota 4-Runner, plus $11.48 to top off our oil. We also had some miscellaneous tolls and parking fees.

Groceries – $495.25

Another high month for groceries. Of the total amount, we spent 86% on food ($426.48) and 14% on non-food items ($68.77). I’m not exactly sure why. I can’t blame it on excessive PriceSmart visits (we did go once) or holiday entertaining. Are food prices rising or are we just spending more liberally? Time will tell and then we will tell you too.

Meals Out – $55.81

A typical casado

Our January spending on meals out is more like normal for us. For $55.81, we had five lunches out and two snacks.

When we eat out, we try not to frequent pricey restaurants. Eating out in Costa Rica is not usually a bargain, unless you eat at sodas (small, usually family-run, eateries serving traditional Costa Rican fare like casados and gallo pinto.

When we were in San Jose on the last day of the month, we ate at a Caribbean restaurant there and spent almost $20 for lunch.

Health Care – $127.33

For $127.33, we paid our monthly Caja, Paul went to the dentist for a regular cleaning, and we paid for some probiotics that a friend picked up for me in the States.

This amount also includes our pro-rated Medi-Smart membership fee which was $180 for the year, paid last month. For those who aren’t familiar with the plan, Hospital Metropolitano’s MediSmart is basically a discount plan, offering 40% to 80% off of everything from appointments with specialists like dermatologists and gynecologists to X-Rays, lab work, and even hospital rooms and operating room time. We have some appointments through Medi-Smart in the coming months, so we will report on the services and costs in future newsletters.

Rent, Phone, and Utilities – $821.08

Here’s the breakdown for this category:

Rent, Utilities, & Housecleaning – January 2018

Rent, internet, phone, and electricity spending was normal. Our overall spending in this category was slightly higher than normal for two reasons: We purchased a tank of propane which we only need to do every 2-3 months. Also, there were five Wednesdays in January; that means five cleaning days instead of four, so our housecleaning expenses were 25% higher than normal.

Personal Care & Clothing – $57.44

Socks and a shirt for Paul, sunglasses for me, and $35 of toiletries “muled in” from the States — nothing too exciting. Ropa Americana is still our first choice for good quality, inexpensive clothing and since we live in town, we frequent the many ropa americans here. If you aren’t familiar with these stores, you can read Paul’s article about them at this link.

Entertainment – $25.42

White-faced monkeys at Playa Doña Ana

In addition to our NetFlix payment of $11.65 and Paul’s subscription to the Baltimore Sun Online ($7.96), we also had our first beach day of the season at Playa Doña Ana. For a full day at the beach, it costs us entrance fees of 1,500 colones for me, 750 colones for Paul since he’s over 65, and 1,000 colones to park in their secure lot — a total of less than $6 USD, including all the monkey-watching you want!

Office Supplies/Postage – $31.71

January was time for us to renew our post-office box in San Ramón. The price went up again this year to 16,000 colones (about $28 USD). Since we share the box, and therefor the cost, with a friend, our share of the fee came to $14.14. Here’s a link to “Paul’s Monthly Tip to Live for Less in Costa Rica: Rent a Post Office Box” for more details.

Additional expenses in this category included $14.02 for a black printer cartridge and $3.55 to ship a case for my new Huawei P10 Plus from a store in San Jose.

Other Expenses of Note

Tori and Laura sleeping

A trip to PriceSmart always means stocking up on Fresh Step Kitty Litter for Tori and Laura, our two cats; that plus cat food brought our pet care expenses to $33.01 for the month.

We spent $37.24 in the “Other Hardware/Household” category for some new drinking glasses and some purchases ($25.98) from TIPS in Alajuela. If you aren’t familiar with TIPS, it’s a great place for all of your cooking and baking needs. I needed a new oven thermometer and kitchen timer, and wanted a silicone baking pad (notice the terms “wanted” and “needed!”) With my love of cooking and baking, I could go crazy in this store, but I try to restrain myself. Just click on the image to the right to visit their website. It’s in Spanish, but there’s always Google translate.

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