Aug 01 2016

Our June 2016 Costa Rica Cost of Living

2016-JuneAnother month under $2,000…that’s always a good thing. As we mentioned last month, we have started taking more vitamins and eating more organics, so these changes impact both our grocery and healthcare spending. Here’s the breakdown for the month of June.

Groceries – $254.11

Since we stocked up last month on expensive items like nuts, seeds, and coconut, our total grocery spending for June was much lower than May’s. We continue to buy organic when we can. It would be great to grown our own organic produce. I wish I loved to garden like many of our friends, but unfortunately, I have trouble keeping my mint plant alive. Que lastima!

Transportation – $341.80

We had some minor repairs and maintenance done on our Toyota 4-Runner. Seems like it’s always something when you own a car. Luckily, we have a good mechanic who charges fair prices. Here’s the rundown:

  • New starter, installed: $83.96
  • New front shock absorber (part only, labor free): $74.63
  • Recharge the car’s air conditioning: $28.04

The rest of the spending in this category was the normal stuff — gas, tolls, parking, and car washes.

Healthcare – $251.05

VitaBiosaOne thing that has been hard to find in Costa Rica is a good probiotic. When I ask for it in the farmacias, I usually get a blank stare. But when we visited one of the holistic doctors for our healthcare tour focusing on cancer, she had a bottle on her desk of something called VitaBiosa, a fermented liquid probiotic which she told us is very good. She told us where we can buy it in San Jose — I have yet to find it anywhere else. So off we went and bought two big bottles at about $30/bottle. The doc told me to take one cap full, twice a day, though the directions on the bottle say to take more. At first taste, I have to say that it tastes like rotten fruit, but it seems to be helping my digestion, so I’m going to stay with it. Plus, I’m not going to waste $60!

Another new expense in this category is our monthly MediSmart plan which we joined in June. Our cost was $150 for the whole year for both of us. We are showing it in our budget as a monthly charge of $12.50. MediSmart is offered by Hospital Metropolitano in San Jose. It is a plan of pre-paid medicine that covers all services for a person or a family at very reasonable prices. It offers discounts on specialists and services, up to 80%. MediSmart is a great option for folks like us who have the Caja but want something to help cover private health care. It’s also a good for people who can’t join the Caja until their residency is approved, or aren’t able to get (or qualify for) expensive private health insurance.

To get all the details about MediSmart, read our article, “An Affordable Alternative to Private Health Insurance in Costa Rica,” below.

Other expenses in this category were the normal—our Caja payment, prescriptions for medications not offered by the Caja, and supplements.

Other Household Expenses – $142.55

By far, the biggest expense in this category was a new blender. We use our blender at least once a day — Paul for his breakfast smoothie and me for making coconut milk, salad dressings, and lots of other things. We’ve been buying inexpensive blenders for years now and they never last. It was time for a hardier blender but I just couldn’t bring myself to buy a VitaMix or Blendtec, which each cost upwards of $400.

LaMolinaSo we decided to go middle of the road, purchasing a reconditioned KitchenAid blender for ¢70,000 ($130 USD) at a local store (Supermercado La Molina in San Ramon, in their 2nd floor housewares department). Though the KitchenAid warranty was only for 3 months, the store  extended a 1 year warranty. Warranties are kind of a new thing in Costa Rica, barely heard of when we arrived more than seven years ago, but things are improving. After using the blender for 2 weeks, the wheel, which fits in the base and makes the blender go round, started to shred. Darn! So we returned it and found out that they would first try to repair it. When it turned out that the part needed couldn’t be obtained, they took back the blender and let us choose another.

blenderThis time around, we went with the Black & Decker 72 oz XL Blast Drink Machine, for ¢64,370 colones ($119 USD). To put it in perspective, if we were in the States and bought the same blender, it would have cost us only $60. But we got it right away and didn’t have to wait for someone to bring it to us from the U.S., or pay shipping and customs duty to have it sent to us here. We have accepted that paying higher prices for electronics and household appliances is just part of living in Costa Rica. And by buying the blender here, it is covered under warranty which, as we’ve seen, is important. So far, the blender is working great. It’s made for making smoothies and frozen mixed drinks so we think this is the perfect blender for us…at least until we decide to splurge for the VitaMix!

That’s it for June. 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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