Nov 22 2019

Our June 2019 Costa Rica Cost of Living

In June, we came close to our goal of spending $2000 for the month. Transportation, Healthcare, Personal Care/Clothing, and Pet Care came in higher than normal. Here’s the breakdown:

Transportation – $272.23

Though we only had one fill-up at the tank in June ($59.38) we had some car repairs on our 1996 Toyota 4-Runner which totaled $101.20:

  • $51.46 – replace refurbished front disc stabilizer bar and clutch adjust
  • $35.16 – oil change & lube
  • $10.29 – balance tires
  • $4.29 – get a new ignition key made

We also had an expensive day of Uber rides totaling $29.84 when we needed to go into San Jose on a Friday. There are driving restrictions during the week, with the day varying based on the last digit of one’s license plate number and our day is Friday. (Ivo Henfling of GoDutch Realty wrote an informative article about how this works in this article: “Costa Rica vehicle restriction or tag day.”) We had been in Alajuela in the morning for Paul’s doctor’s appointment. We left our car parked and took Uber from there to our destination in San Jose and back, costing us about $15 each way, including tip.

Groceries – $236.51

Our grocery bill in June was lower than normal as we were gone for about a week. We were in Escazu to speak at the International Living Conference and then do three days of Post-Conference Tours. Of the total spent on groceries in June, 90% was for food ($212.99) and 10% was for non-food items ($23.52).

Meals Out – $67.32

During the week we were in Escazu, our meals out were either paid by International Living (during the three-day conference) or business expenses (during our post-conference tours). For the remainder of the month, we spent $67.32 on meals out.

We had a couple of quick breakfasts on the run after doctor appointments. We had a great lunch at our go-to restaurant in Grecia, Mas Q’Sabor ($20.33 for Paul and me) where we love the fish tacos and appetizer soups. We also enjoyed two dinners out, the first at our long-time favorite in San Ramón, Filipos ($22.06) and one at Restaurante El Kiosko in Sarchi where we head when we get a craving for Chinese food ($13.84) and don’t want to drive to San Jose.

Healthcare – $318.96

This month’s healthcare expenses were a little high for a few reasons. First off, we stocked up on some supplements prior to our trip to Mexico. Also, Paul came down with a bad chest cold and cough later in the month and we kept going back to the pharmacy for cough medicine and other medications.

Also, I had an appointment with our dentist for teeth cleaning (20,000 colones, or $34.31 USD). The cleaning is done by our dentist, not a hygienist, and she spends one hour to do a thorough exam and cleaning.

By the end of the month, Paul was still fighting his chest cold so we decided it would be smart to be proactive, knowing that we would soon be traveling. We both wanted to build up our resistance prior to getting on the airplane. So, we went to Clinica MediPlus Grecia (NOT to be confused with “MediSmart” as they are not related) for IV Vitamin C therapy.  We each received 25,000 mg of Vitamin C. It took about 30 minutes and we did it together! Cost was 30,000 colones each ($103.14 total USD). IV C, though controversial, is good for so many things, including fighting cancer, so we thought we would give it a try.

Of course, the total in this category also includes our monthly Caja payment as well as the pro-rated monthly amount we paid for our annual Medismart plan

Rent/Phone/Utilities – $778.45

While most expenses in this category were normal, our phone expense was higher for the month of June. Cell phone service for both of us came to a whopping $51.39 which is about $20 higher than normal. We had a busy June, with lots of tours scheduled, so we used our phones more for both calls and data. Our cell phone service is pre-paid which means we don’t have a regular plan. We pay as we go and only add money to our accounts when the balance runs low. In addition to our cell phones, we also paid $18.98 for our Vonage VOIP line which allows us to keep a U.S. phone number.

Personal Care and Clothing – $182.18

Our spending on clothing is usually minimal. We both like to shop at Ropa Americanas which carry used and sometimes new clothing at low prices. However, some things we always buy new, like shoes. In June, we bought three pairs of shoes from Payless, one pair for me and two pairs for Paul. Payless is one of the only stores in Costa Rica that carries shoes in Paul’s larger size.

And since he is also taller than most Ticos, he has been having pants tailor-made at the local sastrería (tailor shop). Willy does a great job and uses high-quality fabrics. He charges Paul 23,000 colones per pair ($39.12 USD). After 10 years in Costa Rica, Paul is having to replace most of his pants so he had one more pair made in June. Plus, Paul likes to visit Willy and the other locals at the sastrería several times during the week, just to chat and be part of our local community.

Pet Care & Supplies – $81.75

In addition to buying Science Diet cat food ($23.47) for our kitty, Laura, and stocking up on Fresh Step kitty litter at PriceSmart ($20.46 for a 42 lb. bag) our out-of-the-ordinary expense was for our much-loved cat, Tori.

We told you last month about our losing Tori. As we mentioned in the postscript, after being very ill for most of May, Tori lived for another three weeks, into June. We spent as much time close to her as possible. There were moments when she seemed like her old curious self. But she had stopped grooming, hardly purred, and every day we could see the increasing weight loss and lethargy.

Finally, we decided that the time had come to say goodbye. We arranged for our local vet to come to our house to euthanize Tori. She was surrounded by people who loved her. The only pain she felt was the initial injection of a sedative. Our vet friend from the States was there and he confirmed that the procedure was done well and humanely. We wrapped Tori in a blanket with one of her favorite toys and the next day we buried her on our friends’ beautiful finca, with the sound of the nearby river, flowers, and birds in the trees. We will be forever grateful that we had those last three weeks with her. Tori was a force, a loving animal, with a strong purr and playful spirit. We will miss her greatly. 

The cost of the vet’s home visit to euthanize Tori was 20,000 colones ($33.78).

Entertainment  $46.10

Though the first part of June was dedicated to being with our kitty, Tori, and the middle of the month was busy with our relocation tour and healthcare tour clients as well as the International Living Conference, we ended the month with a bit of fun by attending the Little Theatre Group’s presentation of “Sunday in the Park” at Vientos Bajos in San Ramón. There were three skits, interspersed with music from the San
Ramon Recorder Ensemble. It was a lovely afternoon of entertainment, followed by a reception with the performers after the show. The cost was 10,000 colones ($17.30 USD) for Paul and me to attend.

Our only other entertainment expenses were our monthly Netflix bill (now $13.81/month), Paul’s subscription to the Baltimore Sun online ($2.00), and the purchase of a Kindle book ($12.99).

Miscellaneous/Household – $16.63

Light bulbs, our monthly donation to our local Cruz Roja, and a few tips here and there came to $16.63.

Services – $14.58

We have the luxury of having our clothing ironed, as needed, for less than $1 USD per piece. We spent $14.58 for the month of June to have Paul’s shirts (and an occasional blouse of mine) ironed by a local lady.

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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