Jul 09 2017

Our May 2017 Costa Rica Cost of Living

In May, we were happy to see another month well below our goal of $2,000. We came in at $1,853.32, with no major purchases to outfit our new apartment in town.

Transportation – $286.46

We had some car repairs done to our 1996 Toyota 4-Runner in May which came to $214.76. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Replace bearings and seals: $154.14
  • Add oil: $8.36
  • Fix oil leak: $52.26

We spent $4.44 on taxis and $67.26 on gas, parking, & tolls. We continue to use about one tankful of gas per month, now that we’re living in town. We can walk to many places we go or we can grab a taxi which is both quick and inexpensive. It’s great to be able to leave our car parked in the garage for days on end.

Groceries – $329.00

Our grocery bill seems to be back to normal again this month. Hopefully, those $500 months are behind us.

Of the $329 total for May, 89% was for actual food and 11% went to non-food purchases like paper products, dish soap, and flowers.

Of the 31 days in May, we purchased grocery items on 20 of them. We definitely run out to the store more often since living in town since everything is so convenient.

While we’re talking about groceries, I have some exciting news! I’ve been working on a book for years and it’s in the final formatting and editing stage. It’s called, “Cooking in Costa Rica: An Expat’s Guide to Buying Groceries, Cooking, and Eating in Costa Rica.”

It’s a food guide and on-going reference tool for when you are shopping for groceries and cooking both familiar and new foods in Costa Rica. It will be released as a Kindle book, so you can download it on your smart phone or iPad and take it with you whenever you shop. A paperback book will be available as well in the coming months.

The book includes an English/Spanish and Spanish/English dictionary of foods, cooking terms, and things you find in the kitchen, as well as recipe substitutions, a U.S. measure to metric conversion guide, food and cooking related resources, and a bonus section of recipes from other Costa Rica bloggers and cooks. I will be sharing more info about the book and how you can get your copy in the next newsletter, so stay tuned!

Meals Out – $106.22

Of the $106.22 we spent on meals out in May, almost $60 of it was for lunches out. The main reason is that we made several trips to Alajuela and San Jose which meant meals on the go. Of all the meals we had in sodas and restaurants, the only one that was memorable was dinner at Savory a la Thai in San Ramón, which is fast becoming our favorite restaurant here. You should definitely check it out if you are in the area!

Healthcare – $182.31

Paul had quite a few medical appointments in May: blood tests, an ultrasound, a colonoscopy, and a follow-up appointment with his gastroenterologist. However, since we did it all through the Caja, it didn’t cost us anything outside of our monthly Caja payment of $50.

The rest of the healthcare expenses for the month went towards supplements and colonoscopy prep products.

This is the first month we aren’t showing a MediSmart payment. Our year with MediSmart ended as of May 15th and we haven’t renewed yet. Since we are heading to Mexico soon, we will wait to renew until we return.

Rent/Phone/Utilities – $785.77

Here’s the breakdown:

Our electricity remains a bit higher than we would like but I attribute it to having to use the dryer on laundry days, plus having electric hot water heaters in our apartment. Our last rental in the country had outdoor clothes lines and propane hot water. City living, unfortunately, doesn’t allow for hanging our clothes outside to dry.

Our housecleaning expense is a bit higher since our housekeeper cleans every week on Wednesday mornings and there were five Wednesdays in the month of May.

We purchased one propane tank refill in May for 6,800 colones (a bit over $12 USD).

Personal Care & Clothing – $69.01

Since we’ve been living in town, it’s a lot easier to stop in the Ropa Americanas on a regular basis. There must be at least a half dozen of these stores within five blocks of our house. That means more clothing purchases because, after all, who can resist a bargain? We can find gently worn shirts, dresses, and pants at prices between $1.75 and $5.00. Our general rule is that for every new item we purchase, one already in our closet gets given away or discarded. I have to admit, I don’t always follow that rule! If you don’t know about Ropa Americanas, you can read all about them at this link.

I had my regular hair cut and color at the salon near our apartment. Total cost was 10,000 colones ($18).

We also had a friend who was visiting bring us some toiletries we ordered from Amazon.com which accounted for about $26 of the total spent in this category.

Pets – $13.66

Our kitties, Tori and Laura, remain healthy so the only expense here was for cat food. We switched a while back to Wiskas which is readily available here. They seem to like all the flavors so we switch it up for them from time to time.

Entertainment – $11.58

I guess we made our own entertainment in May as we spent less than $12! This was for our monthly NetFlix bill, plus a 3 month trial subscription to Spotify. Paul loves his music!

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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