May 20 2016

Retire for Less in Costa Rica – May 20, 2016

Welcome to our Retire For Less In Costa Rica Newsletter

Paul and Gloria

In This Issue: 



Our April 2016 Costa Rica Cost of Living Expenses-$2,260.63

Even though we spent more than our goal of $2,000 in April, we’re still happy with the outcome. Not only did we have a vacation in New Orleans, we bought some clothing that’s hard to find here in Costa Rica.

We traveled to New Orleans for International Living’s Fast Track Your Retirement Overseas Conference, where we talked with lots of people about what it’s like to retire in Costa Rica. We shared our experience and tried to help others figure out if Costa Rica’s a good match for their desires and needs.

After the conference, we stayed three extra days at our own expense to explore all that New Orleans has to offer. It was my first trip there since way before Hurricane Katrina, and it was Paul’s first time visiting there. We had a terrific time! There was music everywhere and lots of great food.

New Orleans Expenses

Here’a a breakdown of what we spent in New Orleans for 3 nights accommodations, meals, transportation around town, and our purchases. (Our airfare was paid by International Living.)

Accommodations – $235.00

We spent 3 nights in a private home through Air BnB. We had a private room and bath, plus kitchen access. The room was $70/night, plus a $25 cleaning fee.

Transportation – $39.00 

We took cabs, buses, and of course, streetcars. Daily passes for public transportation were very inexpensive — just $3.00 per person for a 24 hour period, and included rides on all the streetcar lines and buses. We only took taxis when we had our luggage with us.

As is often the case, we enjoyed it all, including riding the streetcars. Take a look:

Groceries – $34.59  

Since we had access to the homeowners’ kitchen, we walked about six blocks to a Whole Foods store and bought Greek yogurt, bananas, frozen fruit for smoothies, chia seeds, bread, and natural peanut butter for our breakfasts each day. It was not only healthier, it was less expensive than eating breakfast out.

Meals Out – $174.47

MulatesWe ate our other meals in restaurants and had some truly memorable meals. We spent just under $175 for three lunches and 2 dinners for the both of us. Our friends, who live in the area, treated us to a fun evening of Cajun food, music, and dancing at Mulates on the 3rd night. Thanks Bill and Barbara! You can see some of why we enjoyed it so much in the “Singing and Dancing in the Streets” video above.

Shopping – $315.09

We also did some shopping while in New Orleans. There is a great outlet mall on one of the streetcar lines and we took the opportunity to buy a couple pairs of shoes for Paul (it’s almost impossible to find his size in Costa Rica) and one pair for me. I bought a new salad spinner and some spatulas in a kitchen shop, some “intimate apparel” in another store, and a pair of cool earrings from the French Market. We also stocked up on some supplements, medications, and personal care items at a couple of pharmacies.

  • $124.27 – 3 pairs of shoes
  • $32.98 – Intimate apparel
  • $14.29 – Housewares
  • $138.55 – Pharmacy
  • $5.00 – Earrings at the French Market

Everything Else – $1,777.57

If you deduct our New Orleans expenses, that leaves just $1,462.48 for the rest of the month. But that’s not truly accurate because we would have spent the money for the clothes, supplements, medications, and personal care items one way or another. So, if you deduct just the travel, accommodations, meals, and breakfast groceries (a total of $493.06), we come up with “normal” spending of $1,777.57 for the month of April. We are more than happy with that.

After you take our our vacation expenses, some of the categories (Groceries and Transportation) were lower than normal,  since we were gone for 8 days. Some categories came in higher than normal because of our purchases (Healthcare & Clothing/Personal Care), and others stay about the same (Rent/Phone/Utilities).

The only Costa Rica expenses of note were both phone-related. First, we purchased an 8 GB SD card ($17.01) to extend the memory on Paul’s smartphone (instead of buying a new phone at a much greater expense), and a new case ($10.40) for my not-so-very-smart smartphone.

We got back to Costa Rica on April 19th from our New Orleans trip, and our expenses were very low for the rest of the month as we almost never left the house. First Paul, and then I, got sick, we think from picking up a bug on the flight home. We slept a lot, took lots of Vitamin C, and spent our time watching videos and reading. Over four weeks later, we still have traces of our colds, but luckily we never had fevers. It’s the change of seasons here in Costa Rica, with the dry season ending and the rainy season beginning and lots of locals are fighting colds, too. Hope you are healthy, wherever you are!

That’s it for April. 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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The Yearly Invasion of the Abejones

They’re here. They came right on schedule this year, the abejones. In the States they are known as June bugs, but here in Costa Rica they arrive in May. We saw the first ones the end of April, just after the first rain of the season. The rain softens the earth so they are able to rise up from it, mate, and lay their eggs, which will grow to continue the cycle the following years. Though they are not harmful to humans or pets, they can damage lawns and plants, and can be extremely annoying.abejón

They fly like drunken pilots, bouncing off the walls and flying into your hair. They show up at night time and, like many insects, they are attracted to the light. It’s impossible to enjoy reading in bed with a light on (or just the light from your e-reader) while they are around. Even when you turn off the light and try to go to sleep, the sound of them pinging against the walls is annoying. So we keep a fly swatter handy, get out of bed, and wait for them to light on the wall or a curtain and…swat! Then, once it’s finally quiet, we can go to sleep.

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Featured Property-Jaco Beach Area: Cute Turnkey 2-Story in Playa Hermosa-$149,000

900131010-2804Listing ID# 900131010-28


Total Rooms: 5

# Bedrooms: 2

# Bathrooms: 1

Total SqM:  110


Nice 2 story home in the much desired Opera Salvaje community in Playa Hermosa, near Jaco Beach. Just 10 minutes from Jaco, all restaurants, clinics and activities, yet in one of the safest and more secure neighborhoods in the entire Central Pacific.

2 Bedrooms, 1 bathroom with a nice setup for a small family. Nice-sized yard fully landscaped. Covered patio walkway around whole house, mini-split A/C, energy-efficient windows and a quaint, cozy feel.

All other homes in this neighborhood go for over $250,000.


  • Air Conditioning
  • Garden
  • Security – Surveillance
  • Furnished
  • Near Public Transportation
  • Near/On Beach
  • View – Great
  • CATV/cable

Listing ID# 900131010-28

Click here for  more photos and to contact the realtor for this property.

Though we recommend you rent, rent, rent when you move to Costa Rica, we realize that some folks will still choose to buy, either early on or after they’ve been here for a while. We recommend purchasing properties under $150,000 because they are both easier to buy and easier to sell. Though we are not realtors, we work with trusted realtors who have many other properties in this price range available. The homes we feature are just a sample of the properties the realtors we work with have, both above and below $150,000.

Click here to check out our other properties under $150,000 and read about what to do before you buy.


Our Ultimate CR Healthcare Tour: Announcing a Special Tour with Focus on Cancer Treatments in Costa Rica

We are proud to offfer the Ultimate Healthcare Tour of Costa Rica. When asked what he liked best about our healthcare tour, one of our guests wrote, “the wide variety of places we saw, the experts that Paul HCTOUR_030arranged for us to meet and talk with, and an emphasis on all aspects of health, not just doctors and hospitals. Mental health is just as important as physical, if not more so.”HCTOUR_008

We’ve lived in Costa Rica for over seven years and have used the Caja, Costa Rica’s public healthcare system extensively, as well as the private system, when needed. We’ve learned the system and have been referred up the ladder to see specialists in the maze that is the Caja system. Gloria’s even had surgery here.

Our blend of personal insights and on-the-ground experience combines to answer your questions about whether or not Costa Rica’s healthcare system could meet your individual needs.


But, while it is focused on healthcare, you will learn a lot more about living and retiring in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. Most of the second day of the tour takes place in the town of San Ramón where we live and use the services. And you will come to our home for lunch that day to listen to two of our featured speakers.

Our tour is designed to save you both time and money, packing a lot of information into a short period of time. Our goal is to show you the possibilities and to try to demystify Costa Rica’s healthcare system. Our tour lasts two days and 1 night and includes lodging, transportation, meals and non-alcoholic beverages.

Sample Itinerary

You’ll visit:

  • At least two private hospitals in San Jose area
  • Hospital Mexico, the largest and best public hospital (they even do open heart surgeries there)HospitalMexico
  • An insurance broker for a presentation on the various supplemental health insurance options, including public, private, and international plans
  • A senior living retirement community
  • CPI language school for a presentation about how learning Spanish increases your options for healthcare and some basic medical Spanish.
  • Our local hospital here in San Ramón
  • A local EBAIS (community clinic)
  • A local private medical and dental clinic
  • A local Seguro Social office where you would sign up for the Caja (national healthcare coverage)
  • A pharmacy
  • A local feria (farmer’s market) where you will see the abundance of fresh food available.
  • The local Cruz Roja (Red Cross) to learn about their services and programs.
  • A health food store (macrobiotica), and more!


You’ll learn:

  • If the Costa Rican healthcare system could meet your needs and put your mind to rest, once and for all, about this sensitive subject.
  • About the public system and how it works, about the private healthcare system, and how you can use a combination of both to your advantage.
  • About the EBAIS – where healthcare starts in Costa Rica.
  • Approximately how much you would pay for Caja.
  • About medical tourism in Costa Rica.
  • About home health care in Costa Rica.

Introductory prices: $550 for a couple, $450 for a single.
Please contact us if you are interested in booking this tour. Space is limited.

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