Oct 21 2015

Retire for Less in Costa Rica – October 21, 2015

Welcome to our Retire For Less In CostaRica Newsletter

Paul and Gloria

In This Issue:




Our September 2015 Costa Rica Cost of Living Expenses

2015_SeptEvery September, it’s the same story. It’s always a expensive month for us, mostly due to car expenses. So to those of you who are getting around by public transportation (bravo by the way), this is some of what you are missing.

Transportation – $502.37

September is our month for two big things: RITEVE (annual car inspection required for all vehicles) and our car insurance payment (for 6 months).

The insurance payment is easy. Every 6 months, we go to the INS office and pay our premium. For the options we have chosen, the cost of our car insurance for 6 months is $80,265.00 (about $152 USD). We have liability coverage, emergency road service, and coverage on anyone in our car or driving our car. We dropped collision coverage several years ago due to the high deductible and the fact that it only covers 60% after the deductible.


This is the Riteve location we go to in Puntarenas.

The RITEVE inspection itself isn’t expensive — less than $20. But, of course, since we want our car to pass the very detailed inspection, we have our mechanic go over the car and fix anything that needs fixing. This year, we knew we needed to have the master cylinder replaced as well as having some other regular maintenance done. Here’s the breakdown of what we spent on car repairs and maintenance and the actual RITEVE inspection:

  • Master cylinder: 20,000.00 colones ($37.80 USD)
  • Repair tail light: 8,000.00 colones ($15.12 USD)
  • Wheel balance & alignment: 9,000.00 colones ($17.01 USD)
  • Oil change/filter: 24,500.00 colones ($46.31 USD)
  • RITEVE : 9,930.00 colones ($18.77 USD)

Including our car insurance, these extra expenses accounted for 151,695 colones (about $287) out of our September transportation total of $502.37. The balance is made up our normal monthly expenses for gas, tolls, parking, and public transportation. So, all in all, our transportation expenses came in about $150 over our average spending in this category.

LasVegasLas Vegas – $124.67

You won’t see a category called “Las Vegas” in our spreadsheet. The individual expenses were actually allocated to the appropriate categories. But it is worth mentioning that we were traveling for 5 days in September to man a table at International Living’s “Fast Track Your Retirement Overseas” Conference. We got to talk to a lot of nice people about our lives in Costa Rica and tried to help them figure out if they might be happy here as well.

TraderJoesLVSince IL paid all of our travel expenses, there were 5 days during which our meals were covered. But you will notice that our “Groceries” category still came in right about at our monthly average of $350. This is because we more than made up the savings with a trip to Trader Joe’s, which was conveniently located in a shopping complex near the hotel. Shopping at Trader Joe’s is one of the few things we really miss about being back in the States. So what did we buy? Some of our favorite things: dark chocolate covered coffee beans, triple ginger snaps, AkMak crackers, bags of nuts, some dried figs, coconut oil, rice vinegar, and dark chocolate bars with hazelnuts. Mmmmm.

Here’s a breakdown of our Las Vegas expenses:

  • Cab ride to the mall: $10.00
  • Trader Joes: $69.21
  • Gifts: $33.49
  • Magazines (“National Geographic” for Paul and “Cooking Light” for me): $11.97

Groceries – $346.64

pequenomundoGroceries were right on budget. Other than our Trader Joe’s purchases, the only thing of note is a higher than normal spending for non-food items – 19% as compared to the normal 13%.  That’s mainly because we made one of our several per year stops at Pequeño Mundo. There is a new one close to the RITEVE location we go to near Puntarenas. It’s kind of a “dollar store” on steroids. We’ve bought things like dish detergent, scrubber sponges, picture frames, candles, car mats, mixing bowls, dishes, socks, cleaning products…the list goes on and on. It’s one of our favorite places to shop “for cheap” — of course, it’s only cheap if you buy what you need and don’t get tempted by everything else.

Rent/Phone/Utilities – $837.06

Though it isn’t obvious, this is the category where we account for expenses related to our housekeeper. She comes once a week on Wednesdays for 4 hours each time. We also pay her Caja once every several months. We actually share this expense with the other couples for whom she cleans. In September, she came five times due to the way the Wednesdays fell on the calendar, plus it was our month to pay her Caja. So, these expenses led to a slightly higher total in this category. All other expenses were in line with normal spending.

Healthcare – $258.65

dentalPanoramcXrayIn addition to our normal healthcare expenses, September was a big dental care month for Gloria. I had panoramic digital dental x-rays, saw the dentist three times (though she only charged me for one time…yes, really), and purchased a couple of bottles of dental rinses she recommended.

Here’s the spending breakdown:

  • Digital panoramic dental xray: $37.81
  • Dental rinses: $22.08
  • Dentist: $18.94

What would these things cost where you live?

Related Articles:


Our Ultimate Healthcare Tour of Costa Rica

Our newest tour is 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 six and a half 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 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.

Related Articles:

Featured Property: Jaco Beach: 1BR Villa in Downtown Jaco-$129,000

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Total Rooms: 3

# Bedrooms: 1

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Total SqM:  63


This beautiful villa is located at Jaco downtown.

It features: 1 bedrooms, a/c, walk in closet, 1 bathroom, 1 living room, fully equipped kitchen, parking space. Beautiful gardens around the terrace.

This community is surrounded by exotic green areas, a large common pool, bbq area, rancho and 24 security. Just a few steps from the beach, shopping, and restaurants.


  • Villa
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  • Near Highway
  • Near Public Transportation
  • Garden Parking
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  • Near Bus
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  • Near Schools
  • Near Shops
  • Near/On Beach
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Click here for more photos and information 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.


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What’s New on the Website

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