Cost of living in Costa Rica…”how much can you really save?”
One thing that I have always stressed about Costa Rica has always been the cost of living. It doesn’t always mean a lot if you can’t combine it with all of the other good things but it has been suggested that I compare an income of $3000 per month and its commensurate expenditures in the States with the same amount in Costa Rica. My friend says that he thinks that this alone will increase my business by 25%…well, I disagree with that part of the equation but here goes: ( and please keep in mind that I am really out of touch with expenditures in the States )
For purposes of simplicity , it is assumed that the budget and expenditures are for two people living in a home of approximately 1500 sq. feet …the couple being of social security age and retired…the home is paid for, there is no debt and the state of residence is a median : https://www.ziabis.com/
1. Utilities: $350
2. Insurance…car and homeowners: $250
3. Food: $400-500
4. Medical insurance: $300
5. Medical costs…doctor and medicine: $500
6. Homeowner taxes: $200
7. State and federal taxes: $100
8. Clothing: $200
9. Entertainment: $200
10. Gasoline and car expenses: $400
11. Misc. : $500
Guess I should have stopped…already well over $3000 per month. Obviously the above was Stateside costs.
Here is Costa Rica:
1. Utilities: $100 (this is higher than normal but assuming that gringos will not cut back on many things. Also includes internet)
2. Insurance: most do not have any insurance but am factoring in $50
3. Food: $250…this is high but includes virtually unlimited fruits, vegetables, fish and chicken
4. Medical insurance: $150
5. Medical costs: doctor and medicine $250 …this includes the equivalent doctor visits and medication
6. Homeowner taxes: $25
7. State and federal taxes: probably zero
8. Clothing: $100
9. Entertainment: same costs but will go twice as far…$200…a good meal here will set you back $6-7 apiece.
10. Gasoline and car expense: approximately the same but you will probably not drive as far…mechanics bills are less but gas is slightly higher. Cars are more expensive but much less to care for. $400 and this amount will give you enough funds to explore almost weekly.
11. Misc. $250
Total is under $1800 and there are numerous ways to cut back.
Here is also a list of expenditures that are definitely not mandatory but probably will be utilized by most gringos:
-Maid service…clean house once weekly for 4-6 hours: $15
-Lawn service/gardner: $18-20 per day…most common tools are machete, weed whacker and -possibly lawn more.
-Rebuilt starter for car: $5-10 for labor and cost only for parts (estimated at $25)
-Delivery service from downtown Grecia to house (13-14 minutes away) : $5
-Taxi service for same: $6
-Bus for same: $.50
-Bus from here to Manual Antonio, pacific side (3 hr. plus drive…$8)
-Dentist charge for fixing chipped tooth (good as new..) $15…cavity …$20
-Dog grooming: $12
-DVD rental: same movies, same quality $2-3 per two nights.
-Coffee, whole bean, you brew…one kilo (2.2 pounds) $4.50
-One pair, mens trifocals (yes, lineless) with exam, top quality frames… $225. Superb service and quality.
-Many items are the same cost as in the States as they are imported. A six pack of Dr. Pepper, for example is probably about the same cost. On the other hand, good quality beef from -Argentina or local (remember, I said GOOD quality or equivalent) is about half of the cost IF you know where to shop.
-Vehicles cost more, primarily because of the customs duty and taxes. Figure the same car as in the States or Canada will cost a minimum of 50% more.
-Gas is approximately the equivalent of $5 per gallon.
You can have your own furniture designed for a fraction of what a prefab piece would cost “back home”. If you have pictures of a style you like, bring it with you. The country here is not big on inventories and virtually everything is custom made.
Favorite things to do that don’t cost much…
Sunday drives (or any other day… hey, you are retired) spend all day driving through five microclimates and topographies that vary from (as examples) volcanoes, waterfalls, huge canyons and valleys, cooler mountain weather, cloud forests, and agricultural land…total distance driven less than 100 miles…cost with lunch for two: less than $35
Gardening..technically you could spend a fair amount of money (still probably less than 20% of what you would spend in the States though) although most that live here make do with cuttings and “borrowings” from neighbors and maybe a little “midnight gardening”. You can almost watch the plants, flowers and trees grow daily and the differences from one season to the next are astounding. We have two trees that (and remember please, we are in the mountains!) that have grown literally 8-12 feet in nine months…one is a hardwood, the other is unknown.
Drive to the ocean… from here to the beach only 1 ½ hours through the mountains on one of the most scenic drives in the country. See crocodiles, macaws, parrots , monkeys… all in an afternoon. Stop at one or two of the roadside stands and pick up fresh fruit for a song.
When you explore you will discover places that will become your favorites and you will keep going back…some of ours are : the topiary at Zarcero (check out guidebooks or one line for details ) … Laguna Hule, which is a lake almost in the middle of nowhere just outside of Bajos del Toro which is a cloud forest just a few minutes drive from Sarchi. It is a great drive and fantastic place to spend an hour or two over coffee or snacks and enjoy the surroundings…the lake is viewed from above and boats of any kind are not allowed there. Almost like Switzerland…the ferry from Puntarenas to either Playa Naranjo and Pacquera and in between offers literally dozens of small, white sand beaches which are almost always secluded…find a boat for rent, go snorkeling or fishing…the area is stunning and almost deserted. ( you can drive your car onto the ferry and then drive once you reach the peninsula). You will quickly make your ow