Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cost of Living Part 1 - Orosí 2007

The cost of living was an important aspect of our decision to move to Costa Rica. The hype said that we could live here with either:
  • the same quality of life as the states for about 2/3 the cost, or
  • a much better quality of life for about the same cost as in the states.
Since we also needed to determine *where* to live long-term, we decided to start with just the basics. Once we find our "perfect place," we could worry about adding in extras. This experiment has had added benefits - we have been living closer to the culture than we would have if we had jumped right into high-end living.

An assessment of the cost of living is meaningless unless you know *how* we lived.

In Orosí, our most representative month was May, 2007. We were renting a small, furnished apartment in a small town. We had no car, no phone, no post office box, no cable TV (the antenna got us a few local channels) - all utilities were included in the rent. We went to internet cafes several times each week. We ate out at restaurants an average of 2 meals per day - none were extravagant though, as they were usually less than $5 each. We shopped at the local supermarkets, and occasionally went into Cartago (when we couldn't find what we needed). We didn't shop at the feria (the nearest was in Paraíso). We hired our landlady's housekeeper to also clean our apartment and do our laundry one day per week. Although we had USA medical insurance at the time, I don't include it as a normal cost of living in Costa Rica. Our total for the month, including averaged one-time-only purchases was $1,060.

Here is the breakdown of costs:

5/1/2007 through 5/31/2007 (in U.S. Dollars)

Item - Dollars - Averaged One-time
Dining Out - $500
Groceries - $280
Rent - $130
Medicine - $30
Local Travel (bus, taxi) - $6
Internet - $15
Electric - $0
Gas (cooking) - $6
Long Distance - $10
Laundry - $20
Cleaning Service - $20
Entertainment - $15
Miscellaneous - $0 - $4
Bank Charges - $0 - $1
Clothing - $0 - $3
Furniture - $0 - $10
Moving - $0 - $10

Total => $1,032 + $28 = $1060

Part 2 is our cost of living in Alajuela in January 2008, and part 3 is our cost of living in San Pedro in early 2009.

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