One of the reasons my husband and I moved to Costa Rica, was to live smaller – in a lot of ways. We wanted to get out of the “more more more” mentality (more money, more material things, etc.), and concentrate on more important things. With both of us quitting our jobs, of course this meant learning to live on less money as well. I admit, I had concerns about this – we were so used to just buying whatever we needed, and really – whatever we wanted. I never looked at price tags while we lived in Dallas, Texas. Awful, I know… After being that way for so long, could I just “change”?
Shortly after moving here, I sat Greg down for a serious conversation (which always scares him), and told him I wanted us to try to live in Costa Rica on a budget for the next month and see how little we could live on. Lucky for me, Greg is ALL about saving money.
With both of us quitting our jobs, of course this meant learning to live on less money as well.
Granted, we could live on a lot less than we did, but we knew we wanted to go out to eat a few times with friends, and do a few other fun things, not really “deny” ourselves something if the opportunity arose. So – here you have it, we budgeted $1,200.00 for the month of August, 2013, and this is what we itemized it on:
$550.00 – Rent (including water, electricity, WiFi)
$320.00 – Groceries/Farmer’s Market
$40.00 – Bus
$40.00 – Yoga (Greg & me)
$40.00 – House cleaner once a week (including 2 loads of laundry)
$20.00 – Cell phone minutes (Greg & me)
$190.00 – Extra
Besides our normal activities, we also fit in the following from the “Extra” money above:
a few lunches out at sodas (small cafés, with typical Costa Rican food)
a Sunday brunch out with friends, plus a shared taxi ride
“guy time” (Greg & friend Mark went into town for lunch and a few beers one day)
a few baking items and other small purchases
At the end of the month, what we ACTUALLY spent was just a little bit under the $1200.00, and a few dollars got moved around from one category to another. For instance, we only used $4.00 of the $20.00 we had set aside for our cell phones. We just refilled our pay-as-you-go-minutes the other day at $2.00 each(!), and the minutes last us about a month & half. We both kept our iPhone 4S’s, which we had unlocked after leaving the States, and then purchased local phone numbers that came with minutes and a sim card (at $2.00 each).
However, it has been really fun for me to make my own items from scratch–I feel like the pioneer woman (or… pionero chica).
When our minutes get low – we just refill (which you can do almost anywhere in town — the grocery store, bus stop, side of the road…). For the internet/data – we just use the WiFi when we are home or in a free WiFi area in town. So, when you compare $100 (my phone bill in the states) to $2, well, there’s no contest. Also, the bus money ($40.00) got moved into the “extra” fund, as we kept using change we had laying around for the bus.
Overall, I feel we really didn’t deny ourselves too much for the month. In fact, honestly – not at all. We try to mainly buy fresh foods, and eat in most days. I’ve been on a “homemade” kick lately, and honestly, am fantasizing about doing more. It’s fun, I have the time, it saves money, tastes fresh, it’s a great sense of accomplishment, and my hubby loves it! Here’s my first attempt – pizza crust from scratch (toppings: tomato sauce, chicken, basil and mozzarella cheese). This dough recipe made 2 pizzas, so it covered us for 2 nights worth of dinner!
Also made my own bread the other day, and it turned out great too! Actually, it was so good, that between myself and Greg (and a small chunk gifted to our sweet neighbors), it was devoured within a few minutes. I think I mentioned that the bread from bakeries here, in general, is not like what I’m used to in the States. It’s possible to find good bread (and we have), but it’s rare and a little pricey. Those who know me, know that baking desserts are usually my thing (not cooking real “meal time” food…). However, it has been really fun for me to make my own items from scratch–I feel like the pioneer woman (or… pionero chica).
So – there you have it. How to live on $1200/month in Grecia, Costa Rica. Easy peasy.
Losing the Glut: Living in Costa Rica on a Budget
About Jen Beck Seymour
Jen is the author of four books, all found on Amazon. When Jen is not writing, she is either hiking, making jewelry, baking, sipping coffee, reading, playing piano or enjoying a glass of wine. Her next adventure is to hike Spain’s Camino de Santiago this fall. You can see her vlog of the AT, as well as the future Camino on YouTube under “Appalachian Trail Tales.”