Cost of living

People ask me all the time about the cost of living here.  I have to stop and think about it.  For my husband and I, we spend just under $1,200 a month on the two of us.  Keep in mind, we don’t own a car, so this includes our transportation in taxis and taking the bus.  We also smoke, that include the cost of our cigarettes.  Having residency here, we have to pay for our medical insurance.  This amount also includes our mortgage on the house.   There are something that are more expensive here than in the US.  Electronics for one, they have a very high import tax, but that helps with the social security program to help medical cost.  Insurance for the both of us per month is about $130.  This covers everything, prescriptions, x-rays, surgeries, and dental.  If it is something that you have to have, it will be covered.  If it is something that you don’t have to have, you can get it for a discount or go private and pay out of pocket.  Just recently I needed an ultrasound.  I didn’t feel like going all the way to the hospital to make an appointment, then have to go back again for the appointment.  I called a private clinic that is much closer to me.  I saw the doctor, spoke with him, had the ultrasound done, spoke with him some more, he gave me his recommendation to take back to my regular doctor, he spent about 45 minutes with me, and I was charged $80.  That included the cost of the ultrasound.  A few months ago we had our own water meter put in, finally.  Now we can accurately know our water bill, it is under $7 a month.  Our phone and internet are together and it is $40 a month, not bad really.  Lately, our utility bill has been a little on the high side, about $50 a month.  I have been using the clothes dryer a lot.  During the dry season it goes down.  We also run a fan during the day time and two at night, we do not have A/C.  We have satellite TV, which is $25 a month, which we are going to get rid of because we never watch it.  We do spend a lot on food, but I still cook like an American and bake a lot.  We also drink coffee twice a day.  What we spend a month also includes cat litter and food for two cats, I have to buy the high quality food because I have one cat with stomach issues, and we also have two dogs.  The cat food I buy is about $14 for a 3 pound bag, expensive I know, and I need about 3 bags a month.  I will say that fruits and veggies are cheap, pineapples are just over $1 each, sometimes you can get three for $2.  There are farmers markets every Friday, one in each town where you can pick them up even cheaper than at the store.  We do have a little fruit and veggie stand in town that is open everyday.  We get bananas for about $.05 each.  Plantains are around $.35 each.  My problem with grocery shopping is meat, I love meat.  I fix a chicken dish at least twice a week.  Chicken runs about $7 a kilo, which is around $3.50 a pound, but that is for boneless and skinless breast filet.  Ground beef is extremely lean, I sometimes have to add oil to the pan to brown it.  There is almost no fat at all.  To make hamburger patties I have to add an egg in it just so it will stay together.  Ground beef is around $6 a kilo, but it is much better than your ground chuck at 80/20; this stuff is more like 95/5.

So, if we didn’t have the pets and didn’t smoke, you could probably knock off at least $250.  That would put us at under $1,000 a month.  When we were in the States we were spending more than that on just rent.  So you see, it is possible to live on that.  This however does not include any additional expenses, entertainment.  We like to sit at home at night with each other and watch something on Netflix.  We go for walks together to town and look around and talk to people.  Enjoy the park and relax.  We have a lot of simple fun together.  We are like that little old couple you see sitting on the park bench watching the birds, talking and giggling with each other.  Our extra money lately has gone back into the house.  We bought all new light fixtures, had to buy a ladder to put them in, we also bought a brand new washer this month.  Which will be sold with the house, if they want it.  So, if you want to know anything else, just ask.  Hope you have a great day.

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Why not to live at the beach

I always have people ask me, “Why don’t you live at the beach?”  It’s constant too, and it can get a little frustrating explaining it over and over.  So, I will put it out there for everyone to read about.  It’s pretty simple.  Everyone always thinks, oh you live in Costa Rica, you must love the beach and live by it.  You must spend all your time on the beach.  Well, I have lived here for three years and have been to the beach once since living here.  A beach is a beach, no matter what country you live in.  Yes, some are prettier than others; some are better for surfing, others better for snorkeling.   But there is so much more to Costa Rica than the beach.  My main reasons for not living there. Where ever you have more tourist, you have more crime.  Even if it is only petty theft, it happens more often.  Then, there is the flooding.  This is a rain forest, it rains a lot here, and in the “green” season, the beaches often get flooded due to the run off.  Then, if there is a big storm, you have the devastating waves that come in and flood everything.  Right now in one area there are a lot of people being evacuated due to the flooding.  In one lovely beach area, they are actually having water shortages.  Yes, you read that right, water shortages in a rain forest.  During the dry season these people get put on water hours and go 8-10 hours a day without running water.  There are just too many people there to supply the demand.  In a beautiful, very popular resort area, beach there s a huge drug and prostitution problem.  It is fine if you are staying confined to the resorts and not going out at night.  But who wants to do that?  Then, there is the constant sand.  I have enough of a hard time cleaning due to my back problems, I don’t need to be sweeping sand up every time I turn around.  So, that is why I don’t live by the beach.

Now, where I live is very inland.  I am surrounded by forest and animals.  I see the Great Green Macaws flying over my house, I see the Blue Morpho Butterfly fluttering through my yard.  I see toucans up close and so many other wonderful and beautiful birds full of color just from my patio.  I have also seen iguanas in my yard and basilisks.   The people in my town are amazing, friendly, helpful, and outgoing.  Today we were at the hardware store and asked about renting a pressure washer.  The owner said we could just use his and bring it back when we were done.  Got home and needed a wheel barrel, borrowed one from a neighbor, no problem.  People here are so laid back it’s almost unbelievable.  Then people ask me why I want to move.  I just want to see more of the world.  I love to travel and I want to see more.  So, if you know anyone who wants to buy a house here in La Virgen Costa Rica for $40,000 USD fully furnished, let me know.  I will be sad to go, but I will be happy to continue on our adventure.  There is a lot to do in our area, it is called Sarapiqui.  Still not completely discovered, but a lot to do.  Easy to get anywhere from here and a joy to come back to.  May you all have a wonderful day/night.  Pura Vida!