Monday, August 25, 2014

Lifestyle and Budget

Most American, Canadian and European expats spend much less money on day-to-day expenses than they do in their home countries. Collectively, we have saved more than double, per month, as a family of 4. Costa Rica expert Christopher Howard is the author of The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica, published by Costa Rica Books. He says the minimum needed for a decent standard of living for a single person ranges from $1,200 to $1,500 a month. A person can live on as little as $35 a day, excluding housing. As a family of 4, consisting of 2 adults and 2 small children, ages 2 & 4, we budgeted between $2,200 to $2,500 per month. This figure could be smaller if we chose to live in a Tico style home and sent our children to public schools - that being said, our budget is including private school tuition + school bus and exclusive gated community living. Since we have added a child to our family, we are now a family of 5 and we have moved out of the gated community into a rural type area in the mountains of Grecia. We have cut our budget again, living in a cheaper home and sending our kids to public school. Now, since we have opened a business, we spend $1,800 to $2,000 per month on living expenses, allotting an additional expense to put toward the business.  
Here is an example of cost of living in Costa Rica showing some average monthly expenses for single living in Costa Rica:
  • Apartment (large, luxurious): $700
  • Electricity (house): $50
  • Water/sewage (apartment): $8
  • Cell phone: $10
  • Cable TV: $30
  • High-speed Internet (ADSL): $40
  • Housekeeper: $2 - $3 per hour​/$200 - $300 full time per month
  • Groceries (cooking occasionally): $100
Here are some average monthly expenses for a family (4 1/2 people) living in Costa Rica:
  • House (large, luxurious): $900
  • Electricity (house): $80
  • Water/sewage (gated): $30
  • Gas (propane tanks): $20
  • Cell phone: $20
  • Cable TV: $30
  • High-speed Internet (ADSL): $40
  • Housekeeper: $2 - $3 per hour/$200 - $300 full time per month
  • Private School Tuition (approximately): $140-$240
  • School Bus: $60
  • ​Groceries (cooking most meals): $600
Our quality of life in Costa Rica has been excellent. Costa Rica was recently called the Happiest Place on Earth by the Happy Planet Index. We noticed a remarkable difference in our health and happiness since moving here. Below are some of our thoughts about why we look and feel better & why we generally wake up in a wonderful mood now that we live in Costa Rica.
  • Costa Rica abolished its army in 1949​ spending money on books, not bullets
  • Ticos love and protect their environment
  • Costa Rica has a slower pace of life​
  • Ticos have a life expectancy of 78+
  • The National phrase is "Pura Vida" meaning pure life​
  • With an excellent bus system, walking is common at any age​
  • With such great weather and diverse countryside, it is hard not to lead an active lifestyle, which Ticos take advantage of daily; beaches, mountains, rivers, lakes
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant and inexpensive, fast food is scarce and expensive

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