Insidecostarica.com translated an article from the Costa Rican daily newspaper Al Dia. It’s still quite reasonable, but doesn’t take into account the kind of expenses an expat with different habits might incur. Overall, it’s quite promising but we still have to consider health insurance and broadband internet – both of which can add up to $250 each to the budget. I’ve added dollar conversions to all the figures.
More than ¢450.000 ($908) Needed For Family of Four To Meet Basic Needs
A recent survey by the Spanish language daily, Al Día, reveals that a family of four needs an income of ¢447.788 (us$904) monthly to meet living expenses, including the cost of food, water, electricity, telephone (home phone and cellular), bus fares, a couple of nights out to a restaurant and payment of a mortgage of ¢20 million colones (us$40.500).
That figure is much higher that the ¢107.220 ($216) colones the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censo (INEC) says is needed to make up the basic food basket and more than twice the average income of ¢259.722 colones ($524).
According to the INEC, general incomes range from ¢223.350 ($451) monthly paid by private business to ¢371.027 ($749) paid by the central government and ¢461.500 ($931) paid by the government institutions and agencies.
The Al Día calculates that if the family lives outside of San José, like Alajuela for instance, and require use a vehicle, the monthly cost increases to ¢575.848 ($1162), not taking into account the recent round of increases in fuel that go into effect later this week, as well as the recent increases in food items such as milk, rice and beans.
For the director of the Oficina de Apoyo al Consumidor (Consumer Support), Cynthia Zapata, says that people should avoid getting into debt as much as possible.
“One has to be strict and do all possible to keep control of the budget. The current condition shows that people are not saving”, said Zapata.
Financial expert, Miguel Díaz, advises that families should budget their expenses. “It is very difficult to send a child to school, where they see a schoolmate with an iPod, and of course want one also, but one has to say no to avoid financial imbalances”, said Díaz.
The following is a sample monthly budget for a family of four as prepared by the Al Día:
Basic Food Basket ¢107.220 / $216
Electricity ¢11.928 / $25
Water ¢5.576 / $11
Cellular Telephone ¢11.000 / $22
Home Telephone ¢7.500 / $15
Mortgage ¢240.000 / $484
Bus Fares (for 2) ¢17.500 / $35
Two Visits to a Restaurant ¢20.000 / $40
Domestic Help – 4 days ¢12.864 / $26
If living outside San José (Alajueal for example) add ¢14.200 / $28
If a vehicle is owned add:
Gasoline ¢43.348 / $87
Car Payment * ¢84.712 / $171
City Bus Fare ( 1 person) ¢8.500 / $17
If children in daycare add:
Monthly cost ¢75.000 / $151
Domestic help ¢96.531 / $195
Extra Cellular Phone Cost ¢11.000 / $22
If family enjoys cable television add:
Monthly cost ¢12.500 / $25
* ¢10 millones loan from Banco Nacional
Source: Al Día