The cost of living has increased and many Americans on pensions wonder if they can afford to live here. The answer is, yes as you will see below. The average yearly income in Costa Rica is a little over $10,000 and many Costa Ricans earn about $500 per month. They have to adjust their lifestyles to fit their budget and many of them learn to live cheaply by doing some of the things listed below. Retirees on a tight budget can use some of these tips to live on a fixed income here.
- Cost conscious ticos shop at discount super markets like Pali and Maxi Bodega to get more for their money.
- Bartering or exchanging services is common here.
- Most ticos eat in small dinners called sodas or at the Central Markets.
- Most people cook with gas cylinders which is cheaper than electricity. That way they have lower electric bills. However, be careful because there have been instances where defective cylinders have exploded and killed people.
- Most ticos keep the lights off in their homes during the day and keep their homes dimly lighted at night to reduce electric bills.
- If they do have a car and it needs fixing they do the car repairs themselves when possible.
- The ticos use the Caja or public health care system because it is very cheap and accessible. If you become a resident you can use it, too.
- Ticos buy most of their fruits and vegetables at the weekend farmers markets of ferias to get more for their money.
- In order to economize people take the bus which is still very affordable.
- The locals also buy used American clothing or frequent the stores around the Coca Cola district in San José to get rock bottom prices.
- They also do their own home repairs and improvements like adding rooms and laying tile.
- When they go to the beach they make it a one- day excursion by traveling by bus and taking their own food instead of staying at hotels and eating in restaurants. During Semana Santa when it seems everyone goes to the beach many people do beach camping to cut down on expenses. The ticos make fun of their own who do this by calling them “comehuevos.“
- Ticos will also use Internet cafes instead of buying a computer
- They use prepaid cell phone cards.
- Family members live together to cut down on expenses. Foreigners can look for roommates to rent an apartment or small house.
- When the locals go out drinking they frequent small tico-style establishments instead of touristy type places or expensive chains like TGIF.
- Instead of buying new shoes, handbags or other leather items they get their used items repaired.
- When ticos have a party the guests are often expected to bring food and drink instead of the host providing it. Guests often take their left over booze with them.
- There is a lot of free entertainment available. All one has to do is look in the newspaper.
- They also avoid U.S. fast food chains like Burger King and Pizza Hut and eat at more affordable local establishments. However, Once in a while they will frequent a fast food restaurant.
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Christopher Howard conducts monthly relocation/retirement tours fill in the form below to receive Chrisopher’s free book when you register for a tour and have him contact you personally. For details please see: www.liveincostarica.com. He also has authored and published 17 editions of “The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica” and other guides about living in Costa Rica. See www.costaricabooks.com