I am often asked by USA/EU/UK friends and family as well as blog readers what the cost of living is in Monteverde. Costa Rica is one of the most expensive Latin American countries. Monteverde is one of the most expensive places to live in Costa Rica because the awful road leading here makes importation difficult. Food and groceries make up a big chunk of our budget. My grocery bill is about the same as it was in the USA. Back home in San Antonio, I used to spend about $120 weekly in food/produce/groceries at HEB and about $250 monthly at Costco, where I would buy many food and non-food items in bulk. Here in Monteverde, I spend about $120-150 per week collectively at the grocery store, farmer’s market, and CSA. Looking at my grocery bills for the last two weeks, it seems that the dairy products are what kill me, which is crazy considering they are locally made.
So, for those of you who have asked me what the cost of living is here in Monteverde, here is a small glimpse. I start the week on Friday because that is the day I go to the grocery store. Keep in mind that ~500 colones is the equivalent of ~$1.00 USD.
Week of August 9th, 2013
SuperCompro (located in the center of town, tends to be a little cheaper)
|Item||Cost in colones|
|Small set of plastic bags||476|
|Powdered sweet cocoa||1,019|
|Heavy whipping cream (small)||1,002|
|DonaArepa corn flour||1,130|
|½ gallon milk||1,044|
|4 sticks of butter||3,004|
|Block of Monteverde cheddar (400g)||5,525|
|Block of Monteverde Monterico cheese||3,123|
|14 Monterico cheese slices||3,998|
|Block of Montino frying cheese||2,553|
|Smoked bacon (2 packs)||5,874|
|2 packs corn tortillas (20 each pack)||1,488|
|Yogurt cup (individual)||455|
|2 large carrots||396|
|US DOLLARS||~$76 USD|
On August 10th, 2013, I spent ~$26 USD at the farmers’ market, making my total grocery bill $102 for the week. I did not get the CSA this week because we had been on a border hop in Nicaragua earlier in the week.
Week of August 16th, 2013
MegaSuper (more upscale grocery store, located at the “mall”)
|Item||Cost in colones|
|1 Kg pasta shells||1,520|
|Toilet paper (9 rolls)||2,530|
|Shredded mozzarella cheese||2,175|
|Plastic sandwich container||1,710|
|2 15-ct plastic trash bags, medium||1,440|
|1 gallon chocolate ice cream||4,650|
|2 packs Sazon Mi Arroz (rice flavoring)||630|
|2 packs Turkey deli meat (BOGO free)||1,870|
|Large tub of dishwashing cream||1,510|
|Plastic sandwich container||1,120|
|4 unsalted butter sticks||3,080|
|1 salted butter stick||770|
|Block of MVE Cheddar cheese||6,270|
|Block of MVE Gouda cheese||5,620|
|1 pack corn tortillas (20 ct)||790|
|14 slices Monterico cheese||3,810|
|Block of Montino frying cheese||3,220|
|½ gallon milk||1,030|
|US DOLLARS||~$90 USD|
On August 17th, 2013, I spent ~$32 USD at the farmer’s market and $13 USD for my CSA veggies, loaf of bread, and tub of fresh yogurt, making my total grocery bill for that week to be about $135 USD.
I realize I could cut my grocery bill if we ate less dairy and stuck to the local custom of eating rice and beans every meal. For now, I don’t want too. A 900 g of 99.5% “clean” black beans costs 1,070 colones and a 1.8 kg bag of rice costs 1,635 colones. For us, a bag of beans lasts us about 2-3 weeks and the rice lasts us over one month because we don’t eat rice and beans as often as is the local custom. I like variety and quite honestly I think Chris would divorce me and the kids would run away if I served rice and beans every meal. Things may change if we are here for the long haul, but not for now.
Expat Tip: Try to get all your grocery shopping in one trip. Otherwise, the more often you go into the store, the greater the chances of impulse buying things you don’t need. Shopping will not cure homesickness.