Thursday, September 5, 2013

BUDGET ANALYSIS of Panama, Costa Rica, & Ecuador to date!


Before you go peeking at our expense chart below, I need to make a few statements:

* This is OUR full disclosure cost breakdown of everything we spent money on based on the way WE live our lives. 

* Our goal for a total monthly budget is $1,800 for living expenses ONLY.  Our income is higher but this amount is what we wanted to see if we could live with so that the extra could be set aside for savings toward further traveling.

* Our monthly rental goal with ALL utilities including WiFi is $800. We rented many different types of property from 1 bedroom/1 bathroom to 2 bedroom/2 bathroom; from 425 square feet to 1,200 square feet; high rise, casita, to single family home; from in town to rural to ocean front. We know we paid higher rents because it was only for one month. We also know that when we're ready to rent for a year, our monthly rate will either decrease substantially or we will get a lot more for our money. Thus, keeping the rent within our budgeted goal.

* Phone costs are averaged based on what we actually spent over a 3 month period including initial purchase of SIM card, minutes, and data for both of us and any subsequent purchases of minutes/data. We own our own unlocked iPhones.

* As we must be out and about much more than we would if we lived long term somewhere, we are eating out more than our "normal" 6-7 times, and are out socializing and meeting people to get a truer feel for each area. Thus, the dollars in meals below reflects eating out on average between 15-20 times a month and the "drinks only" will eventually be incorporated into our Entertainment budget. Where we ate was either typical fare or moderate priced. On a rare occasion, we went out for a special meal that was still well below US prices.

* We have NO car so there is nothing in this budget to indicate each countries cost of gas, which varies considerably at the moment.

* Currently, we are medically & dentally self-insured and pay everything out of pocket.  So only the true consistent item of Dental Cleaning was included and averaged over each 3 months (every 3 months for me; every 6 months for Mike)  We do have traveler's insurance for catastrophic until we establish residency somewhere. Once residency is established, a budget line item for medical/dental/vision will be made. Based on all of our research, this amount should be no more than $150/month.

* Our meals at home became very simple and consistent. So that with what we bought at the grocery store being pretty similar in each location.  Groceries include wine & beer.  I don't get into what's more or less expensive in each country because it becomes a moot point when looking at the overall grocery budget.  Same for the cost of wine & beer in local establishments.

* Our One-Time Expenses are just that. Medical included my annual female checkups, swimmer's ear in CR for Mike, and a banged up shoulder (which we attribute flared up because of the terribly hard uncomfortable bed in our apartment) in Salinas, EC for Mike.  In my blog posts, I breakdown the costs for each expenditure at the time we had to make them and won't do that again here.  You may go back and read my blog posts for those individual occurrences. Dental included my new partial (1 every 15 years) and a new cap & veneer for Mike's 2 front teeth. Tours included our actual time being a tourist but we will not be doing those on a consistent basis but will incorporate those costs in entertainment. Hotels & Transportation is the cost incurred while getting to and from an airport or when taking a side trip which has occurred every 3 months and will not be part of our usual agenda once we live somewhere full time.

Boquete, PA     Pedasi, PA  Gorgona, PA
Tronadora, CR
Grecia, CR
Tamarindo,     CR
Salinas, Ecuador
Bahia, Ecuador
Rent incl utilities  $        700.00  $       750.00  $      700.00  $      500.00  $     650.00  $  1,150.00  $     700.00  $     830.00
Phone incl data  $          21.60  $         21.60  $        21.60  $        15.00  $       15.00  $        15.00  $       29.00  $       29.00
Groceries  $        234.00  $       302.00  $      197.00  $      226.00  $     292.00  $      242.00  $     376.00  $     481.00
Meals  $        412.00  $       365.00  $      647.00  $      451.00  $     246.00  $      385.00  $     418.00  $     267.00
Drinks Only  $          66.00  $       103.00  $        89.00  $       14.00  $      206.00  $       94.00  $       81.00
Entertainment  $        200.00  $       132.00   $       60.00  $     248.00  $        94.00  $         6.00  $        50.00
Exercise (yoga)  $         38.00  $        40.00
Incidentals/Gifts  $          67.00  $         26.00  $      205.00  $        61.00  $     124.00  $      132.00  $     102.00  $        66.00
Trans (Bus/Cab)  $           6.00  $      116.00  $        75.00  $        97.00  $        18.00  $     125.00  $        55.00
Dental Cleaning  $          30.00  $         30.00  $        30.00  $        14.00  $        14.00  $        14.00 $     7.00  $          7.00
TOTAL   $     1,730.60  $    1,773.60  $   2,016.60  $   1,431.00  $   1,700.00  $   2,256.00  $  1,857.00  $   1,866.00
Medical  $     140.00  $      128.00  $     721.00
Dental  $  1,380.00
Tours  $      377.00  $     415.00  $      308.00  $     130.00 $   125.00
Hotels  $       128.00  $       231.00  $      160.00  $      225.00  $     191.00
Transportation  $         44.00  $        60.00  $         90.00  $        20.00  $      184.00  $       30.00
Spanish Lessons  $     285.00
TOTAL ONE TIME EXPENSES  $      172.00  $     345.00  $       321.00  $      557.00  $   1,935.00  $      845.00  $   1,072.00  $     125.00  

So, with all of the above said, you can see, for actual day to day living expenses we spent a total of $5,521 in Panama for an average monthly of $1,840; a total of $5,387 in Costa Rica for an average of $1,796; and, in Ecuador for ONLY 2 months, an average of $1,861 monthly. (As we will be traveling throughout the rest of Ecuador & Peru as true tourists, I will not be posting any budget info until we reach Granada, Nicaragua mid October.)
I find this VERY telling!! It shows how consistent we are with our living habits and it shows each country is pretty much on par with each other.  We just have to decide where we want to live but first 2 more countries to analyze!!

A few specific clarifications to help you understand the spending patterns:

*Gorgona, PA: Our apartment had a death trap of a kitchen, so we ate out often (25x). Thus, there is no separate amount in Drinks Only because we always had our drinks where we ate.

*Tronadora, CR: We have nothing in Entertainment because all of our Entertainment was actually “free”.  We would go with friends to the Tabacon hot spring river with drinks & snacks and sit for hours in the steam for FREE! We also did not get any “medicinal” massages that we love so much that are included as Entertainment in other locations.

*Grecia, CR:  Here, too, when we went out for drinks, we ate.

*Ecuador: We found that groceries were more expensive and we felt the fresh vegetables were not as good as in Panama or Costa Rica for the pricing.  I do think the higher amount is reflecting the high cost of wine for a decent bottle and a general overall higher cost of most things. We have also felt that rents are higher here than anticipated for what you get compared to the other countries.

 Each location presented its own challenges from awkward housing with deficient kitchens (the term “fully furnished” is very loosely used), too few choices for eating out, to too remote of a location.  In ALL cases, we are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt based on the data we accumulated, that we could make the necessary adjustments to keep within our desired budget of $1,800/month including medical once we are established and NOT diminish our lifestyle.

 Any comments or questions can be emailed to me directly at  I will continue to keep my budget log and will post the chart now at the end of each month with its results.

1 comment:

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