Discover inexpensive things in Costa Rica
TICONUEVO | JUNE 4, 2014
I’ve been spending a lot of time and ink in the last four blogs talking about and giving advice on expensive or hard-to-find articles in Costa Rica. On the positive side, I’d like to spend a couple of blogs on inexpensive and/or plentiful things you’ll discover here.
Available housing suitable to gringo tastes in Costa Rica may not be abundant, but housing and buildable lot prices are quite affordable, when compared to comparable homes and lots in North America. Building lots are plentiful and if you are comfy with Tico housing or are willing to upgrade to gringo standards, they are plentiful.
The primary reason that housing in Costa Rica is comparably inexpensive leads into my next affordable commodity—labor. All types of construction, repair and service labor is, perhaps, 4 to 6 times cheaper than in the U.S. Housekeeping services generally go in the $2.00 to $4.00/hour range (depending mostly on the neighborhood and the provider’s proficiency skills). Yard work and landscaping labor typically runs just a bit more. Surprisingly auto service and repair labor and semi-skilled and skilled construction and repair service labor is charged at a rate just above that.
Professionals such as doctors, dentists, and lawyers are still a major bargain when compared to the fees charged in the States
As an example, I have had many pictures and paintings professionally framing for a fraction of what it costs in the U.S. (If we are discussing auto parts or frame moldings and mats, the materials are about the same as in North America, but the labor is just so much less. When it comes to professionals such as: doctors, dentists, and lawyers; they are in the highest-paid category and are still a major bargain when compared to the fees charged in the States. (I got my teeth examined, cleaned and fluoride-coated by my dentist, not a hygienist (he does have one), for $30, which included the better part of an hour discussing things dental and reasons why the water isn’t fluoride-treated in Costa Rica.)
These are a few of my favorite things
Utility costs have been rising of late, but again when compared to the States they are still in the bargain range. Electricity is provided by the government-owned I.C.E. Electricity usage is charged on a tiered rate structure—the more electricity you use, the higher the rate you pay. One way to help control electricity costs is to divide your usage into multiple meters. If you have a house, a free-standing guest house and an electric entry gate, you can have three electric meters instead of just one, it definitely helps to keep the total bill lower. However I think separate meters are only possible when initially adding the gate or guest house.
To my knowledge, there is no natural gas available in Costa Rica. However, propane gas is abundant and much less expensive than in the U.S. or Canada. In most locales, large tanks can be home delivered by truck, but I exchange my smaller propane tanks at the supermarket. Note: it’s a good idea to keep an extra tank or two locked away to replace empty tanks without running to the store or waiting for the delivery truck. If you own your own tank for a BBQ or similar, you’ll probably have to head to the filling facility. The only one of which I am aware is located in Coyol de Alajuela, near the RITEVE inspection station off the Pan-American Highway. Zeta Gas offers to become a member of their club and you can exchange your bbq gas tank in different locations. However, I have seen what appears to be a large propane tank for refilling at a nearby gas station. As soon as I find out, I will let you know about that one. In the meantime, I suggest keeping a full spare tank in case the flame goes out with your shrimp on the barbee.
Good – Cheap – Fast
Prices for WiFi Internet and television satellite and cable services that provide some U.S. channels and English-speaking programming seem to be on a par with U.S. services. There are some bargains in some geographic areas, but you need to do a thorough investigation to find the best deal. I have also become aware of some, how shall I say, “private” TV services that do provide some bargains—just buyer beware. You may be able to receive U.S. programming from a company such as USTVnow. If you can arrange with a friend or relative in the U.S., you can get a U.S. cable or Satellite Company’s full offering using a Slingbox and the Internet. (This latter option involves extra monthly cost on their end so be sure to offer to pony up the extra cost.)
Costa Rica opened up completion on cellular telephone services and, in general, they are a comparable bargain to the States. As I mentioned last blog, unlocked phones are used here. So, you buy your phone and then pick the service—either, a pay as you go rechargeable account or one of several plans offering a certain number monthly minutes and text and Internet services. A wire landline to your home also falls in the bargain category and you can add on international calling through another provider for just a song.
The author of this blog, Ticonuevo, is a US expat who moved to Costa Rica and used the services of GoDutch Realty to purchase a property in Costa Rica. In his blogs, Ticonuevo describes his own experiences of taking the step of moving to Costa Rica and getting a new life started.