With its lush jungle and its warm inhabitant, Puerto Viejo is a small town on the Caribbean coast that actually looks like paradise. How did we find the town? By browsing on Airbnb (get some credits by clicking on the link), looking for a cheap place to stay for three months. We ended up falling in love with a cabina and rented it from November 2014 to January 2015. (Sadly, yes, we almost have to go.)
For those who would like to do like us, here is how much it ended up costing us.
Prices in Costa Rican Colones and US dollars are rounded up. Currency exchange at the time: ₡500 for $1US
From Quebec City, Canada to San José, Costa Rica, our tickets were $400CAD per person, so $800CAD for the both of us. When I booked our tickets, we were going to be early enough to be able to catch a public bus the same day. Unfortunately, a few weeks after booking, I received an email from AirCanada saying that the schedule had changed. We were now getting to San José later. Which meant we had to spend a night in the city and catch a bus the next morning. We stayed at the Cocoon Hotel for $50US a night. The hotel was right next to the bus station, which was what we wanted.
For our flight back, since we are going to Mexico after, our plane tickets were cheaper. We got them for $345US for the both of us. Remember that you NEED an exit ticket (whether it’s a plane ticket or a bus one) before entering Costa Rica. It hasn’t been a problem for us, but just in case. You don’t want to have a problem with that. (And by the way, you can leave Costa Rica for three days and come back after for another tourist visa of three months. I didn’t know that before coming here. Double check depending on your country!)
Getting to Puerto Viejo
The bus ride to Puerto Viejo was around $8US each. It’s a four-hour bus ride with a stop in Limon (1h from Puerto Viejo). If you’re like me and you have to pee every ten minutes, make sure you don’t drink water before leaving. There’s no bathroom on board. And have some change on you, they charge for the bathrooms in San José and Limon.
There is also other ways to get here. You can take a shuttle, which is going to cost you something like $50US, depending on which company you work with. But then we did spend $30US to get from the airport to our hotel in San José. It might have been wiser to just take a shuttle in the first place (and you get A/C!).
The last way I know of is by rafting. That’s actually what we plan to do on the way back to San José. It’s $99US per person. After doing some rafting in Arenal and having so much fun doing it, we definitely can’t miss that!
We found our cabina on Airbnb. We got the place for around $700CAD a month, which includes one bedroom, one bathroom with hot water, a kitchen and a small living space. It’s not that big, but since we’re almost all the time outside, it doesn’t feel too small after all. There is also wi-fi and bikes. I don’t know what I would do without the bikes, since we are actually in the jungle close to Cocles (behind OM Yoga). It’s a five minutes bike ride, but it would take un 20 minutes if we had to walk. I definitely recommend getting bike if you’re going to live outside of town. It usually costs between $5-10US a day.
We could probably spend less money on food, I have to admit it. But we like eating well and those fresh fruits and veggies are just delicious. Every month, we spent around $500US on groceries (alcohol included). You can get organic food every Saturday from local people, which we did, and we spent ₡14 000 ($28US) on it every week. There’s also the farmers market, every Saturday too, which is great for what you don’t get from the organic people. You can get a bunch of vegetable there for only ₡3 000 ($6US). The rest of the money, we spent it on shredded cheese, Pringles and butter. I do love my butter.
We are also guilty of spending a lot of money on restaurants. (It’s not that much actually, but it does add up.) We spend $180US every month. That’s because we can’t resist buying two pizzas on Friday nights at Mamma Mia Pizzeria for ₡14 000 ($28US) and getting tacos or burgers on Tuesdays at Tasty Waves for ₡7 000 ($14US – two beers included).
The only other thing we have to spend money on is water. We get it delivered for ₡2 300 ($5US). Every Tuesday and Friday, we get a full 18.9L jug. At the end of the month, it adds up to ₡20 000 ($40US).
We weren’t very lucky when we first got here. I guess our bodies didn’t like the humidity and the ocean. I got an ear infection a week after arriving. Including the doctor and the drugs, it ended up costing me ₡66 000 ($132US). Fortunately, I do have insurance. I don’t know how much they will cover, (still waiting on that) but it’s good to have a budget for emergencies. Especially because a week after, Chris got the same thing. We ended up saving a bit of money because I had some ear drops left, but it still cost us ₡45 000 ($90US). Then, I got a yeast infection. ₡23 000 ($46US). And a urinary tract infection. ₡42 000 ($84US). Yep. Not fun. At least, after that we were done, but we still spent over $350US ONLY for drugs and doctor. We’ve been good since. Every time we drive in front of the clinic, we make sure none of us looks at it. It’s bad luck.
So every month, we spend on average $1 200US on food and rent for two people. I don’t count plane tickets, transportation or medical expenses, since they can vary. It also doesn’t include our trip to Arenal and Monteverde.
Here are some prices, to help you budget.
- Imperial Beer: ₡1000 ($2US)
- Bottle of coconut rum: ₡6 000 ($12US)
- Strawberry Fiesta Wine: ₡2 000 ($4US)
- Casado: ₡3 000 ($6US)
- Burger at Tasty Waves: ₡2 500 ($5US)
- Small bag of rice: ₡800 ($1.50US)
- Coconut: ₡500 ($1US) (free if you have a long enough stick)
- 4 sausages from the farmers’ market: ₡2 500 ($5US)
- Mouse: ₡6 000 ($12US)
- Trip to the doctor: ₡25 000 ($50US)
- SIM Card with Kolbi: ₡5 000 ($10US) (and three months later, I’ve used ₡500 max with text messages and call only)
- Sarong: ₡12 000 ($24US)
- Flip flops for men: ₡10 000 ($20US)
I hope this helps you plan your trip! If you have any questions or would like the info about the water delivery or the organic food, send me an email and I’ll be happy to help you!