Can I Practice What I Preach and Stay Within Budget?

Nov 28, 2019     Costa Rica     My Adventures, Personal Reflections
Faced with the reality of full-time travel, I'm starting to worry about staying within budget!
I usually travel for about a month at a time every year, plus some smaller trips. As you can see from my Average Costs in each country, I don't usually have a problem staying withing $30 - $35 per day. And considering that transportation is usually a pretty high percentage of the budget, it makes sense that traveling longer and slower would cost less, right?

My retirement / full-time travel goal is to spend $1,000/month. But that has to average out over the year(s). So things like medical expenses, flights, and new gear all have to factor into that. So that means more like $800/month?? Let's even say I can spend $900/month; $30/day. That should be easy. And the longer I do this, the better I'll get at it and the less I'll spend.

Well I don't know if it's just me, but my first panic came when I was trying to find lodging for my 2 months in Costa Rica. I simply wanted 2 places for a month each. Now of course because it's longer term, I wanted something a bit more comfortable than a dorm bed. But the prices - I had a hard time finding something that would help keep me within budget! I ended up with one place that averaged $21/night and the other $15. Nice places where I have the entire house with a kitchen. See How to Search for Longer Term Budget Accommodation.
So yeah, I love this beach house! $550 month is not over budget, but spending that much on lodging means I don't have a lot of extra.
So yeah, I love this beach house! $550 month is not over budget, but spending that much on lodging means I don't have a lot of extra.
Now I should listen to my own advice and not rely on online booking availability. Usually once you are in a place, you can talk to locals and find a good deal. Something that's not advertised online. Like look at the house Lynn rented in Thailand, $30 per month, yes, per MONTH. It wasn't the Ritz but it was certainly good enough for me. But I still wonder if my financial goal is just a pipe dream.

Now i'm in the middle of my 2 months and I'll just say it. I'm going to fail to meet my budget goal. Not by much, but still. There are a few things working for me on both sides of the fence here.

PROS: I have already made a contact in each of the towns I've stayed into trade lodging for website work. Win win. I always said I'd be open to doing that, but didn't really think I would want to. But I have to say that it really sounds like fun at the moment and I really like both of the people I would be working for.

I was able to find some amazing deals on very nice places to stay so did that help the budget? No necessarily, but for the money I got some very comfortable housing.
Casa Balbi in Monteverde. I loved this place, too! Hard to stay at a hostel when you are spending an entire month in one place.
Casa Balbi in Monteverde. I loved this place, too! Hard to stay at a hostel when you are spending an entire month in one place.
CONS: I had quite a bit of money stolen on this trip; a first for me. I can say that's not part of the budget because it's not money I spent here, but I do have to take that sort of thing into consideration for my yearly available money, so in the budget it goes.

When all is said and done, I should only be a couple of hundred dollars over budget for this trip which isn't much considering I had over twice that stolen.

Update June 2020

I now have been back in Costa Rica for about 5 months due to COVID-19 border closings. I have been settling into a routine and am enjoying staying in one place for a longer time. My budget it doing okay but I am still finding that there are times when I'd like to splurge more than I'm able. Like mani-pedi day with the girls or various boat trips or even going out to eat more (pre-COVID anyway).
Great food at this restaurant! But it's not budget, that's for sure.
Great food at this restaurant! But it's not budget, that's for sure.
Awesome boat trip I'm glad I didn't miss out on. Finding the balance between splurge and budget.
Awesome boat trip I'm glad I didn't miss out on. Finding the balance between splurge and budget.
It's much easier for me to stay within budget when I'm traveling for a month which almost seems like it should be the other way around. I think by staying in one place, I make friends who live here and are not on a budget and those are the people I'd like to splurge with. When I'm just traveling, I'm either with someone else I'm budget traveling with, or on my own with less time to make local friends.

Either way, I'm surprised and a little disappointed in myself that I'm even questioning my ability / desire to be able to stick to my retirement budget! It's what I'm all about. Honestly, I do think once I'm back in SE Asia, it will be much easier. Costa Rica can be pretty pricey.

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