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The Cost of Traveling and Working Remotely in Latin America

In this post, I have broken down my monthly expenses since I left the US and began my journey as a digital nomad, traveling down Central and South America. Because of budgeting and the overall lower cost of living in the countries we've visited, I've been able to save more money while traveling than I did in the US while living in Seattle.



Before setting out on our journey, Brett put together a budget in Excel for our travels. It included estimations on how much we would spend on rent and airbnbs, groceries and eating out, fun stuff like excursions, gym memberships, shopping, travel insurance, and an "Oh Shit" fund for anything unexpected that comes up.


Brett and I both have US jobs that are totally remote. This budget gave us a good view of what we could save each month after adding up our potential living costs and subtracting them from our monthly income. However, if you don't have a remote job, a budget is also great for planning out how much money you'll need to save in order to live abroad!


But anyway, let's get down to what y'all want to hear - how much money do I spend traveling each month (in USD). Let's break it down.


Rent:

$675/month*

  • This rate for the Selina CoLive program for a Standard Room. For one person, the cost would be $1,080. However, if you choose to travel with an additional person, Selina only adds 25% of the original price to the total for both of you (and extends all the perks of the CoLive program to the second person as well). So our total rent for a month with Selina was $1,350, or $675 per person.

  • Our lease in Seattle ended toward the end of 2021 and we did not renew it. But we were paying about $1,150 each for our downtown apartment.

  • *Selina CoLive prices have gone up since we booked, so check on Selina's website for more accurate pricing.


Eating Out:

$420/month

  • We have been eating out for almost every dinner. We didn't plan on doing this, but the reality of using a shared kitchen pushed us towards accepting higher monthly food costs. Also, exploring restaurants and walking around after work is a great way to get to know a new city.

  • This number could be a lot lower, though. And once we get to Argentina and Chile where we'll have our own Airbnbs, I anticipate that this number will drop significantly.


Groceries:

$130/month

  • Tip for buying groceries in Latin countries. The cheapest way to get produce is from the street vendors, you know, the guys with the fruit carts. I know it sounds more sketchy, but I've eaten the street fruit and I've been pretty fine! If you want to save more, it's definitely cheaper to get produce from them. Oh, and you'll need cash.


Flights:

$464/month

  • We have booked six flights around Latin America in the last three months. The most expensive flight we've booked was from Medellin, Colombia to Lima, Peru at $310/person and our cheapest flight was from Lima, Peru to Cusco, Peru at $57/person. The average cost of all our flights is around $158 per flight. If we split that evenly over 3 months, then we've spent about $464 on flights each month.

  • I use the Hopper app to plug in our future flight dates and the app notifies me if I should buy now, or wait for the prices to drop. It's been our go-to for tracking and booking flights.

Excursions:

$400/month

  • In Costa Rica, we took surfing lessons, booked that fishing tour in Santa Teresa (Journal #8), rented quads for a day, and took a day trip down to Manuel Antonio (Journal #5)

  • In Panama, we booked a night with transportation out to the San Blas Islands

  • In Colombia, we spent a day on an island off the coast of Cartagena (Journal #21) and booked a tour out to Guatape (Journal #25)

  • In Peru, we booked tours to Huacachina for $130, Machu Picchu for $280, and Rainbow Mountain for $30

Gym:

$20/month

  • We got a gym membership in Jaco for 2 weeks in December that was $30.

  • We did not get any sort of membership in February due to the fact that there were not gyms close to the Panama City or Cartagena Selina locations. There was one close to the Medellin location but it was $50/month (not bad, right) but they wouldn't let us just sign up for a week. So we'd have to pay $50 for one week, so we decided to do our own workouts.

  • In Lima, there was a SmartFit (a Latin American gym franchise) right next to our Selina and we could get day passes for $3.50. Then when we got to Cusco, we found a gym that offers a weekly membership for about $17. This is probably the gringo price, but whatever. We needed a gym at this point.

Total:

$2,109/month/person


In all honesty, I have spent more than this each month. Insert: virtual holiday presents sent to the family in December, online subscriptions, app purchases for photo editing and learning Spanish, baggage fees, and more. However, this number can be much smaller if you are actively looking for areas to save more (like eating out less than we are or staying at cheaper hostels).


A good rule of thumb is to anticipate spending around $2,000 a month and Brett and I would recommend having at least $2,000 in the bank in case something crazy happens and you need to shell out some emergency cash (i.e. buying a last-minute flight back to the US, or having to quarantine at a hotel because you tested positive for Covid during your trip).


However, this hopefully gives you a better idea of the monthly costs of traveling long-term and being location-independent.


And if you want a copy of the budget Brett put together for us, DM me on Instagram!







Comments


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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

My boyfriend and I started our digital nomad journey in December 2021. We're just starting out and want to share all the ups and downs with you!

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