Most people who are traveling from places such as the United States and Europe can´t even begin to fathom the idea of living in a place for less than $300 USD a month. Well, it is possible and I am living proof. Since moving to Bolivia eight months ago, I have manipulated my budget to live on just under $300 dollars a month, including rent, utilities, food, recreational activities, and yes the occasional dinner out. Here´s how:
Rent in Bolivia is dirt cheap. That is if you are willing to make some sacrifices. There are a few types of places in ¨Aquiler¨ (for rent), Apartments, rooms with a shared kitchen and bathroom, or just a room with a shared bathroom and no kitchen. Depending on where you will be living in Bolivia, cities such as Sucre, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz will be cheaper than the capital La Paz, but you can still find something cheap in La Paz if you really hunt. In general though, apartments will be your most expensive, running around $150 to $200 dollars a month. For a room with a shared kitchen and bathroom expect to pay $100 dollars or less. For just a private room expect to pay $50 to $75 a month. My advice is to keep your budget at $100 dollars or less and that may mean taking some time to find a nice room with a shared common space and bathroom. Imagine what it would be like to pay just $100 dollars a month for a year?
Food in Bolivia is cheap, especially if you decide to buy all of your groceries at the open-air markets. You can find everything at the mercados (markets) fresh fruit, pastas, wines, dried goods, toilet paper, you name it, you can find it. Usually you can purchase a week´s worth of food for just under $15 dollars, and stock up on toiletries and miscellaneous kitchen things such as dish soap and dish rags for about $10 dollars or less. If you stick with this budget you will end up spending about $75 dollars a month or less on food and household needs.
Going Out and Getting Pretty
I think it´s important to be able to treat yourself once in a while to a glass of wine, or to that little black dress you have been eyeing in the window of a nearby boutique. The great thing about Bolivia, is that going out doesn´t have to break your wallet and that cute little black dress probably isn’t as expensive as it looks. I spend about $75 dollars a month on recreational activities including going out and having a lavish dinner here and there with a friend. I also like to treat myself to an article of clothing once in a month. A nice dress or a pair of pants will cost you around $15 to $25 dollars. If you add that together, you will total about $100 dollars a month for a few nights out on the town and a rad new outfit to boot.
What would you do if you could live on $300 dollars or less a month?