As with most places, your cost of living can really vary in Bolivia depending on how you live, eat and spend. I will endeavour to represent the spread, but generally consider myself an average spender – I am neither a big spender nor a great saver.
I’ll post all of the prices in Bolivianos and you can use whatever currency best suits you – it’s not an overly convenient currency for Canadians (around 7:1 most times) and it fluctuates quite a bit.
Street food meal: 5-10Bs
Restaurant meal – Bolivian: 10-35Bs
Restaurant meal – Other Ethnicities: 25-65Bs
Bottle of water: 5Bs
Trufi (shared taxi) fare: 2-2.5Bs
Micro (small bus) fare: 1.5-2.5 Bs
Full disclosure: I stayed in volunteer housing and paid quite a high rent. However I hear that a person can get a room in a shared house or apartment in the central part of the city for about $150 USD per month (roughly 1000Bs), including your utilities and internet. I can pretty well guarantee that price would decline if you were to go further from the center.
Bottle of wine in a supermarket: 20Bs and up
Local beer in a supermarket: 6-12Bs
Local beer at a restaurant: 18Bs
Premium beer at a restaurant: 25-30Bs
Bottle of wine at a restaurant: 40Bs and up (generally around 75-100)
Private Spanish lessons: 30-60Bs per hour
Cellphone/Smartphone: Data and general cell costs are cheap, but I used mine for the internet a LOT. All told, still only cost me about 150-200Bs per month.
Second hand tshirt: 10Bs
New tshirt: 45Bs
Old Navy tshirt at American Outlet: 140Bs
Knock-off Converse sneakers: 100Bs
Obviously there’s a ton of variety here and these prices are generally the starting points, but this should give you the idea that most clothing items are really cheap, and there are second hand options to be found.
All in, not including rent, I was living really very comfortably on about $500 CDN per month (about $120 of which was just Spanish lessons). A person could definitely do better than that if they opted out of things like the Spanish lessons, buying Halloween costumes, drinking out, and occasionally spending too much on the best pizza in town…but I didn’t go crazy by any stretch and think I struck a decent balance.
Bolivia is very affordable and I highly recommend it as a place to crash for a while if you’re travelling South America, or frankly, to stay for longer. Because I also happen to love it 🙂
Up next: my favourite things about Cochabamba!
Feature photo courtesy of Stefan Krasowski on Flickr.