Cost of living in Bolivia - 2010

Potential expats in Bolivia need you and your information! :)

Would you please give up in this topic what is the actual cost of living in Bolivia? However, as no one has the same lifestyle or the same needs, please mention the size of your household;

- price of your accomodation (mention which type - house, flat.)
- public transport (metro, bus, taxi, etc...)
- monthly food budget
- average price for bread, butter, milk, eggs, kg of meat...
- medical insurance
- visit to the doctor
- school fees (mention the type of school)
- water, electricity, gas
- petrol
- internet, landline, pre-paid and post-paid mobile
- average price of a good menu in a traditionnal restaurant
- price of a beer or a coffee in a standard establishment

and of course, if I left out a category which you deem important, don't hesitate to add it!

Thanks for your contribution!

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Renting a place in Bolivia is much cheaper than most parts of South America. Apartments begin at around 500 Bs ($75 or £50) per month with houses about double this price. You can certainly rent a lovely two bedroom place in a nice part of La Paz for 1,500 Bs ($215 or £150). If you could afford to double your budget you'd be able to afford a luxury three bed house with a swimming pool.
Household costs such as water, electricity, gas, local rates and residential taxes are relatively less expensive compared to other major cities. In fact in a recent ranking they were placed 290th for price out of 300. 250 Bs is likely to more than cover these expenses but will obviously depend on the size of your accommodation and use of the air-con!


As always the cost of going out will depend on your definition of a good night out. If you are looking for a low-key kind of night then going to the cinema will cost you about 15Bs to 45Bs depending on the time of day. A lot of cinemas screen films in English or with subtitles.

i live here and i can provide all of these answers. feel free to contact me. jeff flarity
[email protected]

@ChefJeff - Maybe you can share some informations on the forum. Other members can benefit from it. :)

Thank you,

Bolivia is experiencing some inflation. The prices for food and housing in smaller towns are going to be much cheaper than the big cities, Santa Cruz is getting to be downright expensive. Rental housing can range from $250 for a cheap flat in the center to $2000 or much more for nice houses in suburban areas.

In Santa Cruz:
Very good private school will cost about $2000 per year per student, with discounts for siblings and there is a law that requires the third child to be free, although not all schools respect this. There are several english-language schools that are mostly very good schools.
Food is generally very inexpensive, in particular you can get great beef at very good prices.
A car will generally cost about twice what it would cost in the states.
Gas prices are subsidized by the government, and are generally reasonable.

Utility bills for a large house:
natural gas is extremely cheap ($2 / month)
electricity is very high ($200 / month)
water is generally affordable. ($30 per month)
home phone is very difficult to get, just get a cel phone.
cel phones, pre-paid are inexpensive, easy to get. (1bs per minute = about $0.15 )
post-paid generally have very high monthly rates and may not be available to foreigners. (at least $40 per month)
internet is about the slowest in the world, and you'll pay high rates to have it. ($100 / month for 1.5mbps  or $35 for 0.5 mbps) it is also very unreliable and goes down frequently.

doctor visits will run $20-$50 per visit without insurance.
A normal childbirth in the best clinic in town is about $3000 incl doctors and 1 night stay. (they will try to talk you into staying longer).

Bar drinks can be pricey, but most bars will let you buy a bottle of liquer at a reasonable price, and will sell you the soda or other mixers and let you make your own at your table. (a great deal when you're with a bigger group)

Public buses are about $0.20 and riding one is like playing russian roulette, there are several brutal accidents every month. Combined with the heat and the lack of air conditioning, the smell will likely kill you first though.
Taxis are cheap - $1.5 to $7 depending on distance. Be careful when getting into taxis, best to use phoned-in taxis and not get them off the street. You can also hire taxis for about $5 / hour and they will even agree to take you to other cities, on pretty long drives for prices fixed in advance. (this can be a much better option than buses even for longer routes).

whew, if I think of anything else, I'll add it later  :huh:

Rent in La Paz is higher than the rest of Bolivia.  Prices in US$ per month

A room in a nice furnished shared apartment in Sopocachi = $150 - $250
A small apartment in Sopocachi suitable for a single/couple = $250/$350
A good quality 2 or 3 bedroom apartment outside of but close to the centre = $250 / $300

In Bolivia there also exists a unique concept called anticretico.  You can pay a deposit (ie 20k), depending on the quality of the apartment, in exchange for the right to live in that apartment for a year.  At the end of the year the owner refunds your money in full.  If the owner doesn't have the money you need to do a Traspaso, which means you transfer the right to live in the apartment to another person in exchange for the original down payment.  Either way you eventually get your money back.  You should have a good source of income and be certain that you want to stay in Bolivia because anticreitco is for a minimum of one year and sometimes there are delays in getting your money back.  However if everything is done correctly through lawyers you will get your money back.  It's very popular here and there are as many apartments in anticretico as renting.

Three course lunch in local restaurant = $1 -  $2
Three course lunch in up market restaurant $5 - $10
Pint of beer in mid range bar $3
Local ciggerates $1
International ciggerrettes $2
Local bus $0.15
Taxi within the city $1 - $7
12 hour bus in cama seat $20
Internet $20 per month for 0.5 mb through entel
Electricity and water $30 per month depending
Gas $3 per large bottle, many houses in La Paz are not connected to the mains
Petrol $0.50 per litre.  You can get cars adapted to run on natural gas subsidized by the government for free.  Running on gas is very cheap
Bread, usually bought in rolls, $0.07 per roll
Butter $1 per 250gram pack