The Cost of Living in Costa Rica

Hummingbird in Costa Rica

If you’ve found your perfect tropical home or if you plan to retire to Costa Rica, like so many other Americans, we have good news. It’s cheaper! Of course, it all depends on where in Costa Rica you’re thinking about moving, because living in a beach resort will cost you quite a bit of cash more than other areas.

Another thing you will enjoy is universal healthcare. For a monthly fee of up to $50 your whole family will be covered. The average monthly cost for one person is $1500, but it can go up depending on each individual’s lifestyle. Let’s break down the list of expenses and see why the cost of living in Costa Rica is so much lower.

Housing & Utilities

Renting a one-bedroom apartment costs between $350 and $500, depending on the location, and around $800 for a three-bedroom in the city. If you’re thinking about buying a home or an apartment, it can be tricky. Mortgages are not easy to get, so you’ll have to pay in full.

The property market is blooming in Costa Rica because of the low cost of around $150/ sq ft. According to research, the province of Alajuela is the most affordable when it comes to both renting and buying a home or an apartment.

The good news is that you don’t need heating in Costa Rica. The bad news is that you need air conditioning. Most of your utilities will go on electricity and internet, but the total only goes up to $120 (well depending on how much the AC runs) which is not half bad compared to the US.

Read More:  The Cost of Living in New Zealand

Food & Transportation

Most of the monthly expenses tend to go on food in Costa Rica. The prices are very affordable, and you have healthy options, considering the farmer’s market is a big deal here. It’s worth to keep in mind that buying local products will be much cheaper than buying imported ones, a fact that applies to food and household items as well.

Costa Rica Traditional Food - Breakfast

If you want to get away with a smaller grocery bill of around $150/month, avoid shopping around resorts or in areas with a high population of foreign residents. Dining out is a luxury that most of us love. Expect to pay around $7/ person at an inexpensive restaurant, and $20 at a mid-range restaurant. The restaurants in beach resorts cost more.

When it comes to driving your own car or a rental you won’t be happy to know the price of gas is always about $2 higher than the price of gas in the US. However, public transportation is affordable, a bus ticket costing 80 cents and $1.70/mile for a cab. 

If we were to look at where your $1700 would go monthly we would see the following statistic:

  • Groceries and household items: 36.6%
  • Rent: 21.3%
  • Dining out: 14.4%
  • Transportation: 11.8%
  • Utilities (including medical): 5.2%

That will leave you with 11.6% of your budget to spent on what your heart desires. If you’re thinking about moving here, it’s always better to make a comparison between your current country of residence and Costa Rica Central America.

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