Living in Costa Rica is Surprisingly Affordable
Costa Rica is a fantastic place to live. With beautiful beaches, endless adventures, and a laid-back lifestyle all at hand, there’s no end to the positives when it comes to life here. For some, moving to this tropical paradise – whether to work, raise a family, or retire – would be a dream come true. Unfortunately, many of those who would love to live here assume that the logistics and the cost must be too high. After all, there is always a catch, right?
What you may be surprised to learn is that Costa Rica is a very affordable place to live – even for families with young kids, entrepreneurs, or retirees on a fixed income. You can live well in Costa Rica with a monthly budget of $1500 per month, and exceptionally well with a budget of $3000 a month.
Rent is affordable in Costa Rica, especially if you keep things simple. A good sized apartment or home in some urban and rural areas can be rented for $500 to $1000 a month, depending on the size of the apartment and the area. Those looking for a larger home with North American-style amenities in a high-end area can be expect to pay $1500 a month or more.
Owning a little piece of paradise is much less expensive in Costa Rica than it is elsewhere. A nice, 3 bedroom, 2-bathroom home in a gated community can have a price tag as low as $170,000 in some areas. If you’re looking for a luxury home or condo at the beach, Los Sueños Resort is the place to find it. While you might expect to spend $2 or $3 million on a modest condo with ocean views in the U.S. or Europe, in Costa Rica you can buy a spacious, luxury condominium that will cost you in the neighborhood of $750,000 in Los Sueños Resort, and for double that amount (or a little more depending on what you go for) you can get a spacious villa with ocean views and a private pool.
If you stick to the “canasta basica” (basic basket) and eat like the locals with plenty of rice, beans, fruits and veggies, meats, fish, and locally-grown produce from farmer’s markets (which is part of the fun of living here), your grocery budget will be substantially less than it would in the United States — perhaps $400 a month for a family of four. If you buy imported goods from higher-end grocery stores, it can be about the same or higher.
A decent, moderately-priced sit-down restaurant outing will cost about $25 per person- of course if you plan to drink wine or spirits with your meals, you can expect ad about $10 to that figure. However, if you head into the mom-and-pop eateries, which often offer expertly made and delicious local cuisine, you’re looking at only $4 to $10 per person. About half the cost of a trip to Burger King, for freshly-made local food.
Health care in Costa Rica is very good, and very affordable. Private health insurance costs anywhere from $60 to $130 per month per person, while public health insurance costs about $50 a month for families.
Some goods, like artisan crafts and everyday household items are far less expensive in Costa Rica than in the United States. However others, such as cars and electronics can be vastly more expensive. To keep costs low, you might consider using public transportation or purchasing a used car, and bringing your electronics from home.
Many people who move to Costa Rica find that they can afford to hire a chef, nanny or maid, even on what would be considered a modest income by American standards. You can expect to pay about $2 – $3 an hour for domestic services.
Here is one area where you can expect to pay more – gas is about $2.00 more per gallon here than in the United States.
You can expect to pay rates comparable to those in North America for your cell phone, Internet, cable TV and electricity. However, in Costa Rica, water and home phone services are substantially cheaper.