Cost of Living in Costa Rica in 2021

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Cost of Living in Costa Rica in 2021

If you ask Costa Rican ex-pats what they enjoy most about their lives, the answers will be as diverse as the country’s geography. This Central American destination has a lot to offer. To begin with, it is located in Central America, which means it has the entire flavor and excitement that comes with living in Latin America. Costa Ricans live up to this reputation, with a kind and accepting culture that allows ex-pats to blend seamlessly into the fabric of daily life in many communities. The climates throughout the country are highly diverse. You may live in a lush, temperate rainforest or relax on the beach in a hammock and enjoy the calm pace of life. Regardless of how you slice it, Costa Rican expats adore the country’s breathtaking natural beauty. Costa Rica leads the world in responsible tourism, and it’s evident at every level. Central Valley, Gold Coast, Arenal, Southern Zone, and Central Pacific are the five regions that makeup Costa Rica. In Costa Rica, the majority of ex-pats are seniors, while there are some younger ex-pats and families. The Central Valley and the Gold Coast have more ex-pat communities. The Southern Zone would come in second.

Costa Rican Day-to-Day Living Is Affordably Priced

The majority of ex-pats from the United States, Canada, and Europe in Costa Rica spend significantly less money on day-to-day expenses than they do in their home countries. The cost of living is, of course, determined by one’s way of life. However, Costa Rica is far more affordable than the United States in many aspects. A single person can live comfortably from $1,600 to $2,000 per month. Depending on their lifestyle, some single individuals make do on much less, while others spend hundreds of dollars more. Some retired couples may live comfortably on $2,000 per month, and much better on $2,500 to $3,000 per month. Housing, transportation, medical care, utilities, food, and entertainment are all included in this figure.

Food Requirements

When it comes to food, it pays to shop and eat out like a local. The feria, or weekly open-air farmers’ market, is an institution in just about every Costa Rican town or village. This is where the locals come to stock up on fresh fruit, vegetables, and spices. You’ll also find farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, beef and chicken, eggs, dairy products, bread, coffee, and more. Prices are low; $1.50 pineapples, a pound of red snapper for $10; a head of lettuce for 50 cents; fistfuls of herbs like basil for 25 cents. Shopping there a couple can fill their fridge for about $40-50 per week. Plus, walking to the feria is entertaining, with vendors handing out free samples and announcing specials amid tables stacked high with vegetables. The food in Costa Rican restaurants is good, simple, and inexpensive. For $4.50, a local soda (a modest restaurant selling local dishes) will serve a filling supper of meat (chicken, beef, or pork), rice, beans, salad (a variety of options), and veggies. It will cost $3.60 without the meat. Occasionally, platano Maduro, a baked plantain that will fulfill your sweet craving, will be included.

Other Conveniences

Keep in mind that many tourist-friendly coastal destinations will have a greater cost of living due to higher rental fees, restaurant dinners, and grocery shop pricing. You’ll also need air conditioning, which will increase your electric cost. Regardless of where you are in Costa Rica, there are numerous ways to save money.

House Expenses

Utilities, maintenance, internet, and TV are all included in the monthly expenses. The cost of renting a condo, home, or apartment in Jacó varies based on the size and type of the condo, house, or apartment. The monthly rent will be influenced by the proximity to the ocean. Many ex-pats reside in condos that provide some utilities and almost always include a pool and, on occasion, a gym. There are a variety of rentals in Jacó, ranging in price from $400 for a little two-bedroom apartment to $2,500 for a luxury property, and everything in between. Private residences are also available for rent or purchase, with prices ranging from $75,000 to $300,000, depending on your requirements.

Sports and Amusement

Surfing, strolling, or jogging on the beach, civic events, and a variety of superb restaurants in all price ranges provide amusement. For $5, you may also see a freshly released film at the neighborhood cinema.

Medical Requisites

Only $25 to $50 in cash is required to see an English-speaking doctor. Prescription drugs are readily available here at one of several pharmacies, with many of them requiring no prescription. It’s convenient to be able to stroll into the pharmacy, ask the resident doctor to examine you, and then get the medication that was prescribed.

Costa Rica Currency

Costa Rica’s currency is the colón, which is the country’s official currency. The currency will be denoted with the sign on menus and in stores, while the currency code CRC will be found in currency exchange outlets. The value of the colón fluctuates with the market, but at the time of writing, the mid-market exchange rate was 1 USD 619.915 CRC. Retail customers are not always offered this by banks and currency exchange firms. Instead, a markup may be applied, resulting in you getting less for your money.

Banking in Costa Rica

Having a bank account is one of the most important things you can do to help you get started in Costa Rica. You’ll need one to get basic services and look for a long-term home. Finding an account won’t be difficult if you already have residency in Costa Rica, though you’ll need to gather some papers to complete your application. When looking for an account that meets your needs, the state-owned Banco de Costa Rica is a smart place to start. The essential paperwork, as well as the eligibility conditions and minimum deposit amounts, are all available online. Alternatively, you may look at the accounts offered by Banco Popular, Scotiabank, and Davivienda, three of Costa Rica’s largest banks.

Cost of Living in Costa Rica Vs the United States

These figures come from a website where foreigners may add the real-time cost of living information to generate a dynamic picture of everything from the price of coke to the cost of a new home.

Is It Legal for US Citizens to Live in Costa Rica?

Tourists from the United States do not normally require a visa to visit Costa Rica. You will, however, need to produce your return ticket as proof that you intend to depart the country after your holiday is finished. If you plan to stay in Costa Rica for an extended amount of time, you’ll need a visa. Depending on what you want to do during your stay in Costa Rica, there are a variety of visa alternatives available to US nationals. The application process will also differ depending on whether you are applying from the United States or Costa Rica.

How Expensive Is Living in Costa Rica?

Accommodation and Housing:

There are numerous housing options available, and location, of course, makes a significant difference when considering this investment. In cities, Western-style lodging is usually more expensive, but you can also find fantastic locations a little off the beaten path. Expats prefer to settle in a few popular areas just outside of San José to get the best of both worlds: slightly lower rentals and easy access to the capital’s attractions.

Rent and Utilities:

  • 1 bedroom apartment in the heart of the city USD 501.33
  • 839.93 USD for a three-bedroom apartment in the city centre
  • 1 bedroom flat on the outskirts of the city
  • USD 353.82
  • 3 bedroom apartment on the outskirts of the city
  • USD 630.65
  • 67.41 USD for utilities for an 85m2 unit
  • Travel and Transportation:
  • You’ll need to budget for transportation and travel whether you drive or take public transportation.
  • Here’s everything you need to know about it.
  • Costa Rica’s average cost; 0.81 USD for a one-way public transportation ticket, 34.97 USD for a month’s worth of public transportation, 1.03 USD per liter of gasoline, Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline or comparable new car USD 22,637.45.

Provisions As Well As Entertainment:

Dining out in Costa Rica is likely to be far less expensive than in the United States, with a three-course supper for two in San José costing around 40 USD against 100 USD in New York. Local food and grocery items are also considerably less expensive than in the United States, while premium and imported goods will be more expensive. If you’re on a budget, it’s best to live like the natives and learn some of the great Costa Rican meals. If you’re in a major town or city, you’ll have plenty of options for entertainment. A popular movie will cost roughly 6 USD at the theatre, or if you’re into fitness, you can rent a tennis court for around 22 USD an hour on the weekend.

Dental and Medical Treatment:

Costa Rica’s infrastructure is generally adequate, so you’ll discover private healthcare options, including hospitals associated with US hospital services if you’re in a major city. These are likely to be a third of the cost of identical services in the United States, with doctors who can generally communicate in English and have international experience18. Medical tourism is on the rise in Costa Rica, which will only help to expand the spectrum of private healthcare services available. If you plan to live in Costa Rica, you will very certainly be required to contribute to the national healthcare system on a monthly basis. In exchange, you’ll save money on medical care and medications while you’re there.

Costa Rica As a Study Destination

In most large cities, there are international schools that teach English to children of a younger age. However, if you’re traveling with family, fees may be considerable, so verify before you plan your budget. In Costa Rica, there are over 60 colleges to choose from, including some that are ranked among the best in Latin America and the globe.


The bulk of Costa Rica’s tap water is perfectly safe. Only bottled water should be consumed in the port cities of Limón and Puntarenas.


In cities like San José, pickpockets and muggings are widespread. Before swimming in freshwater, always check with the locals to see if it contains bacteria that can make you very sick. The currents along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts can be quite powerful and dangerous; always read signs before entering the ocean to ensure you’re in a safe place.


San José and Tamarindo are attractive places to live. While the state schools in Costa Rica are excellent, bigger cities have at least one international/American school. If you’re debating whether to attend a private or public school, keep in mind that international schools have high costs.

Health Insurance

There is also low-cost private insurance available across the country.


In order to enter Costa Rica as a tourist, you must have a valid passport and proof of a round-trip or onward ticket. While they may not always want to see it, if you don’t have it, they may refuse to let you on the plane. You can usually stay for up to 90 days without a visa, and there is a $29 USD exit tax.

Average Local Wage:

In Costa Rica, a middle-class salary average is USD $750. A monthly income in smaller cities is around $450.


Costa Rica is somewhat pet-friendly; however, the process of bringing your pets with you can be a little daunting. Begin early in advance of your planned move to ensure that you have all of the necessary vaccines and papers.

What Taxes Do You Have to Pay in Costa Rica?

If you’re a tax resident of Costa Rica, you’ll have to pay taxes on your earnings there. There is a progressive tax system in place, which means you will be taxed at varying rates depending on your income. For higher earners, the top rate of personal income tax is 25%. You’ll also have to pay 10.5 percent in social security contributions if you’re employed. If you’re self-employed, your rates may differ. VAT, which is set at 13% for most things, and real estate transfer tax, which is 1.5 percent of the value of any property you buy, is two more taxes to be aware of.

What Are Some of the Drawbacks to Living in Costa Rica?

The roads, while many parts of Costa Rican life are obviously first-world, are not one of them. Potholes, dips, and fractures blight the roadways to the point where cars can be damaged as a result of driving over them. Locals drive aggressively and recklessly, passing when it is unsafe to do so and disregarding the right of way.

In Costa Rica, What Is Considered Impolite?

Cultural taboos are frowned upon. There aren’t many gestures that tourists to Costa Rica should avoid, but there are a few that are deemed impolite. In most settings, putting your feet on furniture is considered impolite, and pointing is usually considered impolite.


You won’t get bored living in Costa Rica because it has tropical beaches, jungles, mountains, volcanoes, cloud forests, and a plethora of national parks. It’s an adventurer’s dream. Costa Rica is also an excellent area to relocate for the more sedentary. This tropical paradise is one of the most popular retirements, education, and living destinations for foreigners. Surfable beaches, natural beauty, and plentiful wildlife make the country one of the most thrilling adventure destinations in the world. Costa Rica is particularly appealing because it is a long-established democracy with a stable political system. Also, Costa Rica has been accepting retirees and other ex-pats for over 30 years, and it is a top eco-tourism and beach destination for visitors. Many people in the area speak English.

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