Are you getting tired of the lengthy winters? Is it possible that the much-anticipated summer months aren’t living up to the hype? If you’re tired of the monotony of modern Western living and the constant search for that additional dollar, it’s time to shake things up.
What better way to get away from the brutal weather and the monotony of everyday life than to pack your belongings and move to Costa Rica? Say farewell to the well-trodden route and hello to adventure and the unknown.
Costa Rica has long been a shelter for ex-pats due to its idyllic climate and political stability. Leave the high cost of living behind and enjoy magnificent white sand beaches, lush forests, and a new culture. It’s no longer as straightforward as booking a trip and showing up at the boarding gate to relocate to Costa Rica. Especially for those who intend to stay for the long haul. We can’t rush life-changing decisions, and that’s where we come in. Allow us to walk you through the cost of living in Costa Rica, from budgeting to visas.
Why Should You Relocate to Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is a backpackers’ paradise and a tourist favorite for a variety of reasons, including lively coastal towns and inviting villages, magnificent scenery, and nice weather. What is it like to live here, though?
Eco-adventures are right outside your door if you live in Costa Rica. The country is known for a wide range of outdoor sports, from whitewater rafting to zip lines across enormous valleys.
Adventures, on the other hand, can only take you so far. Costa Rica’s warm culture, great cuisine, and the opportunity to enjoy life without the often-repetitive structure of western living are all appealing to newcomers. Costa Rica offers political and social stability, as well as safety, in comparison to much of Central and South America. Part of this implies that Costa Rica is more expensive to live in than, say, Mexico. Those arriving from the United States or the United Kingdom can anticipate a lower cost of living. Every new country has its faults, and Costa Rica is no exception. There will be a language barrier; therefore, having a working knowledge of Spanish will assist you in settling in. Expats will also have to adjust to living at a slower pace. It’s great for holidays, but it may be a pain in the neck while attempting to get through your daily routine.
Summary of Costa Rican Living Costs
If you’re considering relocating to Costa Rica, you should be aware that it is one of the most costly countries in the region to live in. That shouldn’t deter you; after all, you’ll almost certainly see a significant reduction in overall spending. However, you should proceed with financial caution before relocating here.
From rent to groceries, it’s critical to have a solid awareness of everyday spending in Costa Rica. Having a firm budget will go a long way during the early stage of settling in. Prices will vary from city to city; for example, the average rent in San Jose is twice that of Cartago.
What Does It Cost to Live in Costa Rica – Down to the Nuts and Bolts?
Now that we’ve covered the essentials let’s dig deeper.
Costa Rican Rentals Are Available for Rent.
Even after coming to Costa Rica and leaving behind your old life, you’ll have to deal with a few annoyances, such as rent. Sorry to disappoint, but it will continue to be your largest spend. Your rent may be equivalent to many medium-sized cities in the United States, depending on the sort of location and residence you live in.
Depending on where you choose to base yourself in Costa Rica, the types of homes available may differ. Most sites will offer everything from modest sharehouse units to luxury residences with outdoor pools and private gyms.
Whether you live near the beach or in the mountains is a big factor that influences your rent pricing in Costa Rica. For a good reason, most ex-pats choose gorgeous coastal cities to mountain towns like Arenas, where two-bedroom flat costs less.
Private, one-bedroom apartments for $400 per month are fairly prevalent in Costa Rica. If you’re prepared to live in a sharehouse, your rent can be cut in half. Make a list of your objectives before deciding on the cheapest approach to see your new nation.
* Are you traveling alone and on a shoestring budget?
* Will you be bringing your partner and children? * Do you want to be among the hills or near the surf breaks?
* Will you require proximity to both public and private schools?
This is just the tip of the iceberg, but knowing the answers to these questions can help you figure out what type of lodging and where to stay in Costa Rica is best for you. Costa Rica is a popular ex-pat destination. If you’re looking for great real estate, one of your biggest problems will be competing with others who are in the same boat. Although it may be tempting to sign a lease before arriving in Costa Rica, rental scams are frequent. Although you will try your patience, looking for your new home on the ground is the finest option.
June through August is the greatest season to look for property in Costa Rica. You might be able to get a good deal during the off-season for tourism. Signing a one-year lease can also help you save money on rent.
* Tamarind Shared Room – $250
* Tamarind Private Apartment – $650
* Tamarind Luxury Villa – $2500
As previously stated, it is preferable to shun the internet and search for your dream home on your own two feet. Rent a Costa Rica Airbnb for a few weeks at a time once you’ve determined where you want to live. This will provide you with peace of mind as you search for a home.
Costa Rican Transportation
For ex-pats, getting around your local town, much alone the country, can be a challenge. Even individuals who have traveled extensively and have a decent command of the Spanish language may struggle with the unpredictability of local transportation.
There are various bus networks in large cities such as San Jose. Each is run by its entity, which can be confusing at best and leave you with long walks between stops in the worst-case situation. After a while, you’ll be able to accept the terrible together with the good. The good news is that bus fares are relatively low, and they will save you money by allowing you to avoid driving in congested city traffic and on poorly maintained highways.
Taxis are more convenient and well-organized, but they are more expensive. If you travel across town frequently, it is well worth the money. Finding a property in a walking location is a priority for many ex-pats. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the beach or in the city. This will allow you to walk around on two feet and sidestep the problem entirely. You can travel between metropolitan hubs by train or tourist bus if you want to go further afield. San Jose’s bus port connects to foreign locations such as Nicaragua and Guatemala. Flying is the quickest way to get about Costa Rica. Domestic flights are reasonably priced. However, they only serve major tourist destinations.
* $20 for a taxi ride from the airport to San Jose
* Car Rental – $100
Costa Rican Cuisine
Costa Rican food is a reflection of its surroundings. Everything is grown here. A plethora of local farms grow a variety of fresh veggies among the jungles. At the same time, the Pacific coast and the Caribbean Sea supply a variety of fresh fish to your local shops and eateries.
Costa Rica shares many similarities with Caribbean food, which has its touch on traditional rice and bean dishes, stews, and beef patties. You’ll also get the opportunity to select fresh fruit that grows in many areas’ side streets. There’s delicious food all around you!
With so many Western-style restaurants operating in Costa Rica, you’ll undoubtedly be tempted to indulge in familiar flavors. Eat where the locals eat to get a taste of the homegrown cuisine with influences from Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean.
Sodas and marisquerias are two prominent sorts of local “restaurants.” Sodas are available outside of local houses where traditional cuisine is offered, such as casados (vegetables and meat) for roughly $6. If you enjoy seafood, swap out your sodas with marisquerias. They’re nearly identical, with the exception that the latter specializes in seafood. Around $9 will get you Arroz with Mariscos (mixed seafood with rice).
In Costa Rica, various large food stores will meet your daily needs. PriceSmart is the local version of Costco, while Auto Mercado is a well-known chain. Visit your local Ferias del Agriculture (farmers market) on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays to truly appreciate your new home.
Costa Ricans Love to Drink.
The tap water in Costa Rica, especially in major cities and beach communities, is generally safe to drink. If you’re in a distant or underdeveloped location, though, it’s wise to be safe and boil your water before refilling your reusable container. A 1750ml bottle of water costs roughly $1.70 in supermarkets, but you could choose to stock up on a 24-pack for around $14. Alcohol is sold in Costa Rica’s major supermarkets, convenience stores, and specialty liquor stores. Alcohol will be more expensive in busy tourist places than in rural areas. A pint of beer at a local bar will normally set you back at approximately $2, and it will be even less during happy hour. A six-pack of Imperial, a local beer brand, can cost anything from $8 to $10.
Costa Rica has a high alcohol tax. Duty-free shopping is a terrific method to save money on alcohol, especially spirits. You’ll find substantial savings that will allow you to enjoy a pina colada guilt-free. A local grocery can offer vodka for roughly $30, whereas a duty-free shop can sell it for under $20.
Costa Rican School
Costa Rica offers a high-quality education system when compared to Latin America. Both public and private schools follow a government-developed curriculum that places a major emphasis on early childhood education.
After the civil war ended in 1948, the army’s budget was shifted to education. Public education is free and has a high global ranking. If pupils do not speak Spanish, however, they will confront a significant linguistic barrier. This will prevent a substantial number of ex-pats from accessing public education. Newcomers will need a visa that grants residency to enroll in free public schools. Private schools are plentiful across Costa Rica. The key advantage of private schooling is that it will place a greater emphasis on English and will have smaller classrooms. Expats without residency visas will also benefit from private schooling.
The cost of private education varies from $1500 to $3000 every semester.
Costa Rican Medical Costs
The high quality of local healthcare is one of the reasons Costa Rica is such a popular retirement destination for foreigners. Some of the top health facilities in Latin America may be found among Costa Rica’s beautiful sandy beaches and towering mountains. If you plan to relocate to Costa Rica, you will be able to use the CCSS, which is a government-backed universal healthcare system. If you live and work in Costa Rica, you will be required to contribute to the system to obtain care at public hospitals and prescription drugs at a reduced cost.
Even if you don’t live in the area, you can use the CCSS in an emergency. Costa Rica’s public system has served the country well, yet it can be overburdened.
As a result, many foreigners and locals try to strike a compromise between public and private healthcare. Wait times are shorter, care is of greater quality, and there are more English-speaking doctors available in the private system. The private system is affordable in comparison to other regions of the world.
Costa Rican Visas
When it comes to tourist visas for overseas visitors, Costa Rica has some lenient restrictions. Citizens of a wide range of countries are permitted to visit Costa Rica without obtaining a visa, with stays of up to 90 days permitted. The United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Spain, and South Korea are among these countries. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
If your nation isn’t on the list, it may be on a separate list that enables tourists to stay in Costa Rica for up to 30 days without a visa. The clock can then be reset by crossing the border into Nicaragua or Panama. However, it should be noted that this is not a long-term solution, and you will be unable to work. This technically includes digital nomads’ online work. Numerous visas provide employment rights and residency to those who desire to start a new life in Costa Rica. To attract more ex-pats and investment, they have made it simple to relocate — as long as you check the right boxes.
The Pensionado and Rentista programs are two popular visas for retirees. Proof of a lifetime pension of at least $1000 per month is required for the former. You will not be able to work, but you will be able to own businesses in the country.
For people without a fixed pension, the Rentisa Program demands confirmation of $2500 in the previous 24 months. Alternatively, a $60,000 deposit in a Costa Rican bank. Those who have 401ks/SIPPs/Superannuation that isn’t considered a pension should apply for the Rentista visa.
Last but not least, there’s the Inversionista Program. This is a popular choice for folks who don’t qualify for the other options but have a substantial sum of money to invest in the local economy. Keep in mind that this might be as simple as purchasing a $150,000 property.
Costa Rica has certain basic employment visas. Expats will require a solid relationship with a local employer to sponsor the visa and persuade immigration that a local worker would be unable to accomplish the job.
Costa Rican Banking
Costa Rica has both public and private banks. When it comes to opening a bank account, it’s important to understand the differences. Opening a bank account in Costa Rica is a time-consuming process that requires a lot of paperwork and, in most circumstances, requires you to present in person.
It is customary for foreigners with residency to obtain a private bank account. These come with better customer service and a higher chance of hiring English-speaking employees. You will, however, have to wait a set amount of time before being able to register an account. The procedure, which is normally completed in person, necessitates a large amount of paperwork, including evidence of address, income, statements, and identification.
Non-residents are allowed to open bank accounts at state-owned institutions. Even if you don’t intend to work, having a local account will alleviate a significant burden. It comes in handy when paying for necessities like electricity and the internet. With just a passport and a phone number, you can do this online.
The number of ATMs available at state-run banks much outnumbers those available at commercial institutions. Banco Popular and Banco de Costa Rica are two major state-owned banks. BCT, Imrosa, and BAC San Jose are well-known private banks.
Try to receive your new debit/credit card as soon as possible once you’ve settled in. You risk amassing significant exchange fees on your home card unless you do so. Transfer funds to a Payoneer or TransferWise travel card to avoid this while you wait.
Costa Rican Taxes
You will be responsible for paying taxes in Costa Rica whether you have residency or not if you have been in the nation for six months in a row during the tax year. The fiscal year spans from October 1 to September 30.
Costa Rica will solely tax your money earned in the country. If you’re an employee, this will be deducted automatically from your pay. You don’t have to file your taxes because Social Security and income taxes are paid to the government regularly. You’ll have to file your taxes and finally lodge a tax return if you’re self-employed. Keep in mind that, even if you currently live in Costa Rica, you may still be subject to taxes in your home country. Make touch with a foreign tax representative to make things legal.
Living in Costa Rica and Needing Insurance
Costa Rica is frequently referred to as one of the happiest countries on the planet. It’s one of the main reasons why long-term ex-pats choose to live here. When compared to the surrounding region and South America, the country has a low level of violence. Petty crime, on the other hand, is still a problem in Costa Rica, whether in small villages or tourist hotspots. As you become accustomed to your new surroundings, you will observe that the roads are often in bad condition, with unpredictable driving.
All of this is to suggest that horrible things do happen, and accidents do happen. Having some insurance will help you avoid incurring unexpected fees as a result of these occurrences.