Cost of living in Costa Rica: What you need to know.
You may be wondering about the cost of living in Costa Rica. It’s an important consideration – especially if you’ll be living on a retirement fund or pension.
The good news is that even though some things like imported goods or cars are more expensive in Costa Rica, in the long run, it all balances out and the cost of living can be quite comfortable.
Living in Costa Rica is a cheaper option than in the U.S., but it’s not the least expensive place to live in Central America. And, having said that, the peaceful security of a stable government makes it (in our opinion) the best option.
There are luxury taxes on goods like wine or cosmetics, and high-end property will come at a higher tax cost too. However, your food budget will likely be considerably less, the cost of domestic help is far more affordable than in the U.S. and you’ll be able to send your kids (if you have them) to private schools, whereas that’s often prohibitively expensive in the States.
In reality, a couple can live on less than $3000 a month in Costa Rica and live quite comfortably at that. Luxury living can easily be had for $5000 a month, and if you’re frugal, around $2000 a month should do just fine.
The cost of buying or building a house in Costa Rica
If you’re buying or building a house in Costa Rica, the cost will depend on where your home will be. Will you have an ocean or forest view? Is your new house located in the city or a small town? Are you in a gated and guarded community or free-standing property?
If you’re planning to build your home, construction costs in Costa Rica can run anywhere between $125 – $175/ft2 or $750 – $1,200/m2 approximately.
There are still some really great deals to be had on properties in Costa Rica. An average of $200- $300 per square meter for ocean view property can be expected on the Central Pacific coast.
is an average price for land in Costa Rica but, like anywhere, it all depends on the area and the view.
- In San Jose, the average listing price of houses was US$1,110 per square meter (sq. m.) in July 2019, according to encuentra24.com. Condominium prices averaged US$1,724 per square meter.
- In Guanacaste, house prices average US$1,158 per square meter in July 2019. Condo prices averaged US$1,181 per square meter
- In Puntarenas, house prices averaged US$1,162 per square meter and Condo prices averaged US$1,299 per square meter
The most expensive and fastest-selling properties in Costa Rica are in the Central Valley, the greater metropolitan area (including San José, Alajuela, Heredia and Escazú) where most businesses are, and the Pacific coast. The least expensive properties can be found in new developments in Costa Rica´s southern region, such as the Osa Peninsula.
Most foreign homebuyers pay in cash since mortgages are not easy to obtain and mortgage interest rates are relatively higher than in their home countries.
The cost of buying food in Costa Rica
One of the things we love the most about living in Costa Rica is the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables – and the cost of them!
Almost every city, town, and beach community has a weekly farmer’s market and it’s a fun place to spend the morning on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday- each town has its own feria verde day.
At the farmer’s market, you can pick up fresh produce and herbs, cheese, eggs, and coffee. Sometimes you’ll also find cured tilapia.
Packaged, processed foods that are imported from the U.S. tend to be a bit on the pricey side, but the abundance of affordable produce far outweighs the cost of those few items you may want to get from one of the higher-end grocery stores like AutoMercado.
Fresh fish is readily available and extremely affordable from the local fishery markets in the beach towns. It can be a little bit more expensive in the San Jose Valley, though it’s still significantly cheaper than in the U.S.
Finally, you’ll find meat and poultry is about half the cost that you’d find in the states.
A family of four can easily eat well on less than $600 a month, including the occasional bottle of wine for the grownups in the group.
And finally, going out to dinner. A couple can easily have a wonderful meal at a restaurant, wine included, for less than $100 at a higher-end dining venue.
How much does it cost for utilities in Costa Rica?
Electricity, gas, and water can average about $120 a month for a family of four. That’s assuming that you use your washer and dryer sparingly, you do your dishes by hand (most do in Costa Rica as dishwashers aren’t all that common), and you don’t use the air conditioner 24/7.
If you do use the A/C, have a U.S. standard dishwasher, as well as a washer and dryer, and don’t think too much about turning off the lights, your electricity bill could be closer to $200 a month.
Of course, it’s all relevant to the size and location of your home, the number of people living there, and your daily habits.
While electricity is expensive in Costa Rica, the good news is that you won’t have any heating bills. If you live in the San Jose valley, the weather is temperate year-round; if you live in the beach towns or cities, it can get hot, but it’s usually breezy and often ceiling fans will do just fine.
A good Internet connection can run anywhere from just $30 a month to $100, depending on the company you get your Internet service from and the internet speed you subscribe to.
Costa Rica is one of the most wonderful places to live and even has a spot in the Blue Zone index – that means that people who live here (at least on the Nicoya Peninsula) live longer, healthier, happier lives.
The bottom line is that living in Costa Rica is extremely affordable. If you live frugally, a couple can easily live on less than $2000 a month.
If you enjoy a higher-end, luxury lifestyle, the cost of living can certainly get higher– and, it’s always going to be relative, but most likely lower than it is in the States.