The cost of living in Costa Rica is considerably less as compared to other countries, particularly Europe and the United States. For people contemplating the ex-patriot life, part of the allure of moving away is the potential to live like a king or queen on a middle-class budget. Here’s a look at why the cost of living is so low in Costa Rica, and what the main differences are for those who’ve chosen to relocate to paradise.
Freedom and Flexibility
While everyone has a different idea of what financial freedom is, moving to Costa Rica can be liberating as the change in lifestyle does allow more flexibility with the way one spends their time. While retirees likely don’t move to Costa Rica planning on working, those far from retirement age can also live on less than $2000 a month, offering less risk for the “digital nomads,” creatives and entrepreneurs looking to build a business, and engage with the space they live in. Here’s a look at homes in Costa Rica, to get a sense of what you’ll be spending.
Eating in Costa Rica is generally a little cheaper than dining out in the US. Many expats reported a meal typically cost around $15-20 for two people at a moderately priced restaurant, while more casual place you might pop in for lunch will likely run between $2-5 per person.
Most of the food that may feel expensive is the American brands of chips, sodas, and so forth many expats have come to think of as comfort foods. Our advice is, try eating like a local. Shopping at the local feria (kind of like an open-air farmer’s market) is a great idea, you’ll get fresh fruit, fish, herbs and vegetables for a relatively low cost.
In terms of health care, costs are relatively low, especially compared with the costs of health care in the United States. On average, people can expect to spend under $100 on private health care or subscribe to the Costa Rican Social Security program.
The universal health care system in Costa Rica is known as Caja, and offers care to anyone for a low monthly cost, determined by income, and covers everything from eye exams and prescriptions to unexpected surgeries. The health care costs themselves attract many retirees looking to stretch their retirement savings or social security checks further while maintaining access to the quality healthcare they may need.
Utilities and More
Electricity may be a bit than former apartment dwellers are used to, approximately $100-200 USD on a monthly basis, due to the frequent air conditioning. Internet access is cheaper, roughly $25 a month, and rent for a large 2-bedroom condo is still under $1000 in most parts of the country. Here’s a chart listing major expenses, including rent, utilities, cable, and internet service.
People relocating to Costa Rica may be surprised at some of the difference in costs. Owning a car, for example, is much more expensive than in the US, but many expats feel as though they get by just fine without a car. Overall, people can expect a shift in how they spend their money — and in turn, will also experience a shift in lifestyle.