Costa RicaCosta Rica

Live Like a Local & Keep Costs Down

The most important factor in determining your cost of living in Costa Rica is your lifestyle. Bottom line: live like a local and you can get by on $1200 per month, or less. How do the majority of Costa Ricans live? They eat simply -- lots of rice, beans and fresh produce. They shop at local grocers and farmers' markets where prices are reasonable ($25 buys a week's produce for a small family). Imported food items are a luxury and splash-out meals at fancy restaurants are a special treat. Most take public transportation, or own a fuel-efficient car. Gasoline currently hovers around $5 per gallon, which really adds up! Typical homes are void of air conditioners or heavy appliances like washers and dryers, which equates to lower utility bills.

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Though inflation has resulted in rising living costs over the past decade, compared to North America, your dollar still goes much further here. It is entirely possible to spend a small fortune each month, but with a few key lifestyle changes, you can live healthfully and comfortably on a modest income. Keep your costs down by shopping locally, avoiding pricey imported food products, opting for fans rather than A/C, taking public buses, and eating out at sodas (mom-and-pop cafes). Dining and entertainment can take a huge bite out of your budget; consider wallet-friendly options like the local cinema (movie + popcorn & soda = $8), or attending one of the country's many free concerts and festivals.

Where you really save money in Costa Rica is in housing (rents range from $350-$600 per month for a comfortable 2-bedroom home) and health care costs. Between these two factors and the affordability of local goods and services, a small income goes a long way. Things like housekeeping, gym memberships, hair cuts, and manual labor services are incredibly cheap. Here are some examples to give you an idea:

Cost Comparisons in Costa Rica

Monthly Gym Membership

 Average $25

Housekeeper or Gardener

$2-$3 per hour

Monthly Electric Bill (no A/C)


Private Health Insurance

  $80 per month

Cell Phone Bill

 $15 per month

2-Bedroom House Rental


Meal at a local Soda or Cafe


3-Hour Bus Ride


Haircut in a Salon


Live Like a Local & Keep Costs Down in Pictures

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