Cost of Living in Costa Rica Compared to the U.S. & Canada

Many Americans & Canadians are interested in moving abroad to find better a quality of life for lower cost. Costa Rica is a decent option for anyone relocating to a foreign country for lower cost of living. Costa Rica can be cheaper than the U.S./Canada or fairly comparable, depending on your lifestyle and location.

Costa Rica Cost of Living

Costa Rica is an incredibly diverse country with a wide range of lifestyles and price-points available, so cost of living varies considerably. That said, Americans and Canadians coming to Costa Rica should not assume that cost of living is more affordable than in their home countries. Depending on your comparison point and your destination in Costa Rica, you may find similar prices or even more expensive cost of living.

Rent - The real estate market in much of Costa Rica has been booming in the past 1-2 years, and it is increasingly difficult to find long-term rentals. You can still find great deals on rent in areas with more stock, especially in the Central Valley region. Rental prices may vary significantly between the high and low tourist seasons, particularly in popular tourist destinations, with monthly rent sometimes dropping as much as 50% from April to November. If you're looking for a basic one-room apartment, you could expect to pay ~$700, while a well-appointed three bedroom house could run you ~$2500 per month.

Health Care - Health care is generally high-quality and affordable. If you're a resident, you can access the government-run healthcare system, called Caja. You will be obliged to pay into the Social Security system at a progressive rate based on your income, but many of your medical needs will be taken care of. If you decide instead to use private clinics, you may pay $50 for an x-ray out of pocket, and between $25-50 for a doctor’s visit.

 

Transportation - Public transportation in the metro areas is plentiful and cheap. A round trip bus trip from San Jose to the beach can cost $10. Purchasing a car, which many expats opt to do, can be more expensive than you're used to. Stiff car import duties and the long, bureaucratic process to actually get your car released from the port can make importing your own car into Costa Rica a long, painful, expensive process. As such, Americans often shop for used, older models in Costa Rica. Anything in decent shape and with 4-wheel drive could be 20%+ more expensive than what you might pay in the States or Canada.

 

Food - Imported foods and eating at expat restaurants will be pricey, although eating out can still be significantly cheaper than some places in the US. Eating like a local could save you significant money. Local products like rice, chicken, and fruit are affordable ($1.50 for a pineapple, $10 for a pound of snapper). A full lunch of rice, beans, vegetables, and a piece of meat at a local soda will be about $5 in most places.

Calculate YOUR Cost of Living in Costa Rica

Use our Costa Rica cost of living calculator to determine how much YOUR monthly budget would be in Costa Rica. Explore sample budgets in different locations throughout the country!

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Sample Budgets

Sample Budget #1 - San Jose

Please note that these sample budgets are directional only. The town you live in, changing prices, and your lifestyle will all influence your ultimate budget.

Living in San Jose for Two People per Month (USD)

Rent, modern 2 bed apartment

$1000

Utilities (including internet)

$150

Maid, once a week

$50

Fuel + Maintenance, one car

$160

Groceries

$450

Two lunches per week at sodas (for 2)

$60

Gym membership for two

$150

Health insurance for two

$320

Misc. (shopping, beauty, etc.)

$200

Total

$2540

Sample Budget #2 - Ojochal

Please note that these sample budgets are directional only. The town you live in, changing prices, and your lifestyle will all influence your ultimate budget.

Living in Ojochal for Two People per Month (USD)

Rent, 2 bed house

$1800

Utilities (inlcuding internet)

$300

Maid + Gardener, once per week

$100

Fuel + Maintenance, one car

$160

Groceries

$600

Dinner out once a week (for 2)

$240

Gym membership for 2

$150

Health insurance for two

$420

Misc. (shopping, beauty, etc.)

$200

Total

$3970

Sample Budget #3 - Tamarindo

Please note that these sample budgets are directional only. The town you live in, changing prices, and your lifestyle will all influence your ultimate budget.

Living in Tamarindo for Two People per Month (USD)

Rent, furnished 2 bedroom condo

$2000

Utilities (including internet)

$320

Maid, once a week

$50

Fuel + Maintenance, one car

$180

Groceries

$450

Eating out, multiple meals/week (for 2)

$400

Private health insurance for two

$650

Misc. (shopping, beauty, etc.)

$300

Total

$4350