Costa Rica is consistently recognized as one of the best places to retire. And it’s not just great for retirees; young people flock to Costa Rica for its unbelievable weather, beautiful beaches, and welcoming community.
Whether you’re looking for a new place to raise a family or a laidback lifestyle to enjoy your retirement, moving to Costa Rica is a great option.
Like all countries, the cost of living in Costa Rica depends on when you live. If you’re not sure where you’d like to live, we’ve outlined the best cities in each Costa Rican province.
Regardless of where you settle down, the overall cost of living is relatively low when compared to the United States and much of Europe. Most expats in Costa Rica can live comfortably on $1,000 to $1,500 USD per month.
From the cost of housing to the price of healthcare, here’s everything you need to know about the cost of living in Costa Rica.
Housing Costs in Costa Rica
Overall, the cost of living in Costa Rica is 26.6% lower than living in the United States. Where you’ll see the most significant difference in pricing is in housing costs. Compared to the U.S., rent in Costa Rica is 60% lower.
In the center of San Jose, the largest and most expensive city in the country, a one-bedroom apartment costs about $491 per month. Outside of the city center, expect to pay $415 per month USD.
If you prefer a larger place in the heart of San Jose, you can rent a three-bedroom apartment for about $940 each month.
Basic utilities, such as heat, water, and electricity, will cost you an additional $73 per month in a one-bedroom apartment. Internet and Wi-Fi access costs an extra $78.
If you decide to live outside of the capital, rent prices decrease dramatically. If you choose a more remote environment, rent can be more than half the price of a comparable apartment in San Jose.
Food and Entertainment Costs in Costa Rica
Food and entertainment costs are also rather affordable. In the big city, lunch for one person in an inexpensive restaurant will only set you back about $7.22. Dinner for two in a nicer restaurant averages $41.30.
For those that prefer to cook at home, you can expect to pay $0.96 for a one-pound bag of potatoes, $0.89 for one pound of rice, and $3.55 for one pound of chicken breast.
When it comes to drinks, a cappuccino will cost you about $2.65. That may sound expensive, but remember, Costa Rica has some of the best coffee in the world.
A 12-ounce bottle of imported beer runs about $4.13 in a bar. In a supermarket, that same beer costs just $2.69.
An evening showing at the movies is about $5.06 per ticket. If you enjoy working out at the gym, a monthly membership to a fitness club will set you back approximately $58.40.
Once again, these prices assume that you’re in a more expensive area. Outside of tourist areas, locals pay a little less.
The Cost of Transportation in Costa Rica
The roads and traffic in Costa Rica are notorious, so if you do plan on driving in the city, practice defensive driving and make safety your top concern.
A Toyota Corolla or a similar vehicle is about $25,000. A gallon of gas will cost you $3.91. These prices are somewhat high compared to the United States, but you’ll undoubtedly save money in other areas (like housing).
If the thought of driving in Costa Rica scares you, the country has a reliable and affordable public bus system. You can buy a local one-way ticket for a mere $0.66. A monthly pass costs $49.56. And when you need to take a taxi, expect to spend $1.87 per mile, plus a $1.07 base fare.
Healthcare Costs in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has a universal government-run healthcare system for citizens and permanent residents (you can apply to be a permanent resident after three years of temporary residency).
Healthcare in Costa Rica consistently ranks among the best in the world and often places higher than the United States.
Even though the country has universal healthcare, many citizens and expats opt for private health insurance in Costa Rica. With private insurance, policyholders receive quicker access to care and a more extensive selection of doctors.
A short 15-minute visit to a doctor costs about $70. When it comes to medication, a six-day supply of cold medicine, such as Tylenol, costs $6. Twelve doses of antibiotics cost about $40.
How Much Does it Cost to Live in Costa Rica? (Summary)
Costa Rica is an incredible place to live, and if you’re looking to move somewhere where you can stretch your dollar, it should be near the top of your list.
With rent costing 60% less than rent in the United States, it’s an excellent way for expats, especially retirees, to get the best bang for their buck.
If you live conservatively, it’s possible to get by on $1,000 or less per month. For the average expat, expect to spend closer to $1,500 or $2,000, which is relatively cheap compared to the United States.