Is it Cheap in Costa Rica?

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Is it Cheap in Costa Rica?

If you are not from Costa Rica, then you may be surprised to find out that the cost of living in Costa Rica is generally much lower than your current cost of living in your country. While there may be some items that may cost the same e.g. gasoline, some may cost more e.g. imported products. Overall, the cost of living in Costa Rica is less than in most parts of Europe and the United States.

Monthly Budget

Your monthly expenses in Costa Rica may vary depending on your lifestyle and tastes. Generally, a single person can live on between $1,400-$1,800 a month. Most couples live well on $2,000-$2,500 per month. This includes all costs, such as entertainment, food, utilities, medical care, transportation, and housing.


Rent in rural areas as well as in certain urban areas is about $300-$600 for a well-furnished small home or apartment. At this price, you can expect various Costa Rican amenities, such as bathroom with electric shower heads and line-drying laundry. A luxury home near San Jose complete with hot water heater, jacuzzi bathtubs, as well as granite countertops starts at around $1,500 monthly and can cost much more.

Food and Dining

Food costs in this country mostly depend on personal preferences. The Costa Rican version of a full meal along with natural fruit drink will cost around $2-$4. At a moderately-priced restaurant, a glass of wine, a salad, and main course will cost around $15-$20 per person.

Grocery Shopping

If you are purchasing imported food, then grocery shopping can get really expensive. However, if you shop locally and purchase vegetables and food from your community, it will be quite affordable. Avocados are generally $1.00 each; pineapples and mangos are usually less than a dollar. Bananas and coconuts are even cheaper. By purchasing local bread and cheese, and looking for products that are locally made, you will find that grocery shopping in Costa Rica can be much cheaper.

Goods and Services

Labor and services are generally inexpensive in Costa Rica. But, many goods are expensive as compared to most countries. In other words, a new vehicle can cost almost twice as much as in other countries, but a housekeeper may charge $2 per hour. Diesel and gas are expensive in this country. They generally cost $1-$3 more per gallon than in the United States.


Trips to street fairs, outdoor concerts, and museums generally run less than $10 per person. Most travelling shows and concerts cost the same as in United States. Be aware that as a tourist, you may have to pay entrance fees (typically $10-$20), though profits earned from those help support the private reserves and national parks of the country.

Medical Care

Medical care is low cost and high quality, with legal resident expats enjoying the universal healthcare system offered by the government. For a local monthly fee based on income, you get surgeries, prescriptions, doctor’s visits, as well as any other care you need, for free. Hospitals and private clinics are also a fraction of the price if you are willing to pay cash. Apart from this, insurance is available as well.


Public transportation is cheap. However, it is not very practical. Buses are cheap, taxis are not. Uber is usually available in the city. The fee from the airport to a hotel at an approximate distance of 10 km is around $20. Taxis charge twice that.

The Bottom Line

When you are living in Costa Rica, you have the freedom to spend as little or much as you want. Although most of the things in the country are cheap, North American-style luxuries can add up. Still, life in Costa Rica is usually less expensive as compared to an equivalent lifestyle in Europe, Canada, or the United States.

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