Buying Lifestyle

Living the Pura Vida on a Budget: Costa Rica Living Cost

Coldwell Banker Costa Rica | 15th August 2022 | Share
Living the Pura Vida on a Budget: Costa Rica Living Cost

Day to Day Costa Rica Cost

Most American, Canadian, and European travelers know the Costa Rica trip cost and expat living in Costa Rica to be a commonly affordable experience. Of course, depending on one's lifestyle, the cost of living can vary, but in most ways, it is cheaper than in their home countries. 

For a single person, expat life in Costa Rica can range from $1,600 to $2,000 per month, though some manage to spend less or more depending on their lifestyle.

Couples retiring in Costa Rica live comfortably on $2,500 to $3,000. 

Expenses to consider when thinking about international living in Costa Rica or the cost to retire in Costa Rica are:

  • housing
  • transportation
  • medical care
  • utilities
  • food
  • and entertainment. 

Typically, real estate is more affordable whether you're renting or buying. When living in Costa Rica as an American, North American-style homes in prime locations are available at reasonable prices compared to their home country.

About Costa Rica's Affordable Healthcare 

Costa Rica's healthcare system is one of the most accessible and affordable in the world. With access to the universal healthcare system called Caja, it is particularly affordable for legal resident expats in Costa Rica. For a low monthly fee based on income, residents can enjoy high-quality medical care for free, including doctor visits, prescriptions, surgeries, and any necessary care. This system is affordable and reliable, with a reputation for being one of the best healthcare systems in Latin America.

Private clinics and hospitals are also significantly cheaper in Costa Rica when paying cash, making it an attractive option for those who prefer not to enroll in the public system. And for those who prefer the security of insurance coverage, numerous options are available at a fraction of the cost of what one would typically pay in North America or Europe.


Eat Like the Locals

Shopping and eating out like the locals is recommended for those looking to save on food. The feria, or weekly open-air farmers' market, is a beloved institution in nearly every Costa Rican town or village. 

At the feria, locals purchase fresh fruit, vegetables, spices, seafood, beef, chicken, eggs, dairy, bread, coffee, and more, all at low Costa Rica prices. A couple can stock their fridge full of fresh ingredients for a mere $40 to $50 weekly. The deals, free samples from vendors, and the sense of community make the experience all the more enjoyable. 

Additionally, shopping at local markets helps support small-scale farmers and stimulates the local economy.

Best Places to Live in Costa Rica

When thinking about places to live in Costa Rica, it is important to note that Popular tourist beach destinations tend to have a higher cost of living due to higher rental prices, dining out, and groceries. Many tourists flock to these areas, driving up rental prices. So when considering cost, the best places to retire in Costa Rica and the best places to live in Costa Rica for expats are a few miles away from these popular areas, where you can still enjoy the coast's natural beauty while avoiding the added expenses.

Furthermore, living slightly outside popular beach tourist towns in Costa Rica can be a wise financial decision, as it can help reduce the cost of food. Living outside the tourist areas provides access to more affordable grocery stores and local markets, where you can find fresh produce and other essentials at lower prices. 

Another expense to consider when living in Costa Rica is the cost of electricity. The summer months fall between January and April and are among the brightest and best times to travel to Costa Rica. During these hot summer months, air conditioning use can significantly increase electric bills. However, by living outside the tourist towns, you may only need air conditioning sometimes due to the lower temperatures and refreshing ocean breezes.


Living in Costa Rica can offer you a wonderful lifestyle at a lower cost compared to many other countries. Keep in mind that some areas are more budget-friendly than others; however, with careful planning, it is possible to live a comfortable and enjoyable life in Costa Rica without breaking the bank! 

Contact us for more information on living or moving to this beautiful country. 





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