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Cost Of Living In Costa Rica

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Cost Of Living In Costa Rica

As the second most popular destination for American expats, many pose themselves the same question: How much does it cost to live in Costa Rica? The only possible answer is definitely a: “It depends on you”, but we can attest that expenses in Costa Rica can be a half of yours back in the homeland.

It is true what people say. Costa Rica grew accustomed to having so many expats, and the term “gringo price” is almost a norm for anyone who is not Latino. Expats are seen as rich, and to some extent, they are, based on the median income of the average Costa Rican, which goes for around 700$. Anyway, if you know where to look, and how to ask, you can unlock local prices and save even more than expected.

A managed expectation of day-to-day minimum spending can go for $1,300 and up for a single person. This could make for life in a small apartment or home, groceries, transportation, entertainment, etc. Around $2,000 should be a minimum for a couple around here, especially in cities like the capital, San José. The closer you are to San José and it’s downtown, the higher the prices.

Here, health care is top shelf and of low cost, and that’s why it’s the second most popular American destination for medical tourism. Residents enjoy the benefits of the Caja, short for Caja del Seguro Social, or Social Security, which provides many services free of charge.

As this country is expat centered, many popular tourist destinations like beach settings will feel more expensive.

Food & Groceries in Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, food and groceries have seen escalating prices over the years. More restaurants and supermarkets aimed at tourists and expats with more disposable income have caused an increase in prices. That means there are many restaurants to please your palate, but they come at a cost, sometimes even higher than back in the states.

That doesn’t mean that food should mean a no-go for you. There are several known tactics that can help you find local prices to keep your wallet healthy while eating great.


Your first option is to hunt for street stalls and vendors. Sometimes, vendors gather together in a given day to sell every product you can find at the supermarket for way less. This event is called a “Feria”, or fair, and they take place usually on Saturday mornings. They are quite a social experience, and many expats prefer it as it has better prices, and the product is first rate. No more organic price tags. Here, organic is the norm.

Supermarkets, on the other hand, are quite like the ones in the US and have everything you could ever need, even American products. Be reminded, though, that American products are more expensive since they are imported. Many expats choose to lay off of some of them in order to keep their budgets healthy. You’ll discover either way that national products may be as good or sometimes better than the ones back home.

Eating Out

You’ll have plenty of options when dining out in Costa Rica, but generally, you’ll have to manage your budget accordingly. Many expats have reported prices can be even higher than in the US, including prices for chains like TGI Friday’s, Applebee’s, etc.

A valid option could be to stroll out and find Sodas, which are little venues that sell meals with prices that can range from 5 to 6 dollars most of the time.

General Cost Of Living In Costa Rica

You can get an idea of the general cost of living expenses in Costa Rica with this table:

Monthly Budget For A Couple Living In Costa Rica

Cost of Living in Costa RicaMonthly Budget in US$
Electricity (See Rent)0
Telephone (See Rent)0
Internet / Cable TV (See Rent)0
HOA Fees0
Property Taxes0
Transportation / Gas400
Household Help0
Personal Care / Clothing50
Entertainment Travel / Meals Out250
Total Monthly ExpensesUS$2,100

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