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Live Big in Costa Rica on a Tiny Budget? See How!

Posted by on June 8, 2024

Live Big in Costa Rica on a Tiny Budget? See How!

Ever wondered what it genuinely costs to live in the lush, vibrant landscapes of Costa Rica? After spending eight incredible years in this beautiful country, I've gathered a treasure of knowledge and experiences, especially on managing expenses. Today, I'm thrilled to share these insights, hoping to guide you through the real cost of living in Costa Rica – from cozy beachfront condos to the local markets' vibrant colors.


Finding Your Nest:

One of the significant decisions you'll face when moving to Costa Rica is choosing where to live. It's fascinating how the type of housing, location, and duration of your stay can influence your monthly expenses vastly.
Always make sure to ask your landlord, which utilities will be included, if any. Sometimes water can be included, but it won't cost you that much either way, could be $10, $20 or $30 per month. And also condo fees and security. If you're living in a building or a gated community, that should be included in your rent as well.
The big expense when it comes to utilities is electricity. Now, if you live in an area of ​​Costa Rica with a milder or cooler climate like in the Central Valley for instance, then your electricity bill might only be around $75 per month up to a $100 per month. But if you live on the beach and if you're running your air conditioning all day, your electricity bill can easily be $200, $400 or more. So if you want to save money when you live in Costa Rica, make sure to turn off the lights, turn off the AC when you're not using it.
The price of internet has dropped a lot in recent years for pretty decent speeds. Today for only $30 or $40 per month, you can get speeds for up to 100 megabits per second, and for $40 to $50 you can get packages including cable and internet together.


Getting Around:

Transportation can eat up a significant chunk of your budget, but it doesn't have to in Costa Rica.
If you don't buy a car, there are plenty of taxis, buses, shared shuttles, private drivers, and Ubers available. The cheapest way to get around by far is the local bus. A fair within town can cost you maybe only 1$ or $2, and to get all the way from San Jose to the beach for example, Jaco might cost you only five or $10. Likewise, if you were to take a shared shuttle from the airport, it could cost you $45, or if you wanted your own private driver around $150.
Ubers are pretty cheap as well, but they're mostly only available in the Central Valley. So if you have to take a taxi, make sure that's the last resort because that is the most expensive of all the options. Now, Local flights you can also fly around the country with one of the local domestic airlines like Sansa or Nature Air, but it's not cheap.
A one-way ticket could cost you between a hundred and $200, and there's also hefty baggage fees. But if you qualify for temporary or permanent residency in Costa Rica, you could access some of the local deals, which can sometimes be as low as $40 or $50. If you plan to buy a used car in Costa Rica, Buying or renting a car it's going to cost you to the tune of 10 or 15 grand. The good news is you can usually sell it for the same price that you bought it for. The bad news is be prepared to spend around $500 per month on gas and maintenance for the least amount of headaches.


Dining and Entertainment:

Costa Rica is not just about mesmerizing views; it's also a haven for foodies and adventurers.
Eating out & drinking maybe a Gallo pinto with some tortillas, eggs, coffee and fruit, that could run you between five to $8. But going to a breakfast at a fancier place can easily cost you $10 to $15.
The cost of a local Costa Rican cup of coffee is $1, and we all know how much it costs at Starbucks. Same goes for lunch. If you eat a Casado which is a typical plate at one of the local sodas, which has some salad, rice and meat, then that could cost you around seven to $10 or $12. But if you go to a nicer restaurant, then you can easily spend $20 to $30 on lunch. Dinners at local spots could cost you $15 or $20 per person, but you can also spend $30 to $50, even a hundred dollars per person on a nice meal out, especially in a touristy area. And when alcohol is included, the cheapest alcohol in Costa Rica is the local beer and also Guaro, but you can also get some pretty affordable bottles of wine at the supermarkets and some nice happy hour specials for your sunset drinks. Also, remember that Costa Rica charges a 13% sales tax and a 10%



In Closing:

This vibrant country offers a lifestyle that is much more pocket-friendly than many. With careful planning, you can find your own slice of Pura Vida (pure living), whether it's a cozy condo overlooking turquoise waves or a charming house nestled in the mountains.

The cost of living range for people in Costa Rica goes from $1,500 per month to $10,000 per month. For a single person or a couple, without children, the range is $1,500 per month and $3,000 per month. And then for a family, it's about $4,500 a month up to $6,000 a month, because having your children in private schools, it can cost a thousand dollars per child per month.

Start planning your Pura Vida adventure today! With its reasonable cost of living and endless opportunities for exploration, Costa Rica is the perfect place to create lasting memories or start a new life as an expat without breaking the bank.

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