The Costa Rica Cost of Living is the main reason that so many people have decided to strike out for their retirement in this lovely country. Aside from its natural beauty and warm hospitality, the Costa Rica cost of living is much lower than most areas of the Americas. Even for expatriates with a little bit of an outlandish lifestyle, it is much more reasonable in terms of cost management, and the economy of the country allows your retirement dollars to go a lot farther than they would domestically.
The actual cost of living in Costa Rica is dependent upon the lifestyle you will choose as a retiree.
Of course, there are ways to be opulent, but it is also possible to be extremely frugal and really stretch your money. Costa Rica housing in middle class neighborhoods is reasonable, with small houses ranging anywhere from about $30,000 to well over $200,000 for a more extravagant lifestyle. Rural homes tend to cost a little more, since more land is involved and the home is usually a little larger.
Utilities in Costa Rica are quite low as well, averaging about 30% of what you would pay in the United States.
Heating is not needed, since this is a tropical environment, and air conditioning is atypical, as a breeze through the windows can easily cool the home. Telephone services, electricity, and water each cost perhaps $20 a month.
If you choose to own a car, you’ll want to buy used because new cars incur high import duties. Older cars are in extremely good condition here and are well cared for, holding their value much better than they would domestically. The cost of gasoline is one of the lowest of any country in the world, averaging about $1.75 a gallon at the time this article is written (about 1/2 the U.S. average). However, unless you live in the country, you don’t really need a car, since public transportation is excellent and inexpensive – you can ride across the city and from suburb to suburb for $0.25-0.50, and can take a bus to the farthest reaches of the country for under $10.
Food and health care are both extremely affordable, and even entertainment is no issue – seeing a movie in San Jose costs around $3.00. Buying fresh food in bulk at the Central Market as locals do is the best way to save on food, and you can save even more money by learning Spanish so that you can bargain for lower prices. Costa Rica cost of living can really be aided when you can blend with the natives by speaking the language and becoming familiar with the customs.
Keep in mind that the average middle class Costa Rican makes about $500 a month. The cost of living for an expatriate would be slightly higher, even living frugally, simply because of special considerations, permits, and other circumstances of being a foreign national, but for a good standard of living, a retired couple can easily live a cozy life in Costa Rica on a budget of $1000-1200 USD per month.