Cost of living in Costa Rica – 2015

Hi all,

We invite you to talk about the cost of living in Costa Rica in 2015, with an updated price listing.

Don't forget to mention in which city of Costa Rica you are living in.

How much does it cost to live in Costa Rica?

> accommodation prices

> public transportation fares (tube, bus etc.)

> food prices (your monthly budget)

> health prices (for those who need medical insurance)

> education prices (if you need to pay)

> energy prices (oil, electricity)

> common bills (Internet, television, telephone, mobile phone)

> price for a good menu in a traditional restaurant

> price for a coffee or a drink

> price for cinema tickets

Do not hesitate to add items to this list! ;)

Thank you in advance for your participation.

When talking about the cost of living in Costa Rica, you can't help but wonder how the Tico's survive on the deplorably low wages they earn.  Those who choose to retire in Costa Rica with a low income, might be wise to study how Tico's live their day to day lives, which is something we do regularly.  The cost of groceries in Costa Rica are about the same as in North America, except for vegetables, fruits, and maybe fish.  If you can learn to eat differently, and not need a big thick half pound steak for every meal, you'll find ways to dramatically cut your grocery bills "and eat healthier".

The cost of electrical power in Costa Rica is the real killer, especially for people who need AC.  It's vital to build an Eco home if you live close to the beach, as the standard concrete Tico  homes with metal roofs are nothing more than pizza ovens that cost a fortune to keep cool.  The cost of automobiles is also insane in Costa Rica.  We live in a gated community that is only a $3. taxi ride from the centre of town and do not need a car.  We rent one when we get in the mood to travel around the country, all rentals have unlimited mileage here, and your credit card will pay part of the insurance.

The import taxes in Costa Rica are probably one of the highest in the world, with a 80% import tax rate on a refrigerator as an example.  It's best to buy all your appliances in the duty free zone in Golfito, where you'll also find more brand name products at North American prices.  The made in China products which are sold in Costa Rica are far worse than those in North America, some of it is absolute garbage and should not be allowed in any country.
Property taxes are only $250. "per year", water is $8. per month, so what you lose in import taxes on items you'll get back in areas like that.  The biggest concern for American retirees at this time is that the American dollar is very close to collapsing, and nobody knows what value it will have in Costa Rica once that happens.  Be sure to just rent down here, unless you can get a low cost building lot and are prepared to build a small home.  Most ready built homes that are being sold to Gringo's down here are greatly over priced.  With construction worker's earning less than $5. per hour, there is no way the selling prices of most homes can be justified.  Some people get caught up in the love of this tropical paradise and buy something way too soon, and way too expensive.  It is easy to buy down here, and sometimes almost impossible to sell.  I have a six month low cost rental if anyone is interested.  Have a great day.. bejucoman(at)yahoo.com

Not all "Property taxes are only $250. "per year", nor does  all water cost "$8. per month".

I have heard that people who own overly expensive homes are subject to some sort of luxury tax, but in our neighbourhood they are all under $300. per year.  Our water bill is almost always around $8. per month, but I guess in dryer areas of Costa Rica (or a place where water is pumped etc.) it could cost more, and especially if you have a garden to water.

Up in Liberia it is much drier than it is down in the southern zone.  There are parts of the north end of Costa Rica where the wager is actually turned off at 8pm during the dry season, we don't experience that in the southern zone, there is never a shortage of water here, and maybe that is why it's less expensive.

Then you should have wrote 'In our development or area, Property taxes are only $250.'per year', all water is $8 per month" else people could get the wrong idea...  :top:
Not only in Guanacaste is the water turned off, but also areas in the Central Valley and Heredia. I read an article last week saying water rationing in some places was to be instigated soon...

Best think when building a home is to have a plastic underground holding tank with about ten days supply of water, and then have an electric pump operate the system, that way you will have water 24 hours a day and during a water shortage.

Unless the electric goes out too. Best to have an elevated tank.

That's true but we've never had an electrical black out that I know of.

You have never lost power in your development  :/ ?????

It's only been four years "but not yet".  Different areas of Costa Rica experience different problems.  I'm in the middle of a Palm Oil farm that most likely needs a steady supply of electricity without interruption.  I think our power comes from the new method of generating electricity in Costa Rica, I'm not totally sure.  Most problems with water and electrical shortages are in the north (over populated) areas of Costa Rica.
http://www.ticotimes.net/2014/02/13/wat … in-heredia

I was not referring to scheduled/predetermined  'blackout period' but any power disruption due to lightening strikes, earthquake, storms or even a car crashing into a pole...

None as of yet for any reason, but it's only been four years.

How about adding this to the list, the cost of purchasing or renting a car.  The add on compulsory government insurance really adds to the cost of renting a car in Costa Rica.

@ burnebob > If you have some information about purchasing or renting a car, feel free to share it with us. :)

You can rent a Suzuki Alto car for $700. per month.  We live in a gated community close to town so a $3. taxi ride is the best thing for us.  We can always rent a car if we need one.  Buying or renting a car in Costa Rica is much more expensive than in North America.

I will let you know if I find a good rental car option I can recommend.  The last time I visited CR I used Hertz, but it can get really expensive when you add on the CR government mandatory insurance, plus normal collision waiver insurance. You can reduce the cost of insurance if you are covered by your credit card company, but you should call them to make sure they cover you in CR. Also, make sure you are familiar with the claim procedures/requirements, should the worst happen!

Servicecar rental in San Jose is the best.  They bring the car to the airport so you don't pay taxes.

Hello Edward 1958,
Thank you for the rental car info, I will check them out.

burnebob :

I will let you know if I find a good rental car option I can recommend.  The last time I visited CR I used Hertz, but it can get really expensive when you add on the CR government mandatory insurance, plus normal collision waiver insurance. You can reduce the cost of insurance if you are covered by your credit card company, but you should call them to make sure they cover you in CR. Also, make sure you are familiar with the claim procedures/requirements, should the worst happen!

I just wanted to add that when I called my Platinum Master Card or whatever it was, that includes insurance coverage for rental cars, it DID include cars in Costa RIca.

However - here's the BIG BUT - it does not cover anything that happens off a paved road!
Well if you're like most people who drive in Costa Rica you know that you're almost obligated to drive on unpaved roads, so for me it was not worth the savings, to risk not being covered should I happen to be driving on an unpaved road when something bad happened.

So if you do use your credit card coverage for car insurance DO check EXTRA carefully on what the policy is about this. I would say, "Does it say anything in there about not covering cars driven on unpaved roads?" Better yet have them email you a pdf of the policy and then read it carefully yourself.

Edward1958 :

You can rent a Suzuki Alto car for $700. per month.  We live in a gated community close to town so a $3. taxi ride is the best thing for us.  We can always rent a car if we need one.  Buying or renting a car in Costa Rica is much more expensive than in North America.

When you say you can rent a car for $700/month that's not too bad a deal considering. But does that include FULL coverage?
And is it a 4wd? I think the 4wd coverage costs more.
And was that through ServiceCar rental that you mentioned in another post?

I think the last time I rented a car for a little over 2 weeks it cost me $500+. That was Avis I think.

Edward1958 :

[edited] It's best to buy all your appliances in the duty free zone in Golfito, where you'll also find more brand name products at North American prices.  The made in China products which are sold in Costa Rica are far worse than those in North America, some of it is absolute garbage and should not be allowed in any country.

So how do you get the appliances back up from Golfito and don't you use a lot of gas getting down there and back? You'd have to rent a truck and get all your appliances at once, no?

Hello Samramon,

Thank you for your posting reference rental car insurance provided by your credit card. I will most certainly read the small print in the policy.  You made some great points!

burnebob :

Hello Samramon,

Thank you for your posting reference rental car insurance provided by your credit card. I will most certainly read the small print in the policy.  You made some great points!

You are most welcome.

Hi everybody,

If someone can answer one among these questions, he is the most welcomed !  :idontagree:   :par:

Expat.com :

Hi all,

We invite you to talk about the cost of living in Costa Rica in 2015, with an updated price listing.

Don't forget to mention in which city of Costa Rica you are living in.

How much does it cost to live in Costa Rica?

> accommodation prices

> public transportation fares (tube, bus etc.)

> food prices (your monthly budget)

> health prices (for those who need medical insurance)

> education prices (if you need to pay)

> energy prices (oil, electricity)

> common bills (Internet, television, telephone, mobile phone)

> price for a good menu in a traditional restaurant

> price for a coffee or a drink

> price for cinema tickets

Do not hesitate to add items to this list! ;)

Thank you in advance for your participation.

This sharing of information is really important for the persons who wish to expatriate in Costa Rica.

Thank you all

Priscilla  :cheers:

Golfito arranges delivery for peanuts,

Priscilla :

Hi everybody,

If someone can answer one among these questions, he is the most welcomed !  :idontagree:   :par:

Expat.com :

Hi all,

We invite you to talk about the cost of living in Costa Rica in 2015, with an updated price listing.

Don't forget to mention in which city of Costa Rica you are living in.

How much does it cost to live in Costa Rica?

> accommodation prices

> public transportation fares (tube, bus etc.)

> food prices (your monthly budget)

> health prices (for those who need medical insurance)

> education prices (if you need to pay)

> energy prices (oil, electricity)

> common bills (Internet, television, telephone, mobile phone)

> price for a good menu in a traditional restaurant

> price for a coffee or a drink

> price for cinema tickets

Do not hesitate to add items to this list! ;)

Thank you in advance for your participation.

This sharing of information is really important for the persons who wish to expatriate in Costa Rica.

Thank you all

Priscilla  :cheers:

In the 15 or so years I have been living in Costa Rica, I have watched certain prices soar...some of them I understand, particularly the cost of food...because the price of fuel has increased.
The price of fuel has increased dramatically here in CR, as it has in North America...that impacts all of us through out our lives..no matter where we live!
But the dramatic increases in electricity costs are a question in my mind.

I choose to have Sky TV..and it is a choice I made, I do not have to have it and it is a luxury.
Internet costs for me have gone down with ICE making it more accessible in our area in the southern zone. Does that mean it is strong or consistent?? NO! There could be a lot of improvements made in that area...especially for high season and the heavy usage that occurs with all the tourists arriving.

We have prepaid phones, and are happy with the cost of having them. It generally costs us about c5,000 per month, each, for our cell phones.  Texting or calling to North America has gotten expensive, so I have learned to only do that when necessary! WhatsApp and Skype are our best friends!

The price for a good menu in a traditional restaurant has increased over the years - doubled in most cases....but that is mostly because of the increase in fuel /food prices. Over all, the cost of a casado has doubled, in our area, over the past 10 years.

The price for a coffee or a drink has tripled... Beer - Imperial -  used to be c600- c800 anywhere, back in the day.  We still do have a favorite haunt that charges c900..but most places are charging c1,500 - c2,000.  I know that they are buying it from the suppliers for around c600 or less ....so they are marking it up a lot! That, I think is highway robbery...
Coffee used to be c400 - c500 a cup...and now we pay c1,000 or more...seriously??  ...we live in the land of coffee!

Living in the southern zone, shopping where the locals shop, growing all that we can, it costs us around $1,500 per month. We own our home, raise chickens, and do not eat out very often.  This amount depends on vehicles and their issues....vehicle repairs remains one of our highest expenses.

Hi Rita G,
You indicated that automobile costs for you are high.  We had a property in the southern zone, just south of Uvita, and we found it painful going up and down the mountain for everything we needed, and beating the hell out of the car on those stone roads.  On top of all that Uvita didn't have much to offer, and the beaches here were not the greatest.
We sold that property and moved to Bejuco Beach near Parrita, and now we don't even need a car, as a taxi to the middle of a busy town with everything we need is only $3.  With an Eco home there is also little need for AC, even at this sea level location.  Check out our wonderful beach, notice how crowded it is... LOL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaFx1zifOXs

We live in Playa Samara
We own our home.
We rarely us public transportation - our bad. Private shuttle from San Jose airport is $55.00.  From Liberia airport $45-120.  Diesel for our car $80/mo.
Groceries $800/mo
Private Med. Insurance just went up to $458/mo for two of us.  Caja is about $180/mo.
Electricity $200/mo.
Communications including land-line telephone and internet, cellular, and Skype = $45/mo
Traditional meal $12-15.  Lunch and cocktails on the Beach $30,  Good Dinner with wine $40.00.
Beer, coffee, batido  $2 - 3
Cinema - Oh, I wish. . . . .

Hi, I moved with my husband and 2 children to CR in June 2014.  We live in Cariari, Heredia because the children attend the American International School. My husband is a musician and I am a writer/professor. This year I am a research fellowship as I am writing a novel on  Costa Rica  so everything is budgeted.  We came from Brooklyn, New York.  My family is Costa Rican so I do have a head's start and a huge support network (and free lawyers to help with our temp residency applications). Needless to say, we live 10 minutes from the airport and about 30-40 minutes from where the majority of my family resides on the other side of town. 

We managed to get a very good rental because the house we are in is huge (3 beds/3 baths/2 offices/2 living rooms/tv room/gym/laundry room) but was empty for 2 years and the owners wanted long term rentals - which we have signed on for.  The rental- because of the area - is $2500 month but we are paying $1,100 because of the long term lease condition.  However, to maintain the house essentially makes up the difference.  The electricity is about $80-$100/month, the water is about $16/month, then cleaning lady $100/month and the gardener/$50 month. Security guard: $150/month.  We  have cable at $40/month (only one company in our area so we could not compare prices) and the telephone/wifi (separate company from cable because we wanted a faster internet speed for skype etc...)$120/month.  The food is the kicker - so, after months of shelling money out at expensive food stores (Fresh Market etc...) (we are vegetarians with an occasional meal of salmon), we have found that its cheaper to spend $50/week at the open farmer's market which will give us our week's worth of fruits, veggies and flowers and then about $400 /month at Price Smart for bulk (packing kids lunches daily), and about another $200/month in misc. food purchases (bday cake... etc...). We do not eat out and occasionally go to the movies or the mall. I order my clothes/shoes/supplies from the USA and have a visiting friend or relative bring things when they come. This is how we managed with xmas gifts for the kids - the taxes on import items are just nuts!

We also pay $12,000 per child for school but that does not cover school trips, uniforms, paid for dress down days and school supplies.

Our biggest expenses when we landed:  1) 7 suitcases via Jet Blue from NYC and we paid $700 in overweight/additional bag fees
2) we sent two blue barrels of my husband's studio equipment and of my books/house supplies via ship. This was the biggest mistake EVER. Though we had a reliable broker who came and took me to the warehouse to open the barrels and take out each items (I am not lying), list them and then price them (all used goods) for taxing, I was still ripped off.  I paid about $1000 for the two barrels and all the items were sentimental and did not add up to the value of the cost to bring them over.

3) We bought a car through a friend's friend (21 year old Toyota Corolla) that we had a relative check out with  their mechanic before we landed because we needed to have a car within the first few days of arrival simply because we are so isolated from shops, etc. - My relative said it was fine with a few fix ups - the owners did a patch job, bought the car to us on empty and was itching to go. We got insurance ($500 for the year - excellent deal - this is through a family friend and I am happy to recommend her) and the car inscribed for $150.  The car is a bag of bolts. We paid $4000 cash and we have already paid another $3000 into it - because it failed the annual inspection 2x - we needed new brakes, new muffler.. I mean, I can go on. Even if we traded the car in  we would not break even so right now its almost perfect because we have basically had it re-built. Our desire in going forward is getting a car that is not as old  and we can travel to the beach and other places with it.  We have been to the beach 1x since coming here (because we do not want to get stranded in the mountains with the children if the car breaks down) and to the Caribbean coast 1x.  Of course, in the many years we have been coming to visit CR to see my relatives, we have explored the country a great deal but there is always more to enjoy and so our dream for next year is to invest in another car.

The kids are covered 100% OUTSIDE AND INSIDE SCHOOL with health insurance.  My husband and and I have a private GP (we pay out of pocket)  who is totally bi-lingual is treats us like REAL HUMAN beings - the health care system in this country is the singular reason to come here and risk everything in making the move. My daughter (9 years old) crashed through a glass door at a friend's house as they were chasing the puppy - within an hour she was in and out of the doctor's office with 14 stitches and we paid $0 for it - insurance covered the accident fully.

We are in "process" for our temp residency papers (non-working papers) so we do not have to leave the country every three months.  Of course, this process can take over 12 months so we walk with our stamped papers everywhere.

My husband and I have lived in many places outside of the USA but this is the best decision we have made in our lives. Our quality of life is superb, our children ride their bikes freely with their friends all day and evening, our food comes straight from the farm to the table and the weather is perfect, even in the rainy season. We are so filled with gratitude for this opportunity. 

I am happy to answer any more specific questions.  Living on a fixed budget is not easy but living in Costa Rica is worth it. 

best,
Natasha

Sounds like you got a good deal on your home!!
I presume you meant to write " the Private health care system in this country is the singular reason to come here and risk everything in making the move.

Hello,

I have lived here for near 10 years and have seen prices soar from when I first arrived, up to 300% inflation. This is due in part to corruption in the government and trickle down effects on Municipalidads. We were fortunate to have our logging trail road re-done about 2 years ago and it is now in the same or worse condition that it was in before it was re-done. All the people involved in the work skimmed their "share" of the funds allocated for the road improvment. We cook with LP and the tanks have increased more than 300% since I arrived. The ferrias have all had price increases, as well. Electricity is another item that has increased over 300%. We work diligently to turn off or unplug items to conserve energy and our bill. My electric bill is near or over $200 a month. There was the most increases during the administration of former Presidenta Laura Chinchilla. Even her family benefited from her administration of funding things Her brother was brought up on charges of fraud and absconding funds, but never did any time and believe that his case was dismissed. During her 4 years, EVERYTHING went up at least 100% . Unfortunately, we are left to pay for her errors, but the newest president has made strides to combat corruption that had run rampant for several years. For those who only have one property in the country, you can go to your local municipalidad and apply for relief, which in my case, practically dissolved my taxes for the year on my 5.5 acre farm. This years' tax was about $6. Owning a car here is a real headache, as the registration annually is about 4 times what you pay in the states AND you have to take the vehicle to get it inspected BEFORE you can register the vehicle. On my road, the logging trail as I call it, is very hard on suspension parts, tires, etc. As many of you know, who have driven here, the other roads have issues too. I have had broken springs, ball joints, flat tires, holes in gas tanks, and a myriad of other issues. My 2000 Frontier costs for the registration annually about $240. For newer vehicles, it is much higher. We live simply and I am newly retired, so we are very much aware that we can not go to town often and when we do, we make a list of all we need or might need. Our water is free, because we use springs and tanks, but nearly ran out year before last, when the typical rains did not come. All in all, however, we live modestly and are extremely happy to be where we are. Fortunately, we built our house when the dollar was strong, about 590 colones to the dollar. It has varied from less than 490 to 590 since we have lived here. So, we just have utilities and food, much of which we grow here, including 2 tilapia ponds here. We had a plan and are sticking with it. My wife is a Tica that I met here, so she buys most things, as to not be charged "Gringo" prices. Believe me, this is a practice that is alive and well here. Most believe Gringos have money to throw away, but the majority are working stiffs with small savings. I must admit, I was a middle class individual when I moved here. You can get deals here, but they are few and far between. Pura vida to all the ex-pats and you can find cheap places to live. I have a motor home on the property near a waterfall for $300 a month with utilities included. You could not find that in the states for that price, just try!

Best2u,

James and Meli

Hi,
I live in Santa Ana and the power goes off at least two times a month,on the south side of town.

Hello Max 4,

We had a rural property and discovered it was too much headache, especially with the petty theft, needing a home when we were not there, needing a guard dog, and needing to own a car.  We sold that property and bought in a gated community close to Parrita, now we do not need a car as it's only a $3. taxi to the center of town, the fruit truck comes to the development, the beach is only a few minutes away, we have a guard and gardener, and the fees are only $60. per month.  We also have individually deeded lots.  If we need a car now and then we just rent one.  We also have an amazing new hospital just five minutes from the development.  In addition... we had an Eco home built, no need for AC, it's like living inside a cooler, see this video..... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIhkVmXWYSs

Edward1958 :

Best think when building a home is to have a plastic underground holding tank with about ten days supply of water, and then have an electric pump operate the system, that way you will have water 24 hours a day and during a water shortage.

A friend of mine asked why people in Costa Rica wouldn't have a rain collection tank. I know it doesn't rain in the dry season but it seems a tank of water topped off by the last rain might help supplement at least the first month or so of dry season. Or am I missing something?
Also wouldn't a rain collection tank help supplement the water usage - especially toilet water and such - also during the rainy season?

runawayfromwinter :

I am surprised nobody seems to notice a substantial increase in the prices of groceries. I have noticed it in at least 15 different products...There seems t be undercover inflation

Would you mind stating what those products are?
Are they imported stuff, packaged food, veges, fruits, dairy, meat, or ?

Edward1958 :

Golfito arranges delivery for peanuts,

That's good to know. I wonder how they could afford to do that being that gas prices are so high. And where do they deliver to? Some central location like San Jose' or ? I can't imagine they'd deliver to each and every small town. Can you give more details on how Golfito delivery of appliances works?

The original post (with some modifications) is copied below. I wish some of you who live in  Costa Rica currently would answer each one as best you can and state what town or area you live in. Please answer right next to each entry so as to make it simple to see the specific answers. Just hit the QUOTE button and go to work! ;-D

How much does it cost to live in Costa Rica?

accommodation prices
     house (1br, 2br or 3br?)
     apt or condo (1br, 2br or 3br?)

public transportation fares
     taxi per mile
     bus

food prices (your monthly budget)
     bread
     milk
     rice
     beans
     tomatoes
     onions
     papayas
     avocados
     mangoes
     beer
     wine (box? liter?)
     veges
     pizza
     tortillas
     cheese

health prices (for those who need medical insurance)
     CAJA (insurance required for all legal residents)
     private health insurance (for how many people in both cases)

education prices (if you need to pay)

energy prices
     gasoline per liter (approx per gallon?)
     propane for cooking and hot water (how long does your tank last for how many people?)
     electricity (per kw or ?) per month

common bills
     internet
     cable or satellite
     telephone (land line or mobile) per phone
     
price for a good menu in a traditional restaurant
     Can you take photos of menus in your area and post them here?

beverages
     coffee
     real fruit juice
     beer at a restaurant or bar
     iced tea
     lemonade

price for cinema tickets

So are there import fees drive a car to costs Rica?

New topic