Costa Rica is a great relocation option whether you are an American looking for an international retirement alternative and a slower pace of life, Canadian looking for warmer year-round weather, or an adventurous spirit.
Almost once a week I have the “Cost of Living” conversation with someone considering the possibility so I have been inspired to share my experience. Naturally your cost of living will depend a lot on your lifestyle so let me give you a little background on mine with the associated cost:
Food & Dining: The Farmers’ Market (Ferria) is a wonderful place to find inexpensive and fresh produce, plants, meat, and a variety of other items. If you are looking for a Tico (Costa Rican) meal with the traditional rice and beans with meat or fish, take in one of the many sodas around for about $4.
My husband and I don’t cook! Well maybe once or twice a month, which means that I am your go to girl on restaurant recommendation and that my food bill is my chosen area to splurge. (We spend approx. $1000/month)
Health Care: Costa Rica’s public health care system (CCSS, or Caja) is inexpensive and offers medical care from highly trained physicians. Monthly rates are calculated on a sliding scale depending on income. Paying for medical services out-of-pocket is another alternative, as services are a fraction of what they are in the United States. Private insurance is also an affordable option.
We have private international insurance. (We spend approx. $290/month)
Utilities: The costs of services such as water, phone, and cable are also considerably lower than those in the United States, although electricity is considerably higher if you run the A/C all the time and have a dryer in our house.
(We spend approx. $180/month Electric, $35/month for 2 Cell phones, $55/month for home phone and DLS- high speed internet, $24/month on Cable TV)
Transportation: Purchasing a car is one of the more costly investments you will make in Costa Rica. Tax on new cars are especially high. The local transportation is not a bad option. For example: Bus tickets from Jaco to the airport only cost $3 and a taxi ride across town will cost $2-5.
My husband and I both work in Real Estate so we invested in new cars which would not be necessary if it was not for our jobs, especially since we live within walking distance to everything in town. . (We spend approx. $310/month for general car maintenance, Car tax and gas for two cars)
Property: Low property tax rates are one significant benefit when living in Costa Rica. Property tax rates can be as low as 1/25th of the rates of some areas in the U.S. Various regions in Costa Rica have different tax rates for each. \
We don’t live in a luxury condo on the beach. Instead, my husband and I found a small condo within walking distance to town with reasonable monthly fees and low maintenance cost. (We spend approx. $21/month on property taxes and $204/month on HOA fees)
Services: Labor is relatively inexpensive in Costa Rica. You can hire a housekeeper for an average of $25 per cleaning, gardeners, nannies and other skilled laborers are a great way to pour into the local economy and spoil yourself at the same time.
We have a maid come in to deep clean once or twice a month and I firmly believe that a monthly trip to the spa is one of the finer things in life. (We spend approx. $15/month on maid service, $100/month of other services including: Tolls, international P.O. Box, Vonage international phone in our house, dentist, spa treatments, haircuts, entertainment, etc. and $72 on legal and accountant services)
There will be a variance from region to region. We live in Jaco which is known for being one of the most developed and attractive tourist town on the coast of Costa Rica. This means more imported goods, higher property values, higher rent cost, a higher concentration of amenities and more convinces then you would find in comparison to a smaller town in the middle of Costa Rica somewhere.
Let me know if you have any questions or if I can help you find your little piece of paradise.
Hannah Rico Fletcher
714-369-8133 from the US/ Canada
2643-6010 CR office