I get a whole lot of emails from people who have questions about moving to Costa Rica. This morning, I received an email so short and sweet – and on everyone’s mind – that I’d thought I’d share with you.
Erica from the USA asked:
“Can one person live in Costa Rica on $3,000 a month?”
The short answer?
Yes, it is possible to live on $3,000 a month in Costa Rica – or even less.
The in-depth answer?
“It depends,” because each expat, traveler or visitor has a different standard of living. Additionally, different areas within Costa Rica can be more or less expensive, and even the time of year (rainy vs. high season) can make costs fluctuate wildly.
But this I will say: living in Costa Rica isn’t as cheap as you may think.
People often think that because it’s a Central American or tropical country that it must be a paradise where you can live like a king or queen for next to nothing, but that’s not the case anymore. International influences, the spread of resort-quality living and advances in local knowledge, skills and infrastructure have seen costs escalate in past years.
But the good news is that you can still live very well on a modest budget in Costa Rica with some planning and discipline.
For retirees that factor in things like healthcare costs, it can be far less expensive than living in the United States for a better standard of life.
For most people, the biggest costs come from renting a place, and then maybe food a close second.
Here are some notes on cost of living in Costa Rica:
A decent standard of living for a single person is at about $1,500 to $2,000 a month. That is very possible, but if you add eating meals out at restaurants, drinking out or other entertainment, activities and side trips, I’d say you’d be far more comfortable at $2,500 - $3,000.
Likewise, a retired couple can live comfortably for about $2,000 to $3,500 a month for two people including the cost of housing, food, transportation, medical care (that can vary greatly), and entertainment.
While Costa Rica may not be as inexpensive as other Latin American countries, it is still possible to have access to creature comforts and luxury goods that are much cheaper than in the States. Life in Costa Rica allows for a high level of “spending freedom,” meaning you can spend very little if you choose to live more like a local, or you can spend a lot and enjoy the North American-style luxuries.
Expenses vary greatly depending on area and lifestyle, but here are some average monthly expenses for 2016-17:
• Apartment (local standard): $300 - $500
• Condominium (larger or more luxurious): $600 - $900
• House (2-3 bedroom): $500 - $1,200
• Electricity (house): $75 - $200 depending on location and air conditioner use
• Water/sewage (apartment): $12
• Telephone: $13
• Cable TV: $40
• High-speed Internet (ADSL): $25
• Cleaning service or a gardener for $2/hour or $200/month
• Entertainment is very affordable with museum entrance or
concerts around $5
• Import duties make it very expensive to import your car, probably
best to buy locally
• Consumer electronics are much cheaper in the US, bring them
with you instead of buying in Costa Rica
Want more information on the cost of living - and just about everything else - for expats in Costa Rica? Download the Official Expat's Moving to Costa Rica Handbook!