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The Ultimate Guide to Living Economically in Costa Rica

There are good reasons why Costa Rica is a popular destination for retirees and expats alike and this is the ultimate guide to living economically in Costa Rica. It’s a beautiful country with a low cost of living, making it possible to live comfortably on a modest budget. In this article, we’ll give you tips on how to live cheaply in Costa Rica, no matter your budget.

The cost of living is one of the primary considerations when contemplating moving to Costa Rica or any country. The good news is that Costa Rica’s overall cost of living is lower than that of the United States, according to, a country-based cost of living comparison website. This means you can stretch your dollars further here.

Here are our top tips for living cheaply in Costa Rica:

1. Learn to shop like a local

One of the best ways to save money is to shop at local markets for fruits, vegetables, and meats. Not only will you get fresher produce, but you’ll also be supporting local farmers, which is always a major plus.

Taxes on luxury goods are high in Costa Rica. Here is a short list of some of what Costa Rica considers luxury goods: automobiles, imported goods, and high-end home electronics. Contrary to the USA, Canada, and other countries, most of those products are affordable, and the pricey things are generally good, high-quality food. Compared to other countries, fruits, vegetables, and some farm-raised meats can be 2–3 times cheaper in Costa Rica.

2. Choose your location wisely

Another major factor affecting your cost of living in Costa Rica is your choice of your location. If you’re looking to save that hard-earned money, consider choosing one of Costa Rica’s cheaper regions. Finding lovely, accommodating places to live for $1,500-$1,800 a month is possible. So, anyone with a monthly budget of $2,000–$2,500 USD may live well in Costa Rica.

Inexpensive communities are not limited to the Central Valley of Costa Rica. Here are a few examples of the locations known as hotspots for expats:

  • Dominical, Uvita, and other areas in the southern Pacific Ocean;
  • Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo on the Caribbean Coast;
  • Arenal, Nicoya Peninsula, and northern Pacific Coast.

For instance, I live in Escazu, and I’ve never even felt the need to have AC or heating, as it’s always shorts and t-shirt weather all year round for me. This lifestyle can generate massive savings if you come from a cold climate, like me, in Canada, where we had to pay expensive electricity bills to keep the house warm enough to survive another winter.

3. Join an online expat community

A great way to get insider information on how to live cheaply in Costa Rica is to join an online community of other foreigners, such as Facebook pages. This way, you can get first-hand advice and tips from people already living the expat life.

Learning the customs and how to shop like a local can be beneficial when living in a foreign country. This can save you money on groceries and other essentials. In Costa Rica, there are many areas where you can live comfortably on a budget; it’s just a matter of preference!


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