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The Ultimate Guide to Living Economically in Costa Rica

Guide for Living Economically in Costa Rica

There are many 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.


Understanding the Cost of Living in Costa Rica

The cost of living in Costa Rica varies depending on the location and lifestyle. For example, living in a city like San Jose will be more expensive than living in a small coastal town. Additionally, living a more luxurious lifestyle, such as eating out at restaurants and watching movies, will also increase expenses. However, with careful planning and budgeting, living comfortably in Costa Rica on a budget is possible.


Choose your location wisely

Another major factor affecting your cost of living in Costa Rica is your location choice. 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 USD 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.


Food and Groceries

One of the best ways to save money is to shop at local markets for fruits, vegetables, and meats. You will get fresher produce and support local farmers, which is always a major plus and can be significantly cheaper than buying them at a supermarket. Additionally, cooking at home instead of eating out can also help to save money.



Transportation is another expense to consider in Costa Rica. However, there are ways to save money on transportation. For example, public transportation or carpooling can be significantly cheaper than owning and maintaining a car. Additionally, using a bike or walking can help save money on transportation.



Healthcare is an important consideration when living in Costa Rica. However, the cost of healthcare can be high. It is essential to research different healthcare options and find a plan that fits your needs and budget. Additionally, taking care of your health and practicing preventive measures to avoid costly medical treatments is essential.


Luxury Goods

Taxes on luxury goods are high in Costa Rica. Here is a short list 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 prices are generally reasonable, high-quality food. Compared to other countries, fruits, vegetables, and some farm-raised meats can be 2–3 times cheaper in Costa Rica.


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!



Living in Costa Rica can be a great way to save money and enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle. However, it is essential to understand the cost of living in Costa Rica and make a plan to manage expenses. By finding affordable housing, food and groceries, transportation, and healthcare, living comfortably in Costa Rica on a budget is possible.


-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of Grupo Gap)

+506 8500-2085


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