Cost of Living in Costa Rica

southerner's picture

I just have been reading about cost of living in Costa Rica. There was one point of view shared with me that the cost of living in Costa Rica is just slightly lower in Costa Rica than Canada. Here's more details.

The cost of living in Costa Rica depends a LOT on your personal lifestyle, housing standard, and where you live (the latter two are correlated).

I like imported cheeses and good wines; could but prefer not to subsist on rice and beans. I like the convenience of living in Escazu (not to say life would not be interesting in Grecia or Naranjo, but I like the central location of Escazu – never far from anything. I like a small but nicely-appointed house; would prefer not top sue a suicide shower; like nice ceramics and even real wood on the floors; etc etc.

I used to keep track of costs when I lived in Ottawa, Canada. I recently updated them with my brother who lives on Vancouver Island, in a trendy neighbourhood. I also track costs here in CR, out of curiosity. I include car insurance and marchamo on a two year-old car

The bottom line: costs are about 17% lower here than in Canada.

But that is not the whole story.

If you make a capital gain in CR you pay no tax, but you would be taxed in Canada. If you make some money on an offshore portfolio of stocks and bonds, no tax is payable here – but you would pay tax in Canada. That saving should be added to the Costa Rica side of the equation.

And yes, the cost of housing is higher in Canada than here. Comparing campo prices to prices in small-town Canada, they are lower here. Same difference with prices in Escazu and any major city. To quantify this benefit, you could take the difference in the price of a house here and there, and pay a hypothetical mortgage of 20 years @ say 5% (close to the prevailing rate in Canada these days). Add that cost to the Canada-side of the equation.

So yes, it is still cheaper in Costa Rica. If you are reading the above and saying "but I don't need all that", you can happily live cheaper than I. If not, you should plan on spending about $3000 per month for one, and maybe $4,000 for two -- depending on the cost of cosmetics these days :-)

Then here is another perspective.

my daughter pays 12,000 dollars a year in property taxes for her home in Austin. Nice home, but I have several homes here and the grand total of all my taxes for a farm, 5 houses etc is less than 1200 dollars per year. One house in the city is in an attractive neighborhood and is twice the size of my daughter's home. Supposedly her taxes are so high due to the school district. SHe has no kids at home and neither do I, so this is not a big factor for either of us.

I have a chronic illness. Medications here cost 30 per cent of what they do in the US. They do not generally require prescriptions for meds used all the time so I save a doctor's visit as well. The last time I was in Clinica Catolica I paid 428 dollars for a three day stay, 2 specialists, medications, intensive care, tests and everything else. That was 3 years ago, but I am still positive it is within reach for many of us who cannot be covered by medical insurance.

I don't know where most people eat, but apart from the highend restaurants there are many places to eat a great lunch for under 6 dollars in Costa Rica. I happen to live in the university district where foreign food is easy to come by and prices are pretty cheap as they are mostly for students.

I don't drink so cannot begin to guess about liquor prices. But I am sure that Coca cola is cheaper in the states. I think they call that a "loss leader" knowing that people are junkies for coca cola big stores sell them at a loss in the US. I am a junkie,too, so not accusing anyone.

My electric bills, water bill and other utilities apart from internet services are far cheaper than they were for me in California when I left ten years ago! Phones were a lot cheaper in California, but I really shopped prices as I worked from home with a small group of employees and we talked on the phone ten hours a day all over the world.

One reason the electricity is so much cheaper is simply because there are few places in Costa Rica where we seal our homes shut and artificially control the air temps. There are not many places where it is neccesary. I don't have heating or air conditioning in the house and I don't need them. This has helped a lot with my chronic illness as the dry air in artificialy heated or cooled homes causes me more problems with allergies, skin stuff and minor illnesses such as colds.

Veterinary services are much cheaper.

Furniture in Costa Rica can be bought for a pittance of what the same would cost in the US. I had a full custom kitchen designed , built and installed by a friend in Sarchi for under 3000 dollars. It would have cost 10k here had I not had the direct contact and 30 in the US. I watch hgtv a lot.

But probably the thing that makes living here so much cheaper is that EVERYTHING can be repaired. Shoes, jackets, clothes, lamps, electric devices from blenders to refridgerators, there is a shop on every corner here in San Pedro that does these types of repairs. You don't have to run around like crazy to find a place that can fix just about anything.

I know this is a cyclical debate. But I paid for my daughter's wedding in Scotland about three years ago. I almost dropped dead at the price of everything. A room in a hotel with 2 stars was 300 bucks a night.Lunch was minimum 45 dollars for 2, dinner 90.A cup of coffee is a charming sidewalk cafe was 5.50 US. I like the coffee in Musmani just fine and it costs about 70 cents a cup.

The sticker shock of Europe was amazing, but I feel the same way when I see what my daughter pays for most things in the US. Her lifestyle is VERY different from mine, she is a hardened consumer and I am not. If I can buy the same thing in a cheap chinese store in downtown San Jose as what I can in MultiPlaza mall, I buy it downtown.

I eat well, I live well. It is a good thing because I cannot be insured in the US for health problems, I have the type of illness that can affect anything in my body, so any smart insurance company would call everything a preexisting condition. SO two or three episodes would probably bancrupt me. My sister is constantly buried in medical bills because of a similiar problem, she cannot even afford to pay the insurance premiums. Menawhile I pay all expenses out of pocket and have figured out that in all my years here I have spent a fraction of what it would have cost for medical insurance. I can see any doctor I choose and do not require that they accept my insurance.

If you have great health maybe Costa Rica doesn't have as many advantages. If you suffer from any of the normal stuff of aging, Costa Rica is a bargain.

I am getting up to my tenth anniversary here and I always say that all places have problems. I just prefer this set of problems than the one in the country where I used to live. I am sure that my ashes will be spread somewhere here. And between now and then I expect to continue to be able to have a very comfortable and affordable lifestyle.

it all depends on how you live.


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Cost of Living in Costa Rica

The above article is very good, the only difference I would say is in the expense of living here.

A couple can live like a king and queen on $2000 a month, $1000 for one person, this includes going out a couple times a week.

Lic.Gregory Kearney Lawson.


Like yor writing, want to write a monthly artical

I am starting a couple of things,  and an onlonemonthly about The Good, bad and Ugly of Costa Rica .  I am on the ground floor and looking for people that would write a monthly article about something that interest them.

I am Joshua


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