Many people will lead you to believe that Costa Rica is cheap, especially some of the folks on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and an assortment of online blogs about Costa Rica. That, mi amigo, is not the whole truth! I’ve only been here for a short while, but I have already found out for myself that it is expensive to live in Costa Rica.
Let me qualify that statement: It depends entirely on your lifestyle.
If you’re anything like me, I try to live a very frugal lifestyle, pretty much like I lived in the States. If you have plenty of dinero (money) and are accustomed to living a lavish lifestyle, you shouldn’t have a problem whether you’re just vacationing here or planning on moving here permanently. But please be advised of the various costs associated with certain activities and the lifestyle you want to live.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, let’s say that you’re planning a stay in one of the major hotels anywhere in the country. Make sure you check and compare pricing at your planned destination. The season of the year often has a big impact on prices throughout Costa Rica. In some areas of the country, the wet season is a bit less expensive than the dry season, so that’s something you need to consider as well. Do your research because there are lots of micro-climates throughout Costa Rica, which may determine where you want to stay when you visit.
Make sure you compare hotels and even Airbnb’s to get the best prices without breaking the bank. Many popular hotels offer free breakfast, but lunch and dinner can be a little pricy. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’ve stayed in some of these fancy-schmancy hotels myself, especially while on a tour back in April 2019, but most of my expenses were included in the tour package, so nothing comes out of pocket. If you want to know my personal recommendations, just hit me up in the message box below.
You can also participate in various tour packages that include zip lining, horseback riding, snorkeling, sports fishing, sailing, diving, water skiing, surfing, canoeing, kayaking, white-water rafting, hiking, nature treks, and visits to the many volcanoes, waterfalls, and coffee farms. Do your research on prices, accommodations, and travel expenses during the planning stages of your trip to save yourself some serious money and headaches.
Transportation in Costa Rica is great but can be a little pricy depending on where you’re going. From my casa (house) to the town center, I catch the bus, which costs me 1000 colones ($1.77 USD) roundtrip. I’ve found a few very reliable shuttle services as well as private drivers that I use often; they’re on WhatsApp, which is widely used here in Costa Rica. Taxi and Uber services are also available all over the country and are some of the best I’ve seen anywhere. This is how I roll.
The main reason I wanted to write this “Costa Rica Ain’t Cheap” blog post is to inform you before your visit and clear up any myths and misconceptions being shared online. I read many of them while doing my due diligence before moving here, but I was very fortunate to meet some wonderful and knowledgeable expats who have given me the 411 on all things Costa Rica.
Occasionally, we’ll eat at one of my favorite upscale restaurants, but we don’t do this every weekend. To pay less, I enjoy eating a good wholesome meal at one of the local Sodas (I will discuss these local eateries in a forthcoming blog post). There are literally hundreds scattered about.
Another cost-saving tip is to shop at the local feria (market), either on Friday or Saturday morning, where you can buy fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, chicken, beef, cheeses, and artesian freshly baked bread, among other products, at affordable prices. On my very first trip to the feria, I spent a total of $37 USD on fruit, veggies, fish, chicken, beef, and bread. These same food items at my local Costco in the States would have cost more than $140 USD.
Is housing in Costa Rica affordable? Yes, if you’re comparing directly to the prices of comparable homes in North America. If you’re well off and want a $600,000 custom home or you want to live near the ocean, you can have that too. There’s something available in all price ranges, even if you want to rent a nice home or condo. Utilities, Internet, and cell phone services are also less expensive than what I was used to paying in the States. I use only WIFI for my television because it’s cheaper than cable here.
So, there you have it! We’ve talked about hotels, transportation, tours, food, housing, and utilities. I’m still a newbie here in Costa Rica and still learning the ropes while getting acclimated. I’m pretty sure this topic will be an ongoing subject in our future blogs for a long time to come, and I will keep you updated. Drop us a message below if you have questions on any of these subjects and we’ll be happy to answer.
(Written Before Covid – 19 Outbreak)