How Much Money Do I Need To Live In Costa Rica?

Situated between Panama and Nicaragua in Central America, Costa Rica is often seen as a perfect retirement country. Panama City, Colon, and Santiago are just a few cities that attract people from North America. At the same time, you can move to smaller cities and villages where you can live even more comfortably.

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This is how much money you need to live in Costa Rica

The average monthly salary in Costa Rica is $764. This means you should live comfortably with this amount of money almost anywhere in the country. But if you’re earning a US salary, you will be well above the median wage and you will live better than most locals. Here’s the breakdown of what your money is going to do for you while living in Costa Rica.

You need around $500 per month for rent

Rent in Costa Rica is going to be your largest expense. But the amount you want to pay for rent generally varies from $400 to around $800. The size of your apartment or home as well as its location is going to be crucial characteristics in establishing rent costs.

A 1-bedroom apartment is going to cost around $500 if you want to live in a city center. Alternatively, you can consider a 3-bedroom apartment outside city centers for around $600, which can be seen as value for money.

You can expect to pay around $1.000 per month for a small house outside a city center or in a small village or town in Costa Rica. This is going to offer you the best quality of life but you won’t be as close to large shops and supermarkets in turn.

Clothing expenses

Clothes are an important aspect of monthly living expenses. Temperature is high in Costa Rica throughout the year and you will need to change T-shirts and outfits at least daily if not multiple times per day. If you shop for branded goods, you are still likely to get slightly better deals than in the US.

A pair of branded jeans should cost around $50-$60 and they should last for at least a couple of years. A pair of sports shoes can cost up to $80 and they should also last a long time even if you wear them every day to the beach or around town.

Shopping isn’t necessarily as popular in Costa Rica as in the US. Online shopping is still underdeveloped and you will need to travel to larger cities for your fashion needs.

Food costs

You will be pleasantly surprised to learn food is very affordable in Costa Rica. You can eat a good meal at an average restaurant for around $6. The beer is not more than $2.5. White bread costs around $1.5 as well.

You can save a lot of money by not eating out. But then again, the country isn’t known for its expensive restaurants and given just how delicious the local food is, you won’t be tempted into looking elsewhere outside of the nice restaurants. Coffee also costs a fraction compared to what you pay in the US, so you will have the chance to drink a refreshing espresso out every day.


Getting from one place to another is never cheap regardless of where you live in the world. Rising gas prices aren’t helping. However, you will pay $1 for 1 liter of gasoline here, which is about the same as in the US. Public transport is considerably cheaper. You pay around $0.8 for a one-way bus ticket in large cities of the country.

Buying a house in Costa Rica

Buying a house is an exciting time. You are probably thinking of settling in the country and this is where you need to choose wisely. Generally speaking, house prices are rather high compared to those in neighboring Nicaragua.

It costs around $1.700 per square meter to buy an apartment in a city center. But if you want a more relaxed way of living, you can also buy a house outside the city. You can pay as little as $1.000 per square meter here. House prices generally vary according to location. But you should also consider the money you need to invest in the house alongside its acquisition cost.

Services and other expenses

Services are generally cheap but of low quality in the country. You need to expect contractors here to be a bit untrustworthy when it comes to house chores. If your house needs renovation, you shouldn’t aim at saving money and you should only work with established companies which can do a good job from the start.

This is how much you pay for utilities in Costa Rica

Utilities are very expensive in Costa Rica. You can expect to pay at least $60 for a basic monthly internet plan. Electricity bills aren’t cheaper either. You will pay at least $70 for utilities in a 1-bedroom apartment. This can easily triple for a small house.

Final words

Living in Costa Rica seems like a dream. If you plan your move properly, you can easily make this dream reality. But you shouldn’t expect to live there for $200 per month as that’s not realistic. You still need at least $700 per month on average and maybe a bit more for healthcare, travel, and hobbies. Since public transport isn’t that great, you should also consider buying a car when you get there.