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The Cost of Living in Costa Rica in 2023

Costa Rica is an up-and-coming destination for expats and retirees looking for an affordable and enjoyable place to call home and enjoy a slow pace of life. With its beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, and vibrant culture, this popular destination in Central America has something to offer everyone. 

However, one of the main reasons why people choose to invest, move, or retire here is Costa Rica’s affordable living costs. Generally speaking, the cost of living in Costa Rica is lower than in many other parts of the world. Costa Rica is especially affordable when compared to places like North America or Europe. In 2021, the cost of living in Costa Rica was an estimated 58% lower than in the US.

If you’re considering a move to Costa Rica, it’s important to know what your budget will look like. The cost of living varies widely depending on where you settle, but the average cost of living in Costa Rica in 2023 is estimated to be around $1,800 per month.

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Housing costs

Housing costs in Costa Rica can vary widely depending on what area you choose to settle in. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay between $700 and $1,500 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city and around $800 to $2,000 per month for a two-bedroom. If you’re looking for more space, you can find larger apartments for around $1,500 to $3,500 a month.

Buying houses in Costa Rica is becoming an increasingly attractive option for digital nomads, retirees, and people looking to invest or move to Costa Rica. Prices depend on where you plan on settling down – major cities tend to be more expensive than rural areas due to the higher demand for real estate, but they also are an excellent investment option. In addition, certain neighborhoods may offer higher-value properties than others depending on their location and the amenities available nearby.

Generally, you’ll find that the closer you get to the beach, the higher the prices tend to be. To give you an idea of the prices, we’ve put together a guide to the average prices for houses to buy in Costa Rica in 2023.

  • Beachfront condos: Beachfront condos can range from $150,000 to $400,000, depending on the size and amenities.
  • Villas: Villas tend to be more expensive, ranging from $500,000 to $2,000,000 or more, depending on the property size and location.
  • Apartments: Prices for apartments in Costa Rica can range from $100,000 to $500,000, depending on the amenities and location.
  • Houses: Prices for houses can range from $200,000 to $1,000,000, depending on the size, location, and amenities.

Gated communities in Costa Rica are becoming increasingly popular as more expats move to the country for a better quality of life. These luxurious residential areas offer a secure, high-end living experience difficult to find elsewhere. Residents enjoy access to private pools, state-of-the-art fitness centers, golf courses, and parks. Other amenities, such as grocery stores and restaurants, can also be found within the community grounds. Security is one of the greatest benefits of living in a gated community; guards are always present along with other safety measures like surveillance cameras and electric fences.

Senderos is the perfect example of a residential community in Costa Rica that provides the utmost comfort while pampering its residents with state-of-the-art facilities and infinite ocean views. Expats, investors, and retirees, all find Senderos to be the epitome of living the Pura Vida in Costa Rica. Each house is designed to immerse into its environment without disrupting nature’s flow, while the interiors allow an invasion of natural light and the surrounding beauty.

Cost of Living in Costa Rica

Utility prices

Electricity is one of the most important utilities in Costa Rica. The national electricity provider is the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE). The average cost of electricity varies from $0.12 to $0.15 per kilowatt-hour (kwh), depending on the region in which you live. In addition, some areas may require a monthly service fee. 

Water is another utility in Costa Rica that is generally affordable for the expat community. The average monthly cost for water is $10. However, this cost can be affected by the availability of water, the quality of water, and the distance from a water source. 

The cost of internet and telephone services can vary significantly, depending on the type of service and the provider. Generally, the cost of internet service is around $50 to $100 per month. Telephone services can range from $15 to $50 per month.

Finally, the cost of gas can vary widely, depending on the location and type of fuel. The cost of regular unleaded gasoline is around $5.30 per gallon. The cost of diesel is usually slightly higher, ranging from $5.5 per gallon.

Food costs

The food and grocery landscape in Costa Rica is vastly different than it was just a few years ago. With the rise of sustainable and organic farming practices, the country has become a leader in the region for providing fresh, healthy, and locally-sourced food options.

The new food and grocery paradigm in Costa Rica is centered around sustainability, organic farming, and local sourcing. As a result, more farmers are transitioning to organic and sustainable methods, reducing their carbon footprint and preserving the environment. This means that you can find a variety of fresh, local, and organic produce at your local grocery store or farmer’s market.

The prices of staples like rice, beans, and potatoes have remained quite stable over the past year. A kilo of rice can be purchased for $1.71, while a kilo of beans costs around $4. Potatoes, meanwhile, cost around $1 per kilo.

As for fruits and vegetables, prices have also remained relatively stable. Bananas, for instance, cost around $1.3 per kilo, while oranges are priced at $1.7 per kilo. Tomatoes and onions each sell for around $2.5 per kilo.

If you’re looking for imported food items, you can expect to pay more. A jar of peanut butter, for example, costs around $5, while a can of tuna can set you back around $4.

The cost of meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy products is also typically lower than the prices of imported items. However, the prices of imported items can be higher than local produce, particularly for items such as cheese, chocolate, and alcohol.

Finally, when it comes to household items, the prices of staples like soap, toilet paper, and laundry detergent remain quite reasonable. A bar of soap costs around $0.8, while a roll of toilet paper is priced at $1.7. Laundry detergent, meanwhile, costs around $3.4.

Transportation & fuel costs

Costa Rica has a vast and diverse transportation network, including buses, taxis, and ferries. Depending on your budget and needs, you can choose the best option that suits your lifestyle.

Public transport is one of the most affordable and convenient ways to get around Costa Rica. There are several different types of buses, including regular buses, express buses, and private buses. Regular buses are the most common and are used to travel between cities and towns. They are also the most affordable option, with fares ranging from around $1.50 to $2.00 per ride.

Express buses, on the other hand, are more expensive but take a lot less time to get from one place to another. They are typically used for longer trips, such as from San José to coastal towns like Puntarenas and Puerto Limón. Express buses tend to cost from $3.00 to $7.00.

Taxis are a great option for those who prefer a more private and comfortable way to travel. They are generally more expensive than buses, with fares ranging from $10 to $20 depending on the distance and type of vehicle.

Ferries are another popular way to travel around Costa Rica, especially for coastal cities. Ferries tend to be more expensive than buses, with fares ranging from around $15 to $50 depending on the distance.

Healthcare expenses

Overall, healthcare expenses in Costa Rica are much lower than in the United States. In fact, many people find they’re able to save up to 50 percent on their medical care when they move to Costa Rica. This can be a great way to save money on healthcare costs while still receiving quality care.

Costa Rica has a unique system of healthcare, which is known as the Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social, or CCSS. This medical insurance system is funded by employers, the government, and citizens. It is designed to provide access to basic health services to all citizens, regardless of their social or economic status. This system offers an extensive network of hospitals and clinics throughout the country, as well as affordable health insurance plans.

The cost for these services depends on a person’s residency status and income level, with citizens being charged less than non-citizens. For those without CCSS coverage or with inadequate coverage, private clinics offer more comprehensive services that come at higher costs. Private insurance may have higher premiums, but they also often offer more comprehensive coverage, including coverage for prescription medications and dental care. It is important to research the various plans available and compare the costs and coverage before making a decision.

As a foreign resident, you will need to purchase health insurance in order to access the healthcare system. The good news is that there are several private health insurance plans available to expats and foreign investors in Costa Rica. The cost of health insurance will depend on your age, pre-existing conditions, and other factors. 

According to the World Health Organization, the average cost of a hospital visit in Costa Rica is just $40 USD. In the US, the average cost of a hospital visit is around $3,000 USD. For example, a visit to the doctor can cost as little as $25, while a visit to the hospital can cost anywhere from $150 to $300, depending on the services you need.

Prescription medicines are also much cheaper in Costa Rica than they are in the US. In fact, you can find generic medicines for as little as 25 to 50 percent off the US price. This can be a great way to save money on your healthcare expenses.

In addition to lower healthcare costs, Costa Rica is known for providing high-quality care. The country’s medical system is ranked among the best in the world, and the country has some of the best doctors and hospitals in Latin America.

Taxes

Costa Rica is known for its relatively low tax rate, however, they still require citizens and foreigners alike to pay taxes on a regular basis. The taxes that you must pay depend on your residency status and the type of income you receive.

Income tax in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a progressive income tax rate that applies to both residents and non-residents. The rates range from 0% to 25%. For those who are considered a resident of Costa Rica, the rate is set at a flat rate of 15%. This rate applies to all income earned in Costa Rica, including wages, business profits, and capital gains.

For non-residents, the rate is set at 25%. This applies to all income earned in Costa Rica, including wages and business profits. Non-residents are also liable for an additional 10% capital gains tax.

Other taxes in Costa Rica

In addition to income taxes, there are also a number of other taxes that you should consider when planning your move to Costa Rica. These include sales taxes, property taxes, and social security taxes.

Property taxes in Costa Rica are at a flat rate of 0.25%. This applies to real estate owned in the country.

Social security taxes in Costa Rica are also a flat rate of 7.5%. This applies to all residents and non-residents who are employed in the country.

For those who are non-residents or temporary residents, you are only required to pay tax on any income that is generated in Costa Rica. This includes income from employment, rental income, interest, or dividends. The tax rate on this income is established by the Costa Rican tax authority, known as the Superintendencia de Tributación.

If you are a permanent resident, you must pay taxes on all income generated in Costa Rica, as well as income earned abroad. The tax rate for this income is also established by the Superintendencia.

In addition, there are a number of special taxes that may apply to you. This includes taxes on the purchase of land, capital gains tax, and stamp duty. The tax rate for these taxes varies depending on the specific situation.