Pages Menu
Rss
Categories Menu

Posted by on Jan 18, 2014 in Cost of Living, Costa Rica, Food, Moving to Costa Rica, Retirement | 83 comments

Costa Rica Cost of Living – Playing with My Food

Costa Rica Cost of Living – Playing with My Food

Can I Live in Costa Rica on $X, XXX?

The answer to that question, in all honesty is, “I don’t know – can you?” One of the frustrating things about quitting our jobs and moving to Costa Rica, was trying to plan our budget; trying to pin down exactly how much certain things cost here was extremely challenging. When we decided to make this move it was with the understanding that we would have to change our lifestyle in order to make it happen.

So, to help you with the Cost of Living in Costa Rica question here is an example of some of the food choices you will have here. For this demonstration I took $7 to 3 different food places; KFC  (YES, sorry…see my dedication to you, dear reader?), a Grecia soda (a local small restaurant that serves typical Costa Rican fare) and to our towns weekly Feria (farmers market) – in an attempt to demonstrate how differently $7 can be spent…how far, or little, it can go.

A word of caution – as I found out when I posted some of these pictures on my Costa Rica Curious Face Book page, the costs of these examples can vary significantly based on where you are in the country. For example, the amount of food I was able to buy at the feria in Grecia is much, much more than you would be able to get at a feria, say in a beach area in Guanacaste.

 

KFC, In Costa RIca?

Yes, even the small coffee farming town I live in, Grecia, has a KFC (and a McDonalds and Burger KIng et. al). So, I went to KFC with my $7 in hand and picked the combo that was 3,500 colones, or right at the $7 I had, and this is what I was able to buy:

$7 KFCSo, for $7 I was able to buy the Nugget Combo which was a decent size box of chicken nuggets, small fries and a medium drink. I can truly  say that I don’t miss fast-food. I very rarely eat it here, as it can be expensive and they are not on every corner, like they are in the States.

 

The Costa Rican Soda

The soda is ubiquitous in Costa Rica, much like fast-food joints in the States. Soda’s are small, family owned restaurants and they sell, among other things, typical Costa RIcan dishes like a Casado, which is a dish served with rice, beans, a meat and sometimes fried plantain and/or a fried egg.

The dish below is a Casado and, along with the beer, cost $7. A much bigger bang for your buck than the KFC example both from the amount of food you get (a ridiculous amount which I always seem to be able to finish) and the healthiness of the food.

A side note – if you buy a local beer (Imperial or Bavaria) your beer will cost about the same as a soda. In the case below, the beer cost $2 and Jen’s Coke Light cost $2.50.

$7 soda

The Farmers Market

There is no debate the most frugal (and healthy) way to eat in Costa Rica is to buy fresh produce at the weekly feria. The fruits and vegetables are very fresh and you can, many times, find items that are not available in the grocery stores.

The produce is not only more fresh than buying at the grocery, it is also significantly cheaper and you get the added benefit of supporting the local farmers and meet and chat with them.

Below is how we spent $7 at the feria several weeks ago. We purchased:  a pineapple, a bag of lettuce, 5 tomatoes, 5 sweet chili peppers, 4 mangos, 8 bananas, an avocado, a bag of peanuts and fresh parsley, rosemary, cilantro and basil. Enough produce for 3 or 4 days.

Bonus Tip: If you go to the feria on the last day at closing time (for Grecia this is Saturday at noon) the farmers will many times give you extra…instead of the 3 avocados you bought, you will get 4. Your selection will not be as good but your colon will go much further.

$7 Feria

 

See

Hopefully, this example helps demonstrate just how difficult it is to answer the “Can I Live On $x” question. Are you a vegan that loves fresh produce? Do you want to eat out everyday? In our case, we do a bit of both. We eat out maybe once a week – sometimes a soda, sometimes a more expensive restaurant (yes, there are choices other than soda’s and fast-food) and the rest of the time we (read – Jen) cook.

The same exercise can be used with housing, entertainment, cable and internet needs etc.. We have a budget of $1,500 a month. Sometimes we are closer to $1,200 and sometimes we are a bit over $1,500. The reality is someone could live here on less than $1,000 while someone else would need $3,000. It all depends on your choices – just like in the States.

I am planing a few more posts along the lines of “How Much?” Leave a comment below if there is an item you would like me to write about.

– Gregorio

 

Views – 16454

Share Button
Follow me:

Gregorio

Greg Seymour is a quitter. At 41 Greg and his wife Jen quit their jobs, sold damn near everything they owned and became Intentionally Unemployed and retired early to Costa Rica.
In addition to writing on this blog, Greg has written for other online publications and has written two popular books about living in Costa Rica:
Greg Seymour Amazon Author Page

Follow me:

Latest posts by Gregorio (see all)

Spanish Sundays - Número Tres
Spanish Sundays - Número Dos

83 Comments

  1. Wow what a lot of fruit etc for 7$!!!

    • It really is the best deal around. During the right time you can get 4 pineapples for $2…In this case the pineapple in the picture was $1.

      • Hi,

        I know you’re in the northern part of CR, but do you know if the cost is much different on the Caribbean side? For instance, Limon?

        • Hi Briana,

          I was actually in the Central Valley of the country. We have actually left CR to complete preparations for a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail which we will start in March and will last about 6 months.

          I can’t really speak to the Cost of living on the Caribbean. My thought is that it would be about the same as the CV and less expensive than the Pacific coast.

          Best of luck in your search.

          Greg

  2. Just found your blog yesterday, thanks for some great insight to Grecia and the area around it. Could you comment on what is available for meat to purchase as well as how the grocery shopping compares to the US. Thanks.
    Martha

    • Hi Martha,
      Thanks for the comment. For meat you generally have the same options as the States – Chicken: whole, quarters, thighs, legs and breast with and without bones – the cost is similar to what we paid in Dallas. Beef – standard cuts and ground. More expensive that in the States and different. The beed here is grass fed and has less fat – steaks are more chewy and ground beef is has less fat making burgers difficult to make. Pork is common and is more expensive than in the States but of good quality. Grocery shopping is very similar but you will have to find substitutes for many items. Produce is cheaper than the States and just about anything in a package will be significantly more expensive here. I hope this helps.

      • For a good burger, stop by Bobo’s if you are ever in the Nicoya area. Our meat has a better fat ratio (closer to 80/20), and while it is still not aged, it makes a pretty good burger that is hard to beat in the country. All fresh, local produce and locally-raised beef, too. Please tell us if you are not satisfied with the quality! (Sorry Greg…first plug ever! Never again!)

        • Haha – No problem. Glad to hear you guys are up and running. Hopefully we can make it your way soon. Do you have a website up yet?

          • Not quite…I have a couple of pages and one post, but not ready to go public just yet. I can’t quite seem to find time to work on it…I wonder why?!? It’s on my never-ending “to do” list, though! It should be ready soon. I’ll PM you the site for a private review, though!

  3. love a challenge! healthy is even better when not expensive. in Singapore we found some amazing cheap food in the basement of expensive shopping centres – bento boxes of great nosh! If it can be done in Singers then it’s always possible!

    • Produce is inexpensive in our area as we are in a farming community but anything pre-packaged is depressingly expensive…that and cheese is crazy expensive. The upside is it is helping us eat more healthy.

  4. Great information……….well done

  5. I think I would camp on the farmers market. Love the fresh, local produce. And can definitely live on veggies. OK, I don’t mind seafood either. As for the next one you should write about, maybe you can put down housing costs. Would you say that with 1.500 $ a month on average, you live pretty good in Costa Rica and don’t need to count every dollar? From Croatian perspective, it’s not really cheap, that’s why I am curious.

    • For us, $1500 is a very comfortable amount meaning we can do just about anything we want and not worry too much. Like I mentioned in the post we eat out once or twice a week and the rest of the time we eat at home. Entertainment is cheap and mostly hiking, photography and hanging out with friends with the occasional trip to a national park or beach. We rent our home for $600 – it is 2 bed/2 bath and very comfortable and is furnished. I will take your advice and do a monthly budget post. Also, it is true – Costa Rica is no the cheapest country however, it is significantly cheaper for us than our lifestyle in the states.

  6. Just wondering are there times that you miss the US, or have you been able to meet new friends and feel comfortable with the move you both made? I’m hoping someday to do what you’ve done. 🙂

    • Hi Kris, I can honestly say that I do not miss the US. We are very comfortable here and have found making friends is much easier here than in the states. The only things I truly miss are craft beer and live music. Beer choices are improving here and there is live music to be had just not the variety I enjoy the most.

  7. Okay, this clinches it. I would love living in Costa Rica. One of the most annoying things about US is that cheap food is almost always bad for you (specifically cheap prepared food, no worries, I am a champ at the lentils and rice diet, but finding something cheap and healthy while on the road is difficult). This makes so much sense– local, non-processed food SHOULD BE CHEAPER because DUH. Not to get on my food sustainability soap box, but THIS IS HOW THE WORLD SHOULD BE.

    • Yep, you would dig CR then. It is a shame that prepackaged stuff in the US is cheaper than fresh produce. I am much more active here and that along with a more healthy diet has allowed me to drop 35 pounds as well as drop my blood pressure meds – this new lifestyle is certainly more healthy for me.

    • Whether it’s healthier depends on what it’s cooked in–not unhealthy oils. Read Adam’s comments–they’re accurate.

  8. I live in Guanacaste, near the beach. I have seen Imerpial for 1,000 colons in a Soda. While a $2 beer is interesting coming from somewhere where a beer in a restaurant is $3, $4, or $5, Imperial is horrible beer. Not Keystone horrible, but pretty bad. I got sick of it pretty quickly and have taken to putting super hot peppers in it just to get some flavor.

    I have never seen casados for 2,500 colons, especially not in those portions. That is a 4,000 colons casado plate here. Central Valley is definitely cheaper. Also, the Costa Rican food I’ve had, while healthier than KFC, is not healthy. The rice is fried with oil, the beans cooked with lard, and the meat pan fried. Nothing is organic and Costa Rica uses more pesticides per acre than any other country in the world.

    “Tipico” (translation, typical, or traditional) food doesn’t taste very good. It is ok, but not as good as I can do at home. There is a a reason that there are not Costa Rican restaurants all over the world.

    • Thanks for your perspective. The Central Valley is definitely less expensive, in almost every way, than the beach. I agree with your assessment of Imperial – I associate it with Coors or Miller in the states – beers which I never drank…ever. But life for me is different here and the occasional Imperial is had as it is always available and it is inexpensive – which my new budget requires.

      It is true that Costa Rican cuisine will not win any awards I do like a casado from time to time. In the end, I don’t disagree with anything you said and this post really isn’t about how cheap Costa RIca is – it’s not, nor is it an encouragement to move here. It is simply an explanation of how cost of living is a result of how you want to live.

      For us, we chose to downsize and simply and move here. And we are enjoying it very much.

      • Yes, we are enjoying it too. I like not working. I’m 38 and practically retired. We couldn’t afford to not work in the US due to healthcare costs and school (we are in the window when you want your kids to get socialized but before state paid school is available). I like being able to go to incredible beaches anytime I want. I like paying someone $3/hour to clean my house, $6 for a full-on inside-outside SUV cleanse, or $20 for a 1 hour massage. I like the 90 degree weather more when I hear people complaining about record lows back home; can you believe there is just no sympathy for our sweaty plight? I like our huge pool and the monkeys that troop by our house every five or six weeks.

        • Hear, Hear. There are many great things – We certainly are enjoying early retirement as well. AND – the temps in the hills of Grecia, where we are, are constantly in the 60 – 85 degree range. There are things I don’t care for but I don’t dwell on them – I didn’t dwell on the negative in the States either. It is what it is.

        • Adam, 38 and practically retired?!? We are right behind ya in years and plan to be retired and in costa rica by 38. How many other folks are there our age? I don’t expect too many get away from the USA at this point. Any tips for Newbies coming down there? Right now we are in Alaska, but will be fleeing here as soon as we can get away from the grips of Uncle Sam.

        • Adam and Christi, my husband and I are in the same age group – mid late 30’s. Not hoping to be totally retired, but I’m really sick of being full time employee and full time mom. Public school system is not for my child but we cannot afford private school. “Fresh” food in the winter is insanely expensive. I recently posted a few pictures when I went to the grocery store – $3.99 per lb of peppers, $2.99 per lb of tomatoes. We both make decent $$ but our expenses are also very high such as for the house that’s unoccupied for 12 hours a day 5 days a week.
          I’m always interested in knowing what the younger folks do in CR when they still have a young one to raise.

          • We are currently living in Alaska where everything is so expensive. It’s outrageous! We are retiring from the military so we will have a pension coming in every month. We will be debt free by then so our retirement should cover everything. My husband wants to enjoy life at a slower pace. I am sure I will find something fun to do to keep me occupied and make a little bit of cash. The girls will be teenagers when we move and will probably finish out their last years of school online. They have travelled extensively and are welcoming the experience. Currently we have everything we could ever want in the USA, but we know we would be more happy with less. I’m ready to be surround by folks who feel the same way as me. I don’t believe we were put on this earth to work all the time and to be a slave to society. We can’t wait to escape to a slower paced way of living.

      • Maybe I’m in the minority but one of my (many) favorite things about CR is the local cuisine. I’m not an expat, have only spent a few weeks in the country in total but I could eat gallo pinto for breakfast every morning and casado for lunch every day of my life and be the happiest camper ever. The meals I’ve had in various sodas throughout the country were some of the best meals I’ve ever had. I tried a place in DFW that had gallo pinto on the menu and it was dreadful. I’ve also tried making it myself and it was very mediocre. There used to be a place in Katy, TX that had a decent one but it closed.

        • Yes, I think you would be in the minority. Although, I really do enjoy a casado especially when it has a fried egg on top. But, I like spicy and without a sauce to accompany the meal, most food here is a bit bland.

  9. Thank you for this blog. It’s very helpful to receive the inside scoop on how people can live elsewhere and make it work! As for produce and the Farmer’s market, having choices to eat healthier at lower costs is how it should be everywhere. Unfortunately it’s not. Looking forward to traveling to CR sometime, I’ve heard how Eco friendly it is, do you notice this in comparison to US?

    • Yes and no. There is a lot of noise pollution – CR is a noisy country. In addition, there is exauhst from a lot of old cars. On the other hand, there are some really pristine areas, beautiful country side and many communities that are or are attempting to be self sustaining. So, you get a little bit of everything here.

  10. Hola Gregorio!

    Many folks find that their eating habits improve and they’re eating healthier in Costa Rica. It’s all relative to how BAD your eating habits were in the U.S., which usually means your consumption of fast food and a pantry of “edible food-like substances” in bags and boxes.

    About 15 years ago I went completely organic, additive-free foods, and I find Costa Rica’s general patina of “green” living deceptive when it comes to the food supply when you’re a resident.

    Organic (or nearly so) foods I have located after one year here: I know of two sources of sausages that are preservative-free, and their outlets are elusive, and there’s no other nitrate-free cold cuts in the country. A French couple with a farm in Guanacaste, travels to Atenas every Saturday to take orders of vegetables for delivery the next week; they’re not available elsewhere. There’s an organic feria in San Jose every Saturday morning, and I may move to SJ to have access to healthier foods. The one organic farmers at the Grecia feria often sells out Friday afternoon.

    As to dairy products, I’m looking for a dairy where I can buy cream and churn my own butter. What’s sold here in this category doesn’t have a package large enough to list the ingredients, which means it’s a pack of chemicals. (It’s not even good for baking!) One tetra pack of milk I left OPEN in the fridge for three months (unplanned extension of travels) wasn’t sour when I returned–frightful! Even locally produced jam has food coloring added–I’m making my own.

    I’m finding it’s BACK TO THE ’70s in living in Costa Rica–making ALL my own meals and condiments from scratch–unless I find an additive-free product at Price Smart, which occasionally happens.

    You might investigate truly healthy food choices in CR and let us know what you find! Good luck!

    • Thanks for the info. I think everything is relative – for me, for example, to eat ANY fruits and vegetables is a huge change from my eating habits in the states. It was awful. I knew it was awful but I ate what was convenient. I imagine my diet will continue to get more and more healthy as I learn about the farming practices in my area…baby steps…LOL.

    • HI, Dr. Jensen,We’re moving to CR April 2015, and I was glad (and sad) to read you post. My story is similar—went organic in ’99 and buy most produce at local yr-round farmers mkt in Phoenix, AZ—one of the blessings being here–have to remind myself of that May-Nov! Reading what you are saying about trying to find local organic is what I heard from another lady living in Grecia who buys coconut oil on the Caribbean side and resells to expats in the Central Valley. I will investigate that when we arrive, probably to rent in that area. I’d love to keep in touch with you bec I am as particular as what you described being–grass-fed meat, butter, organic produce, etc. I am able to buy amazing pastured eggs–no corn or soy used there also. I am already planning I will have to go back to a 70’s lifestyle also—what I’d like to do is start a cooking/growing/preserving group in the Central Valley. I am trying to be proactive bec–like you–I’ve spent years developing a healthy diet for myself and husband, which I had to do for myriad health reasons. Please let me know if interested:) Janet Morley 602-909-5648 http://www.grandmabaa.com–“a grandmother’s vision–teaching the art and lifestyle of holistic living to heirs of our planet” 🙂

  11. I know I shouldn’t complain but I miss the ferias near the city. When we lived in San Isidro de Heredia, we could get 3 kilos of tomatoes for under $2 and in Coco (did I spot a shoutout?) is just really not possible. Even at the ferias here, we’ve found that sometimes are even more expensive than the supermarkets! I still do love them though but the best produce is actually at Auto Mercado to be honest.

    • Yep – one of the reasons we picked the central valley was so that we could pin down our budget (food and electricity) before attempting a beach location. It sounds like both of these things are a bit more in the beach areas and specifically the Guanacaste beaches.

  12. It’s crazy to think how far $7 can go especially if you think outside the box and you are not consumed with having to eat fast food joints, which unfortunately many folks are when they visit somewhere new and don’t want to experience the local spots.

    I love the second option and think that’s a real bargain but I also think that if you are going to spend a length of time in an area, visiting a local market, grabbing groceries and then self-catering is a cost-efficient option.

    Love this post Greg!

    • Thanks Chris,

      In 6 months we have eaten fast-food twice; once, a sacrifice for this story, and the other time just because we were in a time crunch. Fast-food is not really part of our lives at all anymore. More typically is the food at the sodas and the farmers market as well as homemade bread and pizzas Jen makes. We have chicken breast several times a week along with beans and rice. 100% different from our eat-out every night diet in the States.

  13. I really really liked this post. You can’t deny how much you’re spending when it’s sitting in front of your face. That nasty KFC or ALL those fruits and veggies–I think it’s pretty obvious. Yet, I’m still guilty of eating out more than I should. One day, I’ll figure it out haha…

    • True – in our lives in the States we did not think once, ok maybe once, about what we were eating…and when I say we i really mean me. Here in CR it is easier – one, we are not working 12 hours a day and 2 the less expensive food here is the fresh food.

  14. Interesting read! Like Costa Rica, it is cheaper to cook yourself and eat healthier in Taiwan! Vegetables here are so cheap!

    And I know what you mean! I get asked questions like that all the time too! For example, so how much is McDonalds in Taiwan? And when I tell them how much (which is a lot less than Canada), I always make a note that the average person earns less here.

    • Thanks for commenting. Fastfood here is comparatively more expensive than typical food from a “soda”. And nothing is as inexpensive as cooking for yourself.

  15. What a great concept give people a great idea of whst food costs there

    • Thanks – I get questions frequently about cost of living here, and my thought, because the answer is impossible, was to give an example and what is better than food…OK, it could have been beer.

  16. I love how you presented this with the three examples. That fresh produce looks amazing!!

    • Thanks Sharon. The farmers market is great…and very colorful.

  17. I quite like the comparaison between meals that you’ve done! It’s true if you really want to stick to a budget it should be easily do-able! Waiting to see the next posts!

    • Thanks for the comment Marie-Carmen. I think food is a great barometer to use for this illustration. Everyone must eat and most will take advantage of each of these sources of food.

  18. WOW, beer the same price as soda! Yes please. I love how in CR (and Croatia) good, healthy food is affordable. Its where the USA & Aust go so very wrong. All the cheap food is generally bad for you in those places. You’ve inspired me, I think I want to kick start my can I live on xx for Croatia. I started so many posts about it, and stopped.

    • Glad I can motivate you. This article has been brewing for about 3 months. I wasn’t quite sure how to tackle the question and finally figured discussing cost of living through the common denominator of food would be a good start. I think there will be several articles on this subject. After posting this, a buddy of mine in the Dominican Republic messaged me saying he wanted to help me with a post comparing CR to DR – so that would be fun.

      • Hey Greg- great way to show the differences in costs by the choices you make. Coming from Dallas, I imagine ya’ll were accustomed to having your own vehicles/ freedom to jump in the car and go. I would love to see some info on if you brought your car, are renting, or are using public transportation. Look forward to learning more form you. Thanks!

        • Hey – yes, we had 2 cars and we went out to eat a ton… We are on the bus line here and are finding it pretty easy and economical. Coming soon – more blog posts on our costs here!

  19. A most interesting and apt way (esp. with pics) to demonstrate the cost of living (in this case, eating) in a different part of the globe. Though no doubt pretty much the same ratio of value:$ can be found between the three outlets (Western fast-food, local fast-food and local market) most everywhere on the globe. I’ve been expatting in Vietnam and Thailand for the past 2 years, and shortly will relocate to Ecuador – and precisely the same comparisons could be made here.

    It’s also especially interesting to me to see what $7 buys in Costa Rica these days. As an int’l tour operator running trips to Costa Rica for 20+ years (waaaaay back in the late 80’s and 90’s) – shoot, in those days, 7 bucks would buy me a 5 course French dinner at one of the finest restaurants in San Jose! 😉

    But time (and inflation) marches on everywhere of course, and your bottom line rather says it all:

    “The reality is someone could live here on less than $1,000 while someone else would need $3,000. It all depends on your choices…”

    • Thanks for the comment. I hope you enjoy Ecuador – I believe many of the costs there are less expensive than CR.

  20. What would a 2bed 2 bath furnished home/condo cost? Hopefully all kitchen appliances as well as wifi would be included.

    • Like the food question, the housing question is a bit loaded. You have to consider where in CR the home is and other amenities as well. Our house is a 2 bed/2 bath furnished and we pay $600 – a very good deal, but this does not include WIFI at $40 or other utilities. A guess, for a range would be, $600 – $1,000 or more.

      • Thank you that was about what I was budgeting for your area: ~750.00=800.00$.

  21. It’s funny that I get the same question about the cost of traveling to Mexico! I think that it is extremely doable to live a month in an average Mexican city with less than 500 USD in the same way that people can easily spend 500 USD in threee days of extreme partying, drinking and clubbing here.

    • Exactly. Certainly there are countries that are cheaper to live than others (Costa Rica is not one of them), but past that – it is lifestyle choice and spending habits.

  22. Oh the food looks goooooood! Here in BA it is similar although now they are increasing the prices. Nevertheless with the exchange rate at the moment Argentina is fabulous for travellers =) Hmmm getting hungry now!

    • The fruits and veggies in CR are excellent – both in variety and taste. The Costa Rican typical cuisine is not for everyone, although I like it very much.

  23. I agree the food is not spicy but I personally never found it bland. I thought some of the brahma bull hump steak that I had there to be some of the best flavored meat I’ve eaten, and the flavor of gallo pinto was very distinctive. Of course, it is possible that our tour guides knew where to find the best local food (and the resorts hired the best chefs) and that what I’ve had isn’t representative of the average meal.

  24. I’ve heard/read that the cost of real estate and rent is alot higher in Costa Rica than Ecuador. . .I realize that’s whether you are in the big city, in a touristy beach area, or in the highlands or ?? Please comment on this. . .specifically rentals. Thanks,

    • What a loaded question…lol. In general Ecuador is less expensive on most things – I can’t speak about real estate there specifically. The question here is difficult; are you going to live in a house that doesn’t have hot water? Do you need a yard? Are you going through a realtor or networking and finding it on your own? I believe we got a good deal on our house. It is 2 bed 2 bath with N American conveniences and we pay $600 a month + utilizes. We found this on our own without an agent. With an agent it probably would have cost us $100 – $200 more a month. We are away from a small/medium sized town – not a touristy town at all. Expect to pay more in a beach and/or tourist/popular town.

      • Really enjoyed your post. When you say “plus utilities”: (a) what type of utilities does that include? (b) what is your typical monthly utility cost? Is cable available? In English?What is the cost? Do you have internet? Cost? High Speed? Do you have cell phone reception? Don’t mean to overwhelm you with questions but I am getting serious about moving there. Thanks!

        • Hi Brian. Here are my answers, please remember *YOUR MILEAGE WILL VARY.

          I pay – $38 for WIFI – 3mb down – see *above. We do not have a television but cable is available. Not sure on English language channels. I do know that many use a Slingbox or use Hula, Amazon Prime or Netflix many times with using a service like Hide My Ass that will make it look like you are viewing from the States.

          Water is typically under $10 and electric is around $70. So about $125 for us for all utilities. See * above.

          We do have cell service. We paid 3,000 colones (about $6) for a SIM card and an initial load of minutes. Jen and I both brought down iPhone 4’s and we use less than $10 a month in minutes total. *. We did not come here so that we could talk on cell phones and we don’t. We don’t even always carry them around with us.

          I know I got **** happy, but some get really bent out of shape when their expenses for a similar item doesn’t match what I told them mine was. I have no idea what situation you will be in here. For example if you are not in the CV you will likely have an aircoditioner and that cranks the electric bill up significantly. Have a pool? Same story.

          The “whats it cost” question is the most difficult one to answer. If fact we did not have the best understanding of what our costs were going to be when we moved here. Luckily, we budgeted high on everything.

          I hope this helps,

          Greg

          • Hi Greg:

            Thank you! Yes, I’m not going there to yak on the cell phone either but I have a daughter and granddaughter that I’d need to be able to reach in the states.
            Is fresh seafood readily available at the markets? Cost? Regarding air conditioning, do you really need it that often where you are? How are the bugs? I’ve always heard in the mountains they aren’t so bad. Any libraries or bookstores near by?

          • I’ll shoot you an email Brian.

  25. I am interested in the same answers to questions that
    Brian asked. Also, is there someone locale, expat, that
    Could send me info on apartments, where, I would not have
    To go through a realtor? I would like to move by the end of the year or sooner.
    Thanks, Pam

    • I would suggest going to my resources page and joining some of the Face Book groups for Costa Rica. That way you can ask questions of a large group that are in Costa Rica. I would also suggest narrowing down your question so that you can get an answer. “Someone Local” is kind of tough when you are talking about a country roughly the size of West Virginia.

      The way we found our rental was to decide where we wanted to “land” and rented a short term apartment, that we had found on the internet, for 3 months. We used those 3 months to determine if we wanted to live in that town/area (we did) and allowed us to network and make connections and through these we found our rental. In the end – Nothing beats Feet on the Street.

  26. Hey Greg… I have had time to read some of your posts for awhile, so I need to catch up! I really enjoyed this post, and I love the face lift you’ve given to your logo: I love the colors!

    I don’t have any references to back up my claims, but in the 18 years we researched moving to Costa Rica for retirement, we read numerous articles by doctors and other sources who did “studies” on the food and healthiness of Costa Rica. There was even a special on t.v. once (don’t recall which prime time show it was now) that touted CR as being among the top 3 places in the world to live that was healthiest and where people live the longest with greater quality of life.

    They definitely aren’t GMO’ing the food here, and with all the bugs it stands to reason some pesticides would need to be used, but there are essential oils and great natural cleaners that will remove the late phase pesticides used by soaking the veggies for 30 minutes and then rinsing well before eating. The chicken and beef and pork are not pumped up with anti-biotics or hormones, and they are free range and grass fed….which is organic.

    We spent one month back in the USA and in that time we felt miserable from all the eating out, sadly the easiest option when you are catching up and connecting with people breakfast, lunch and dinner….so not a lot of time to go to the market and buy the stash you found at the Feria ….and then cook. If you do go in search of “organic” in the USA at say a Trader Joe’s (which I love) or Sprouts (love them too), or a Central or World Market, the equivalent of what you got for $7 at the Feria would come to roughly $80 or more at one of these locations. (rough guesstimate…)

    All that to say that the minute we get back we begin to feel better – body, soul and spirit! The PURA VIDA lifestyle coupled with clean, non-polluted air (some noise, but not like living in Dallas or FWT!, but that varies where you choose to live also, I would imagine…), the sweet people and the simplicity of life is irreplaceable. I’m much like the lady above who really loves the taste of the food. Though not spicy, it is pleasantly flavored and very enjoyable in just the right portions. No super-sizing, which is why you don’t see a lot of overweight Tico’s: Add to that they walk almost everywhere, so they aren’t chugging down fried, processed foods loaded in GMO’s and preservatives and artificial sweeteners (that actually make you gain and hold on to weight) and then getting in a car to drive up the block and everywhere else they go.

    Well…I got on a roll…no pun intended there. LOL I only started out to say I love the look of your page, and I laughed in the article when it appeared that you used the word “colon” for colones. Then I saw that several other people were spelling it like the digestive organ of the body, so perhaps I need to learn how to spell the word for Costa Rican money????

    Great job – again – Gregorio!

    Ciao! Jeanie

    • Ooops! That was “haven’t had time to read your blogs lately! :/ I didn’t proof my comment, so there could be more errors. :p Sorry…Jeanie

    • Thanks for the comment Jeanie. You have seen what eating healthier has done for me in a year – it doesn’t hurt that I hike a lot too.

      The Costa Rican Colón is one unit of currency. When you have more than one it becomes Colones.

    • If you switch to a better agriculture method like permaculture, then there becomes no such thing as a pest, pesticides aren’t needed period.

  27. I’d love to have (and can find no one who really talks about) information on the availability and cost of high-speed Internet. And while we’re on the subject, exactly what constitutes “high Speed” in Costa Rica. (My husband has serious need of the Internet and I REALLY don’t want to live in Croatia!

    • Hi Elaine,

      The reason so few discuss it is that Internet is much like the weather here… very location specific. At my house for example I have the ability to get 10mb download speed (for about $100). Some friends just half a mile away (and not on the main road) max out at 3mb. My wife and I had 3mb for a year and it was great for our needs – we paid about $40.

      My suggestion would be to use the Facebook groups that are out there for each city/area you are interested in and start asking questions. There are a lot of people out there willing to help, but until you narrow your area down you will not be able to get non-vague answers.

      Best of luck,
      Greg

  28. Thanks a lot. Until I found your site yesterday I didn’t know about the Facebook and Yahoo groups. I plan to join both. You have a great site and I’m thanking you in advance for all the help you’re going to give me.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Thanks Elaine. I hope your Thanksgiving was a good one as well.

  29. Great Blog! My family of four will be moving to CR this summer. We hope to make it permanent…Wife and I are both tired of the rat race and I will still be able to run my business as long as I have reliable internet. Thanks for the information 🙂

    • Thanks Casey. Good luck with your move. Internet can be very reliable and fast here… it can also be crap, make sure you research the area you are going to live for connectivity.

      Let me know if I can answer any questions – costaricacurious@icloud.com

      Greg

  30. HOLYYYY!!! Where I am ( Belleville, Ontario – Canada ) I would pay 7 dollars just for the tomatoes ( organic ones ).
    Im just blown away by the price. Im guessing farmers need a large piece of land to make a living, or, maybe I just dont understand how much is needed to make a living there. Either way, thank you for the article.

    • There is a lot of farm land in Costa Rica and with the rich volcanic everything grows. You will pay more for organic here, but it is still one of the items that can be a cost savings in Costa Rica.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Benefits Of Eating Organic In Costa Rica – about food and health - […] Costa Rica Cost of Living – Playing with My Food … – A Costa Rica cost of living example…
  2. Costa Rica Cost of Living - comparing apples to pineapples - […] year I tackled the Costa Rica Cost of Living question with this blog post using how far $7 would…

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *