What Is Cheaper in Costa Rica?

If you visit the forums or Facebook groups, you’ll find many complaints about how expensive Costa Rica is. And yes, many things will come with sticker shock, such as cars, electronics, and clothing – imported products.

But some things are much cheaper in Costa Rica than you might think!

1. The Salon / Barbershop

Compared to the United States, regular hair, nail, and barbershop visits will be a bargain. A haircut and beard trim cost 5,000 colones (about $9 USD) at the barbershop where I would go.

2. Dentistry and Elective Medical Procedures

Many Americans travel to Costa Rica to take advantage of the decreased dentistry costs and elective medical services (such as plastic surgery). It’s a thriving sector with a wide range of medical personnel and world-class facilities to back it up.

3. Some of the Produce at the Farmer’s Market

One big caveat: not all farmer’s market fresh fruits and veggies are necessarily cheaper than in North America. Here, the growing seasons have a significant impact on costs. When imported items are not in season in Costa Rica, they are generally cheaper than in the US due to economies of scale.

However, you’ll discover some great deals on locally grown fresh vegetables in the local farmer’s market in Costa Rica. For example, the other Sunday at the Santa Ana farmer’s market, I bought tomatoes for 550 colones per kg (about $1 USD) and classic genuine bok choy for 600 colones (about $1 USD).

4. The Movies

An IMAX movie theater with stadium seating and plush recliners that go all the way down will cost you around 5,000 colones (approximately $9 USD)

5. Domestic Help / Manual Labor

You’ll find much lower costs for domestic help and for manual labor (gardening, maintenance, etc.) A call to the handyman or plumber won’t break the bank.

6. Public Transportation

A bus can pick me up a block from my home and take me to the heart of San José, 10 miles (16 km) away, for about 500 colones (about $1 USD). Seniors (with DIMEX or cédula) ride free.

Check out our list of Costa Rican products less expensive than those in the United States HERE.

Did we miss any big ones? What do you find to be cheaper in Costa Rica than in your home country? Let us know in the comments below!


-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of CRIE and Grupo Gap).

[email protected]


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