Costa Rica, a tropical paradise known for its rich biodiversity and friendly locals, has become a popular destination for expats looking for a more relaxed and affordable lifestyle. If you’re considering making the move and are wondering “How to live cheaply in Costa Rica“, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll explore the cost of living in this beautiful country and provide tips on how to live on a budget. We’ll also introduce you to CRIE, a company that offers immigration residency services, making your transition to Costa Rica smoother.

You can live cheaply in Costa Rica

The cost of living is one of the main considerations when contemplating moving to Costa Rica or any country.

Did you know Costa Rica’s Cost of Living is lower than that of the United States?, a country-based Cost of Living Comparison website, makes it obvious that living cheaply in Costa Rica is possible.

Here are our top personal tips for living cheaply in the country. “Leave your old lifestyle in the country you came from!” and “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” It would be best to learn to shop where the local shop is and utilize your price comparison skills.

Luxury products are taxed heavily in Costa Rica. What are some luxury products? Vehicles, foods imported from other countries, and high-end home electronics. Unlike in the USA, Canada, and other countries, most items are inexpensive, and the food is expensive. The fruits, vegetables, and some farm-raised meats are 2 – 3 times less expensive in Costa Rica than in other countries.

Choosing the right area to live in is a big part of how to live cheaply in Costa Rica. You can get some suggestions on cheap places to live in our article, Retire in Costa Rica on $30,000 USD a Year. Finding nice, accommodating places to live for $1,500 – $1,800 USD a month is possible.

There are many ways to live cheaply in Costa Rica. And another suggestion from us is to join and participate in online Expat groups on social media platforms such as Facebook. The information is out there for you.

The Real Cost of Living in Costa Rica

When it comes to living in Costa Rica, it’s important to understand that the cost of living can vary significantly between expats and locals. According to a blog post on Selina, the Costa Rica expat cost of living tends to be higher than that of the locals. This is mainly due to lifestyle choices and the areas where most expats choose to live. However, with careful planning and smart choices, living cheaply in Costa Rica is certainly achievable.

Tips for Living Cheaply in Costa Rica

Living on a budget doesn’t mean you have to compromise on the quality of life. Here are some tips from Live in Costa Rica on how to live cheaply:

  • Choose a neighborhood where you can walk to most places, saving on transportation costs.
  • Shop at local markets for fresh and affordable produce.
  • Opt for public transportation over owning a car.
  • Consider living in smaller towns or rural areas where the cost of living is lower.

By adopting a Costa Rica living lifestyle and integrating more with the local community, you can significantly reduce your living costs.

Cheapest Places to Live in Costa Rica

When it comes to living cheaply in Costa Rica, choosing the right place to live is crucial. According to Peter Pan Traveler, some of the cheapest places in Costa Rica include smaller towns and rural areas that are less frequented by tourists. These include:

  • The Province of Cartago
  • The Province of Limón
  • The Province of Heredia

These Costa Rica provinces offer affordable living options while still providing access to the amenities you need.

How to Keep Your Expenses Low

Keeping your expenses low is another key aspect of living cheaply in Costa Rica. Here are some tips on how to do this:

  • Eat and shop like a local: Visit local markets and avoid touristy restaurants.
  • Use public transportation: Buses in Costa Rica are cheap and reliable.
  • Limit your use of air conditioning: Electricity can be expensive, so use fans instead where possible.
  • Choose a modest home: You don’t need a luxury villa to enjoy the beauty of Costa Rica.

By keeping these low expenses tips in mind, you can maintain a Costa Rica budget that allows you to live comfortably without overspending.

Getting Started

If you’re ready to make the move and start your journey on how to live cheaply in Costa Rica, consider using CRIE’s services. They can assist with the immigration process and provide valuable advice to help you settle in your new home.


Living cheaply in Costa Rica is achievable with the right approach and lifestyle choices. By choosing to live in cheaper areas, adopting local shopping and eating habits, and keeping a close eye on your expenses, you can enjoy all the beauty and tranquility that Costa Rica has to offer without breaking the bank. Remember, the key to living cheaply anywhere, including Costa Rica, is to live like a local. We hope this series on how to live cheaply in Costa Rica has been helpful, and we wish you the best of luck on your new adventure.

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

[email protected]



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Frequently Asked Questions


Where is the cheapest place to live in Costa Rica?

The Province of Cartago is considered one of the cheapest places to live in Costa Rica due to its lower tourist traffic.

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Costa Rica?

On average, a single expat can live comfortably in Costa Rica on $1,500 to $2,000 per month.

Where do expats live in Costa Rica for cheap?

Many expats choose to live in smaller towns and rural areas like the Province of Cartago for a cheaper cost of living.

How much do I need a year to live in Costa Rica?

To live comfortably in Costa Rica, you would need approximately $18,000 to $24,000 per year.

Can I live in Costa Rica on $2000 a month?

Yes, many expats live comfortably in Costa Rica on $2000 a month. CRIE can provide more detailed information.

Why is Costa Rica so expensive?

Costa Rica can be expensive due to its high quality of life, infrastructure, and the cost of imported goods.

Can you live in Costa Rica for $5000 a month?

Yes, with $5000 a month, you can live very comfortably in Costa Rica, even in its more expensive areas.

What is the most expensive part of Costa Rica?

The most expensive areas in Costa Rica are typically tourist-heavy regions like Guanacaste and Puntarenas.

Where do most expats live in Costa Rica?

Many expats live in the Central Valley, which includes cities like San Jose and Escazú.

Where is a good place to retire in Costa Rica?

The Central Valley is popular among retirees due to its mild climate, healthcare facilities, and expat communities.

What is the average salary in Costa Rica?

The average salary in Costa Rica is approximately $500 to $600 per month.

How much does a small house cost in Costa Rica?

The cost of a small house in Costa Rica can vary greatly, but you can find options starting around $70,000.

What is the average income of someone who lives in Costa Rica?

The average income for someone living in Costa Rica is around $6,000 to $7,200 per year.



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