International Cost of Living Calculators

2020 International cost of living and hardship / quality of living data for 780 global locations.

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Costa Rica, All Areas

Costa Rica, All Areas

Cost of living in Costa Rica, prices and what it is like to live for an Expat, quality of life / hardship, and compare cost of living for Expatriates as at April 2020.

What is it like to live in Costa Rica?

  • Costa Rica is in Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Nicaragua and Panama.
  • The climate is tropical and subtropical but cooler in the highlands.
  • The official language is Spanish. Many business people and officials speak English. For business dealings visitors may require fluent Spanish or need to use an interpreter.
  • The main religion is Christianity.
  • The economy of Costa Rica heavily depends on tourism, agriculture, and electronics exports. Poverty has been reduced over the past 15 years, and a social safety net put into place.
  • Costa Ricans generally welcome expatriates, especially related to foreign investment. It is advisable to address people using their professional title, or by either Senor (Mr), Senora (Mrs), or Senorita (Ms) and their surname. Expatriate dress code tends to be conservative. Men mostly wear darker shade suits, and women usually wear either a dress or a long skirt with a blouse. Women are prominent at all levels of business and public life. The safety risk for expatriates in Costa Rica is low, but medium for Limón province and along the Nicaraguan border. Risks include petty crime such as pickpocketing and mugging, as well as house and car related theft. Crime in Costa Rica carries the additional risk of violence involving firearms and less often kidnapping, particularly of wealthy nationals.
  • The currency of Costa Rica is the Costa Rican Colon (CRC).
  • Health care facilities are generally good, however emergency services in remote areas may vary. Emergency health care treatment is provided without charge for visitors, however any other treatment is charged. Cases of Chikungunya virus and Zika virus have been reported. Dengue is present. The Coronavirus COVID-19 total reported cases for Costa Rica as at 26 May 2020 is 951, with 10 deaths. The rate of deaths per 1 million population is 2.
  • The population is 5.1 Million (2020 est.), and the inflation rate (CPI) is 0.89% for Costa Rica as at April 2020.
  • The Xpatulator Hypothetical Tax for Costa Rica is based on the current personal income tax rates which are progressive up to 25%.

Within Costa Rica we also cover San Jose.

Cost Of Living

What is the cost of living in Costa Rica?

The cost of living for expatriates in Costa Rica as at April 2020 is low in comparison to other places in the world, with an overall Cost of Living Index (COLI), for all 13 basket groups, of 59.11 (New York =100). We have collected prices for the same items, world wide, based on Expat spending norms, in or closest to the location, and converted them to $USD so that we can compare the cost of 13 different baskets in 780 global locations. For each basket, compared to New York, the equivalent cost in Costa Rica is as follows:
1) Alcohol and/or Tobacco: for items such as beer, spirits, wine and tobacco related products such as cigarettes. A basket costing USD$1,000 in New York costs USD$960. Average price in a store for a midrange bottle of wine is USD$15.68, domestic/local beer (500ml) USD$2.11, imported/international beer (330ml) USD$3.50 and a pack of 20 cigarettes is USD$4.93.
2) Clothing: for items such as business, casual and children's clothing and footwear. A basket costing USD$1,000 in New York costs USD$990. Average price for an international brand of mens jeans is USD$63, a quality international brand of running shoes USD$101, mens leather shoes suitable for office wear USD$93 while a medium size international summer dress from a global chain store is USD$43.
3) Communication: for various communication costs such as home telephone rental, internet subscription, mobile service provider tariff and data costs. A basket costing USD$200 in New York costs USD$164. Average price for a monthly standard plan internet subscription is USD$67, while the benchmark mobile tariff is USD$0.07 per minute.
4) Education: for items such as creche / pre-school fees, primary school fees, high school fees and tertiary study fees. A basket costing USD$30,000 in New York costs USD$18900. Average annual private international school fee (excluding extras) USD$12,311 for Primary School, and USD$13,700 for High School.
5) Furniture & Appliances: for items such as dining table and chairs, home entertainment, kitchen appliances, and sofas. A basket costing USD$2,500 in New York costs USD$2450. Average price for a 6kg front loader Washing Machine is USD$754, and USD$647 for a 46+'' LED UHD TV.
6) Groceries: for items such as consumables, cleaning products, dairy, fresh fruit & vegetables, general food products, snacks, soft drinks. A basket costing USD$1,000 in New York costs USD$760. Average grocery prices in a major international retail store for 1 kg apples is USD$4.90, 1 kg oranges USD$2.60, 1 head lettuce USD$1.27, 1 kg potatos USD$2.59, 1 kg boneless, skinless, chicken breast USD$8.65, 1 kg cheddar cheese USD$7.80, 1 dozen large eggs USD$3.50, 500g loaf white bread USD$2.24, 1 L full cream milk USD$1.72, and 1.5 L water USD$2.72.
7) Healthcare: for general heath care, doctor visits, hospital stays, non-prescription medicine, and medical insurance. A basket costing USD$1,000 in New York costs USD$630. Average healthcare cost for a private practice Doctor visit for an uninsured patient is USD$51, and a private hospital stay per day including nursing care, medications, diagnostic tests, food, and related costs is USD$1,564.
8) Household Accommodation: for items such as apartment rent, house rent, property purchase, mortgage rate, and utilities. A basket costing USD$5,000 in New York costs USD$1700. Average expatriate house / apartment rent for a secure upmarket unfurnished apartment (3 bedrooms) is USD$2,078 in a central location, and USD$1,299 in a suburban location, per month, excluding utilities.
9) Miscellaneous: for items such as dry cleaning, linen, magazines, newspapers, office supplies, and postage stamps. A basket costing USD$500 in New York costs USD$320. Average price for dry cleaning (1 mens 2 pc suit) is USD$6.19, while an international newspaper is USD$1.91.
10) Personal Care: for items such as cosmetics, hair care, and toiletries. A basket costing USD$500 in New York costs USD$295. Average cost for a mens haircut and blow dry is USD$24, while a womens hair colour, cut and blow dry - medium length is USD$118.
11) Recreation & Culture: for items such as books, cinema, sport and theatre tickets. A basket costing USD$500 in New York costs USD$335. Average price for a latest release international cinema ticket (average of on and off peak where applicable) for one adult is USD$7.36, and an international fitness, recreation or sports club membership cost for one adult is USD$67 per month.
12) Restaurants Meals Out and Hotels: for items such as hotel daily room rates, meals and beverages in a restaurant, and take away food and beverages. A basket costing USD$1,000 in New York costs USD$580. Average cappuccino price (regular, medium) is USD$3.42, coke/pepsi (330ml) USD$1.91, burger meal (international franchise or similar) USD$8.96, and a mid-range international restaurant meal for 2 USD$44.77.
13) Transport: for items such as fuel (petrol/gasoline), car hire, public transport, vehicle purchase and maintenance. A basket costing USD$1,000 in New York costs USD$570. Average average price over the last year for highest available octane petrol / gasoline (1L) is USD$1.10, while the benchmark car sedan purchase price including taxes/duties for a compact / small / economy vehicle (1.4 L) is USD$22,388.

How does the cost of living in Costa Rica compare?

Costa Rica is 1.2% more expensive than USA for groceries, -39.1% cheaper for household costs than UK, and 21.1% more expensive for transport costs than India.

What is the quality of life / hardship in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is ranked as a high degree of hardship location.The hardship premium for Costa Rica for an expat from Australia, is for example 20%, i.e. host location (Costa Rica) premium of 30% minus home (Australia) location premium of 10%.

Want to know more about cost of living, hardship (quality of living) or expat salary in Costa Rica? Register subscribe to your home location and Costa Rica and run your personalised reports.