Early on in the year I had posted some information about the cost of living in Costa Rica and since we are almost at year-end I thought it would be a good idea to provide you with an update to see where those costs are today. I hope that anyone who may be thinking about whether or not an adventure like this is something that they can do financially might take an interest in seeing what these regular expenses can be like. Arguably, coming from Canada we have an incredibly high cost of living (which varies considerably depending on where you are in Canada). Not unlike Canada a similar concept applies in Costa Rica...wherever you decide to settle down in the country needs to be a serious consideration as costs can vary considerably (if that's important to you of course).
Before I jump into things, it might be a good idea to put a few disclaimers to the information being provided.
These costs are based on our experiences and purchasing / lifestyle habits
We are located in the province of Guanacaste, and more specifically just outside of the tourist hotspot of Tamarindo, so you can expect the cost of goods and services to be higher than many other parts of the country
We only purchased a vehicle in November of this year, so our cost of gas does not reflect a full picture for the year, neither does any type of vehicle maintenance since we haven't needed any yet
We own our house so there is no monthly rent factored into our monthly costs shown below
We are a family of two (zero kids) and not here full-time
Monthly average spend on basic requirements (all costs shown in USD)
Groceries: $560 (includes alcoholic beverages)
Cellphone service X 2: $5
Entertainment / Dining out: $144
Propane (bbq/pizza oven): $10 (refill of 100lb tank twice per year)
Total average monthly costs (not including the "additional" category listed below): $1,190 USD
Some of the additional expenses to consider (but not limited to):
Insurance (car, house, health)
Other expenses (tools, gas, furniture, repairs, general house/property stuff, pool supplies, etc)
Property / Corporation taxes
Border runs /trips outside the country (as a non-resident on a tourist visa you must leave the country every 90 days or less depending on the visa stamp provided to you upon entry)
Travel / touring the country
Remember, these are our average monthly costs for the essential stuff, groceries, utilities, internet, phone, HOA, etc. The costs will vary depending on your individual situation. If you move down here expecting to consume all of the brand name foods that you've grown to love in Canada or the USA or wherever you are from, then your costs will undoubtedly go up significantly (assuming you can find all of those items). Also, if you can't live without A/C running 24/7 expect a nasty surprise in terms of your electric bill. Generallly speaking, electricity is not super expensive here, but as soon as you throw A/C into the mix (as well as a clothes dryer), you'd better be ready for the potential sticker shock when the bill comes in.
For what it's worth here are my two cents...
I think that many people move here thinking they will just bring their North American lifestyles with them which I guess is fine (to each their own), but doing so pretty much defeats the purpose of coming here. You are moving to a foreign, developing country, either you learn to appreciate and adapt to a new and different way of life or be prepared to pay the price and perhaps end up regretting your move (people will not adapt to you...you need to adapt to them). If you aren't willing to adjust from your sacred 1st world problems / privileges then you might want re-think what you're intent is. Living in Costa Rica isn't for everyone, yet so many people get wrapped up by the beautiful beaches & tropical lifestyle that they don't even consider the true reason they are making the move. Every day is not "happy hour" at the beach bar filled with endless 2 for 1 guaro sours or cervezas.
....if you've ever dreamt of doing something like this, make a plan and stick to that plan as much as possible (of course a little flexibility doesn't hurt, and if you can predict the next global pandemic maybe try planning around that as well - don't make the mistake we made), otherwise stick to your plan. Most importantly be realistic and ask yourself if this is something you and your family really want to do. It was a passion of ours for years, we made our plan, we did it and are loving every minute of it.
...till next time