Yes, you can live cheap 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 — basically imported products.
But some things are much cheaper in Costa Rica than you are used to! Here’s 5 of them I have noticed:
1. The Salon / Barbershop
Your regular visit to the hair salon, nail salon, barbershop will be a deal compared to back in the US. The barbershop I would go to charges 5,000 colones (US $8.77) for a haircut and beard trim.
2. Dentistry and Elective Medical Procedures
Many people from the US travel to Costa Rica to take advantage of the lower prices on dental procedures and elective medical procedures (such as plastic surgery). It’s a booming industry supported by a wide array of medical professionals and world-class facilities.
Need a place to stay when you come visit for medical tourism? Have a look at Casa Vista del Rio, located in Escazú, close to many of the highest-rated dentists and medical professionals in the country.
3. Some of the Produce at the Farmer’s Market
One major caveat: not all the fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market are necessarily cheaper than in North America. The growing seasons affect prices greatly here. The US enjoys economy of scale which allows imported goods to often be cheaper than they would be in Costa Rica when they are not in season locally.
That being said, you’ll find some great prices on some locally grown fresh produce in Costa Rica at the local farmer’s market. For example, the other Sunday I was at the Santa Ana farmer’s market and picked up tomatoes for 450 colones a kg (US $0.35/lb), 500 colones (US $0.88) for 4 bunches (yes, 4) of traditional true bok choy.
4. The Movies
I went to see Jumanji: The Next Level the week it came out, in a brand-new movie theater with stadium seating and plush recliners that go all the way down. How much was the ticket? 1700 colones (US $2.98), but that was because of the Wednesday special. I could have splurged to watch on another day for 2900 colones (US $5.09).
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 single 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 475 colones (US $0.83). Seniors (with DIMEX or cédula) ride free. The bus from San José to Jacó, on the coast 2 hours away, is 2,395 colones (US $4.20), or 1,795 colones (US $3.15) for seniors. And this is on modern buses — in fact you can buy the Jacó bus ticket online.
As for the things that are more expensive in Costa Rica than the USA? You can make up for those with the health insurance savings!!!
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!