Retirement in Costa Rica

by David Bain

How much money is enough to eat four square meals a day in Costa Rica? That’s the first question to come from anyone planning to spend the retired life there and although staying in Costa Rica is considered an overall bargain to the foreigners, the most important factor that determines the cost of living is the lifestyle. An opulent lifestyle costs more than a frugal one, and even that one is considered a deal, if you can get rid of the American shop-til-you-drop mentality.

Retired live at the beach.It is important to know about the overall cost structure before deciding to spend your retirement in Costa Rica. It is equally crucial to learn about the weather, the people in the region and the political structure. Costa Rica is famous for its perennial good weather; the Costa Rican people are friendly, political discordance and serious violent crime is absent, and life is more peaceful than anywhere else. A unique, tropical paradise, Costa Rica is a place where no price seems too high in exchange of the supernal subtlety, though rumors are galore regarding the neighboring countries. It’s true that the cost of living in these regions (Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua) is slightly lower; however, the quality of life is lower as well.

Let us split up the reasons one by one, starting from the standards of living in Costa Rica.

· Greater purchasing power than in the United States or Canada.
· Minimum amount needed for a decent standard of living is between $900 and $1200 monthly.
· Living in luxury doesn’t require more than $2000.
· Costa Ricans making more than $2,000 a month fall into the upper class, making all foreigners with a decent income fall into the same.

The land boom in Costa Rica has made the prices for real estate rise a bit, however, they do not affect the real cost of living and it is still much lower if compared to Canada, Europe and the U.S.

The capital of Costa Rica is San Jose. If compared to any city in the Americas, San Jose prices are found to be the second lowest and if compared to the world, the cost of goods and services would be found to be the lowest.

The middle-class Costa Rican neighborhoods are good choices as well, with hired-help never going over a couple of hundred dollars per month for a full-time maid. The telephone service, electricity, and water costs around 30% of what one pays in North America. The warm tropical climate helps to save a lot since one doesn’t require heating or air-conditioning. The public transportation usually costs between 25¢ and 50¢ within the region and a max of $10 while traveling to the farthest part in the country.

For the car owners, a gallon of regular gasoline costs about $1.75, which is the lowest among the Latin American countries apart from Mexico and Venezuela.* Food, entertainment, and health care costs are reduced further with learning the ins-and-outs of the area and making friends and contacts. For setting up any small business for generating some extra revenue, Costa Rica provides enough opportunities among which, small cafes and selling retail fresh food are the most popular. So shall we say, “Onwards to a modest yet pleasurable Tico lifestyle, then?”

* The price of a gallon of regular gasoline has increased to $3.52 (January 2007).