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Although Costa Rica is cheaper than the US when it comes to the cost of living, there is no secret that it is much more expensive than the other countries in Central America. In spite of how pricey it can be, Costa Rica’s unique biodiversity, peaceful culture, safe environment, great education, beautiful steady weather, friendly people, good transportation, extraordinary healthcare system, and more, represent a desirable place to visit and live.
Finding cheap places to live in Costa Rica is not impossible, but it is important to clarify that there are reasons why cost of living is cheaper in such areas. The main reasons for that usually refer to either long distance from the coasts/beaches, or less amenities and entertainment around, the fact that their small towns have a low population and therefore less demand of products, less infrastructure, limited access to public transportation, to name a few.
Keep reading below to discover the cheapest place to live in Costa Rica.
Affordable Places to Live in Costa Rica
If the thought of living in Costa Rica is crossing your mind (ideally at a low cost), or you are simply curious to know what are the most affordable places to live in this country, search no more.
Of the seven provinces that make up Costa Rica, the two where the cost of living is lowest are Cartago and Limon.
Cartago is a province situated in the central region of the country, about 14 miles southeast of the capital city of San Jose, in the central volcanic axis of Costa Rica. It is surrounded by magnificent mountains and it has cooler weather compared to other regions, without getting to extreme temperatures.
Considered the oldest city in Costa Rica, Cartago also has a conservative but very friendly population. In the West Sector of the city is the industrial zone, one of the largest in the country. The entire northern sector, comprised of the great slope of the Irazú Volcano, has a rich history and agricultural tradition of vegetables, tubers, and greens.
The reason why this area is very affordable is that it doesn’t attract much tourism as it is not that close to a major beach town.
Lankester Gardens, Fossil Land (Amusement theme park, great to visit with kids!), El Salto de La Novia Waterfall, a few national parks such as Tapanti National Park, Irazu Volcano National Park, and the The Guayabo National Monument.
The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Cartago is around $424 a month (less if it is outside the city), and utilities average $76 per month. Other costs including groceries, transportation, and leisure for a single person can be close to $500.
The approximate total monthly budget is $1,000.
Weather in Cartago tends to be a bit cloudy sometimes and temperatures range between 60°F to 77°F.
Cartago is overall a quiet and very safe place to live.
Limon is a province situated on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. It is very different from the Pacific coast, but it is a natural heaven, framed by a blend of lush jungles, spectacular mountains, plenty of trails and routes to walk and explore, and paradisiac sea shores.
The Caribbean is a much less explored region and it has not developed in the same way as the rest of the country. Infrastructure and commercial developments are not common here, there aren’t big resorts which may in part be a reason why there aren’t many tourists coming to this area. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t small hotels full of charm, lovely hostels, vacation homes or rentals. The port of Limon is the country’s main port, receiving and exporting a massive 80% of Costa Rica’s international shipping services and products.
The Caribbean has its own unique Afro-Caribbean culture and has developed a totally different identity. You will be surprised by its colorful Reggae culture, its exquisite creole food and its calmer pace of life.
The worst thing is that you never know if it’s going to rain but most likely it will, but that is why this area is evergreen. Now don’t be fooled, the natural beauty found in the Caribbean will blow up your senses. Nature and beach lovers will agree.
Astonishing beaches such as Cocles, Punta Uva, Playa Negra, Playa Blanca, Playa Chiquita, Puerto Viejo, and many more. There are also amazing national parks such as Cahuita, Gandoca Manzanillo National Refuge, Tortuguero, and others.
Average rent can go from $500-$600 a month. Groceries can be $450 per month, utilities range from $150-$200 a month.
The overall cost for one person would be around $1200-$1,350.
PS: Beach towns tend to be more expensive due to proximity to the ocean.
The province of Limón offers a warm and humid climate throughout the year, the temperature generally ranges from 75°F to 86°F and rarely drops below 73°F or rises above 89°F. Summers are hot and rainy, and winters are humid and sunny. This means that Limon is a perfect destination for people who love the heat and the sun, since you can enjoy the beach during the summer months, and practice water sports during the winter months.
The truth is that it rains more in Limon than in the rest of Costa Rica, which is one of the reasons why it is evergreen.
We don’t recommend living in the city of Limon, as it isn’t the safest city. It is best to consider Siquirres, Puerto Viejo or other towns nearby.
Regardless of where you choose to be in Costa Rica, one thing is sure…you will spend way less than you would in the United States. The added benefit will also be living in a country with so many different and amazing things to offer. Costa Rica may be small, but extremely diverse!
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Where Is the Most Affordable Place to Live in Costa Rica?
The cheapest place to live in Costa Rica is Cartago province, especially outside the center of the city.
Can You Live on $1,000 a Month in Costa Rica?
Absolutely! With the exception of certain areas of the GAM (great metropolitan area) where surplus value is very high, on average a person can live a dignified life with $1,000 a month, allowing them to cover rent, transportation, basic food, and even some pleasures or outings during the weekend.
How Much Money Do You Need to Live Comfortably in Costa Rica?
With US$1,500 per month a couple can live comfortably in Costa Rica.
What Part of Costa Rica Is the Safest?
Escazu, Tamarindo, Dominical, Atenas, Cartago and Turrialba are known to be incredibly safe places.
We know how overwhelming finding the best place to live can be, that is why it is best to trust real estate experts such as the ones we have in our team. Do not hesitate to reach out, we are ready to help in any way you need!