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Your Guide: Cost to Retire in Costa Rica| Cost for Rent, Food, Transport and more



Retired couple on the beach in Costa Rica

As retirement nears, most workers look forward to long leisurely days, fun-filled evenings, and the freedom to sleep as late as they want the next morning. With no time clock to punch, no meetings to attend, really no schedule at all, they can pursue whatever interest suits them. Many envision spending their relaxing retirement years in Costa Rica, the jewel of Central America, but they may wonder how far their pension and retirement savings will go there. So, how much does retirement in Costa Rica cost?

An internet search reveals a wide range of answers to that question and it can be difficult for retirees to find accurate information. One website claims that you can get by for $600 per month per person plus rent. Another says a retired couple can live well on $2,000 per month or even better on $2,500 to $3,000. So, what’s the truth? How much does it really cost to live here? It all depends on where and how you live in Costa Rica. Either of the above estimates could be correct, or your cost of living could be in between. Almost everyone says that Costa Rica is less expensive than the USA and Canada. That may be true, too, depending on where you lived in North America before moving to Costa Rica.

Average Costs

According to data on the website, as of April 2023, the average monthly cost of living in Costa Rica is $781 for one person and $2832 for a family of four. That’s 27% lower than the average in the United States and 24% less than in Canada. The savings are even greater compared to large metropolitan areas in North America. The average is based on the cost of food, transportation, health care, and utilities. Rent is calculated separately, and it’s a remarkable 65% less in Costa Rica than in the U.S.

However, there is more to the story than averages. If the average North American or European retiree lived in Costa Rica, could they really make ends meet for $800 per month plus rent? It’s possible if they take advantage of Costa Rica’s bargains—products and services that cost substantially less in Costa Rica than elsewhere. Maximizing those bargains is the key to making Costa Rica affordable for retirees on a budget. Consider some examples.

How much will a Retiree spend on Food in Costa Rica?

Food can be less expensive in Costa Rica if you buy things that are produced locally, not imported. Fortunately for health-conscious retirees, fresh fruits and vegetables are bargains. Many communities hold a weekly local farmers’ market called la feria in Spanish. Local farmers display a wide variety of recently harvested produce and even hand out free samples. The prices are so low that you typically can afford every fruit and vegetable offered. You can buy as much as you can carry for about $20-30. 

If you have a craving for your favorite beverage, snack, or other processed food from your home country, it will undoubtedly cost more in Costa Rica because of the additional importation costs. How can you stay within your retirement budget? Many expats living in Costa Rica buy such foods only occasionally as a splurge. Also, they quickly learn which locally produced items and brands make good substitutes for their favorite flavors from back home. 

What if I like eating out?

Retirees often enjoy dining out and have the leisure time to do so. But can they afford it in Costa Rica? Fortunately, meals in Costa Rican restaurants are typically priced at about half the cost of those in a North American city. Additionally, the standard 10% tip is usually included in the menu price. This means you can find a wide variety of food options at prices that are friendly to retirees. There are Asian, Indian, Italian, Mexican, seafood, and steak restaurants, as well as those serving traditional Costa Rican dishes. However, restaurants catering specifically to tourists may be slightly more expensive. So, to save on your monthly income, try eating where the locals do.

Transportation Expenses

Buses, taxis, and rideshare services like Uber are inexpensive transportation options in Costa Rica. However, most retirees prefer the freedom and convenience of owning a vehicle for shopping, running errands, and sightseeing. But owning a car in Costa Rica is more expensive than in most other countries. Every vehicle registered in Costa Rica must pay an import duty of 60-80% of its value. As a result, the purchase price can be almost double what you would pay for the same model in your home country, and there is no way to avoid this tax.

So how can retirees reduce the cost of owning a vehicle? One way is to drive a car that is a few years older than they are used to. This makes financial sense since Costa Rican mechanics charge much less than their international counterparts. While gasoline is usually around $2 per gallon more expensive than in the U.S., it’s similar to prices found in European countries. Fuel costs aren’t typically excessive for retirees since they no longer have to commute to work. 

How much is Rent in Costa Rica?

Housing is a significant expense for most families, usually accounting for at least 25% of their income. But is that enough in Costa Rica, especially for those on a fixed retirement income? Fortunately, the average rent in Costa Rica is 65% less than in the U.S. Your savings will depend on where you choose to live and the lifestyle you prefer. If you want to be near the beach or amenities, expect to pay more. However, simpler homes that are a short drive from the beach can be quite affordable.

If you decide to buy a home in Costa Rica, you’ll save money on property taxes and insurance. They are much more affordable than in North America. A real estate agent can show you the options available and help you find a home that fits your budget and lifestyle.

How much are Utilities?

In Costa Rica, electricity can be a bit more expensive per kilowatt hour than in the U.S. However, because the climate is tropical, you’ll likely only need to cool your home, and not heat it. This means you can save on energy costs compared to those in colder climates.

Water in Costa Rica is safe to drink and relatively inexpensive throughout the country. This is a significant advantage for retirees who are on a budget, as they can avoid the additional expense of purchasing bottled water.

Internet and cable television services are widely available in Costa Rica and cost less than equivalent services in North America. As a result, you can save money on your entertainment expenses. This is especially beneficial for retirees who may be spending more time at home and rely on these services for their entertainment needs.

In summary, while electricity may be a bit more expensive, the overall cost of utilities in Costa Rica is relatively affordable. With safe drinking water, and lower costs for internet and cable television services, retirees can potentially save money on their monthly expenses compared to North America.

Healthcare Costs for Retirees

Clinica Biblica Costa Rica

As retirees age, access to quality health care becomes increasingly important. Luckily, Costa Rica’s health care system offers great benefits at a relatively low cost. In fact, Costa Rica has become a popular destination for medical tourism due to its excellent quality and affordability of medical procedures. This same advantage applies to dental care as well.

If you choose to live in Costa Rica, you can enjoy these same retirement benefits. Residents of Costa Rica can enroll in the national health care system called the “caja.” This program is available for a monthly fee based on your income. Once enrolled, your visits to the local clinic or hospital, and some prescriptions, will be free of charge. This is a significant advantage for retirees who are on a fixed income and need access to affordable health care.

Overall, Costa Rica’s health care system offers quality medical and dental care at a relatively low cost. The national health care system, “caja,” is available to residents and provides free medical services for a monthly fee based on income. This is a significant benefit for retirees who need access to affordable health care.

While Costa Rica’s national health care system is affordable and of good quality, some retirees in the expat community who have a higher fixed monthly income may prefer to take out a private insurance plan. Private insurance provides access to a broader range of private clinics, doctors, and hospitals. However, as with private insurance in many countries, a portion of medical expenses are paid by the insured, and rates can vary widely. Therefore, it’s important to contact the insurance companies directly to get accurate information on rates and coverage options.

As of this writing, some providers of private insurance in Costa Rica include INS Seguros, Mapfre Seguros, BlueCross BlueShield, Alico Seguros (part of Metlife), Pan American Life Insurance Group, and Sagicor Seguros. These companies offer a range of insurance plans, so it’s important to carefully review the coverage and costs associated with each plan before making a decision.

In summary, while Costa Rica’s national health care system is a cost-effective option, some retirees with higher fixed monthly incomes may choose to take out private health insurance for broader access to health care services. Private insurance rates vary widely and are dependent on the insurance company and the specific plan selected, so it’s essential to do thorough research and compare options before making a decision.

Bottom Line

Many retirees wonder what it costs to live comfortably in Costa Rica. As a general guideline, we recommend that people moving here from the States, Canada, and Europe budget a minimum of $15,000 per year per person. This is because many of us are used to a certain lifestyle that includes more luxuries than the locals are accustomed to. However, as you can see from the above categories, there are cost-saving bargains available in Costa Rica. By taking advantage of them, you can stay within your monthly budget and maintain the lifestyle you’re used to.

While there are countries with a lower cost of living than Costa Rica, it’s important to remember that Costa Rica offers a quality of life that you won’t find anywhere else, and a cost of living that’s within reach of most retirees. With affordable healthcare, housing, transportation, utilities, and entertainment, Costa Rica can be a very attractive option for retirees.

We invite retirees and those nearing retirement to experience for themselves what a great and affordable place Costa Rica is to enjoy your retirement. With its beautiful natural scenery, friendly people, and comfortable lifestyle, Costa Rica has become a top destination for retirees from around the world.

Other articles you may enjoy reading:

Costa Rica Immigration and Residency Information

General Cost of Living in Costa Rica

New Costa Rica Residency Laws

How to Buy Property in Costa Rica

How to Buy a Car in Costa Rica



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The Best Guide To Costa Rica’s Real Estate Laws And Regulations –



Welcome to the fascinating world of Costa Rica Real Estate! As an investor, it’s crucial to grasp the intricacies of the local legal framework before plunging into property acquisition. This guide gives you a detailed run-down on the laws and regulations that govern Costa Rica’s Real Estate, setting the stage for a confident venture into this vibrant market.

Understanding Costa Rica’s Real Estate Laws and Regulations

A Brief Overview of Costa Rica’s Real Estate Laws and Regulations

In Costa Rica, property laws have been structured to be quite friendly and accommodating for foreign investors. They allow both residents and non-residents to own property with minimal restrictions. However, understanding the depth and breadth of the legalities involved is key to ensuring a smooth, risk-free investment.

Land Ownership in Costa Rica

Land ownership in Costa Rica is regulated under the umbrella of the country’s Constitution. At its core, it guarantees the right to property, including Real Estate, setting a solid foundation for both domestic and international investors to purchase and possess land with assurance.

Types of Land Ownership

In Costa Rica, land ownership is categorized into three primary types: Private Property, Public Property, and Municipal Property. Each type comes with its own unique set of implications and restrictions. Thus, fully understanding each category is a must to ensure your investment aligns with your goals and expectations.

Private property is land that is fully owned by an individual or a corporation. It is the most common type of ownership, especially for foreign investors.

Public property, on the other hand, refers to land that belongs to the state and is intended for public use, such as beaches, parks, and roads.

Municipal property, meanwhile, is land owned by a specific city or municipality and is intended for local public use.

Legal Aspects of Real Estate Transactions in Costa Rica

The Real Estate transaction process in Costa Rica involves various legal procedures that must be adhered to strictly. Let’s dive into the critical aspects.

The Role of the National Registry in Costa Rica’s Real Estate Laws and Regulations

The National Registry in Costa Rica plays a pivotal role in property transactions. It is the central authority for maintaining official records of all Real Estate ownership in the country. It is where you can verify the status and ownership of a property and any registered liens or encumbrances.

Legal Requirements for Property Transactions in Costa Rica’s Real Estate Laws and Regulations

For a property transaction to be considered legitimate and binding in Costa Rica, several requirements must be met. This includes the registration of the transaction in the National Registry, the signing of the sale contract before a Costa Rican Notary Public, and ensuring all related taxes and fees are paid.

Due Diligence Process

Due diligence is a critical step in any Real Estate transaction. It’s the process of verifying all information related to the property, which includes confirming the validity of the property’s title, checking for zoning laws and restrictions, and reviewing any potential liens or encumbrances on the property. This step is essential to protect the buyer from future complications or disputes.

Closing and Title Transfer

Closing is the final stage of the transaction process, where the sale is finalized, and the title transferred from the seller to the buyer. This process is usually facilitated by a local attorney, who ensures all legal formalities are followed, including the payment of taxes and fees, signing of the final sale contract, and registering the title transfer in the National Registry.

Costa Rica’s Real Estate Laws and Regulations

Costa Rica’s Real Estate Laws and Regulations

Special Considerations in Costa Rica’s Real Estate Laws and Regulations

Certain aspects of Costa Rica’s property laws require special attention due to their unique nature or potential impact on a property’s value and usage.

Maritime Zone Law

One such special consideration is the Maritime Zone Law, which governs the first 200 meters of coastal land from the high tide line. This area is split into two distinct zones: the Public Zone and the Restricted Zone.

The Public Zone is the first 50 meters, which, by law, cannot be owned by anyone—it is reserved for public use. The Restricted Zone, which is the next 150 meters, is a bit more complex.

Concession Property

The Restricted Zone can be developed under a government-granted concession. These concessions, granted by the local municipality with approval from the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT), allow individuals or corporations to build on and use the land for a specified period, typically 20 years, renewable. However, these concessions come with certain conditions and restrictions, including some specific to foreign ownership, that must be carefully understood before proceeding.

Restrictions on Foreign Ownership

In general, there are few restrictions on foreign ownership of property in Costa Rica. However, there are some specific limitations when it comes to concession property within the Maritime Zone, and land within the first three miles of an international border, where foreign ownership is completely prohibited.

Legal Protection for Real Estate Investors in Costa Rica’s Real Estate Laws and Regulations

One of the highlights of Costa Rica’s legal system is its robust protection for Real Estate investors. Whether you’re a local or an international investor, the laws ensure you have the necessary channels and resources for dispute resolution and legal recourse should problems arise.

Dispute Resolution and Legal Recourse

In the event of a Real Estate dispute in Costa Rica, whether it’s a boundary disagreement, title dispute, or contract violation, the judicial system offers several paths for resolution.

Mediation and Arbitration in Costa Rica’s Real Estate Laws and Regulations

Mediation and arbitration are common methods for resolving disputes in Costa Rica without resorting to court proceedings. They’re often quicker, more confidential, and generally less expensive than traditional court proceedings. Many Real Estate contracts in Costa Rica include a clause requiring disputes to be resolved through these methods, making them essential tools in the investor’s arsenal.

How to Navigate Costa Rica’s Real Estate Laws and Regulations

Given the complexities and nuances of Costa Rica’s Real Estate laws, it’s vital to have expert assistance to navigate the landscape successfully.

Engaging a Real Estate Attorney

Hiring a knowledgeable and experienced local Real Estate attorney can make the process of buying property in Costa Rica much smoother. They can help with everything from conducting a thorough due diligence process, preparing and reviewing contracts, facilitating the closing process, and ensuring all related taxes and fees are paid.

Understanding Fees and Taxes

Knowledge of applicable fees and taxes is critical to avoid unexpected costs and ensure your Real Estate transaction goes smoothly. Your attorney can provide detailed information on property taxes, transfer taxes, stamp duties, and other associated costs. They can also guide you in planning your investment to optimize your tax liability.

Costa Rica’s Real Estate Laws and Regulations Final Thoughts

Investing in Costa Rican Real Estate can be a rewarding venture, both personally and financially. However, it’s important to understand the legal framework, complexities, and nuances involved to avoid pitfalls and to ensure your investment journey is smooth and successful. Armed with the right knowledge and professional assistance, you can navigate Costa Rica’s Real Estate laws with confidence and peace of mind.

Costa Rica’s Real Estate Laws and Regulations FAQs

  • Are there any restrictions on foreign ownership of property in Costa Rica?
    Yes, there are few restrictions on foreign ownership of property in Costa Rica, mainly related to concession properties within the Maritime Zone and land within the first three miles of an international border.
  • What role does the National Registry play in Costa Rican property transactions?
    The National Registry is the central authority that maintains official records of all Real Estate ownership in Costa Rica. It’s crucial for verifying property titles and any registered liens or encumbrances.
  • What is a concession property?
    A concession property refers to land in the Restricted Zone of the Maritime Zone that can be developed under a government-granted concession.
  • How are Real Estate disputes resolved in Costa Rica?
    Real Estate disputes can be resolved through the judicial system, including methods such as mediation and arbitration.
  • Is it necessary to hire a Real Estate attorney when buying property in Costa Rica?
    While it’s not compulsory, it’s highly advisable to engage a local Real Estate attorney to navigate the legal procedures and ensure a smooth and successful transaction.
  • What are the types of land ownership in Costa Rica?
    Costa Rica identifies three types of land ownership: Private Property, Public Property, and Municipal Property.
  • What is the due diligence process in Costa Rican Real Estate transactions?
    Due diligence is a comprehensive process that includes title verification, zoning checks, and reviewing any potential liens or encumbrances on the property.

For information on the best locations for Costa Rica Real Estate Investment and Properties in Costa Rica, here are some of the hottest areas to buy in the country:

Tamarindo Real Estate

Dominical Real Estate

Santa Ana Real Estate

Nosara Real Estate

Jaco Real Estate

Escazu Real Estate

Samara Real Estate

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The Allure Of Custom Homes: Unveiling The Benefits Of Building Your Dream House In Costa Rica –



Costa Rica, a paradise nestled in Central America, is more than just a vacation destination. It’s a place where dreams come to life, especially for those who wish to build a custom home. But why Costa Rica?  What makes it stand out from other countries? Let’s delve into the benefits of building a custom home in this tropical haven.

1. Tailored to Your Needs

One of the most significant benefits of building a custom home is the freedom to design it according to your preferences. You can choose the layout, the number of rooms, the materials used, and even the smallest details like the type of knobs on your doors. This level of customization ensures that your home is a true reflection of your personality and lifestyle.

2. Cost-Effective

Contrary to popular belief, building a custom home in Costa Rica can be quite affordable. Construction costs are generally lower compared to North America and Europe. Plus, you can control your budget by choosing the materials and design elements that align with your financial capacity.

3. High-Quality Materials

When building a custom home in Costa Rica, you have access to a wide range of high-quality, locally-sourced materials. From hardwoods for your floors to volcanic stones for your bathroom tiles, these materials are not only durable but also contribute to the unique aesthetic of Costa Rican architecture.

4. Enjoy the Pura Vida Lifestyle

Building a home in Costa Rica allows you to fully immerse in the “Pura Vida” lifestyle. This phrase, meaning “pure life,” perfectly encapsulates the laid-back, stress-free, and happy way of life that Costa Ricans enjoy. Imagine waking up to the sound of howler monkeys, having a beach as your backyard, or enjoying fresh tropical fruits every day. That’s the Pura Vida lifestyle.

5. Strong Real Estate Market

The real estate market in Costa Rica is robust and stable. This makes building a custom home a sound investment. Whether you decide to live in it or rent it out, you can expect a good return on your investment.

6. Eco-Friendly Options

Costa Rica is a global leader in eco-friendly practices. When building your custom home, you can incorporate sustainable features such as solar panels, rainwater collection systems, and energy-efficient appliances. Not only do these features reduce your environmental impact, but they can also lead to long-term savings.

7. Breathtaking Views

Whether you choose to build your home on the beach, in the mountains, or in the city, you’re guaranteed to have stunning views in Costa Rica. Imagine having your morning coffee while watching the sunrise over the ocean or enjoying a glass of wine as the sun sets behind the mountains. These are the moments that make building a custom home in Costa Rica truly worth it.

8. A Sense of Community

Costa Ricans, or “Ticos,” are known for their friendliness and hospitality. Building a home here allows you to become part of a community that values relationships, family, and camaraderie.

9. Access to Modern Amenities

Despite its laid-back atmosphere, Costa Rica offers all the modern amenities you need. From high-speed internet to international schools and state-of-the-art medical facilities, you won’t have to sacrifice comfort and convenience when you build your custom home here.

10. A Safe and Stable Country

Costa Rica is one of the safest and most politically stable countries in Central America. It has a strong democracy, a peaceful history, and a high standard of living. This makes it an ideal place to build and settle in your custom home.

FAQs of Benefits of Building Your Dream House in Costa Rica

  1. Is it cheaper to build a house in Costa Rica? Yes, construction costs in Costa Rica are generally lower compared to North America and Europe. However, the final cost will depend on various factors such as the size of the house, the materials used, and the location of the property.
  2. Can you build your own house in Costa Rica? Yes, foreigners have the same rights as locals when it comes to owning property and building a house in Costa Rica.
  3. What are the benefits of building a house? Building a house, especially a custom one, offers numerous benefits. These include the freedom to design your home according to your preferences, the ability to control the construction materials and quality, and the potential for cost savings.
  4. Is Costa Rica a good place for investment property? Yes, Costa Rica has a strong and stable real estate market, making it a good place for investment property. Whether you decide to live in your custom home or rent it out, you can expect a good return on your investment.
  5. Is it safe to live in Costa Rica? Yes, Costa Rica is considered one of the safest countries in Central America. It has a strong democracy, a peaceful history, and a high standard of living.
  6. What is the cost of living in Costa Rica? The cost of living in Costa Rica is relatively low compared to North America and Europe. However, it can vary depending on the location and lifestyle.
  7. Can I use eco-friendly materials when building a house in Costa Rica? Absolutely! Costa Rica is a global leader in eco-friendly practices, and there are plenty of locally-sourced, sustainable materials available for construction.
  8. What is the “Pura Vida” lifestyle? “Pura Vida” is a phrase commonly used in Costa Rica that translates to “pure life.” It represents the Costa Rican philosophy of living a peaceful, simple, uncluttered life with a deep appreciation for nature, family, and friends.
  9. What are the construction standards in Costa Rica? Costa Rica has strict construction standards to ensure the safety and quality of buildings. These standards cover everything from structural design to electrical systems and fire safety.
  10. Can I build a beachfront property in Costa Rica? Yes, but there are certain restrictions and regulations you need to be aware of. It’s best to consult with a real estate expert or lawyer before purchasing a beachfront lot.

Building a custom home in Costa Rica is more than just a construction project. It’s a journey towards a lifestyle that values nature, simplicity, and happiness. So, are you ready to start your journey?

For information on more Locations for Costa Rica Real Estate Investment and Properties in Costa Rica, here are some of the hottest areas to buy in the country:

Tamarindo Real Estate

Dominical Real Estate

Santa Ana Real Estate

Nosara Real Estate

Jaco Real Estate

Escazu Real Estate

Samara Real Estate

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Costa Rica hosts forum for 400 experts in the medical device industry – Coyol Free Zone – Costa Rica



  • Experts to analyze the industry’s competitiveness and challenges
  • Opening panel to discuss human talent, Free Trade Zone Regime, and investment climate in Costa Rica

May. More than 400 national and international experts will meet this Wednesday, May 24, and Thursday, May 25 to analyze the main challenges and opportunities for the medical device industry worldwide.

The event, called MedDevice Forum, is held in Costa Rica and it is the most important medical technology symposium of the year. In total, it consists of 3 panels and 5 lectures with national and international experts, as well as 34 participating companies, with the co-organization of the local Free Trade Parks Coyol Free Zone and Evolution Free Zone.

Carlos Wong, Managing Director of Coyol Free Zone, stated: “The presence of international experts of the highest level in our country is a sign of Costa Rica’s weight within the Life Sciences industry. This participation is the result of an effort to demonstrate that we have the technology, human capital, experience, and an excellent ecosystem to host the best medical device companies in the world”.

During the MedDevice Forum, critical issues affecting the industry will be addressed and solutions to the challenges it is currently facing will be sought. Contract manufacturers, suppliers, consultants, investors, and academics from the sector will be present to learn first-hand about the tools that enable them to compete in today’s business environment.

Costa Rica makes inroads into the industry

Currently, 52% of the country’s medical device exports come from Coyol Free Zone, a Free Trade Zone located in Alajuela, Costa Rica. Thanks to this, the country will lead the first MedDevice Forum panel, under the name “Introduction to the Medical Device Manufacturing Community in Costa Rica. A Look at the Region and the Free Zone Business”.

This panel will be led by representatives of Promotora de Comercio Exterior (PROCOMER), Asociación de Empresas de Zonas Francas de Costa Rica (AZOFRAS), and Coalición Costarricense de Iniciativas de Desarrollo (CINDE).

During the last period, Costa Rica exported close to US$4,569 million in Precision and Medical Equipment, of which just over US$2,088 million represent medical devices manufactured in the Coyol Free Zone, or approximately 2.76% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2021.

About Coyol Free Zone

Coyol Free Zone is the leading medical device export park in Costa Rica, exporting over US$2 billion per year, which is equivalent to 30% of the exports of the manufacturing segment of the country’s Free Zone Regime.
For the past three years, it has been part of the Top 10 Free Trade Zones in the World and was named the Best Free Trade Zone in the Americas, in the Top 10 worldwide, and Honorable Mention for Environmental Practices, Infrastructure, and Logistics, by fDi Intelligence in 2022.
In addition, it is the Best Free Trade Zone in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Most Innovative Free Trade Zone of the Year, and the Best Business Center for Life Sciences and Advanced Manufacturing, according to The European magazine, as well as the Most Resilient Free Trade Zone in the World before Covid-19, according to Investment Monitor in 2021.

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