Costa Rica: Cost of Living by Region and Residency Options
Obtaining Costa Rica residency is possible through a variety of options. It all comes down to what kind of lifestyle you’re after. You can choose the program that best suits your needs, under the Pensionado Program, the Rentista Program, or through a $200,000 investment into Costa Rican infrastructure. With a low cost of living and affordable real estate market, Costa Rica residency isn’t out of reach.
If you’re headed down the path to finding a new country for retirement, and Costa Rica is high on your list, be sure to visit first. You can stay up to 90 days without a visa if you’re coming from North America. You can even leave Costa Rica every three months, only to return and renew your tourist visa. When the time comes to apply for something more permanent, consider some of the more popular areas for purchasing real estate. If you consider the cost of living in each area, you’re sure to find a real estate market that meets your needs.
Guanacaste is a province in northwestern Costa Rica. It encompasses a couple of very special places in the country. This region borders the Pacific Ocean. As a result, is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Among popular cities and tourist areas within the Guanacaste Region are Tamarindo and Liberia. The latter is the region’s capital city, and it’s also known as the “White City,” because of all of the buildings with whitewashed walls.
Those looking for Costa Rica residency in Liberia will find a Western/ranch-like atmosphere, with whitewashed ranch-style houses along the outskirts. Liberia offers city living, and within the city, you’ll likely live in condos very close to your neighbors. It is a good option if you want to be close to all of the amenities with a more affordable cost of living than what is offered right on the beach. It’s only about a 45-minute drive from Liberia to the more popular town of Tamarindo.
Tamarindo may be the most popular settling spot for many North American expats, however, it is known for having relatively high prices. It is aimed more at the tourist crowd. Groceries and restaurants are about the same cost as what you’re probably used to in the cities back home. If you’re willing to shop around and find farmer’s markets and smaller, more local restaurants, you’ll find more affordable prices.
In Tamarindo, expats love that they are right on the beach and just about everything is within walking distance without much need for a vehicle to get around.
Real estate in the area might be easier to find for sale in Tamarindo than in Liberia, but prices are rising as the beach town is pretty well-known. You may still be able to find a good deal on smaller properties, though. Expect the average rent in Liberia to run from $200 – $350 USD for a one or three-bedroom apartment in the city center. $500 – $1,300 USD range for something in Tamarindo. That’s a good illustration of why some expats choose to live in Liberia or in other surrounding areas.
The Costa Ballena region runs along the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica.
“Bellena” is the Spanish word for “whale” and the reason this area is called Costa Bellena. The population of humpback whales is incredible. They appear every year from December to April for mating season. As a result, this region is home to many popular beaches and is known for its large expat population.
There is a Marine National Park here called Playa Ballena. It which stretches from Playa Hermosa to the end of Playa Pinuela to the south. Playa Ventana is also nearby, and all of these locations are very popular beaches for expats to settle. The national park offers snorkeling, diving, swimming, and is home to the famous “whale’s tail”. This is an area of sand where the northern current and southern current meets and forms a large formation that looks just like a whale’s tail. Pretty fitting for the name of the region.
The cost of living in the Costa Ballena region is actually more affordable than that of the Guanacaste region. A single person can live on $1,400 to $1,700 USD per month, as opposed to $2,000+ in Guanacaste. Rent can range anywhere from $400 for a small two-bedroom condo to $2,500 for a luxury condo, and you can usually find anything in between as well.
Costa Rica Residency
As stated above, you should always be sure to study every angle by visiting a place before deciding to relocate. This list should only serve as a good starting point. Go in knowing what to expect!
If you’re an American Citizen, considering relocating to Costa Rica, please read this article.