What Does it Cost to Live for a Month in Costa Rica?

This post is by Virginie from Farm Boy and City Girl. With her boyfriend, they left Canada to live the digital nomad life. They are now traveling across the world, one country at a time. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

If you are interested in seeing what it costs to live in more cities, or interested in doing a guest post yourself see: “What Does it Cost to Live in?”

Costa Rica is definitely famous for its Pacific Coast, not its Caribbean one. Why is that? Because one is more know and touristy than the other one. Puerto Viejo has developed a lot in the last decade and it’s now a place you don’t want to miss. The beaches are beautiful, hidden behind the tall palm trees.

The only thing you have to remember before going is that you are going to live in the jungle. It doesn’t mean jaguars are going to attack you every day, but you are probably going to encounter some nasty bugs. I warned you!


Our small cabina, hidden in the lush jungle

Our small cabina, hidden in the lush jungle

My boyfriend and I found a place to live on AirBnb for around $700 USD. It was a small cabina located a few minutes from the main road, hidden in the jungle. It wasn’t the greatest house we could have found, really. We ended up having some problems, but I promise you can find houses that are more problem-free and maybe for a better price. The internet isn’t that reliable if you are a digital nomad like we are, but it you’re only interested in chatting with your family or going on Facebook, it should be good enough.

The electricity wasn’t the best either, so investing in a surge protector is definitely a great idea! Especially if you’re going to charge your electronics.

As for the water, we didn’t drink anything coming from the tap (of course) even though we had rain water. The thing with rain water is that when it’s raining every day, you can use as much as you want! If you’re there during the dry season though, you might have to be careful with how much you use.

But again, if you find a better house than we did, you might not have all those problems. I prefer to warn you and let you know that there is a chance you encounter them.


Nobody can resist a plate of rice and beans

Nobody can resist a plate of rice and beans

Surprisingly, food in Puerto Viejo is expensive. And when I say expensive, I only mean that it’s not cheap like you would expect it to be in any other Central American country. It can actually be compared to food in North America. Eating out is going to cost you around $6 USD to $30 USD a person, depending on how much you eat and what you eat. Chicken rice and beans is definitely cheaper than pizza.

If you want to do your own groceries, there are three stores you can stop at. Since there’s a big expat community there, they have a lot of imported products. I recommend buying “local” or at least Central American products as much as possible, since the price difference can be huge. On average, for a two people, we spent around $500 USD on groceries.

When buying your vegetable and fruits, please don’t buy them from the grocery store! They don’t look that great anyway, but I say that because they might be full of pesticides.

The laws in Costa Rica aren’t as good as North America when it comes to pesticides. I would definitely recommend buying organic products as much as possible. How do you do that? You can visit the farmers’ market on Saturday mornings to get your supplies for the week. There is also a delivery service of organic fruits and veggies, which is also on Saturdays. They might cost a bit more, but at least you know that what you’re getting is healthy.

You’re going to need some water too. If you plan on staying for more than a couple weeks, I would recommend getting water delivered too. It’s much cheaper than buying it at the groceries and you don’t have to carry it all the way to your house. It costs $5 USD for an 18.9L jug, which is the best price you’ll find for water in Puerto Viejo.


Beach in Cocles, 10 minute walk outside of Puerto Viejo

Beach in Cocles, 10 minute walk outside of Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo doesn’t really have museums to visit, but if you want to spend money, there’s tons of ways to do it! You can snorkel in Cahuita ($50 USD/pers.), go dolphin watching ($75 USD/ pers.), go bird watching ($60 USD/pers.), take a surf lesson ($50 USD/2h), go horse-riding on the beach (from $50 USD to $160 USD) or get a massage ($65/h).

When getting to Puerto Viejo (or leaving) you can also raft in the Pacuare River for $99 USD, which includes transportation from Arenal, San José or Puerto Viejo to Arenal, San José or Puerto Viejo as well as breakfast and lunch.

Don’t forget to stop by the Jaguar Rescue Center ($18 USD that goes to the animals) and do some yoga at OM Yoga ($12 USD/class)

Puerto Viejo is a town where it’s great to relax. Everybody is laid back there and you’ll definitely slow down too. Don’t expect to get food five minutes after you order it in a restaurant. They’re not in a rush and you shouldn’t be either. Instead, grab a beer, enjoy the good company, the Latino music and learn to be patient.

Because who wants to be in a rush when you live in the Pura Vida?

Beach in Puerto Viejo

Beach in Puerto Viejo

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Author: Jonathan Look

In 2011 Jonathan Look decided to change his life and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. His goal is to travel the world solo; one country at a time, one year at a time. To accomplish this he got rid of most of his possessions, packed up what little he saw as necessities and headed out. His goal is to spend ten years discovering new places, meeting new people and taking the time to learn about them, their values and their place on this tiny planet. He embraces the philosophy that says a person is the sum of their experiences and rejects the fraud of modern consumerism that makes people into slaves of their consumption. He doesn't intend to be modern day ascetic, just more mindful of his place in the world and to make decisions according to that new standard.

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