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Chinatown in San Jose, Costa Rica

Cost of Living in San Jose, Costa Rica

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Feb 03, 2023

Summary: The cost of living in San Jose, Costa Rica is generally considered to be quite reasonable. A nice 1 bedroom apartment in San Jose can cost anywhere from $400 to $800 per month, while a nice 2 bedroom apartment can cost anywhere from $600 to $1,200 per month. The cost of dinner at a moderately priced restaurant in San Jose can range from $10 to $20 per person.

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Is the cost of living in San Jose high?

We asked people how much they someone comfortably live on in San Jose, they wrote:

"The cost of living in San Jose is relatively affordable compared to most other capital cities in the world. Basic commodities like food, housing, public transportation and other basic services are generally affordable. It is possible to save some money on meals by shopping at local markets and cooking at home. Accommodation prices can range from very inexpensive options to more expensive luxury properties. Prices for rental properties can be high but there are still some cheaper options available. Taxes and utilities can be higher than other cities in Costa Rica, but they are still usually quite affordable," remarked another in San Jose, Costa Rica.

"Depends on lifestyle. I eat all my meals in restaurants, go to coffee shops, have a big social life and go on a lot of dates, I travel every month. My expense including all this are around $3500/mo," explained one expat.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
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Will I save money living in San Jose?

"It is possible to save money living in San Jose compared to living in the United States. San Jose is known to be a much more affordable destination than other popular vacation spots in Central America. Rental prices tend to be cheaper than in the United States and most consumer prices are reasonably lower than in the United States. Additionally, the cost of living in Costa Rica is generally lower than in the United States, and there may also be tax advantages to living in Costa Rica. This can lead to a significant reduction in costs compared to living in the United States," said another expat in San Jose, Costa Rica.

"No! Costa Rica is far more expensive than I thought. I eat out a lot and most of the time the prices are equivalent to US. You can eat for less at sodas and the market, which I do. Buses are a bargain, but cabs cost far more than any other major city in the region: Guatemala, Managua, San Pedro. Also, since everything is exported, prices for shampoos, soaps, tooth paste, razor blades, and things of that nature are much higher than the U.S. Also, my rent is much higher than anticipated," added another person living in San Jose.

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What is the average cost of housing in San Jose?

If you are thinking about moving to San Jose, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"The cost of housing in San Jose can vary significantly depending on the area and size of the property. Generally, the average cost for a one-bedroom apartment is around $500 per month, while the average cost for a three-bedroom apartment is around $1,000 per month. Rentals in luxury apartment complexes or neighborhoods can range up to $2,000 or more per month," said another expat in San Jose, Costa Rica.

"Cheaper, undoubtedly. Unless you want to live in the most expensive/foreign-overrun areas of the country or unless you insist on staying in the same level of housing that you stay in back in the states. Costa Rica is not the USA. It's Costa Rica. Learn to live more simply, you probably won't miss it in the long run," added another person living in San Jose.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

Chinatown in San Jose, Costa Rica

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