You Can Live Economically and Well
Monthly living costs are still low for the retiree who has an income in dollars. But, of course, you have to be a selective buyer and shop around. One of the facts of life in most Latin American countries is that inflation is a continuous process which is here to stay and Costa Rica is no exception. In recent years the annual inflation rate in Costa Rica has ranged from 9 to 12 per cent. So the retiree with an income in dollars finds that his money is stretched and goes further for him.
A couple can enjoy a high quality lifestyle on a monthly income anywhere from $1500 to $2500. And that includes renting a house in a good area, full-time domestic help and a gardener who comes in to do your yard. Weeds and grass grow fast in the tropics, especially during the rainy season, so it's a good idea to have them trimmed at least every two weeks at that time of the year. In the dry season your garden can stand a trimming once a month or more.
I know several single foreign retirees who live on $700 to $800 a month and who have no problems making ends meet. Of course, they're very selective in their expenditures, but it's not an exaggeration to say that two persons can live in Costa Rica for less than what it costs one person to live in a similar lifestyle in the States. As I mentioned before, a couple can easily live comfortably well on $1500 a month which includes employing a maid for $200 a month working 8 hours a day Monday through Friday and renting an apartment for $300 to $400 a month and maintain an economy car or jeep.
Once you're settled, you can cut down on expenses and budget them according to your expected monthly income, likes and dislikes, and the type of lifestyle you want to maintain. It's always possible to cut down on some expenditure which is really not entirely necessary. Try to differentiate between wants and necessities. You'll save by doing so.
Living expenses can be lower if you should decide to locate in any of the various nice small cities and towns within the Central Intermountain Valley instead of staying in San José. Most stores and the availability of needed services can be found generally within walking distance from the house where you would be living. Products and services will be less expensive than they would be in San José. For that reason, and to follow a slower pace of life, many retirees have decided to live in small towns away from the larger cities. And many have bought small farms to keep themselves closer to nature or simply to dabble in gentleman farming.