Looking to move abroad for a lower cost of living without sacrificing quality of life? Find out if Atenas, Costa Rica is an affordable place to live for an expat.
A lot of people nearing retirement age or already retired in the United States worry about the future, especially about the cost of living. The idea to move abroad to a country with a lower cost of living but not a lower standard of living is becoming more and more popular.
Costa Rica is one of the most popular international expat destinations for retiring and living. Much has been written about the cost of living in Costa Rica, and its affordable benefits of excellent medical care, modern conveniences, and good quality of life for expats. However, there also is a lot of misinformation.
Most expats moving to Costa Rica currently come from the United States or Canada. Depending on where you are from in those countries, some things are far less expensive in Costa Rica; some things are the same, and some cost more. If you are from California, the Northeast, or Vancouver area of Canada, you’ll probably think Costa Rica is a bargain.
Imported products, from gourmet foods to cars to electronics, tend to be more expensive in Costa Rica than in the U.S. or Canada due to the country’s import tariffs; whereas local fresh fruit and vegetables tend to be rock-bottom cheap in comparison.
Here, we give you average costs for living in Atenas, Costa Rica.
The Real Cost of Living in Atenas Costa Rica
Food: There is a fabulous weekly farmer’s market in Atenas where you can fill a shopping cart with fresh vegetables and fruit for between $20 and $30. The CoopeAtenas Supermarket in Atenas stocks pretty much everything you need for groceries and household items. Here are some average prices:
- Two boneless chicken breasts: $7
- A dozen free-range chicken eggs: $2.50
- Package of 8 slices of cheese: $2.30
- Two-pound bag of pasta from Italy: $2.20
- One pound of local Atenas coffee: $4.50
- 10-pound bag of rice: $10
- Carton of milk: under $2
Eating Out: Dining out can be pricey in Costa Rica depending on where you go. In Atenas, dinner out for two people with a main course each, and either an appetizer or dessert each, and drinks will run anywhere from $25 to $40. The same dinner for two people in a restaurant in the posh San Jose suburb of Escazu will cost $50 to $100, nearly double or more.
Utilities: A monthly electric bill in Atenas averages about $100 a month, and can go up to $250 if you use air-conditioning, have a pool, and lots of electric appliances. Water averages $15 to $50 a month depending on usage and if you have a pool.
Cell Phones: In Costa Rica, cell phone charges are cheap. For as little as $2 you can purchase a pre-paid chip and phone number, and then add money as you go. A monthly plan with a good-quality smartphone included, unlimited national calling, and a 4G data package will cost you about $32.
Home Phone: If you only make local calls, your monthly phone bill will run you about $12 to $15 including the basic line charge.
Home Internet: DSL phone cable internet costs $20 a month, or you can pay $60 a month for satellite internet service in Atenas.
Transport: Gas prices in Costa Rica are the same all over the country, and are high due to taxes. Currently the price is about $5 per gallon. But a taxi anywhere in the main town area of Atenas costs less than $3 a ride.
Weekly house cleaning: A weekly housekeeper, who will clean your house from top to bottom (5 to 6 hours), will run you about $25 to $30 each time.
Health Care: Costa Rica’s excellent health care is rated very highly on an international level. Overall, Costa Rica’s high quality medical and dental care is less expensive than in the USA, which is why Costa Rica has become a top medical tourism destination. A simple private visit to a general-practitioner doctor in Atenas will cost about $20. The charge for an annual exam at the internationally-rated private hospital CIMA in Escazu is about $100 without lab tests. Teeth cleaning at a private dentist will cost you about $60.
Rent: Rental prices in Atenas vary greatly depending on how much space and luxury you want, whether furnished or unfurnished, and the location. Usually utilities, internet and a weekly gardener are included. You can rent a two-bedroom, two-bath house in Atenas for as little as $650 up to $1,800 a month, with a pool in a private gated community.
Home Prices: Your perspective on home prices in Atenas, Costa Rica depends on where you are from. For instance, in Atenas, a three-bedroom, three-bath, 3,000-square-foot home with a pool and a view carries a price tag of between $275,000 and $495,000, depending on location, property size, age and style of the home.
Homeowners insurance tends to be more affordable in Costa Rica, costing between $400 and $800 a year. And in Atenas, property taxes average $400 to $600 annually; possibly as high as $2,800 per year if you have luxury tax on a house.
Living in Atenas, Costa Rica
In Costa Rica, you can live any kind of lifestyle – frugal like a middle-income local, or extravagantly as do some expats. At the end of the day, how much you spend to live here is your choice.
Article by Shannon Farley