Costa Rica at a Glance
Living in Costa RicaiStockphoto
Luxurious houses are not out of your league on an average expat salary.
Living in Costa Rica: Cost of Living
Living in Costa Rica is popular amongst foreigners for a multitude of reasons, and the very affordable cost of life is definitely one of them. Wages might seem quite modest to expats living in Costa Rica compared to many Western countries, but the prices for many goods and services are far below what you might be used to.
But do not think living in Costa Rica is cheap: High end consumer goods and vehicles can be very pricy, even more so than in your home country. If you are a technology buff or audiophile, make sure to bring everything you need when you start your new life in Costa Rica. After all, you do not want your first paychecks to be mostly spent on computers and speakers.
Expenses for housing will consume a considerable part of your income. In this respect, living in Costa Rica is no different from life in any other place. But the level of luxury you will be able to get while living in Costa Rica will be quite surprising to some. Large apartments or houses, including maids and gardeners, are not uncommon.
Working and living in Costa Rica is somewhat lucrative for expats, as they are generally paid very well compared to their local colleagues. This is even part of the labor regulations for expats. While you will find it hard to save a little nest egg for when you return home, you will be able to live a very comfortable life in Costa Rica on your expat salary.
Living in Costa Rica: Healthcare System
Living in Costa Rica, you will enjoy the things millions of people travel for. Apart from year-round pleasant weather and breathtaking scenery, one major asset of living in Costa Rica is access to the country’s healthcare system, which is almost on par with many more developed countries. Costa Rica actively promotes medical tourism and annually attracts considerable numbers of people looking for affordable, high-quality procedures.
Any citizen and legal resident working and living in Costa Rica is covered by the national healthcare and social security system Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS). Your affiliation with the Caja will grant you access to the major public hospitals while living in Costa Rica. Little accidents and non-emergencies that might befall you during your life in Costa Rica can be taken care of in small ‘neighborhood’ clinics known as EBAIS. While living in Costa Rica, please make sure to locate the one nearest to you and register before your first actual visit!
Most drugs are available directly through your pharmacist without prescription. Generally, if you have a small ailment, you should see your local pharmacist first, rather than directly consulting hospitals and clinics. Pharmacies are much more part of everyday living in Costa Rica than in many other places!
Living in Costa Rica: Private Health Insurance
Most people living in Costa Rica use the services of the Caja, but, as in many other countries, socialized healthcare has its drawbacks. Services are adequate, but waiting times might be quite long for non-life threatening procedures. The only alternative available to you while living in Costa Rica is private insurance with the government-affiliated INS. An overview of their services is offered on their website (Spanish).
Additionally, many companies offer healthcare plans for their expats. Working and living in Costa Rica is connected to considerable bureaucracy beforehand, so companies have a special interest in having their expats taken well care of.