Costa Rica: Cost of Living

by GoinGlobal

Costa Rica is the fourth most competitive economy in Latin America and the Caribbean due to foreign investment and successful international trade policies. 

Costa Rica possesses a stable democratic government, ample natural resources and a productive diversified economy, powered mainly by an important agricultural sector, strong micro-technology production and, above all, a thriving tourism industry. According to the World Economic Forum, Costa Rica has the fourth most competitive economy in Latin America and the Caribbean, a position that has been possible thanks to its successful international trade policies and openness to foreign investment, as well as its good educational system and a growing, innovation-oriented ICT sector., Such factors, together with Costa Rica’s neutral status, have earned it the nickname of the ‘Switzerland of Central America.’

The World Bank also defines Costa Rica as a ‘development success story,’ because its steady economic growth and political stability, as well as poverty-reduction achievements and fruitful environmental policy implementation, have helped the country achieve admirable grades on many fronts. Not only has its gross domestic product (GDP) per capita almost doubled in less than ten years, but Costa Rica has also made strides in conserving its natural resources. Its pioneering Payments for Environmental Services (PES) program has been so productive that Costa Rica is the only tropical country in the world today that has reversed deforestation.,

Despite these positive aspects, growing income inequality and a deteriorating fiscal situation remain the main challenges for its current government. Differently from most of its neighboring countries in the region, Costa Rica is not dependent on remittances, but it is instead reliant on foreign direct investments – which sum up to 4% of the national GDP.

While Costa Rica is not one of the most expensive countries in the world, it is expensive for Latin America.

  • The country ranks the third most expensive country in the Latin America, according to the latest data by Go Banking Rates – which compares over 110 economies in the world.
  • The cost of living in the country is, on average, around 24% lower than in the United States, according to user-powered data platform Numbeo.
  • The capital, San José, is ranked the second most expensive city in Central America – only after Panama City, according to Mercer’s latest international cost of living survey.
  • In international terms, cost of living in San José ranks as the 87th most expensive of the 250 global cities surveyed by Teleport.
  • Indeed, some prices for imported goods and tourist services are similar to those found in North American cities.
  • The tourist areas (in particular, the coasts) are more expensive than elsewhere in the country.
  • Despite these factors, when the same average living costs are compared for San José and New York, the Costa Rican capital is 53% cheaper than the North American metropolis.