May 10 2008

Cost of Living is Less…for most things

Here in the Mid-Atlantic, our gas and electric bills have been steadily increasing out of control; our normal monthly bill during the winter costs us about $350, with another 8% increase around the corner; just two years ago, it would have cost $225. Costa Rica doesn’t need to import energy at high prices. In fact, the country produces 85% of its energy through hydro-electric power and even exports it to other countries. In Costa Rica, unless you are living on the coast, you probably won’t need air conditioning at all — ceiling fans are all that people use.

You can do without heat all year round as well.  If you are an early riser, there may be a few mornings when you might want to use a small space heater.

Overall, the cost of living is between 1/3 and 1/2 less than the States. This means that your purchasing power is greater — for every $1,000 you have, it would spend like $1,500-$2,000 (depending on your personal wants and needs) in Costa Rica. An average monthly electric bill runs about $20-$40, city water about $5, and all utilities, including Internet, can be had for about $150.

Housing is another bargain in Costa Rica. You can purchase an existing house for under $100,000; you can buy land to build on for as little as $40,000/acre and, depending on your specifications, a house built to North American standards can be built for much less than you would pay here.

The year-round growing season means fresh local fruit and vegetables, mostly organic, all year round…avocados, juicy limes with orange flesh, bananas growing on trees in your yard. You can grow your own in the country’s fertile soil and save even more.

But imports, including raw materials, petroleum, and consumer goods, are more expensive than in the States. Your car will cost you more in Costa Rica, both at the pump and in the form of import fees, whether you bring your own car into the country or buy one in Costa Rica.

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