Costa Rica has become one of the top retirement destinations in the world, and for good reason. Beautiful beaches, hot springs, cloud forests, and friendly locals make it a great place to live out your “golden years.”

But there’s a dirty secret that not many people realize until they make the move here.

It’s expensive.

And it’s often more expensive than living in the United States.

Here are a few examples:

Used Cars

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The car above is $6,500 in Costa Rica. You can see the classified listing here.

The exact same car for sale in the United States (1998 Mitsubishi Montero Sport with 113,000 miles) lists for only $998!

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Same car, same mileage, but over $5,500 cheaper in the U.S.!


Gasoline in Costa Rica averages about $3.85/gallon. 

In the United States, gas is about $1.82/gallon.

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Gasoline in the United States is about $2 per gallon cheaper!

You could fill up 2 cars in the United States for what it would cost to fill up one in Costa Rica.

Costa Rican Beer

I wish I was lying about this one, but turns out Costa Rican beer like Imperial is actually 50% cheaper in the United States than in Costa Rica! Turns out lot’s of people in Colorado are buying it by the case!


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The gallo pinto down here is to die for, but Costa Rica’s price for rice is the 3rd most expensive in the world. It’s $557 per metric ton compared to only $337 per metric ton in the United States. This is mainly due to Costa Rica’s policy of agricultural protectionism that you can read more about here.


You would think a country with the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Caribbean on the other would have cheap board shorts for surfers, but unfortunately you’re wrong. Board shorts from popular companies like Hurley and Quicksilver are almost double the price of what you would pay for them in the states.

The list goes on about things that are expensive here compared to similar items in the states. Maybe that’s the price of admission into paradise, but it’s a good thing to know before you make a permanent move down to Costa Rica.

Share in the comments if you’ve run into other expensive things in Costa Rica that are cheaper in the United States.

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