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Costa Rica Cost of Living; Bills & Taxes

Costa Rica News – You dreamed of your perfect new life in Costa Rica for so long. How many of those dreams included paying bills? This, unfortunately, is unavoidable. Though bills may be cheaper in Costa Rica than where you are from, they may be more difficult to pay.

paying bills in costa ricaThis is because there are not always written bills. You are just expected to know when to pay them and when you go to pay you are told the amount. Most can be paid at Servimas located in Walmart, Mas x Menos, and Pali.

Without heat or air conditioning (since they’re not necessary in most parts of Costa Rica) your electric bill will be pretty inexpensive. If you add running the AC at the beach into the equation the number can jump pretty quickly. Water and electricity are measured monthly. Expect the water bill to be around $15 and the electricity bill around $30. Pay bills before they are due. The companies here are quick to shut off your services if you are a few days late!

Gas for cooking is sold by $20 tanks which last about 4 months. Piped gas is not available, due to frequent earthquakes.

TV with cable or satellite is about $30 per month for basic channels including Sony, Fox, Disney, and movie channels. Sports channels are a bit extra.

Using MagicJack or Skype services are the cheapest ways to make calls. However, since internet is not reliable, it’s best to get a land line which costs only $4 per month. Pre-paid cells are the only phones available to non-residents.

Internet packages begin at about $17 per month for the basic 512/128 kbps connection. Expect all internet services to go out at least once a day. Get a backup like a flash drive internet stick from a different company for when your connection fails.

You can pay most bills online or at a bank or supermarket. The tricky part is keeping track of when you can and can’t pay each bill. They all have rules and open times. Even when paying online the services are only available during work hours, usually. You can’t pay too early, even if your bill is the same amount each month!

Domestic help is only about $2 per hour plus the employee’s Social Security/health insurance, vacation, alguinaldo (Christmas bonus), and severance.  Lawn care is around $25 to chop and rake the lawn on a 5,000 square foot property.

Last, but not least, is the “gringo tax.” This is an unofficial added fee for just about all goods and services that is added when they know you are a foreigner. If you speak Spanish and know the normal prices you can avoid this.

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One Comment;

  1. Jaime G Vargas said:

    Water bill for only $15 and electricity for $30? Only if you are single and live in an apartment or small house.
    I’d say expect alt least a $30 monthly water bill and $70 for electricity in SJO , and that’s without A/C use and not overdoing the clothes dryer.
    I find that I can reliably pay most bills through BNCR Internet banking, but with a caveat, get someone in the know to teach you the ropes to avoid falling prey to a local hacker.

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