Utility Costs in Costa Rica, How Much?

Depending on how and where you live, you will experience substantial savings on utility costs in Costa Rica, living in this Central American paradise. There is no need to pay heating bills anywhere in the country–a huge saving over the $300 per month you pay for heat in northern climates just to survive the winter! Water is abundant and high quality.  Phone, Internet and cable TV packages are reasonably priced.

Meters for measuring utility costs in Costa Rica

Other than housing, electricity will be the biggest expense for you. If you choose to live in the beautiful Playas del Coco and Playa Hermosa areas, you will likely need to air condition your residence to some extent. Not only do temperatures remain around 70-90 degrees all year long, but the average humidity is between 70-90% during the month of May through November depending on your exact location. Mid-November through April the humidity averages from 25-60%. Without AC, your home may be too hot and humid for you to feel comfortable, and you may also find it a challenge to stay ahead of mold and mildew growth. However, ceiling fans will alleviate this, depending on how you like it.

So, what can you expect your monthly electricity bill to look like? A two-bedroom, 1000 square foot house will cost about $125 per month to cool. If you only cool your bedroom at night, your cost could be around $80 a month. If you run two or three AC units all day and night in a larger home, your monthly bill could reach $400. It all depends on your standard of living and how you feel comfortable.

Looking out over Playa Hermosa

Some have wondered why electricity costs are so high in a Third World country that gets most of its electricity from renewable sources. Some expats believe they are victims of “gringo pricing,” meaning they believe that the local utility knows that they are foreigners and charges them more than their Tico neighbors. That is absolutely false! The truth is however, your electricity bill IS likely higher than your Tico neighbors because the electric company’s rates favor low consumption. Coopeguanacaste is the electricity provider for the area. It charges 11 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for the first 200 used. After that, the rate increases to 15 cents per kWh. The Ticos simply consume less energy, so they may stay below the 200 kWh threshold. Even in very hot climates, most locals do not air condition their homes. Generally speaking, they have smaller refrigerators and stoves than their foreign neighbors, and they do not use (or in some cases even own) energy-sucking appliances such as water heaters, ovens, toasters, clothes dryers or hair dryers. If you are accustomed to using these types of appliances then, yes, your utility bill will be significantly higher than your Tico neighbor’s.

So, depending on where you lived before moving to Costa Rica, and how much electricity you consume now that you are here, your monthly utility bill could be lower or higher than you are accustomed to. It is really quite unique to each individual.

Phone, Internet and cable TV packages run about $80 a month. There are several companies offering these services. Kolbi and Claro offer phone, cable and Internet bundles. Movistar is a cellphone service, and CableTica and Sky Satelite offer satellite TV and Internet packages. Most offer excellent services, but it is important to do your homework and see what services are the best in your area and have the most attractive prices. Talk to neighbors and other expats for recommendations.

Costa Rica doesn’t have city gas, only tanks of propane gas, which can be purchased in most small grocery stores. You only buy the tank the first time; after that, when your tank runs out, you simply exchange it for a full one, paying only for the actual propane.

As far as sewage goes, it is “to each his own.” There are a couple of exceptions in upscale neighborhoods in San Jose and Escazu where there are community sewage lines, but in the rest of the country each home or condominium complex has it own septic tank or other wastewater treatment system.

Garbage pickup is typically done twice a week and is the responsibility of the municipality where the property is located. The cost is minimal and is paid when you pay other municipal taxes.

Costa Rica has excellent quality water which is readily available and reasonably priced. Monthly bills for water for normal household usage will be $10-15 per month. If you are watering your lawn and garden every day, that is a different story. Your real estate agent can let you know the particulars of the availability of water in your specific area.

As most expats will confirm, life in Costa Rica may cost less than where you lived before, but it will most certainly be a happier, healthier life that you lived before!

Want to keep up with everything that is happening here in Costa Rica?  Join my email list!

Want more information about Costa Rica in general visit https://www.costarican-american-connection.com/Costa_Rica_FAQs/page_2575549.html

Interested in owning a property in Costa Rica, checkout some great options here

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Covid-19 Update 2021

Update on Covid-19 in Costa Rica: February 18, 2021

Well, we have lived with the Covid-19 virus for about a year now. What a life-changing year it has been! Here is an update of how see things.

Because of Covid-19, we have washed our hands more times this year than in our entire life prior. We no longer see people’s mouths when they talk as we strain to understand their muffled speech. The hug or kiss hello is a thing of the past–a huge change for those of us living in a Latin culture.  We have discovered that almost all social relationships can be maintained through video conferencing. We have binged on comfort foods and our favorite TV shows. We have exercised more (or less) and done more projects around the house (or none at all). All in all, it has been a unique year, no doubt about it!

Best place to be during Covid-19 pandemic

What will life be like in Costa Rica during 2021 with COVID? It seems there will be improvement, but it is unclear yet how much or how fast as new case number are going down. Almost 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered, the office of the President announced Monday. With a population of 5 million, that puts our percentile behind the States and Canada. As has happened in most countries, vaccine supplies have lagged behind the hoped-for schedules, but Pfizer is working to improve the supply chain of its vaccine and plans to resume deliveries in mid-February. Costa Rica has also signed up for the AstraZeneca vaccine which recently was approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use.

After health-care workers, first responders, and nursing home residents, the vaccine will be given to citizens and residents age 58 and older. The next group to receive the vaccine will be those 18-58 who have risk factors. After them are the teachers, followed by those who work or study in clinical fields.

Joseph with his Covid-19 mask

The country’s tourism board is certain that visiting Costa Rica is low-risk during the COVID mess. And even though they are the tourism sector, the truth is most things tourists do are outside. Worldwide it has been discovered that there are different strains of the virus, some more virulent than others. In my unskilled opinion, the strain that plagues Costa Rica does not seem to be as deadly as in other countries. In some small communities here a large percentage of the population has had the virus (as it spreads through families), and almost no one has been hospitalized. The mortality rate is extremely low. Even persons with high risk factors have beaten the virus without hospitalization. The maximum capacity of the country’s ICU beds has never been reached.

Of course, I am not promoting a false sense of security. One does not want to become complacent. Wearing an appropriate mask, washing one’s hands regularly and social distancing are still an absolute necessity. The advantage we have in Costa Rica is our year-round summer weather. There is no risk of cabin-fever! And socializing is even possible (with 6 feet of separation) at the beach or hiking in one of the many beautiful national parks, at restaurants with outdoor dining facilities. All that sunshine and fresh air is the best possible thing you can do for your lungs and immune system!

Many airlines have resumed flights to both international airports in Costa Rica. To enter the country, you will need to have completed the online “Health Pass” form which can be found at https://salud.go.cr. You must have proof of having obtained travel insurance, either a pre-approved Costa Rican policy from INS or Sagicor, or an international policy that covers COVID-19 medical expenses of at least $50,000 and $2,000 for lodging. A negative Covid test and quarantining upon arrival are NOT required.

However, you may need a negative Covid test to get back to your home country, check with your local and authorities. The test is readily available in the Playas Del Coco area, if you are coming contact me (see below) and I will send you the information.

Certainly, we all long for the time when life will be “normal” again. In the meantime, Costa Rica is a better much option to be located when deal with this pandemic. Be safe, be healthy and Pura Vida.

Want to keep up with everything that is happening here in Costa Rica? Join my email list!

Want more information about Costa Rica in general visit https://www.costarican-american-connection.com/Costa_Rica_FAQs/page_2575549.html 

Interested in owning a property in Costa Rica, checkout some great options here.

Have a question or a comment about this blog? Email Me

Costa Rica Property Tax, How Much?

Many times, I get asked “how much is the property tax in Costa Rica?” The sweet and short answer is: it is very low.

property tax in Costa Rica

Costa Rica property tax is based on the registered value of the property. The value is registered with the local municipality and the national registry. Say for example you purchase a great ocean view lot in the Playa del Coco area. The lot has views to die for and you getting ready to build your dream home. The lots cost you as an example, $100,000 US dollars.
The property tax will be only $250.00 per year, plus garbage and parks tax. Depending on the municipality it could be roughly another $100.00 per year. Still, that is incredibly low. But hold on, you want to build your dream home, right? Well, the property tax will go up. Let me explain.

Before you even start the construction you of course need building permits. It is a bit of a process, but a very good one. First your final design and blue prints need to be sent to the Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y Arquitectos de Costa Rica, this is the Federated College of Engineers and Architects. They will review your plans to ensure that the design of construction and plans meet Costa Rica building codes. By the way, the Costa Rica building codes are very strong, some of the best in the world actually, especially pertaining to earthquake resistance strength.
Once the College of Engineers and Architects grants approvals for the plan, they will place a value of the construction based on formulas they have created and adjust annually based on material costs. This dollar amount is always less than what you are paying a builder to construct your home – I know I have built 2 homes already in Costa Rica.
How does this relate to the property tax value? When it is time apply for the building permits with the local municipality, they will require the approved plans and construction value the College of Engineers and Architects, along with other items, but that’s another topic to cover.
The registered value of your lot, that was previously registered is now added together with construction value. Another example to get to the final number: the piece of land cost you $100,000 the construction value let’s say for fun is $200,000, Now the new registered value in the municipality for property tax purpose is $300,000. Your new property taxes would then be $ 750.00 per year. Now that is low!!
When purchasing a property that is already constructed, the formulation is different but the percentage of tax remains the same, .25% of the registered value. With property taxes this low, it is no wonder many people are buying property in Costa Rica and making Costa Rica their next adventure.

Want to keep up with everything that is happening here in Costa Rica?  Join my email list!

Want more information about Costa Rica in general visit https://www.costarican-american-connection.com/Costa_Rica_FAQs/page_2575549.html

Interested in owning a property in Costa Rica, checkout some great options here