Teach English in Costa Rica: Financial Snapshot
ESL teachers in Costa Rica can enjoy a moderate lifestyle with low cost of housing, dining, and travelling. They typically earn between 250,000 CRC and 500,000 CRC per month.
There are various housing options for ESL teachers in Costa Rica. Many choose to stay with a family approved by their school, where one can rent a room for around 100,000 - 200,000 CRC per month. Apartment costs vary depending upon large versus small city centres and are generally higher in the Central Valley region. They range between 200,000 - 300,000 CRC per month for a modest level of accommodation.
Costa Rica has two types of banks: private and state-owned. State-owned banks include: Banco Nacional de Costa Rica, Banco de Costa Rica, and BanCredito. There are several private banks in Costa Rica, including: HSBC, BAC San José, and BanCrecen.
There are advantages and disadvantages of both the private and state-owned banks. State-owned banks are more secure, while private banks are generally more progressive, more customer service oriented and offer more services in English.
Internet banking is available with most private and public banks, allowing one to pay bills and transfer funds. ATMs are available everywhere and are a very handy way to withdraw cash for shopping in markets. Some ATMs charge a service fee, which can be hefty. Credit cards are accepted at most stores and are the standard for transactions. As credit card theft if commonplace, caution should be exercised.
Most banks in Costa Rica are open Monday through Friday, 09:00–16:00.
The following documentation is required in order to open a bank account in Costa Rica:
- Passport or Cedula (Costa Rican ID card)
- Letter from bank in one’s home country
- Two or more local reference letters
- Personeria Juridicia (Notarized Personal Guarantee)
- Cedula Juridica (Corporate ID)
A couple of tips:
- ESL teachers should take start up money to cover initial set up costs, apartment costs, and other living expenses prior to receiving their first paycheque.
- Credit card companies in one’s home country should be made aware of one’s relocation so that they don’t freeze accounts when they see charges in another country.
- Caution should be exercised when using ATM machines by covering the keypad when entering the PIN.
The cost of living in Costa Rica is quite low; however, as in most countries, the purchase price of imported goods is generally higher than those found in North America. The following table provides ESL teachers with examples of approximate cost of food in Costa Rica. Prices listed are in Costa Rica Colones (¢).
- 1 lb. Potatoes - 190 CRC
- 1 lb. Black Beans - 590 CRC
- Pineapple (large) - 450 CRC
- Bananas (large bunch) - 200 CRC
- Loaf of French Bread - 748 CRC
- Corn (each cob) - 78 CRC
- 1 lb. Eggs - 354 CRC
- Lettuce (each) - 399 CRC
- Orange (each) - 43 CRC
- 1 lb. Chicken Breasts - 910 CRC
Chain Grocery Stores:
- 1 lb. Red Delicious Apples - 580 CRC
- Pineapple (each) - 625 CRC
- 1 lb. Potatoes - 310 CRC
- Cucumber (each) - 175 CRC
- 1 lb. Bananas - 120 CRC
- 1 dozen Eggs (Grade A) - 1,198 CRC
- Kraft Macaroni & Cheese - 375 CRC
- ½ gallon Whole Milk - 515 CRC
- 1 lb. Chicken Breasts - 1,440 CRC
- 20 fl. oz. Coke - 390 CRC
- Microwave Popcorn (each) - 215 CRC
- 1 lb. Coffee - 1,295 CRC
Other Miscellaneous Items:
- Complete Meal in Local Restaurant - 3,494 CRC
- Aquafresh Toothpaste (6.4 oz) - 880 CRC
- Secret Deodorant (2.6 oz) - 1,480 CRC
- Ivory Soap (3-pack) - 1,180 CRC
- Movie Ticket - 2,260 CRC