Teach English in Costa Rica: Financial Snapshot

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 370,000 CRC and 650,000 CRC per month.

Living and Teaching in Costa Rica
Costa Rica: At a Glance
Costa Rica: Living in Costa Rica
Costa Rica: Teaching ESL in Costa Rica
Costa Rica: Financial Snapshot




Expected Apartment Costs in Costa Rica
Banking in Costa Rica
Food Costs in Costa Rica


Expected Apartment Costs in Costa Rica

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 centers and are generally higher in the Central Valley region. They start in price at a range between 200,000 - 300,000 CRC per month for a modest level of accommodation. Small houses are typically also available for rent in a similar price range, and sharing accomodations with fellow teachers is a popular option for many teachers.

Banking in Costa Rica

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 BanCrecer.

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.

Food Costs in Costa Rica

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 (CRC).

Local Market:

  • 1 Kg Potatoes - 1,130 CRC
  • Pineapple (large) - 500 CRC
  • 1 Kg Bananas - 780 CRC
  • .5 Kg Loaf of Bread - 1,070 CRC
  • 1 Kg Tomatoes - 1,250 CRC
  • 12 Eggs - 1,500 CRC
  • Lettuce (1 head) - 500 CRC
  • 1 Kg Oranges - 1,400 CRC
  • .5 Kg Chicken Fillets - 2,150 CRC

Chain Grocery Stores:

  • 1.5 Kg Red Apples - 2,260 CRC
  • 1 Kg Potatoes - 1,130 CRC
  • 1 Kg Papayas - 550 CRC
  • 1 Kg Bananas - 470 CRC
  • 12 Eggs (Grade A) - 1,500 CRC
  • 250 g Pasta Noodles - 375 CRC
  • 1 L Milk - 1,200 CRC
  • 1 Kg Boneless Chicken Breasts - 4,300 CRC
  • 355 mL Can of Coke - 985 CRC
  • Microwave Popcorn (each) - 215 CRC
  • 500 g Ground Coffee - 2,800 CRC

Other Miscellaneous Items:

  • Complete Meal for 2 in Mid-Range Restaurant - 27,700 CRC
  • Domestic Beer (.5 L Bottle) - 1,500 CRC
  • Deodorant - 1,600 CRC
  • McDonald's Happy Meal - 4,500 CRC
  • Movie Ticket - 3,500 CRC

Other Latin America Countries:

Argentina ~ Brazil ~ Chile ~ Colombia ~ Costa Rica ~ Ecuador ~ Guatemala ~ Honduras ~ Mexico ~ Panama ~ Peru