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 250,000 CRC and 570,000 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 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.


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 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.


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 (¢).

Local Market:

  • 1 lb. Potatoes - 500
  • 1 lb. Black Beans - 590 CRC
  • Pineapple (large) - 450 CRC
  • Bananas (large bunch) - 620 CRC
  • Loaf of French Bread - 1000 CRC
  • Corn (each cob) - 78 CRC
  • 12 Eggs - 1,600CRC
  • Lettuce (each) - 430 CRC
  • Orange (each) - 43 CRC
  • 1 lb. Chicken Breasts - 1,450 CRC

Chain Grocery Stores:

  • 1 lb. Red Delicious Apples - 580 CRC
  • Pineapple (each) - 625 CRC
  • 1 lb. Potatoes - 500 CRC
  • Cucumber (each) - 175 CRC
  • 1 lb. Bananas - 120 CRC
  • 1 dozen Eggs (Grade A) - 1,600CRC
  • Kraft Macaroni & Cheese - 375 CRC
  • ½ gallon Whole Milk - 1,500 CRC
  • 1 lb. Chicken Breasts - 1,900 CRC
  • 12 fl. oz. Coke - 800 CRC
  • Microwave Popcorn (each) - 215 CRC
  • 1 lb. Coffee - 1,295 CRC

Other Miscellaneous Items:

  • Complete Meal in Local Restaurant - 4,000 CRC
  • Toothpaste (6.4 oz) - 1,500 CRC
  • Deodorant (2.6 oz) - 1,480 CRC
  • Ivory Soap (3-pack) - 2,000 CRC
  • Movie Ticket - 2,500 CRC

Other Latin America Countries:

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