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Food Costs in Costa Rica: 45% Less than U.S. Prices?

Food Costs in Costa Rica

Emilie Hardman

While not the cheapest place to live in Central America, Costa Rica still offers a considerable savings on most consumer goods when compared with their North American counterparts.  Food is just one great example of the savings that await you if you choose to relocate to this beautiful expat haven.

Not only is the food inexpensive, it’s fresh, locally grown, and often free of pesticides and other chemicals.  Many native Costa Ricans and expats alike place great emphasis on good health, so the available food selections reflect this lifestyle.  You can find a North American candy bar if you try hard enough, but you’ll usually pay a hefty premium for these and other imported products.

The good news is that there are many local products that are often as good, if not better than the imported options.  A variety of grocery stores are available, as are street vendors and farmer’s markets.

The cost of food, like any other expense, will vary greatly depending on your location and other factors, such as the quality or brand name you choose for each individual item.  However, to give you a general idea of the savings, here’s a sample grocery bill that compares Costa Rica food costs against the price of the same item in the U.S.


Costa Rica


% Discount

Eggs, 1 dozen




Sirloin steaks, 1 lb




Milk, 1 liter




Bananas, 12

$  .42



Toilet tissue, 8 ct




















Cheese, large round, 1 lb




Lettuce, 1 head




Spaghetti, 1 lb

$  .80



Coffee, 1 lb




Loaf of fresh bread




Potatoes, 5 lb bag




Shrimp, 1 lb




Chicken breasts, 1 kg frozen




Reese’s cup candy bar


$  .79


Tomatoes, 1 lb

$  .35







That’s over 45% in savings on food costs in Costa Rica!  And without sacrificing any quality, at that.  In fact, many items are hardly even worth comparing, since Costa Rica’s coffee and fruits are far superior to North American ones.

You may have noticed that a few items are actually more expensive to buy in Costa Rica, like the aforementioned candy bar.  Items that aren’t as widely grown or manufactured and have to be transported can sometimes cost a bit more.  Another surprise is that seafood doesn’t represent a bigger cost savings.  Costa Rica exports most of its seafood so, while it is cheaper, the difference isn’t a huge one.

Again, the cost of feeding your family will ultimately depend on your individual tastes and where you do your shopping.  If you buy everything from your local big box supermarket, you probably won’t save nearly as much as if you employ some smarter shopping tactics.  Get your fresh meats and produce from the farmer’s markets or your local butcher.  Drive to the coast for seafood.  Save the supermarket chains for staples like toiletries and packaged products.

No matter your lifestyle, you’re sure to be pleasantly surprised by the food selections available in Costa Rica.  Your health will thank you.  Your wallet will thank you.


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One thought on “Food Costs in Costa Rica: 45% Less than U.S. Prices?

  1. roert hallowell

    ive been here almost a year i dont know where your shopping but its not costa rica food clothes tools material are double to triple us. even dental and medical is same

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