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Can you really still find rentals under $500/month?

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I just did a 2-week whiz bang loop tour with the intention of checking out 3 specific areas with a couple of beach stops on the way. I went from Alajuela to Grecia, then San Ramon and Palmares. Then hopped a bus to Jaco for a day and on to Quepos and Manuel Antonio for 2. Then to San Isidro del General PZ back to Alajuela and out.


I was particularly interested in San Ramon or Palmares and San Isidro as a place to live. I got the best "vibe" for all of my concerns in San Isidro which is at a great elevation weather wise and about an hour to Domincal by public bus. All the city amenities you could want plus a great weekly feria and extremely affordable all around. I was assured after the better part of a day being shown around on foot and by car that it would be very possible to find comfortable and safe rentals furnished and with all utilities for $300-$400. And I don't doubt that.


I think this is one of the best areas to live in as far as affordability and quality of life issues. But remember, this is from someone who has only had a brief visit and is no authority. Just food for thought and research.

Edited by FredS
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We live on about $1200 per month. It's just me and my husband (and my doggy!) We pay $550/month for rent for a tiny 1-bedroom apartment in San Jose with a small patio. We share one small car. We go out to bars about twice a week, probably order food twice a week as well. We don't do lots of other spending.


So yes, it's possible. And yes, it highly depends on life style. I know we couldn't live on just $1200/month at the beach, I'd want AC 24/7! B)

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I think you would be happier in Florida on $1200/mo. Too much can go wrong in CR that will cause you to exceed that budget. Does not leave a margin of safety IMO, especially if you are a gringo. Tico can possibly live on that budget and many (or even the majority) do but even they struggle and for a gringo I would say its close to impossible especially at the beach and especially if you want to live comfortably. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but I'd never consider this plan on that budget.

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One advantage to trying to live on a modest income in Florida would be the availability of some "social safety net" programs, like Food Stamps, that don't exist here.


Yes, that is exactly my point. There is a safety net in Florida. Besides the basics are cheaper. Living at the beach in CR at $1200/mo. would be an absolutely miserable experience.

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  • 3 weeks later...

This is a great thread for me. I particularly enjoyed Fred's journey! I have recently contacted 2 'travel agents' to get me from the airport to areas north and west of the GMA of SJ here in a few months. I feel this is the best part of the country for me to start exploring. I am only 41 and need to supplement the meager rental income that I will be preventing me from going broke eventually if I don't 'pick up the pace' in CR.


I currently distribute small custom electronics and plan on trying to continue that by importing 7 tiny parts and exporting them after assembly in batches of around 50. I have heard it takes awhile to get an apdo (PO box) and so I am working with existing ex-pats to get ingrained quicker than just wandering around on my own (or following a gringo RE guide - WORSE).


The consistent good advice, which correlates to my travels in their entirety, is that you find good deals by being integrated into a community. Getting that amazing deal on rent in CR seems like going to your neighbor's garage sale -- if you know the people, they are way less likely to take you for everything you are worth.


I feel for families that live on poverty income wherever they are and understand their motivations. Better yet, speaking their language (even through an interpreter if required) in person is going to get you a WAY different deal that trying to pick off a 'bargain' from "on-the-line" (online).


Ideally, I would enjoy eventually stumbling into house-sitting for a deep-pocket as the service you provide (by living in a great house) is your discount to your rent.

First, I have to get on the ground. << This seems to be the key to getting deals on things (anywhere).


thanks for reading (anyone need a house-sitter for their empty haci?),



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Sorry to ask this right off but after reading though your post Ron I am wondering whehter you are planning to come to Costa Rica and work running your little electronics business and doing housesitting, yet with no thought towards applying for residency.


Just curious...


Paul M.


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  • 2 months later...

My husband and I are doing the same as you in Jan 2015. But he is going taking intensive language course for 7 weeks. We also live near coast in Florida right now - Pompano Beach. Do you live near us? I am on soc security but my husband doesn't reach 62 for 3 years. In process of getting pensionado status. We are going to live in the valley though. Like it a bit cooler. We can always visit the beach in Florida which I walk along most every day. If you live near us, would love to get together to talk about our January plans. Also taking a 2 week trip in Sept to try to get the pensionado papers in the hat. Have been to CR many times and stay with a CR family, but may in the future want to rent our own place - not sure where yet.

Linda H

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