Costa Rican GroceriesCosta Rica Cost Of Living Update: Produce Bill for the Week—$18

When not smashing his scooter or getting stitches, my husband joins me grocery shopping. This is our score for the week: eighteen dollars’ worth of fresh produce.

It’s easy to see that the food in Costa Rica is affordable if you choose healthier options. You’re going to pay a lot more if you buy Trix Cereal, Doritos, or any other imported American products. I love that I’m enjoying a healthy lifestyle while sticking to my budget.

And you’ll save even more money by loading it all on your fuel efficient scooter. That’s if you don’t factor in the medical bills after your husband smashes it—and his hand—into a ditch. But even that was a bargain.

About Nadine Hays Pisani

Nadine is the author of the best-selling series, Happier Than A Billionaire. Join her as she navigates living as an expat in the sometimes confusing, always beautiful, country of Costa Rica.
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  1. Ben says:

    My wife and I are considering moving to CR with our 4 kids ranging from high school to elementary. Do you have any suggestions on which area might offer us a better curriculum and coming from the US we would like to meet the same standards as what we are getting here. This would be my daughters last year in high school and would like to bring back to the US a completion/diploma to give to her school here where hopefully she could meet her 12 grade requirements, so she could get her US diploma.

    • Nadine says:

      Hi Ben,

      There is a school near me called the Country Day School of Guanacaste. I’m pretty sure they are accredited and the graduates end up going to top notch colleges.

  2. Cindy says:

    Hi Nadine,

    I just finished your first book on the way to our 3rd trip to CR in a year. It was hilarious!! We’re staying in Pacific Heights & looking for property here. I almost died when I got to the part in your book about that’s where you decided to buy! We went to the produce stand today in Potrero. Anyway, maybe we’ll be neighbors one day. :)

  3. Marilyn Judd says:

    Thanks Nadine, that makes me feel better and I’m sure you’re right. It’s about asking people. We’re planning a trip to CR next year. The first time ever I’m setting my sites on our future home. So excited I can’t stand it!!

  4. Marilyn Judd says:

    Hi Nadine,

    I’ve read some of Arden Brink’s books on moving to Costa Rica as well, along with her blog. One thing she brings up that I’m concerned about (because I hope to live in CR one day as well) is that Ticos use pesticides and other chemicals quite heavily when growing fruits and vegetables. She claims some of these are even banned in the US but used without concern by Ticos. She also says it was very difficult to find organic fruits and vegetables there. What are your thoughts and experiences with this?



    • Nadine says:

      I’ve always been able to find them by asking around. There is a woman near where I live who sells them. As everything in Costa Rica, you really need to seek out people who sell them. When I buy them at the store, I try to stick with things that have a skin with the less likelihood of absorbing the chemicals, and I always… always… wash them good.

  5. Jana says:

    Nadine- My fiance and I have been discussing moving to Costa Rica for a year with our 13 month old daughter. We want to travel for a bit, and learn spanish with her. Listening to your interview with Savannah, was like listening to the story of us. After doing a ton of research we have decided on CR, and came across your blog while doing our normal late night “googling.” We really want to break away from our fast paced life, our technology and our white picket fences. Do you know of one area over another that is good to live in if we have a small child? We are looking to get away from the big city, so we’d prefer something outside of one, as opposed to being smack dab in the middle. Also, is $1200 a month over a years time, a reasonable budget for a family of three? Thank you so much!

    • Nadine says:

      Hi Jana,

      I would start with asking you this: Would you prefer the mountains or beach? If I was someone who loved the water, surfing, lots of fun extra curricular things, I would consider the coast. So many fun things to do here. It’s a very active area.

      But if you love the cooler temps, then definitely go with the mountains. Both areas are equally wonderful, it just depends how you like to live. FOr the most part, anything in the central valley is usually cheaper than at the beach. I live o $1200 a month but I don’t go out to eat much and have to make sure i don’t waste money at the grocery store on things I really shouldn’t eat anyway. I think you could do it if you did the same.

  6. Tina says:

    Love your blog and am hoping to get your book soon. You and your hubby are definitely an inspiration (and hilarious too!). My in-laws left the states and now live near dominical – they have lived in CR for over 5 years now (different locations). Perfect for us, since we love visiting them (we have been there 6 times now). We are now toying with the idea of 6 months in CR/6 months in States (still a little chicken to let go of our home/being away from family permanently), but 1/2 time in both places would be perfect. Question: How difficult is it to find a house-sitting gig like you guys have found. Is it better to find those gigs after getting there (i.e. word of mouth?), or did you go on websites? How did you find the home that was shown on you tube video? We need to live within a $1200/month budget as well (during the 6 months there). We welcome your advice on this particular subject. Pura Vida!

    • Nadine says:

      The best house sitting opportunities usually come after you have lived here a while. I’m not sure if there are any websites out there advertising it, that would be awesome if there was. I think the owners just liked us, knew we lived here for years, and were not going to cut and run.

      • Tina says:

        Thanks Nadine! Great Info. We did sign up on a housesitting website, but I also figured…”I would want to have personally met the people that were caring for my home/pets”. We’ve inquired with some realtors on trying to locate reasonable rent. We do have family who have relocated to CR (living in Uvita, near the Whale Tale) – they love it and have been there for 6 years now. We are still unsure if we can be as brave as you and Rob (not wanting to sell our home because we do love our little beach town in Florida), but we thought “how perfect to live there 6 months, and back in Florida 6 months”. not sure if we can pull it off, but if we want it bad enough, we figure we’d make it work. Love your updates. One more question for you: “how did you decide on the location within Costa Rica – when you first arrived there?”.. We realize some places may be cheaper, (rent wise?) i.e. La Fortuna maybe?..but my husband is an avid surfer, so it would make sense to be closer to the ocean, especially if we don’t get a car for a while? In your travels, have you seen better locations to start our journey…at least to get our “foot in the door”?. thanks a bunch for all your great advice. Pura Vida!

        • Nadine says:

          Hi Tina, I think that it more depends on climate than anything. The beaches are fun, but more expensive. I manage because I don’t go out to eat a lot. I’m very careful with my grocery bill and try to stick to more veggies and fruits. If you are someone who hates the heat, it doesn’t matter how beautiful the beaches are, you probably will not like it here.

          Most cities that are closer to San Jose are cheaper. I would start there first, and then consider spreading out once you got the lay of the land.

  7. laura says:

    I just wanted to tell you how much I love both of your books. I am so disappointed now that I have run out of your stories to read. I can’t wait to read more about your adventures. They are fantastic and I love your candid nature. Hurry up and write some more books! Your writing is awesome and so funny.
    And, I love your parents. Especially your Dad. I love the way he sticks up for his “little girl’ whenever someone tries to criticize your book. He is the BEST!
    What gets me about these critical people is that even though they claim they hate the book, they still continue to finish it. A sane person would stop reading a book if it was THAT bad rather than write nasty reviews. Shaking my Head.
    Keep up the great writing work. And get those books finished. I can’t wait!!!

  8. The Costa Rican term for doing your grocery shopping is “el diario” – it didn’t take me long to figure out why. We go to the local supermarket “Super Christian” in La Fortuna daily and just today saw that Super Christian has a special little section on organics! Our other favorite spots for produce in #CostaRica ? The #FeriaVerde in San José, #FincaLunaNueva Organic Farm in San Carlos and our own backyard! I’m still surprised at the bountiful, delicious fresh salads we’ve been able to make from just a few green plants and a little organic fertilizer! Love this blog, Nadine! Keep up the great work!

  9. Belinda says:

    I just spent over $100.00 on groceries for one week and most of it consisted of fruits and veggies. $18.00 is really a bargain.

    • Nadine says:

      Sometimes we spend more, depending on what store we hit. But this one always has the best deals and reminds me so much of the prices when I lived in Grecia.

  10. Sabra Rounds says:

    We paid more attention to prices on our trip in July, and decided we could do without the $5 small-sized bag of potato chips and the $7 box of cereal. It really does force you to eat healthier! Instead we had coconuts from one of the trees on the property, LOTS of fruits and veggies, and rice and beans. In my opinion, much better than the potato chips and cereal!

  11. Jason says:

    I can’t wait to get back!

    What is your spot for produce in CR? We usually went to the stand in Potrero.

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