Retire early in La Fortuna Costa Rica for $1126 per month

In this report, I share my retire early in La Fortuna Costa Rica for $1126 per month estimated cost of living. Then I will share the fun things we did with our boots on the ground in La Fortune. 

We are touring around the world finding the best places to retire early for cheap. I left the USA in 2007 and I have lived in our visited 67 countries so far. We have over 100 retire cheap reports all over the world in our reports catalog at

We are presently investigating the best places to retire in Central America. We just completed our research on La Fortuna, Costa Rica. La Fortune is our third stop in Costa Rica. We first completed reports on Quepos and Uvita, Costa Rica before coming here to La Fortuna.

We head to Tamarindo Costa Rica next. Subscribe to our Youtube Channel if you are curious about the best places in the world to retire early for cheap in paradise. That is what we share here.

Our first two stops in Costa Rica were beach communities. We picked La Fortuna because it is a cooler hill station in the mountains. Many people prefer cooler weather and a less congested lifestyle than the beach, so we usually include the best hill stations when we investigate new countries.

The subscriber that suggested we investigate La Fortuna also said that it was cheaper than the beach communities and many of the other hill stations. Many of our subscribers are retiring internationally overseas with less money than they could retire in their home country. So, the cost of living is an important factor.

La Fortuna is a small mountain town as shown on the Google map below at the base of Mount Arenal, a volcano. Lake Arenal is on the other side of the volcano and stretches on for miles.

La Fortuna is mostly just a temporary stop for tourists visiting Mount Arenal, Lake Arenal, and the Volcano Arenal National Park. But there are also some ex-pats that have retired early or live in La Fortuna.

La Fortuna is actually only at 250-meters elevation or 820 feet above sea level. So it is not as cool as other hill stations in Costa Rica or other parts of Central America. 

First, I will share my estimated costs of living in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

After that, I will show you our favorite sloth sanctuary tour, our tour of the national park, our tour of the best volcano hot springs, and our favorite restaurants and places to buy groceries.

Cost of Living in La Fortuna Costa Rica

Here is my estimated cost of living if Qiang and I were to live in La Fortuna Costa Rica. But we are all different, so you will have to visit and do an exploratory visit in order to estimate your estimated cost of living here.

Rents: To rent an unfurnished 1 bedroom apartment, you will have to pay around $350-$450 per month for local style accommodations depending on the square footage. If you want to live in a more Americanized place it could easily cost you another few hundred per month depending on how much space and modern amenities you want. Since this is my estimate of what it would cost me to live here, and I am comfortable with the local style accommodations, I will use $350 per month for rent which does not include utilities. You will not find local-style apartments advertised online. You have to put your feet on the ground. I also provide a link to my report about how to find perfect apartments around the world.

Utilities: Although this is not a sea level, it is not at a high enough elevation to avoid air conditioning completely. I estimate my electric bill would range from about $70 per month on average for the year. My gas will run about $10 per month, water will be about $10 per month. So my electric, gas, and water would average around $90 per month.

Groceries: Based upon our time here and the money we spent on groceries, we estimate about $380 USD per month on groceries for two people.

Restaurants: If we went out to eat twice per week, once for date night and once for a lunch somewhere, we would spend about $40 per week or $160 per month in restaurants for the two of us.

Cell Phone Data: The cost to recharge prepaid service is about $16 USD per month for Claro Service. My android phone will act as a hotspot so we can both be on the internet at the same time when we are out of the house together.

Laundry: We could send our laundry out once per week for about $15 to wash, dry, and fold, so about $60 per month.

Water: The tap water is fairly clean in La Fortuna, so we were just drinking out of the tap.

Internet: The Internet will be about $50 per month depending on how fast you need your service.

Transportation: Everything you would want in La Fortuna is fairly walkable. So we would pay about $20 per month in transportation since we would ride our bikes mostly. They have Uber Taxis in La Fortuna which made taxis way cheaper than other parts of Costa Rica where they often charge tourists more than locals. 

Alcohol (Optional): Local beers in La Fortuna are about $1.35 USD in stores. If you watch and buy in bulk on sale you may save a little. But in bars and restaurants, beers run about $3 to $6 USD. So for two people, we estimate about $130 USD per month for alcohol since we would drink more at home.

Entertainment (Optional): There isn’t much to do in La Fortuna for free. Many forms of entertainment required money. So we would budget about $250 per month for entertainment for the two of us.

La Fortuna

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Alcohol (Optional)


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The above cost of living is for 2 people but is just an estimate on the low end. For a full understanding of what it would cost you to live here, visit Numbeo La Fortuna and add anything you spend money on in your home country that is not mentioned in the table. Our costs of living are generally much lower than a new traveler’s because we are great bargain hunters but there are a few people that live cheaper than we do.

Never move anywhere until you have visited first personally to verify the living costs for your lifestyle and needs. I am not guaranteeing these prices. These are just my notes and estimates from the time of my visit and this post. Your costs will likely be drastically different depending on your lifestyle and the time since this post.

Our estimated cost to retire early in La Fortuna Costa Rica for $1126 per month is less than most ex-pats report spending. You will hear more typical living costs in the range of $1600 to $3000 per month. But people spending that much also have higher incomes or pensions. They often report spending more on entertainment, eating out, and alcohol. Many also have more expensive cars, houses, or apartments.

If you are going to try to retire cheap offshore, make sure to read my report, the Two Biggest Risks of Retiring Early for Cheap Offshore, which explains why you should have emergency funds available for unexpected large expenses.

La Fortuna Livability Factors and Retirement Desirability Score

Here are some of the factors I think about when I consider a place for early retirement potential. After I discuss each factor I will assign an overall retirement desirability score to La Fortuna.

Walkability: High Desirability I love living in walkable areas of the world where you can walk to restaurants, grocery stores, nightlife, parks, and other interesting things to do. La Fortuna is completely walkable. We would probably just purchase bicycles if we lived here.

Internet: High. The Att Speed Test in our apartment WIFI was 42 Mbps download speeds and 13 Mbps upload speeds. So the Internet speeds were better than what we needed for our purposes.

Food: High. There are several really good local restaurants (Soda’s) offering delicious local food for $4 to $5 USD per entree. There was also a decent assortment of international-style restaurants when considering the size of La Fortuna. But the international foods seem pricey with most meals starting at $8 or $12 USD.

Weather: Medium. The warmest months are March through May when daytime highs average around 33C, 91F, and nights average around 23C, 73F. The other months are almost the same with average daytime highs around 31C, 88F, and night lows average around 22C, 72F. So the temperatures do not vary that much by season. La Fortuna feels muggy May through November with October being the muggiest. The rainy season is May through October making the sunny season December through April. But make sure to visit during both seasons before deciding to live here.

Things to Do: Medium. Hiking, hot springs, tennis, kayaking, standup paddleboarding, fishing, swimming, canopy, biking, live music (some), cooking, gym, yoga, restaurants, running, shopping, coffee shops, dirt biking, quads, and hiking.

Healthcare: Medium. You can get routine dental and medical services at the clinics in La Fortuna but for specialized services such as surgery, you will need to visit the capital San Jose, Costa Rica, which is about 3 hours away by car or bus. The bus to San Jose costs about $5 USD. Once you become a resident of Costa Rica, you can sign up for public healthcare which costs 7 to 11% of your income or pension if you are retired. Healthcare is one of the major reasons many retirees move to Costa Rica.

Social Considerations: Medium. If you decide to retire in La Fortuna, you will want to learn some Spanish, since it is more local-centric and less expat-centric. You will find many people in day-to-day life that speak some English in La Fortuna, but your life will be more full if you are able to communicate meaningfully with everyone around you.

Expats: Medium. There are several Facebook groups for ex-pats living in Costa Rica. This is the largest in La Fortuna and most of the correspondence is in English. I suggest people join these groups to ask questions and get answers to questions that only an ex-pat would know. Many of the ex-pats living in Costa Rica choose to live in the sparsely populated villages along the north side of Lake Arenal such as near Nuevo Arenal. But make sure to make friends with both locals and ex-pats for a richer experience living here. I explain why in my report, The Top 10 Mistakes International Retirees Make.

Real Estate: High. On the day I wrote this report, I was curious how much a small house would cost in or near La Fortuna. So, I used Google to translate “Homes for sale in La Fortuna Costa Rica” into Spanish, “Casas en venta La Fortuna Costa Rica” and the following cheapest houses were offered for sale starting at around $100,000 USD.

These houses probably won’t be available for long, but wanted to have an idea of what a place big enough for me would cost if I moved to La Fortuna Costa Rica. This is much cheaper than anything else I saw, so you may have to dig deep for a few months to get something similar.

But I never recommend buying real estate until you have lived somewhere for at least 2 to 3 years. In fact, I have a report explaining Why Retired Expats Should not Buy Real Estate Overseas for the first 2 to 3 years of living somewhere new overseas. Make sure to read that before deciding to buy real estate overseas.

Visa: High. Citizens of many countries are given a 90-day visa-free tourist stamp upon arrival in Costa Rica. If you fall in love with Costa Rica during your exploratory visit and decide to stay you will need to apply for your retirement visa. The retiree residence status has no minimum age requirement but you must show a permanent income from pension, retirement funds, or social security of $1,000.00 USD per month along with police clearance.

Safety: High. Costa Rica is generally one of the safer countries to live or travel to in Central and South America. Costa Rica was ranked 39th in safety on the Global Peace Index for 2021. But make sure to read my report on how to travel the world safely, including in your home country. I provide all of my tips and tricks that have kept me safe for 14+ years traveling the world.

La Fortuna Costa Rica Overall Retirement Desirability Score: High, if you are looking for the simple uncomplicated rural life in a simple small village surrounded by natural beauty. La Fortuna thrives mainly on tourism so there is a relatively high number of English speakers here. Tourism focuses mostly on visiting the beautiful national park with hiking, swimming, wild animal watching, and adrenaline sports. But many of those activities are guided tours which will add up quickly and that would be expensive.

Personally, I would rank it medium desirability to retire early for cheap because it doesn’t offer many cultural opportunities, which is one of the things I enjoy most about living in foreign countries.

Here are some of our favorite things to do in La Fortuna, our favorite restaurants, and our favorite places to find groceries.

Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal (National Park)

Of course, you also have to visit Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal while you are in La Fortuna. Here are the spots we visited in order on the Google Map below.


Point one is the entrance to the park, point two is the 400-year-old ceibo tree, point three is the 1992 lava flows, and point 4 is the entrance to the peninsula that jets out into the lake. This is about a one-half-a-day hike. Make sure to access the Google Map on your smartphone before heading to the park entrance. There are not many cell phone towers near the lake, so the coverage is spotty. The entry fee to the park is $15 USD per adult and they do not take cash, so bring your credit card.

Sloth and Redfrog Sanctuary

Qiang still had not seen a sloth up close in other parts of Costa Rica, so we sprung for another wild animal spotting tour with a guide. We lucked out this time. We saw a baby sloth only about 10 feet from the trail. He was on the ground when we arrived and slowly climbed the tree in front of us as shown in the above video.

We were at a private sloth sanctuary that sloths frequent because it does have the swarms of tourists you see in other places, so they have more privacy. We also spotted another of the animals Qiang had not seen yet, the red frog, shown in the video above

The Uber taxi to and from the sanctuary was about $3 USD each way. The Sanctuary cost us about $27 USD each and was about a 20-minute taxi ride out of town.

Here is the Private Sanctuary where we were.

Baldi Hot Springs

One of the benefits of living near a volcano is all the choices and price points that are available for hot springs. The volcano heats up the groundwater and it bubbles up to the surface all over the place.

We had seen pictures of the Baldi hot springs and although it is one of the most expensive hot springs in the area, we d decided to go anyway because of all of the great photos we knew would get there for the above video.

The entrance fee to the park was $37 per adult for day passes. They also have day passes that include food for $57 per adult but we heard the food wasn’t worth the $20 per entree they are charging. The Uber taxi to and from the hot springs was about $3 USD each way.

La Fortuna’s Best Restaurants and Grocery Stores

There are links below to our favorite local restaurants in La Fortuna, with our favorites on top. We tried a few of the expensive ex-pat (tourist) places but none of them had good enough food to justify paying two to three times as much as the local restaurants. Local restaurants in Costa Rica are called “Sodas.” The meal of the day is called a Casada. They usually come in pork, chicken, beef, or vegetarian and run from $4 to $5 USD. Here are the best Sodas in order.

Best. Soda la Hormiga

Second Best. Soda Víquez

Third Best. Soda Mima

Here is where we shopped in La Fortuna for groceries.

Super Mega: This is an expensive grocery store. You will find expensive nonperishables here but the fresh fruits and vegetables often seem too expensive and not as fresh as we like.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: Here are a few of the places where we buy fresh fruits and vegetables. One, two.

Bread: Qiang bough bread products here.

Where We Stayed

We stayed in this Airbnb during the 7 days we spent in La Fortuna and got a cheaper weekly rate. We enjoyed the place but it is just not a sustainable budget for us long term at $27 USD per night. So rent something just for the first week or so and then read my report about how to find perfect apartments around the world. You will almost never find the best long-term deals on Airbnb.

Thanks for reviewing our report, Retire early in La Fortuna Costa Rica for $1126 per month. Click the link below this video for the full report on La Fortuna. And while at that link, grab a free copy of my eBook: How I Fired My Boss and Traveled the World for 14 Years!

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This is Dan of Vagabond Awake, the Youtube channel for Thank you for stopping by. The world is your home. What time will you be home for dinner?