In this report, I share my retire early in Uvita Costa Rica for $1531 per month estimated cost of living.
I have over 120 reports about my best places to retire cheap overseas, my tricks and tips about overseas living, and how I was able to quit before retirement age and travel the world full time.
After spending a few months touring around Panama, we jumped on a bus and headed north into Costa Rica. I should disclose that I was a little hesitant about going to Costa Rica because it proved to be very expensive the last time I was there 9 years ago.
Our first stop in Costa Rica was Uvita. I was last in Costa Rica about 10 years ago, but this was my first time in Uvita. Uvita is about 40 minutes north of the border with Panama on the Pacific Ocean and about 1.5 hours south of Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica.
First, I will share my estimated costs of living in Uvita, Costa Rica.
Then, I discuss my early retirement livability factors, such as walkability, food, social considerations, visa information, healthcare, weather, and real estate.
After that, I will show you our three favorite places to spend the day in Uvita including two beaches and a waterfall. Finally, I will share our favorite places to buy groceries and our favorite restaurants along with the costs of meals we had.
But you do not need to take notes. I will provide a link to all of this information in writing at the end of this video including Google Map links.
I will start with our cost of living estimate for two people, but first I want to answer the question, who would love to live in Uvita Costa Rica?
Who would love to live in Uvita Costa Rica?
Towns near the beach in Costa Rica are the most expensive, especially if they have a high concentration of ex-pats. Uvita is a small town in the south of Costa Rica that is not as well known yet but it has become the tourist capital of southern Costa Rica because of the Marino Ballena National Park and its famous Whale’s Tail. More on that later.
The first thing you notice when you get to Uvita is the stunning greenery all around you. Uvita has the Pacific Ocean on one side and stunning green mostly undeveloped jungle-covered mountains on the other side.
Uvita is slowly becoming known as more ex-pats have begun to live, work, and retire in this area. The people who move to Uvita are all about nature. So it is a great place for people interested in a small town rural atmosphere. Unlike the other villages on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Uvita seems to have a higher concentration of foreigners.
So if you are looking for a small town on the beach with an ex-pat community to associate with, but without the hustle and bustle of some of the better-known beach areas of further north in Costa Rica, Uvita may be your choice. But Uvita is expensive.
So, if you are looking for a more authentic Costa Rican experience, that is less influenced by foreign sensibilities and pricing, you may want to take a look at some of the villages north and south of Uvita along the coast. There you will find cheaper rents and local foods and prices. But you will need to know more Spanish the further you move from ex-pat communities.
In Uvita, the beaches that are walkable are inside the Marino Ballena National Park and they cost $6 USD for foreigners to enter. So if you are like me, and you love running on the beach in the morning, that would add up quickly. There are no monthly or annual tickets available, but if you get Costa Rican Residency the entrance fee is $1.75.
There are beaches outside the park such as Playa Hermosa which is 5.3 Kilometers (3.2 Miles) north of Uvita central. The taxi to Playa Hermosa costs about $5 to 7 USD each way. That means that if you are a beach lover, and you decided to move here, you would need a car or bicycle to get to the beach.
So who would love Uvita? Uvita is for nature lovers. People that want to be near beaches, mountains, and jungles. People that like less populated, less trendy, and less touristy areas, but want at least some ex-pats to associate with. Okay, let’s talk about my estimated cost of living in Uvita, Costa Rica.
Cost of Living in Uvita Costa Rica
Here is my estimated cost of living for two people in Uvita Costa Rica. This is not what it will cost you to live here because we are all different. To find out your cost of living here, you will need to do an exploratory visit.
Rents: To rent an unfurnished small 1 bedroom apartment, you will have to pay around $500-$800 per month. If you want to live in a more Americanized place, it could easily cost you another few hundred dollars 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 $500 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. You will need to explore the neighborhoods to find one and talk to the locals. At that price ($500), it is not likely to be in the central part of Uvita. I also provide a link to my report about how to find perfect apartments around the world.
Utilities: This is at sea level so you will need AC many nights of the year to sleep. But I estimate my electric bill would range from about $100 per month. My gas will run about $10 per month, water will be about $10 per month. So my electric, gas, and water would average around $120 per month.
Groceries: Based upon our time here and the money we spent on groceries, we estimate about $425 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 $50 per week or $200 per month in restaurants for the two of us.
Cell Phone Data: We need Internet access from time to time when we are out of the house, for Google Maps and other searches. 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 Uvita, 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.
Uber/Taxi/Buses: Everything you would want in Uvita is fairly walkable, but we may need a taxi to get groceries home or to go on excursions (or no-fee beaches). So we would pay about $100 per month in transportation. But we would probably purchase bicycles to get around and stay healthy. But most people would need a car or motorcycle if they moved here. I estimate we would average about $160 per month for transportation for insurance, gas, and repairs. We would buy a used vehicle for around $6k cash so we wouldn’t have any payments.
Alcohol (Optional): Local beers in Costa Rica are about $1.40 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 $4 to $6 USD. So for two people, we estimate about $160 USD per month for alcohol since we would drink more at home.
Entertainment (Optional): We were able to find a bunch of free fun stuff to do in many other countries in Central America. But that was not as true in Costa Rica. I mentioned the $6 beach charge per person. You can ride your bike to the free beach in Costa Rica to save the $5 USD taxi ride each way, but you will still need some budget for entertainment in Costa Rica. We would set a budget of $200 per month for the two of us.
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 Uvita 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 Uvita Costa Rica for $1531 per month is less than most ex-pats report spending. You will hear more typical living costs in the range of $2000 to $5000 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.
Uvita Livability Factors and Overall 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 Uvita.
Walkability: Low 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. When I am living in a beach community, I like to run on the beach in the morning and walk on the beach in the evening. The beach is walkable from Uvita but they are charging $6 to go to the walkable beach. Who wants to live in a beach community where you have to pay $6 to go to the beach? If it is 2 of you, that is $12 per day or $360 per month to walk on the beach. I read online that once you get residency, it is only $1.75 per day per person. That would be $52.50 per month for beach access for two people assuming you want to go every day. There are beaches that are free but you would have to buy a bike to get there because it is 3 miles each way. If you take a taxi to get to the free beach, they charge you $5 to $7 each way for a taxi. So although most things in Uvita are walkable, the beach is not, in my opinion. But if you are a car person then Uvita is probably high desirability because you could drive to the free beach, Playa Hermosa. You should also consider how often you go to the beach. If you only go once or twice per week, maybe Uvita will be affordable, and thus, highly walkable to you.
Internet: Low. The Att Speed Test in our apartment WIFI was 20 Mbps download speeds and 2 Mbps upload speeds. So the Internet speeds were okay for our purposes but the upload speed is a bit slow for large files. If you need a certain Internet speed for your business, I suggest reading my process for finding the perfect apartment which fulfills all of your needs.
Food: Medium. There is a large assortment of international-style restaurants when considering the size of Uvita. But the international foods seem overpriced when compared to other parts of Latin America, with most meaks starting at $8 or $10 USD and upward. There also seems to e a shortage of cheap local-style restaurants serving local food in Uvita. Local-style foods start fat about $5 to $6 USD even for simple meals.
Weather: Medium. The warmest months are February through May when daytime highs average around 33C, 91F, and nights average around 23C, 74F. The other months are almost the same with average daytime highs around 30C, 86F, and night lows average around 21C, 70F. So the temperatures do not vary that much by season. Humidity averages about 80% all year. The rainy season is May through November making the sunny season to December through April. But make sure to visit during both seasons before deciding to live here.
Things to Do: Medium. Golfing, boat fishing, tennis, snorkeling, scuba, surfing, kitesurfing, standup boarding, kayaking, swimming, biking, live music, cooking, gym, yoga, restaurants, running, shopping, coffee shops, dirt biking, quads, and hiking.
Healthcare: Medium. There are two clinics in Uvita but the nearest hospital is in Cortez about 30 minutes south of Uvita. The hospital in Cortez is fairly good for its size, but for more complicated cases you will want to visit the best hospitals in the country. The capital of Costa Rica, San Jose, has several really good hospitals and some of the best medical care in Latin America, but those hospitals are about 4 hours from Uvita by car depending on traffic. Once you become gain residency in Costa Rica, you can sign up for public healthcare which costs 7 to 11% of your income or pension if you are retired.
Social Considerations: Medium. If you decide to retire in Uvita, you will want to learn some Spanish. You will find many people in day-to-day life that speak some English in Uvita, 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. I suggest people join these groups to ask questions and get answers to questions that only an ex-pat would know. 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 Uvita. So, I used Google to translate “Homes for sale in Uvita Costa Rica” into Spanish, “Casas en venta Uvita Costa Rica” and the following house for $115,000 USD came up on https://www.point2homes.com/.
The house I found above probably won’t be available for long, but I at least wanted to have an idea of what a place big enough for me would cost if I moved to Uvita 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 scoring a safer score than the United States which ranked at 122 in that study. We felt safe in Uvita. 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.
Uvita Costa Rica Overall Retirement Desirability Score: Medium. Nature is amazing in Uvita with beaches, jungles, and mountains. It is clean, beautiful, and relatively safe. It has a very rural and undeveloped feel to it. It does not have the congested craziness that you see in some of the northern Costa Rican beach communities. It is much more laid back. But I give it a medium overall retirement desirability score.
First, Uvita doesn’t have much of a Costa Rican feel to it. It feels kind of like a place that was designed from the ground up to satisfy and cater to westerners. There is not much of a feeling of being in Costa Rica or Latin America. So it is not that culturally interesting. Since I like learning about and experiencing new cultures, I would be more drawn to places that are more Costa Rican and less westernized. But not everyone thinks like me. So it may be perfect for you.
Second, it seems to cost too much when you look at what you get for your money. Other parts of Central America are more culturally rich and are as much as 30% cheaper. Since I am more tuned to exploring culture, I probably would not be so inclined to pay 30% more for Uvita as compared to other places in Costa Rica, Panama, and Guatemala that are more culturally rich. But not everyone enjoys colonial-era cities and Mayan culture as much as I do. So many are more than happy to pay more for what Uvita has to offer.
Next, I will show you our favorite things to do in Uvita and then a few of our favorite restaurants.
Catarata Waterfalls in Uvita
Here is the Google Map for our do-it-yourself tour to the Catarata Waterfalls in Uvita, Costa Rica. The map starts at the BM Uvita grocery store on the main road. Just click the map or link and follow Google’s arrow to get to the falls. The entry fee is $4 USD per person or slightly cheaper if you pay 2000 colon per person ($3.18 USD).
It is a short hike to the waterfall on a very easy trail. It is a nice place to cool off on a hot day. The watercolor is very nice also if you need some pictures for social media. May we suggest Indómitos Cafe for breakfast or lunch on the walk back from the waterfall?
Marino Ballena National Park and Whale’s Tail
Of course, you have to take our do-it-yourself Marino Ballena National Park to see the famous Whale’s Tail and the wide beaches. Just click the Google Map link or the Map itself and it will show you how to get to the park entrance from the BN Uvita Supermarket. It also shows you how to walk to the Whale Tail. Once you are inside you walk anywhere so don’t limit your exploration to the whale tail. The park entrance fee is $6 and it was open 8 AM to 6 PM when we were in town. Here is the Google Map for our do-it-yourself tour:
Best Free Beach Near Uvita Costa
Once you have seen the Whale Tail and the nearby beaches a few times in Uvita, it might start to annoy you that they are charging you to walk on the beach or watch the sunset in Uvita. You may also like to watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean while you drink a glass of wine or a cold beer. Beer and wine is not allowed in teh National Parks of Costa Rica.
In that case, you may want to hop on your bike and ride 5 km (3 miles) north to Hermosa Beach where there is no entry fee and you are allowed to have alcohol. You can also take a taxi there from Uvita which costs about $5 to $7 USD each way.
Just click this Google Map link or the below Google Map and head over to Hermosa Beach. You can bring your own alcohol or buy the beers from vendors for about twice what it costs in the stores.
Uvita’s Best Restaurants and Grocery Stores
There are links below to our favorite restaurants in Uvita, our favorites on top. There were another few restaurants we tried that did not make the list.
Le French Cafe: This was our favorite restaurant in Uvita which was nice because it was in the complex of the Airbnb where we stayed. So we ended up eating there twice. The first time we shared a vegan burger and a primavera which we loved and the two entrees cost about $18 USD not including tip. The next time we shared the vegan burger, a vegan bowl, and a beer for a total of about $21 USD not including tip. One the way out the second time, Qiang bought a couple of French pastries including a chocolate croissant and a coconut macaroon for about $5 USD total. We loved everything they do here.
Indómitos Cafe: This is where we had brunch on the day we walked to the waterfall. They had some great vegetarian and vegan choices. A ricotta walnut omelet and a burrito cost us about $14 USD, not including the tip. It was all very delicious.
Las Delicias: Qiang had a nice grilled fish with vegetables here and we shared on large beer. It was about $11 USD including tip. It is just to the right as you walk out of the main entrance to Marino Ballena park.
Marino Ballena Restaurant: We went out to watch some live acoustic music here and a few beers. Qiang has chicken and I had some french fries. The chicken, french fries, and a few beers were about $19 USD. The live music was free.
Las Esferas: Qiang had a ham omelet and I had a tostados La Frencesca. The total bill was $10 for breakfast. This was a fairly priced typical local restaurant just a block or so from the entrance to the national park.
Here is where we shopped in Uvita for groceries.
BM Uvita: There is a large selection of groceries here, both perishable and non-perishable, but we were not that impressed with the fresh fruits and vegetables. For those, we shopped at the below market.
Where We Stayed
We stayed in this Airbnb during the 7 days we spent in Uvita. We loved the place but it is just not a sustainable budget for us long term. So, we would have searched for a more local place for much cheaper if we had decided to stay in Uvita for a few months or years. The Airbnb landlords in Uvita are trying to attract short-term visitors mainly so not many of them had monthly rates at the timer we were there. We paid about $47 per night for this place plus a $20 cleaning fee and the Airbnb booking fee. 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 Uvita Costa Rica for $1531 per month.
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This is Dan of Vagabond Awake, the Youtube channel for VagabondBuddha.com. Thank you for stopping by. The world is your home. What time will you be home for dinner?