The national currency of Costa Rica is the Colon. U.S. dollars can be easily exchanged throughout the country at any bank, national or private, and also at most hotels and money exchange companies. In addition, nearly all hotels plus some restaurants and shops will accept U.S. dollars as payment. Canadian dollars may be exchanged at branches of Banco Nacional and other monetary currencies should be converted in San José at either Banco Central de Costa Rica or at a currency exchange house. Be certain to check daily exchange rates at local banks, currency houses or in the local newspaper as it changes continually.
The banking system in Costa Rica is very modern and offers all local and international services. This includes issuing credit and debit cards, loans and both personalized and computerized banking. Automatic Teller Machines (ATM’s) are available throughout the country and will accept PLUS cards as well as local ATM cards. Visa credit card advances are easily obtained at most local banks.
Out-of-country income is not taxed in Costa Rica, and if you are employed in this country, income tax is minimal. Basic property taxes are six-tenths of one percent of the property stated value, which is nominal by North American standards.
The cost of living is probably one of the most important issues concerning prospective full-time residents. Although the cost of living here is less than that of the United States, the difference is not dramatic. Housekeeping and gardening help is very affordable, as are other conveniences, which are often considered a luxury. On average, a monthly income between $1,500 to $2,500 with established accommodations will provide for quite a comfortable lifestyle.