Sun, Surf and the Jungle Awaits Retirees in Dominical, Costa Rica

Last updated on September 27, 2023
Playa Dominical Costa Rica

So you’re thinking of setting up shop in Dominical, huh? Alright, buckle up, beach bums and wildlife enthusiasts, because Dominical is more than just a surf shack haven. It’s a shifting landscape where the Pacific plays sculptor and carves out new sand masterpieces daily. 

Dominical is a bit like a hipster café – it’s small, quirky, and seats are limited. Most of the expats plant their roots in the mountains surrounding “Domi”, as the cool kids call it. Renting can be a bit tricky, so most people rent short-term while they scout for their dream home or plot of land. Real estate agents here are as rare as a well-done steak in a five-star restaurant, but there are plenty of pros who can help you navigate the market. Just remember, you’re not in Kansas anymore…

The Weather in Dominical

The weather here on the beaches is a big hotter than up in the mountains and it can be extreme. It’s either pouring rain or sunshine beaming down. If you like it hot, or want to run your AC, this is a great option. Otherwise you can opt for a cooler place higher up in the hills like Platanillo or Tinmastes… and still be about 30 mins to the beach.

And let’s not forget healthcare. Costa Rica’s healthcare is like that kid in school who was good at everything. You’ve got three major hospitals within a 30-minute drive of Dominical, all boasting top-notch doctors and staff. They accept most insurance plans, and if you’re used to North American prices, you’ll find the cost of non-essential surgery or dental work here as refreshing as an ocean breeze.

Accomodations in Dominical

Let’s talk numbers. You can snag a furnished two to three-bedroom house for around $900 to $1,200 a month. If you’re a high roller wanting a pool and an ocean view, you might have to shell out $1,200 to $2,200 a month.

Utilities are like a box of chocolates, they can range from $75 a month to $400, depending on how much you worship at the altar of electricity. Up in the mountains, we’ve never had the need for air conditioning, but down at the beach, well, that’s a different story.

On the topic of getting around, a bus ride up the highway will set you back a couple of bucks. Taxis around Dominical are about the same, though honestly, you could probably walk anywhere. Cars here are as expensive as a vintage bottle of wine, mostly due to the astronomical import taxes. A decade-old Suzuki Vitara will cost you between $5,000 to $8,000. Be sure to get some solid advice from a trusty mechanic before you buy, since some car parts are as rare as a unicorn in Costa Rica. And with gas going for about $4.75 to $5 a gallon, you’ll be looking at a transportation budget of $50 to $100 a month.

On the miscellaneous front, yoga is a popular pastime here, with classes averaging $10 a pop. Hiring a housekeeper is like hitting the jackpot, you can get one for about $25 a week.

Healthcare? As a retiree, you can jump on the socialized medical program for roughly $75 to $150 per month. This covers all your medical adventures. The nearest doctor is a 30-mile hop, skip, and a jump north, in Quepos.

Cost of Living in Dominical, Costa Rica

Grocery bills could range from $400 to $800 a month. Local food items won’t break the bank, but imported gringo treats like maple syrup or peanut butter might cost you an arm and a leg.

As for entertainment, a dinner date at a snazzy restaurant like Ricar2 (which, by the way, has a full-size 727 parked on the lot because why not?) will cost you between $50 and $75. With a budget of $1000 a month, you can dine out a few times a week, indulge in charter fishing trips, volcano visits, whale watching, and turtle spotting. There aren’t any cinemas or cultural events in the area, so entertainment usually means dining out or hobnobbing with the growing expat community. Dart leagues and card nights are all the rage here. Just remember to bring your own booze.

So what’s the bottom line? You’ll need between $2,000 to $4,000 a month to live in Dominical, Costa Rica and the surrounding area. How deep you dip into your wallet depends on how much you want to live la vida loca.