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Personal Expenses

To help you budget for additional out-of-pocket expenses in Costa Rica, see an estimate of what ACM students have spent in the past. 

Sample Budget for a Semester in Costa Rica

Passport $135



Pre-departure medical costs


Airfare (Chicago to San José, round trip)


Local transportation²


Personal expenses³



Books and supplies $20–50
Other** $50

¹ Included in the program fee.

² Accounts for the distance between a student's homestay and the ACM program center on the public bus for four months.

³ Includes personal travel and entertainment. See the cost of living in Costa Rica for examples of common personal expenses.

*Accounts for the cost of lunch Monday through Friday for four months.

**The cost of a taxi to the airport at the end of the program, plus the airport departure tax paid in US dollars.

Cost of Living in Costa Rica

As you look at the following cost estimates for common personal purchases in Costa Rica, refer to for the current exchange rate between the US dollar and the Costa Rican colón (CRC).

La Nación Newspaper 200 CRC 
Bus within San José area 400 CRC
Bus to Caribbean or Pacific coast 1,500–5,000 CRC
Taxi from ACM program center to downtown San José 2,000 CRC
Movie theater ticket 3,000 CRC
Bottle of beer 1,000 CRC
Lunch near ACM program center 3,000 CRC
Sunscreen 4,000 CRC
Towel 3,500 CRC
Toothpaste 1,800 CRC
Feminine products 1,700 CRC
Ibuprofen 2,500 CRC
Shampoo 2,000–4,000 CRC
Soap 700 CRC
Notebook 1,000 CRC
Headset for Skype 1,500 CRC
Internet café/hour 250–500 CRC
Chicky cookies 800 CRC
Bag of 1820 coffee 2,500 CRC
Jazz Café cover charge 2,500–3,500 CRC
Ticket to Teatro Nacional 2,500–4,000 CRC
Entrance to national parks (per day) 5,700 CRC

This page was updated on January 23, 2017.