Costa Rica

Studying Abroad on a Budget: Costa Rica

Madeline Cowell is a student at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and an ISA Photo Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Many people shy away from studying abroad because it can be incredibly costly, but don’t let the high costs of some programs deter you from studying abroad because it is possible to find a low cost program! Costa Rica is a perfect destination if you’re hoping to study abroad and save some money. While abroad you’ll be immersed in the Costa Rican culture, have ample opportunities to practice your Spanish and you’ll be living in paradise! The tuition and cost of living in Costa Rica is similar to many universities and colleges across the U.S., and in many cases is even less. Currently, the American dollar is very strong in Costa Rica, which means you’ll get more for you buck while you’re abroad!

he exchange rate hovers around 1 US Dollar equaling 535 Costa Rican Colónes.

The exchange rate hovers around 1 US Dollar equaling 535 Costa Rican Colónes.

 WHERE TO STAY?

Choosing to live with a family in a homestay is the best option if you’re looking to save money. Everything is fully furnished, plus breakfast and dinner are included in the program cost! In addition, you’ll be living with a Costa Rican family who knows the country very well. They can help you navigate the city, give you travel tips and allow you to practice your Spanish everyday!

WHERE TO EAT?

Since lunch isn’t included in the initial program costs, you’ll need to budget for these meals and any other meals you eat while on your self-planned weekend trips. The local markets are inexpensive, and eating out can be as well! There are a ton of inexpensive restaurants and cafes around the city and within walking distance of the school. They sell everything from Chinese food to gallo pinto (a very typical Costa Rican dish, consisting of rice and beans). If you have time to take a walk downtown San Jose between classes, you can find incredibly cheap restaurants and food vendors. 

On campus food stand that sells a variety of food.

On campus food stand that sells a variety of food.

HOW TO TRAVEL?

Travelling throughout Costa Rica can be also very budget friendly. There are public buses that go nearly everywhere throughout Costa Rica and are the cheapest way to get to get around.

Bus tickets range from about $2 to $10 and are very well managed.

Bus tickets range from about $2 to $10 and are very well managed.

Staying in hostels versus a hotel will save you a lot of money throughout your semester abroad. Hostels are the cheapest forms of lodging in Costa Rica and is also a great way to meet people from all around the world! It is best to book your hostel at least a week in advance, because you will have the most options and will find the best hostels for the best prices.

Hotel de Haan in Jaco, Costa Rica.

Hotel de Haan in Jaco, Costa Rica.

Hostels are also a great option for last minute plans. In most cities it’s possible to book your reservation just a few days in advance or it’s possible to show up the day of and find vacancy in a hostel.

Kaya’s Place in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica

Kaya’s Place in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica

Pura Vida!

The world awaits…discover it.

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