A Dentist Trip Gave Me More to Love About Costa Rica

Since moving to Costa Rica’s Central Valley, Bill’s family’s cost of living has been cut by more than 50%. ©iStock/titoslack

Before we moved to Costa Rica, my family and I lived in Colorado. While Colorado is gorgeous, for three to six months of the year, we were covered in snow; we found ourselves snowed in more often than not at our house in the mountains.

We were also spending nearly $600 each winter month just to stay warm. We had fires in the fireplace, heaters running, and we still had a tough time getting our home to climb over 65 degrees during the cold winter days.

No surprise then that our monthly budget was over $4,000 in the U.S.

Now, we live in the Central Valley of Costa Rica in an area called San Rafael, a small town about 25 minutes outside of the capital of San Jose. Our cost of living (for me, my wife, and our kids) has been cut by more than 50% since moving here. We spend less than $2,000 for rent, utilities, food, and fuel for the vehicle.

Recently, I experienced another major cost savings. It happened on the week of Semana Santa (Holy Week). Since it was a holiday week, many businesses, government offices, and offices were closed. Costa Rican kids are out of school and many take this week as a vacation to hit the beach.

Most of the time it isn’t an issue for places to be closed and we quite enjoy not having to deal with the typical traffic that can turn a short trip into a two-hour affair. But, the first day of Holy Week, I thought, was probably a bad day to get a chipped tooth.

Most everyone considering a move to Costa Rica has probably heard that the dental care here is excellent and about one half to a third of the price of the same services in the States—we certainly had heard that. Still, I can’t say dental care was one of our top reasons for choosing to move here. That complacency changed as soon as part of my front tooth fell off and I felt the pain radiating behind my eyes from it. In that moment, I knew that dental care should have gotten a bit higher billing…

It happened around 2 p.m. Since this is one of my top front teeth, I didn’t want to risk waiting until after the holidays and possibly losing the tooth to infection.

I decided to just drive to the nearest town and see who might be open.


$78 for Two Fillings


On my way out of the house, I saw a neighbor and he suggested checking out a place he’d noticed a few times when in town. He gave me directions and I headed that way. I had no appointment and no idea if they would be open. To my pleasant surprise, the door said “Abierto” (“open”). I parked and went inside and told the receptionist that I had a problem with my tooth and asked if they could repair it. She said yes and asked me if I wanted to wait.

About an hour passed and it is now about 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon. The exam room door opened and it was my turn to be seen. Though the dentist didn’t speak English, she quickly understood what was wrong and, soon enough, she was working on my chipped tooth. During her initial inspection she noticed another chip in a bottom tooth and asked me if I would like that one repaired as well. I agreed to have “los dos” filled.

The equipment she worked on my teeth with was modern and professional. The environment was clean and friendly and after about 30 minutes, my chipped teeth had been repaired. I paid $78 for both of the repairs and got home to write this note by 5:45 p.m.

Service was so good I set an appointment with the same clinic to have my teeth cleaned. Great value and top dental care: I just got two more reasons to love it here in Costa Rica!

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