When most people think of Costa Rica, they think of a vacation – a break from winter’s chilly grip, a thrilling trek through a tropical jungle, or an indulgent week of seaside relaxation. However, for those looking for a relaxing or exciting life outside the United States, Costa Rica is a great option.
Costa Rica may be a relatively small country, but there are a range of great places to live. The specific spot you choose to call home will depend on a number of personal preferences, from climate, to nearby activities, to how populated the area is.
If you are looking for a place where you can really get away from it all, there are several rural areas that offer a peaceful, tranquil life that is close to nature and far from crowds. Situated near the Arenal Volcano, Arenal is a very quiet lakeside area with only a few lightly populated villages and small towns. Homes are very affordable, and the atmosphere is peaceful and rural.
Southern Costa Rica is perfect for those who want a “classic” Costa Rica experience. This lush, sparingly populated and beautiful tropical paradise is a siren song for nature lovers, as well as those who want to retreat into a relaxing and secluded piece of paradise.
However, for those who would like to live further “on the grid,” there are three prime areas that provide some of Costa Rica’s best living.
Just over an hour away from the capital city of San Jose, this is the perfect spot to live the Bohemian life – or the high life. The beaches are intoxicatingly beautiful, and the jungle and Manuel Antonio National Park – the country’s most popular park — are right nearby. Restaurants, shops, and night life abound, but there is still a laid-back vibe. You can live in a small house near the beach, or in luxury in a resort like Los Sueños Resort and Marina. There are also tons of outdoor activities to keep you entertained.
One of Costa Rica’s most popular places to live, the Central Valley lays claim to San Jose, a busy, bustling city with plenty to see and do. However if you want to live a bit of a slower-paced life, while still staying near the city, there are several nearby towns and villages that can give you the best of both worlds. On the West side of the valley, cities like Escazu, Santa Ana and Ciudad Colon are becoming increasingly popular, while on the Eastern side, Curridabat is very nice.
One great plus for the Central Valley is its climate – the high elevation keeps it at a breezy 70—something degrees year round. Another is its expat community. People from the United States and Canada have been living here for decades, and it is easy to find, befriend, and network with other expats.
Located on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, the Gold Coast is a beach lover’s paradise. There is abundant sunshine, the sunsets are exquisite, the beaches are beautiful, and there is a lively, yet laid-back beach culture that is really easy to get used to. Because of the nearby resorts and residential areas, there are also all the comforts of a home – grocery stores, tennis courts, golf courses, urban-style restaurants (even sushi!) and large, comfortable homes.
Of course, it is difficult to know what’s best suited for you until you live in a place for a while. There is always the option of staying in different areas for a short time to help solidify your decision.