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Expat Living: Communities in Costa Rica for Expatriates

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Many ex pats choose Costa Rica because of its exotic landscape, wildlife and affordable lifestyle. This developing Central American democracy is a peaceful and progressive nation. Opinion varies on where, exactly, one ought to live in Costa Rica. The answer of course depends on why you want to retire there and what you like. If, when you think Costa Rica, you think white sand beaches, natural beauty, convenience and culture, Puntarenas province on the central Pacific coast may be just the place.


Herradura and La Playa Herradura, where Los Sueños Resort & Marina are situated,  are on the Gulf of Nicoya, slightly protected from the open Pacific Ocean by the Nicoya peninsula and just north of Jacó, one of the larger cities on the Pacific coast. Once a sleepy get-away for Ticos, Herradura retains its charm and provides the modern conveniences that stave off rustication. San José is a little over an hour away by car. You can expect the cost of living to be $1,000 – $2,000 a month, depending on your requirements.

Well known for its black sand, palm-lined beaches, Herradura attracts fewer tourists than Jacó. A day on the beach could become an interesting way of life, as there are many quiet and beautiful beaches to visit. Carara and Manuel Antonio national parks are nearby and other activities include canopy tours, whether on zip lines or more sedate trams, golf, sport fishing the arts, dining and nightlife.

Los Sueños Resort and Marina is a top-rated master-planned resort community. Priced for the discerning buyer, there is a variety of residential properties available in more than half-a-dozen enclaves to tempt every taste. The resort includes an 18-hole championship golf course, sports fishing, a 600-acre rainforest reserve and a host of other amenities. Los Suenos also hosts the annual Triple Crown sport fishing tournament—a premier event for competitive deep-sea anglers.

If you aspire to the quiet life, consider Dominical— along the coast a bit further south. Until the last few years when the government upgraded the highway south, it was difficult to reach this sleepy surfer’s paradise. While better access has meant more growth, Dominical is still largely unspoiled. Dramatic cliffs, secluded coves and a lush landscape offer spectacular scenery. With the number of diverse bird species, if you are a twitcher, you’ll never want to leave.

Just to the south, at Uvita, is Marino Ballenas National Park, a land and sea reserve that is home to the largest reef on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. Boat tours travel to Isla Ballena, where snorkelers and scuba divers can get a first-hand look at the marine life and underwater landscape.

If beach life is not your thing, consider moving to San Ramon. AARP has named it one of the top places to retire in the world. If you fancy the Caribbean coast, Cahuita’s simple, inexpensive lifestyle and Afro-Caribbean culture could be the place for you. Likewise, Arenal, with its volcano, hot springs and cloud forests in the North Highlands, also gets high marks from ex pat communities.

Any of these communities can make a great jumping off point for your dream life in retirement.