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25 Mar 2024
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Expat Living

A year-round tropical climate, affordable beachfront housing, a “Pura Vida” attitude, and a reputation for safety in Jaco, Costa Rica, is a hard score to beat.

Jaco has steadily become one of the top destinations for expats in Costa Rica to reside. If you’re looking for a home in or around the Jaco, Costa Rica area, look no further than Los Sueños. They can set you up with a luxury beachfront home or condominium right in the heart of Jaco’s well-established international community.

But there is a lot to consider before you make the move abroad. Here is everything you need to know to decide if Jaco, Costa Rica, is the right expat community for you.

Why Costa Rica is an Expat Hotspot

Photo Credit: Nature's Charm

Costa Rica calls to expats from around the globe, but particularly to Americans and Canadians. More than 140,000 North Americans have transplanted themselves to the naturally beautiful beach communities of Costa Rica and taken to the laidback lifestyle like a fish to water.

Always a favorite with retirees looking to stretch their dollar further, Costa Rica has recently become popular with a younger crowd. This is due to the excellent infrastructure, accessibility, well-connected international airport, and abundance of outdoor activities on offer in the country.

Also, Costa Rica now offers a Digital Nomad Visa for long-term stays.

Essentially, no matter your age or interests, as long as it’s a warmer tropical climate you seek, there is a community in Costa Rica looking to welcome you into its clutches. From Puntarenas to Uvita. So, let’s talk about Jaco specifically.

What to Know About Jaco, Costa Rica

Photo Credit: Dynamoland

Jaco is a beach town through and through—not just for lounging, though. This area of Costa Rica is well-loved by surfers for its 2.5-mile-long beach. Beginner—and expert-level waves break along the sprawling shoreline of the beach city.

Jaco is also a favorite for nature lovers just looking to get outside and explore the lush jungles of the surrounding Manuel Antonio National Park and other protected forested areas.

Unlike many other expat locations in Costa Rica, Jaco is not isolated. It’s quickly become the country’s most developed beach town, which means you won’t ever have to scrimp on amenities or feel cut off from the rest of the world.

Jaco is a proper small city, not an isolated enclave tucked into the Central Pacific. You can enjoy the freedom and solitude of a small town while remaining within easy reach of the world, located just 1.5 hours away from the bustling capital city of San Jose.

The Jaco Lifestyle

Photo Credit: Jorge A. Russell

Wake up in the early Costa Rican air and walk Playa Jaco, and you’ll see an abundance of surfer bros and gals out on the waves. As you may have already surmised, this is a blissfully laid-back beach community. You can divide the different expat types by beach in the region.

Jaco Communities

Playa Jaco

Playa Jaco is right in the thick of it. If you want to have it all without needing your own vehicle and are more drawn to city life, then Playa Jaco is right for you.

Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa is just a step down from Jaco with its hustle and bustle but not quite the solitude of Herradura. This beach is the most popular with surfers.

Playa Herradura

Playa Herradura is home to the stunning beachfront Los Sueños Resort and is known to be the quiet corner of Jaco where you can indulge in luxury lifestyles for less.

Alongside the expat community, Jaco is abundantly popular with ‘ticos’ or Costa Rican locals. During the national holidays, it can seem that all of Costa Rica is in Jaco.

Is This a Year-Round Expat Community or Seasonal?

Jaco has a year-round expat community and many people who have made its shores their permanent home.

That being said, because the community is mixed with many young digital nomads and families, they often aren’t planning on staying for their whole lives. Many people come to live in Jaco for a few years and enjoy the slow beach life before relocating. On the other hand, you’ll find many expat families that have set their roots in Jaco for decades.

Is Jaco Family-Friendly?

Yes. In the early 2000s, Jaco was developing a bit of a reputation for a backpacker party scene as the surfers drifted in and out of the region. But Costa Rica has put a lot of money into revitalizing the area and replacing run-down dive bars with nicer restaurants that lure in a different crowd.

That’s not to say that the nightlife has completely disappeared from Jaco, however. It’s a perfectly wonderful place to live or stay long-term with children.

Safety in Jaco, Costa Rica

Photo Credit: Jorge A. Russell 

Speaking of safety in Jaco, thanks to a low overall crime rate in the country and a heavy police presence, you can feel totally at ease walking the streets of Jaco at night. Petty crime happens everywhere in the world, but you’re no more likely to experience it here in Jaco than you are wherever you currently call home.

Jaco, Costa Rica Climate and Weather

The temperature rarely fluctuates outside the 80-degree range, even after dark. The air is thick and tropical, with the occasional afternoon storm during the rainy season. But Jaco, Costa Rica is blessed with temperate tropics weather year-round.

Green Season in Jaco

Photo Credit: Jorge A. Russell

Costa Rica's green season, spanning from May through November, offers one of the best times for travelers who want to see this Central American paradise at its most lush and vibrant.

The mornings often start sunny and bright, allowing for exploration and adventure, while the afternoons may bring cooler temperatures and refreshing showers, adding to the region's charm.

This period is also known for being a more budget-friendly travel season, with many hotels and tour operators offering reduced rates and special deals. The occasional afternoon showers contribute to the flourishing of the vegetation, making it an ideal time for nature lovers and adventurers alike to witness Costa Rica in its most radiant state.

Cost of Living in Jaco, Costa Rica

Photo Credit: Andrzej Rostek

The cost of living in Jaco presents an appealing prospect for expats seeking a blend of tropical paradise and affordability.

There are a comfortable range of housing options to fit various budgets, but in general the cost is around 30% of the average of living in the US.

Expats willing to embrace a simpler lifestyle can manage on an even lower budget though a more comfortable living standard can get you all the amenities of Western life and then some.

This low cost of living includes the vibrant nightlife, close proximity to beautiful beaches, and easy access to other parts of Costa Rica that Playa Jaco offers, making it an attractive destination for those looking to relocate.

Schools in Jaco, Costa Rica

Photo Credit: Jorge A. Russell

You have two options when it comes to schooling your children in Costa Rica.

Public Schools. There are public schools in every single town, including Jaco. This will require that your kids learn some Spanish and will be an interesting cultural experience for them.

Private Schools. These are more typical American-style schools taught predominantly in English. Jaco has two private schools and one private religious school to choose from. They are fully accredited and bilingual, with a mix of local Costa Rican kids and other expat children. These private schools cost anywhere from $300 to $1000 per month.

Things to Do in Jaco, Costa Rica

Drink and Dine with Views of The Gulf of Nicoya and the Pacific

Photo Credit: Andrew Hendren

Indulge in the local restaurant scene of Jaco. Unlike many other areas of Costa Rica, there are plenty of international restaurants and cuisines to choose from. Even better, some have exceptional sunset views overlooking the curved bay.

Savor the Beach

Photo Credit: Jorge A. Russell

Swim, surf, lounge, and lay to your heart’s content. That’s what has so many people relocating to the Pacific shores of Costa Rica after all. Jaco is known to boast some of the country's best beaches for scenery and activities. Don’t yet know how to surf? No problem. Visit one of the local surf schools.

The most popular beaches are Playa Jaco, Playa Hermosa, Playa Esterillos Oeste, Playa Herradura, Playa Mantas, and Playa Blanca.

Integrate into the Local Community

Since Jaco is such a well-established city, there are lots of opportunities to make friends with the welcoming Tico community. One is signing your kids up for the local soccer team for one! Another is simply shopping at the weekly market.

Jaco has an awesome farmer’s market to get goods and groceries at!

Take a Day Trip to the Surrounding Nature and Parks

In Manuel Antonio, you can see Macaws soaring overhead, crocodiles swimming below, and other native wildlife among the dense foliage. Carara National Park is just a short jaunt away as well. Here, you’ll find some of the country’s best birding and some meandering jungle hiking trails. Basically, there is no shortage of stunning nature to observe and immerse in near Jaco.

See the Tourist Sights

Photo Credit: Maridav

There is plenty of adventure to be had on any given day around Jaco. You can ride an Aerial Tram through clouds of butterflies in the jungle, hop on a boat and head out to Tortuga Island, hike to hidden waterfalls, or rent an ATV and take to the streets. If you’re going to spend some time in Jaco, you might as well experience it all.

Some of the Best Reasons For Living in Jaco, Costa Rica

  • Close to San Jose and other cultural hubs of Costa Rica..
  • A welcoming community makes establishing friendships a breeze.
  • The best of the beach and the lush forests.
  • An established and friendly expat community.
  • Plenty of outdoor activities
  • Perfect for raising a family in a slow paced environment.
  • Excellent weather year round.
  • Good healthcare and school options.
  • Foreigners can own property here.

Ready to Pack Your Bags and Move to Jaco?

Now that you know what it’s really like to call Jaco, Costa Rica, home, it’s time to find your dream house.

Check out the current listings in and around Jaco Beach. Costa Rica is waiting to show you how to Pura Vida!