Where to Live in Costa Rica?

The first baby steps have been taken and you are now walking towards your ultimate goal of living in Costa Rica. Only one decision remains. Where in Costa Rica do you want to settle?

One important consideration before delving in to this subject, is the fact that everyone has their own opinions which vary according to their own experiences. Someone living in the Central Valley may have a different opinion than someone living in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica on the Pacific side.

You may wonder what the differences are amongst the various areas/provinces of Costa Rica. Let me tell you, they are incredibly diverse whereas some parts of the country can be polar opposite to others. This makes for some colorful discussion on just which part of the country to live.

There are three distinct classifications of people moving to Costa Rica. There is the rural family type, city dwelling family or nomadic single. Between them there are vast expanses of differential requirements in their lifestyles.

Considering your informational source, more often than not most recommendations tend to lean in the direction of the Central Valley. However if you talk with someone living in Costa Rica’s Southern Zone, you will more than likely hear a contrasting opinion. Why are the vast majority suggesting the Central Valley over all other areas? Simple. Logistics.

Statistically speaking, the Central Valley holds the majority of the population of the country. Therefore, naturally this will sway opinions in favor of this area if not by sheer numbers alone but also considering that San Jose is home to the largest international airport in the country thus making it the first place anyone visiting Costa Rica, will see. This doesn’t necessarily mean its right for you.

Like any other metropolitan city, San Jose has pollution, stress, hoards of people, noise and most importantly, the highest crime rate of anywhere else in the country. In reality, one look at the evening news and one might believe San Jose has become a haven for criminal gang activity. Many downplay this fact however this makes it none the less true.

Comparatively speaking, San Jose is no different than any other big city throughout North America. Actually these are status quo for those living in highly populated areas. There are benefits to life in the Central Valley.

A plethora of activity and cultural events are part of daily life in the Central Valley. There are theaters, concerts, major sporting events, manicured parks and the best shopping of anywhere else in Costa Rica. San Jose is the business center for all business running through the country. Intel, Siemens and others, call San Jose their home with large manufacturing plants that employ thousands of local Costa Ricans. If you are a person who appreciates convenience, then certainly the Central Valley should be high on your consideration list.

Limon, on Costa Rica’s Caribbean side, is unlike anywhere else in the country. So much so that they even have their own language outside of Spanish and English. Actually it’s a combination of both that should be called Spanglish however it is not. The language is Limonese Creole and is not universally accepted as an “official” language.

The weather in Limon is also polar opposite to the rest of the country. Here the rainy season runs pretty much straight through without much a dry season per se. What little dry season they have typically runs March, April, September, and October.

It can be safely said that the province of Limon has the least number of foreigners in comparison to the rest of the country. It is also worth noting that the area is commonly known to have high crime rates due in part, undoubtedly, to the drug cartels known to traffic through the area.

The upside to life on the Caribbean are many. With turquoise blue waters, Jamaican influence and famed Tortuguero National Park, Limon could not contrast the “city life” of the Central Valley any more. No shopping centres, boutiques and superhighways here. What you will see are charming ramshackle villages, wildlife-rich jungles, and beautiful beaches.

Now the Pacific.

Catalina Cove

Crime along the Pacific coast is considerably less than other areas of the country with the majority of crimes being of “petty” nature like theft. Very rarely will you experience violent crimes however they do exist so as anywhere in the world, practice caution as to avoid bad situations. The overall “feel” of the Pacific coast is more a laid back and hang loose mentality. It is often compared to living life back in the 70s in North America. Power outages are frequent, water shortages are common in dry season and the roads…don’t even go there when it comes to road conditions along the Pacific. Albeit it has gotten better with the recent completion (45 year wait) of the Costanera Highway connecting the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica to Panama.

It is here, in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica, where National Geographic claimed 5% of the world’s biodiversity exists. The lush jungles, deserted beaches and rustic, undeveloped mountain ranges, make for an adventurers dream come true. Here is where many of the “nomadic” class move. The area has scattered businesses that reflect this with many varieties of retreats from yoga to surf and beyond just to name one.

Bouncing to the north is the province of Guanacaste.

Guanacaste is the most developed coastal areas of Costa Rica. Here you will find the finest resorts and retirement communities. Hollywood has also grown fond of the area with Mel Gibson, Tim Robbins & Susan Surandon, Sting and Harrison Ford all buying Costa Rica property throughout Guanacaste.

According to Sotheby’s, realtor to the stars and host of Luxe World, Anolan Dragitsch,

“Now I understand why Selma Hayek, David Hasselhoff, Jennifer Lopez, Donatella Versace, Cavalli, Shaquille O’Neal, Janet Jackson, Britney Spears and Carolina Herrera always spoke to me about Costa Rica.”

Guanacaste is like Cancun is to Mexico. It is “the” place to holiday and relax while sitting poolside sipping a “mohito.” This is where you will find the JW Marriott and Hilton hotels to be pampered.

Now that you’ve gotten the ‘crash course’ on where and why to consider moving in Costa Rica, why not take a look at this exquisite beachside community near Flamingo beach in Guanacaste. The development, Catalina Cove, sold out in 2006 however ownership retained a few lots for their own personal use. They’ve now decided that they would prefer to reinvest by acquiring large sections of raw land and in order to do so, they will first need to liquidate these four hand-picked lots (min. 1.25 acres). You certainly do not need a professional appraiser to tell you that beachside gated communities with full infrastructure and amenities for $125,000 don’t come around often. Especially when they sit in their own private bay in Costa Rica’s most desirable locale.

Well that’s it folks. So if you feel that any of the information contained in this article was useful to you, then I encourage you to “Retweet” or “Like” in Facebook.

As we say here in Costa Rica, “Pura Vida”