There are many factors to consider when deciding where to live in Costa Rica. While it is a small country, with a population of just over 4 million people, and land area about the size of West Virginia, Costa Rica has 12 microclimates, two coastlines, both the Caribbean and the Pacific, mountains, volcanoes, cloud forests and rain forests. As such, you will want to put some thought into where you want to live in Costa Rica. The climate, the cost, and the infrastructure and services available in an area are some of the main points to consider when deciding where to live in Costa Rica.
When people think of Costa Rica, they think tropical paradise, and this is mainly true. But, while there are many hot, humid, lush parts of the country, there is also a lot of variety in weather and terrain. Believe it or not, it’s not just one big jungle! Along both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, temperatures run hotter throughout the year than they do in the Central Valley or mountainous regions of the interior of the country. In the cloud forest region of Monteverde, you may even find yourself needing warm clothing as the nights, and some days, can be quite cool. Even if you are along one of the coasts where it is warmer, the rainy season can still bring cool days and evenings, with no sun and dampness for days at a time. The Atlantic slope, which runs all along the Eastern side of the country and boarders the Caribbean Sea, sees more rainfall annually than any other part of the country. If you don’t like rain, but want to be by the beach, the Pacific might be the right place for you. The temperatures can be quite hot along the Pacific coast with a dry period of up to six months out of the year. You’ll need to ask yourself if you want to live somewhere with more or less rain, hotter or cooler average temperatures.
Next, consider the costs of the different parts of the country. Towns and cities that see more tourism tend to have higher costs for food, drinks, and activities. Renting or purchasing a house or apartment will cost more or less depending on the demand and availability of housing options in a given region. When deciding on where to live in Costa Rica, think about how much money you are planning on spending each month for living costs. More affluent neighborhoods in the San Jose area will have higher housing costs than more remote parts of the country. On the flip side, more remote areas of the country will have higher costs for goods being delivered. Groceries, car parts, and medicine can all be costly if they have to be driven in from San Jose.
Infrastructure is the next thing to consider when deciding where to live in Costa Rica. If you are moving to Costa Rica for work, this will determine where you live. If you have children that need to attend school in Costa Rica, finding a place to live with a school that fits your child’s needs will be an important factor in choosing where to live. Having a hospital or clinic nearby may be more or less important to you based on your health needs and conditions. Also, think about what amenities and activities are important to you. If you like to do yoga, golf, go to the movies or the theater, you will want to find a place to live that offers these services. Think about how far you are willing to travel to do simple errands like go grocery shopping, do your banking, or see a doctor. These factors are all very important when deciding where to live in Costa Rica.
While Costa Rica is a stable country with great education and healthcare systems, there are many parts of the country that have a very “off the grid” feel and location to them. Take some to think how removed from the hustle and bustle of city life you want to be. If you are moving to Costa Rica to “get away from it all”, you might want to be further from San Jose, but this means being further from certain things you might be used to. Living in more secluded parts of the country can be very enjoyable and is appealing to many people, but be sure you are prepared to do without certain amenities and services within close proximity.
Wherever you decide to live in Costa Rica, you will find the country welcoming, exciting, and beautiful. Before you start searching for your desired location, take some time to consider the climate, costs, and infrastructures of each region of the country. Once you have a good idea of the region of the country you want to live in, you can begin the process of looking for housing options in your dream location. Ask us about the Send me South scouting trips and orientation tours.