Where to live – East of San José

This is the fourth installment of a series of articles about where to live in Costa Rica. My goal is to cover the whole country in future blogs. This week I am going to talk about the areas east of San José, specifically Los Yoses, Barrio Escalante, San Pedro, Curridabat and Tres Rios.

The suburbs to the east of San José have both new and older quality homes and a of large number shopping malls, small strip malls, supermarkets, restaurants like Denny’s, a mega hardware store, car dealerships, appliance stores, interior design stores, movie theaters and more. There are four major shopping malls to the east which include Plaza del Sol in Curridabat, Terramall in Tres Ríos east of Curridabat; Multiplaza del Este in the Curridabat/Zapote area; and Mall San Pedro in San Pedro.

The residential neighborhood of Los Yoses is a few minutes southeast of downtown San José. Like most neighborhoods east of downtown San José, Los Yoses features both new and old homes and businesses. Some foreigners live in this area because its proximity to downtown San José.

Barrio Escalante, just north of Los Yoses, has a lot of older homes and stately mansions. The area provides a glimpse of how the upper crust used to live in Costa Rica. Housing prices start at around $100,000. I had a chance to buy a condo there for $25,000 dollars about 20 years ago. It is now worth well over $100,000 dollars. Rent starts at about $500 for a small apartment. The Centro Cultural Costarricense-Norteamericano (Costa Rican-North American Cultural Center) is located here as well as one of Costa Rica’s two bowling alleys. The Barrio Escalante/los Yoses area also has an upscale Automercado supermarket, fast foods like Taco Bell, nightspots such as Hooters, the San Pedro Mall and many bars and restaurants which cater primarily to a younger university crowd.

Just east of Los Yoses and Barrio Escalante is San Pedro which is the home of the University of Costa Rica (UCR) or “La U” as it is sometimes called. The area around the campus resembles almost any U.S. college town with a huge number of bars, restaurants, pizzerias,, bookstores, and boutiques. This is great place to live in if you like the convenience of having everything nearby and don’t mind a crowded environment. There are a few sidewalk cafés along the Calle de La Amargura near the university where you can check out the students as they pass by. A distinctly Bohemian ambience fills the air and interesting events and cultural activities are happening all of the time in or around the university.

Located just to the east of San Pedro is Curridabat or “Curri” as it is called by the locals. Costa Rica’s first mall is found here. There are a few gated communities and condominiums going up on the east side of Curridabat . In general, most of the San Pedro and Curridabat area consist of medium, large, or very large single family homes. Property and houses in San Pedro and Curridabat are more affordable than in Escazú. The charm of the San Pedro/Curridibat is found in the neighborhoods that branch off the main street and feature big houses, some good views, quiet streets, and even a few parks. If want to live on this side of town, you’ll have a more tico experience than in Escazú. Few foreigners live on this part of town, and the ones who do tend to blend in to the local scene – speak Spanish, eat at tico places, live in a stand-alone house – rather than cluster and create their own communities. Lately, a few expensive restaurants have been popping up in this area, but there is still a wide range of good, cheaper eateries from which to choose.

Just to the east and north of Curridabat is the area of Tres Ríos. Tres Ríos is basically a bedroom community similar to San Pedro or Sabanilla.

Lomas de Ayarco is an upper-scale neighborhood to the east of San Pedro and Curridabat and a few minutes from the Terra Mall shopping area and on the way to Cartago. There is a Walmart and there are other good services in this part of town. Some call the upscale Lomas de Ayarco the “Escazú” of the east.”

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