West of San José – Escazú
Escazú is sometimes called the “Beverly Hills of Costa Rica” because of its upscale ambience. The town is located about five miles west of San José, 10 to 15 minutes driving time on the old two-lane road or newly revamped highway. Most of this suburb is located on hilly terrain, so it is especially appealing to those people who like cooler temperatures. Escazú is one of the most popular places for English-speaking foreigners to live. An American who lives there said, “Escazú is an odd modern mixture of micro niches and little islands of green, stitched together by pot-holed roads and pocked with condo complexes, great mansions behind big gates and small barrios where the wash bakes in the noonday sun.” The town has beautiful century old churches, farmers on oxcarts, many strip malls old adobe houses, one of the country’s most modern hospitals (CIMA hospital), a huge shopping mall (Multiplaza) and countless bars and restaurants.
Old Escazú has some of its quaint traditional feel, despite the condominiums and strip malls going up all around it. In some places adobe buildings still line the narrow roads, and the whitewashed church, the park, and the soccer field still dominate the center of town. Farmers can be seen riding their horses up the streets to and from their farms, a reminder that not everything in Escazú has been quick to change.
Despite having neighborhoods that are still quaint and country-like, Escazú has all the amenities of any North American suburb with U.S. style-living including the best shopping and dining in Costa Rica. Parts of of the town resemble America so much that you may have to blink twice to make sure you are not back in the U.S.
The most commercial part is San Rafael or the lower section. The old main street is now called the “Golden Mile”, a four-lane road jammed with traffic where fast food restaurants and pricey clubs and cafés line both sides of the street (anything from typical Costa Rican places to Tony Roma’s and TGIF Friday’s). In Escazú you can find just about anything including: mini strip malls with clothing stores, English-speaking private schools, pharmacies, a Walmart megastore, trendy shops with name-brand clothing, upscale beauty salons, doctors and dentists, private mail services and more. The neighborhood of San Rafael has a good choice of condos for sale. If you are looking at luxury homes for sale, you might find it right here as there are a lot of them hidden away in areas like Trejos Montealegre.
One advantage to living in Escazú is that you are near Hospital Cima, one of the country’s two best private medical facilities. The country’s largest shopping complex is Multiplaza Escazú, a shopping mall full of U.S.- and European-brand chain stores, several restaurants, a multiscreen movie theater and an Automercado supermarket (the top-end supermarket). Several large furniture and interior stores, PriceSmart and Office Depot, the Real Intercontinental Hotel, and the Plaza Roble office complex can be found in the same area. On the north side of the highway, there is trendy dining for the Costa Rican yuppie set and even one of Costa Rica’s three Hooters restaurants. Avenida Ezcazú, next to Cima Hospital, is Costa Rica’s version of Rodeo Drive. It features a Marriott Courtyard hotel, buildings that house different businesses on the ground floor with offices on upper floors, a state-of-the-art movie theater, upscale restaurants, a multitude of brand name designer stores and Costa Rica’s first Starbucks.
San Antonio de Escazú, which is up in the hills is more affordable for expats and is the quiet area of Escazu. It’s located higher up on the mountain, but it’s only a couple of minutes from the rest of Escazú. This area is not as developed as the other parts of Escazú and is a mixture of the rural with the city.
Some parts of Esacazú are eclectic where you’ll find mansions with shacks as their neighbors. Most condos in Escazú are located in different areas. You can find pretty almost anything in Escazú, from low-, mid-, and high-rise condominiums to houses in gated communities to traditional tico-style houses up in the hills. A few lots are still available as well, though not many, and they’re very pricey. At night hillside homes have fantastic panoramic views of the twinkling lights of the Central Valley.
Guachipelín or Guachi, as the locals call it, is the newest and most modern part of Escazú. In addition to the strip malls, hotels, the huge MultiPlaza shopping mall, Cima hospital, PriceSmart (Costco in U.S.), supermarket and many other businesses, there are also many residential areas offering new homes starting at the $100,000 all the way up to the $1,000,000 million price range.
If you like a large selection of restaurants, many activities to stay busy like yoga and gyms, good shopping and Costa Rica’s version of Miami, then Escazú might just be the place for you.