During the 36 years that I have lived in Costa Rica I have witnessed many changes and trends in the expat retiree community. One of the most notable is the areas in which retirees reside.
When I moved here in 1980 most retirees and other expats lived in San Jose or nearby areas like Escazú, Santa Ana, Heredia or Alajuela. Well the times have change in that people still live in the aforementioned places but areas like Atenas, Grecia , San Ramón in the Central Valley and beach Jacó, Quepos, Dominical and Tamarindo have become more popular with foreign retirees. Why?
With the improvement of the country’s roads and highways many places are more accessible than before. Internet, cell phone and satellite have all made it easier to live outside of the metropolitan area. Better supermarkets and the availability of construction material have also combined to make living afar doable.
Don’t get me wrong! There are still many retirees who live in San José area in suburbs like Rohrmoser, Los Yoses, San Pedro and Curridabat. I live in San Francisco de Heredia and there are towns like Santa Bárbara de Heredia, San Joaquín de Flores de Heredia and San Rafael de Heredia where many retirees still reside.
Let’s look at a couple of the places where many newbie retirees choose to reside.
1) Atenas is a laid-back mountain town just of the new highway 27. The new road has really made living in Atenas more user friendly and accessible since it is now only a 30 minute drive to Santa Ana, Escazú and San José where expats can find good shopping, entertainment and private medical care. Atenas’ claim is having the “best climate in the world” according to an issue of National Geographic. A good size expat community and basic services can be found here. Since the area is become very popular, real estate prices tend to be on the high end.
2) The small city of Grecia is also very popular and known as “The cleanest city in Costa Rica.” There are a lot of retirees living near the city and in the surrounding communities. Grecia has a public hospital which Atenas does not. Good shopping, excellent weather, a large farmers market, restaurants and cafes are what attract foreigners. ¿Qué pasa en Grecia? Is an excellent blog to read if you are interested in living in this charming town/city.
3) San Ramón, at the very west end of the Central Valley, has become popular with low-budget expats in recent years. There is a thriving gringo community that helps the locals. The weather can be cloudy, windy and cold at times but life is good in moncho, as the locals affectionately refer to the town. San Ramón has a good farmers market and large public hospital. Read the blog retireforlessincostarica.com if you want to get a feel for the city. The authors help me with the San Ramón portion of my tours.
By the way, the best and right way to see these areas and other places of interest is by taking one of my award-winning monthly relocation/retirement tours.