Close

Locations to consider living in Costa Rica

My wife and I are looking for feedback on locations that would provide the following:
- very safe
- reasonably priced
- nearby to golf and beach (within several miles)

Any suggestions would be appreciated.  Thanks.

Ralph and Marian

For serious golfer or even semi-serious, Costa Rica is not the place to golf, inexpensively. Not many courses near the beaches and these are geared for the tourist at an expensive  hotel to play a few holes.
When golfing at the beach, expect it to be very hot unless you play in the very early morning, and often very windy from Nov-March in Guanacaste. It gets dark here, around 6pm, so no evening games. During the rainy season, the conditions may not considered 'ideal'.

Suggest you search out the golf clubs first...but check carefully that they are actually in existence, since many were 'touted' as going to be built but plans changed...

Beach living is not cheap, either, especially if you use A/C.
You should check the areas out for yourselves before making any decisions.

Thanks for the quick response.  My research has indicated that golf and residence would be expensive near the golf resorts.  Many expats live by the mountains which is less expensive for residence and A/C.  So is there a happy medium?  Could you live closer to the mountains and commute to beach/golf within an hour drive?  Please keep in mind that safety is our number one concern.  Is there any places that you could recommend me researching or agents to contact?

Ralph

I would strongly suggest you visit for more than a short vacation, check around then RENT, until you are sure this country is for you. Lots of websites to look at.
Many say that between 50-60% of  expats return to their homeland for various reasons within 3 years and while it is very easy to buy, it is very difficult to sell.

Info living here legally

There are two golf course that I know of, first hand. One is Cariari Golf and Country Club and Valle del sol, the latter being less expensive and preferred by the expats that I know and that can afford to golf.  The area around the Cariari is very and safe area to live.

No, expect it to take at least an hour and a half to reach a nice beach town from most areas in the Central Valley....and that depends on many factors.

Thank you very much for taking the time to respond with solid advice.

Ralph

I lived in Herradura for 1 year, very close to Jaco on the Pacific Coast. We lived within walking distance to the beach and golf resort at Los Suenos. The membership to Los Suenos golf, fitness, and pools was about $3000 for the year if I recall correctly which is very comparable to any golf clubs we have here in my hometown in Columbus, Ohio. My rent for a modern, secure 3 bed, 3 bath condo was $1100 a month, which again was was very reasonable. I felt very safe walking around with my family including my 2 year old and teenagers. The Electricity was a big unexpected cost so you must make sure your housing is airy and efficient or it could run up to $800/month if you run AC constantly in a 2000 sq foot house...at least for us. We found a way to stay cool by leaving the house more and no AC at night (most of the time). The rainy season is not as bad as ppl say, it just rains everyday at about 4 pm and the grounds were fine most of the time, but that was just my experience, of course climates can change. I have a friend that my son went to private school in Herradura with that is a realtor in Jaco if you want contact info.

moderated by julien
reason : posted in the wrong section, please read our code of conduct

Thank you for the information.  I have heard that AC can be expensive.  Most people suggested living near the mountains to cut cost.  Thanks for the name of realtor.

Ralph

You should try Pilas de San Isidro. I live here and love it!

For cheaper living in the mountains I would suggest San Ramon. However I have no idea if there's a golf course within an hour of there, and as someone said the distance to the beaches is over an hour even though San Ramon is or is about the most western of the Central Valley. (Not sure where "Central Valley" ends, going west.)

As to a.c. I am getting ready to build and I am told that the thing about building is that most people do it wrong and do not have proper insulation and ventilation. If you do that right then a.c. isn't going to be AS expensive as many who have done it wrong are paying. But electricity is still expensive.

One thing about living in the mountains in the Central Valley is that you won't need a.c., you just need fans and ventilation as mentioned. Most people's day time living room is an outdoor porch or patio and when I have lived in Costa Rica I spent 90% of my time outdoors except for sleeping and maybe an hour or two before bed.

Also the mountains are generally much cooler. Every 1000 feet elevation gives you noticeably cooler weather. If you get up around 4-5k feet it actually gets cold (to me anyway) in the night and early morning, 4-6am.

I have found the ideal elevation for me is around 2500-3000 feet.

As someone else said, don't just buy in  Costa Rica based on an article or two or what you've heard. First visit, then find a place you think you like, then LIVE there (not in a hotel but in a house) and get an idea what it's like to live there, at least a month, preferably several months.

If you don't like living there, try another part of Costa Rica. Costa Rica has micro climates so moving just from one side of a town to the other side can make a big difference. Example: north of San Ramon is higher and colder, west of San Ramon is lower and cool but not as cold. (This is a generalization, as an example. Micro climates about in all directions.)

Also various towns and communities have their own personalities.

A couple of members on this forum have talked about a gated community near Jaco I think, that they bought in and like. Maybe there's a golf course near there. Look around the forum for threads on that development.

The north west of Costa RIca is almost like CALIF. from what I hear (I've only been there once) - very hot and dry; completely different than the rest of Costa Rica.

Go on an extended golfing vacation there, check out the courses, check out the surrounding areas or areas as far out from a course as you'd want to drive. Then rent in that place for a month or two and test it out. If you give us an exact location (near this or that town) of a golf course and how far you'd want to drive to it from, then we can recommend a town to consider living in, at a higher cooler elevation - and cheaper than the beach areas.

Thanks for the suggestion.  Is it near a golf course or beach?

Ralph

No golf courses in this area. You really need to search out the locations of the golf courses in Costa Rica, noting that some may have been planned in the past but never completed.

Maybe 1.5 +/- hour to the beach in Puntarenas.

Guanacaste is great. We were there this past winter. Yes, it is hot but that is Costa Rica. Playa Conchal has a nice golf course. Tamarindo is very developed (for Costa Rica) and has a nice beach and great food.

Cheapest golf is in Ojochal.  About 20 mil for a cart and 9 holes.  Not a 5 star but decent.

I hope you find/found where you want to be. 

Tom

Just FYI, my daughter and her family live at at golf and surf community in Nicaragua that has reasonable living costs and is a safe gated community:  haciendaiguana.com/   iguanasurfrentals.com/

You can build your own home or buy a condo on the beach or on the golf course.

Nicaragua certainly isn't for everyone, though a friend of mine likes to go there.

A lot  of gringos live in the Ojochal area. However like most beach areas it can get very hot there.

I don't know if there are any golf courses anywhere near any mountain towns but unless you are used to hot humid weather like parts of Florida or Georgia, you may not like living at the beach. One can get used to it, though, which is why it's best to rent for awhile where you may want to live, to see if you like it, first. 

I used to live at the beach and it would typically take me 2-4 weeks to get used to the humidity there. Once you get used to it, it's not bad. However that was AT/ON the beach, not half an hour from it. If you live half an hour or so from the beach you may say "Oh, I don't feel like driving to the beach right now..." and so you'll suffer the humidity but not be able to walk over to the ocean and easily take a dip.

So to me, if you're going to live AT the ocean it makes sense to live on the beach, not 15-30 minutes from it. But that's just my humble opinion. Something to consider.

Personally I am partial to the Southern Zone. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that work as a real estate agent in the zone with Coldwell Banker in Dominical. But I was living here long before that...

I am a blogger and wouldn't you know it, but I did write a list of reasons I believe the Southern Zone is the best place in Costa Rica to invest...here it is, for anyone interested...

costaricaexpattours.com/10-reasons-to-invest-in-the-costa-rica-southern-zone/

In the Southern Zone we have Costa Rica's highest mountains, but also some of the most gorgeous coastline and best waves. I also regard it as the last vast wilderness of Costa Rica, at least a habitable one...and here you can really find your own private paradise...

I live in the mountains of Perez Zeledon and love it, for the climate, the convenience (as in the "big" city of San Isidro de El General), the culture and it puts me in the right "context" of being able to enjoy both the mountains and the beach...Playa Dominical is only 40 minutes from my front door...and the trail head of Cerro Chirripo, highest mountain in Costa Rica, about the same...

Pura Vida!

Scott

packagecr :

Personally I am partial to the Southern Zone. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that work as a real estate agent in the zone with Coldwell Banker in Dominical. But I was living here long before that...

I am a blogger and wouldn't you know it, but I did write a list of reasons I believe the Southern Zone is the best place in Costa Rica to invest...here it is, for anyone interested...

costaricaexpattours.com/10-reasons-to-invest-in-the-costa-rica-southern-zone/

In the Southern Zone we have Costa Rica's highest mountains, but also some of the most gorgeous coastline and best waves. I also regard it as the last vast wilderness of Costa Rica, at least a habitable one...and here you can really find your own private paradise...

I live in the mountains of Perez Zeledon and love it, for the climate, the convenience (as in the "big" city of San Isidro de El General), the culture and it puts me in the right "context" of being able to enjoy both the mountains and the beach...Playa Dominical is only 40 minutes from my front door...and the trail head of Cerro Chirripo, highest mountain in Costa Rica, about the same...

Pura Vida!

Scott

packagecr, I like San Isidro de El General also and actually looked at property down there before I bought in San Ramon. I once lived near there and used to pass through Perez Zeledon. (Perhaps you can clear it up for me, then: what is the difference between "San Isidro..." and "Perez Zeledon" - they seem to be used almost interchangeably.)

I very much like that area!
The one drawback for me is that it is so far from San Jose in case I need something I can't get in S. Isidro, and that road that goes between there and San Jose is so curvy and full of trucks. But every place has its upside and its downside.

I have not been to S. Isidro for years; has it doubled or more, in the past 10  years? I would imagine it has, as have most towns in Costa Rica... Used to have a very small town atmosphere.

Thanks for the comment. Perez Zeledon is the name of the canton, or county. The main city in Perez is San Isidro. This is a common practice in Costa Rica. For instance, people who live in Ciudad Quesada will tell you they live in San Carlos, whereas the latter is the county, not the city itself.

San Isidro is often referred to as Costa Rica's second largest city, outside of the GAM. I am not 100% sure if that claim is technically correct, but I don't know what other city would be larger. It has experienced tremendous growth during the 6 years that I've lived here. I very rarely need to travel to San Jose as I can find most anything I need here.

You should come visit again some time. I believe you'd be surprised and pleased. For me, it's the best of Costa Rica. It still has a great small town feel and I love that. The people here are wonderful.

packagecr :

Thanks for the comment. Perez Zeledon is the name of the canton, or county. The main city in Perez is San Isidro. This is a common practice in Costa Rica. For instance, people who live in Ciudad Quesada will tell you they live in San Carlos, whereas the latter is the county, not the city itself.

San Isidro is often referred to as Costa Rica's second largest city, outside of the GAM. I am not 100% sure if that claim is technically correct, but I don't know what other city would be larger. It has experienced tremendous growth during the 6 years that I've lived here. I very rarely need to travel to San Jose as I can find most anything I need here.

You should come visit again some time. I believe you'd be surprised and pleased. For me, it's the best of Costa Rica. It still has a great small town feel and I love that. The people here are wonderful.

I do want to come visit SI again some day, and head on down to Dominical and up to Matapalo as well where a friend lives.

It will be interesting, I'm sure, to see how San Isidro has grown.

By the way, thanks for clarifying the "Perez Zeledon" thing! Finally I know!

You must rent for a month and investigate all the different climates that exist in Costa Rica.
I would strongly suggest that you stay totally clear of the Limon area "especially if you are white".  A Canadian teacher was just robbed and murdered near Limon "which will no doubt effect a lot of tourism out of Canada for the next few years" according to Toronto Ontario newspaper reports.

Sanbuenaventuraman :

You must rent for a month and investigate all the different climates that exist in Costa Rica.
I would strongly suggest that you stay totally clear of the Limon area "especially if you are white".  A Canadian teacher was just robbed and murdered near Limon "which will no doubt effect a lot of tourism out of Canada for the next few years" according to Toronto Ontario newspaper reports.

You may also want to stay clear of Toronto as well.  According to CBC Toronto News:  "In the first four months of 2016, the figures show there were 18 homicides involving guns, compared to six fatal shootings by this time in 2015.  There has also been a 100 percent increase in the number of homicides so far this year, with 28 recorded up until May 2."

Best advice:  Don't go out in a 'less desirable" areas of any city in any country at 5:30 in the morning carrying expensive camera equipment.  There are areas of San Jose, Limon, Puntarenas that you do need to avoid. 

This is no way diminishes the fact that some sub-human took the life of this Canadian man simply to make a little money.

The CR security ministry states that forty additional police officers have been sent to the area where the person was murdered to assist in better policing the low-lifes there.  Hopefully they can make a difference.

- Expat Dave

As for golf, I live in Playas del Coco.  There are 3 courses within an hours drive, 2 are in 5 star hotels and 1 is in a residential community.

The course at the 5 Seasons in Papagayo may be the best in the country.  Is was designed by Arnold Palmer. It is a very pretty and playable course but the price can be steep.  You can use the driving range all day for $20 and hit as many golf balls as you desire the entire day.  They have multiple target greens to shoot at as well a practice green and sand trap.  Some days I just stay there for several hours.

The course to play for a guest of the hotel or walk-on can be $250 for 18 holes depending on time of day.  There are cheaper rates later in the day but the course closes around 4:30 as it gets dark before 6 pm.  A cheaper way to play this course is to meet up with someone who is a RESIDENT.  If you play with a resident the greens fees are reduced to about $125 for the round.

There is a course in playa conchal at the Westin. I do not know the price but I was told the course, while nice, is not as good as the one at the 4 Seasons (I have no personal knowledge to support this, just what I was told).  The Westin is a 1 hour drive from Coco.

Finally, there is a 2nd or 3rd level course in Sardinal, about 15 minutes from Coco.  The course has changed ownership so if you read reviews, just check the reviews from the past year or so.  The greens fees are the lowest in this area and they do have a driving range.  This course is more for those who want to practice and have fun but really do not care about the quality of the course you are playing.

The one factor that I always consider in the equation of where to live and cost of living is to factor in QUALITY OF LIFE.  If you like dry, hot weather near many beaches and that is high on your bucket list you will have a nice life in Guanacaste.  If you want cooler weather and can take time to drive to a beach periodically than perhaps someone in the mountains would be your ideal spot.

IMHO, there are no steadfast DEFINITIVES about the cost of living and the best place to live here.  It all depends on YOUR lifestyle and how simple or lavish you want to live.  Perhaps one should use that as a guide and then decide the area of the country that best fits your needs.

Always love ExpatDave's insights. So explored homicide rates comparing Limon and Toronto. Toronto recorded 2 per 100,000 and Limon 22 per 100,000 (about that of Oakland). Dave's point however is some areas most anywhere are dangerous for various reasons; some places most anywhere are quite safe. And a murder rate of 1 is deplorable. Glad to read the government responded to this tragedy by sending 40 police officers to Limon's high crime areas to beef up security there.

I agree with Dave.  Bad things can happen anywhere.  Don't put yourself in a situation that makes you a target.   This guy was walking around early in the morning with his expensive camera equipment.  Do not show excessive wealth like flashy cars and expensive electronics or watches.   

Also, I don't know the details of this case as the CR media likes to hide stuff like this and perpetuate the "eco-green" BS, but my advice is to GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT.   Maybe if he gave them everything they wanted and ran, he would be alive today.  They weren't interested in his life, only his equipment.  Your expensive crap is not worth your life.

Sooo agree with the last two posts relative to crime.  Just be sure to compare "apples to apples" when you are looking at any area you want to live in.   

As an example, everyone here knows that Limon, areas of San Jose, etc. have dangerous areas with high crime rates.  I am only an hour from San Jose and the violent crime rate in the area that I live in, by comparison, is non-existent.  In the neighborhood that I live in there is no violent crime.  No, I do not live in a gated community and never would.

At the same time many Gringo houses do get broken into in this area.  Ninety-nine percent of those are high-end Gringo homes that are large, opulent and not fenced.  Well, if I'm a low-life thief, those are the ones I'd choose as well. 

It's the same as those individuals who choose to wear expensive jewelry in a poor country and then are amazed that they were robbed.  ...little common sense goes a long way.  (My Dad drilled that into me.)

- Expat Dave

I am home from my wonderful 6 days w/2 daughters and will write up our trip when I get over this "Twilight Zone" feeling. But wanted to add a word since people have stopped talking about golf and drifted into talking about crime.

Yesterday, after we dropped off our rental car in San Jose, as we were walking along my daughter's iPhone 6 slipped out of one of her trousers' pockets. She did NOT know it until a young man started calling to her, "Señora, Señora," and, with a warm smile, he handed her back the phone that has fallen to the pavement.

Celadon :

I am home from my wonderful 6 days w/2 daughters and will write up our trip when I get over this "Twilight Zone" feeling. But wanted to add a word since people have stopped talking about golf and drifted into talking about crime.

Yesterday, after we dropped off our rental car in San Jose, as we were walking along my daughter's iPhone 6 slipped out of one of her trousers' pockets. She did NOT know it until a young man started calling to her, "Señora, Señora," and, with a warm smile, he handed her back the phone that has fallen to the pavement.

Most people here are good, and you know that phone is worth a FORTUNE here, more than in the states and no matter what kind of security it may have they can almost certainly easily "jailbreak it" and sell it.

I had a guy call me similarly the other day when I dropped an important paper in the street and once I left my debit card in a machine and they came looking for me to give it back! Granted the paper was worth nothing to anyone and the debit card is not so easy to use as a phone. Still it shows kindness that they returned these things to this gringo!

Moderated by Bhavna 4 months ago
Reason : Ads are not allowed on the forum section.
We invite you to read the forum code of conduct

Crime is on the rise all over (tons in the u.s.) but I have found some of the nicest people in CR on the trip down before.
That's a nother reason we want to retire there!

GinnyP :

Crime is on the rise all over (tons in the u.s.) but I have found some of the nicest people in CR on the trip down before.
That's a nother reason we want to retire there!

I would agree with you 100% on every word.  😁

- Expat Dave

Does a person have to live in Costa Rica to start applying to become resident? Or can/should we start now from the u.s.a.

GinnyP :

Does a person have to live in Costa Rica to start applying to become resident? Or can/should we start now from the u.s.a.

Ginny,

Yes, you can start while you're in the States.  Do you have someone helping you yet.  Sorry if that's already answered above.  This thread has become very long and gone many different directions and I admit I am too lazy to look.   :D   If you don't have someone, I can recommend the firm that we used.  Many Gringos use them and they're reasonably priced.  Let me know if you want their info and I'll send it to you by private message.

- Expat Dave

We applied 8 months before we moved to Costa Rica.  Thought we were golden ........ took another 14 months to achieve temporary residency.  It was not a surprise and we made 4 trips to Nicaragua to keep our driver's license active.  Not a big deal, just another step to get residency where we are very happy.  When people talk about moving here and ask what is the best thing(s) they can bring .... it is patience!

Hi and yes please Dave.

New topic

Expatriate health insurance in Costa Rica

Free advice and quotation service to choose an expat health insurance in Costa Rica

Moving to Costa Rica

Find tips from professionals about moving to Costa Rica

Travel insurance in Costa Rica

Enjoy stress-free travel to Costa Rica