I wish there was a "location matrix" that would hone in on the best place given certain criteria. In the absence of that, I figured you guys would be the best!
We are looking to retire or spend a good chunk of the year in Costa Rica within a decade. As many of you suggest, we plan to continually visit CR to try to find the best fit. Even with that, there are so many places! We already visited Alujuela, La Fortuna, and San Ramon.
Here is a list of dislikes & wishes. I'm hoping to get some ideas of places to visit for potential homes based on my matrix. I want to be honest about my thoughts & I fear that I may appear closed minded (apologies in advance!), but it is just what I'm comfortable with.
1. My husband wants somewhere nearby to hike in the jungle daily
2. I'll need to socialize with other expats
3. Good food. The food in CR was good, but I need some "American" food now and again. (San Ramon had a few restaurants that attempted American food, but it tasted a little "off").
4. A nearby grocery store that sells half & half!
5. Safe housing. I was put off by seemingly all housing having bars on the windows & doors. Didn't feel safe or welcoming
6. I would love to be near the ocean, but Guanacaste seems to be too hot (from what I read) & not very lush. I could handle a few months of 85+ degree weather, but not much more.
7. If I'm near the ocean, it would need to be swimmable (i.e. no continual riptides). In my perfect world, it would be white sand beach & blue water (I've pretty much ruled out Limon as too dangerous and remote).
8. My husband would like enough land to have a small garden and a papaya tree.
9. La Fortuna felt too remote and from what I understand, pretty rainy & cloudy
10. Alujuela, San Ramon, and Grecia towns "proper" seemed too crowded (narrow roads) & congested. Maybe all towns are like this? Just something to get used to?
11. I'd like to be within a few hours of a major airport