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Best area to retire near the beach

We have been to Costa Rica several times and we think we have finally found the community that we wish to retire to in five years.  Our community has to be near the ocean and the beaches must be somewhat gentle to swim in - not real rough like other areas of Costa Rica we have visited.  We are currently not surfers.  We absolutely love the ocean!

Do you currently live in a community in Costa Rica near the ocean that you love.  Please share it with me.  I will share the community we have found after I have heard back from all you expats.

We listen carefully to all your advise and we  will not consider even buying a home until we have lived in this community for a good two years. 

Thanks for your assistance-

kepakids4 :

We have been to Costa Rica several times and we think we have finally found the community that we wish to retire to in five years.  Our community has to be near the ocean and the beaches must be somewhat gentle to swim in - not real rough like other areas of Costa Rica we have visited.  We are currently not surfers.  We absolutely love the ocean!

Do you currently live in a community in Costa Rica near the ocean that you love.  Please share it with me.  I will share the community we have found after I have heard back from all you expats.

We listen carefully to all your advise and we  will not consider even buying a home until we have lived in this community for a good two years. 

Thanks for your assistance-

Hola Kepa!

You didn't say if the time you spent was on vacation or if you had an extended stay.  If your visits were for short periods of time, I would definitely recommend that you spend more time in the area before making the "big move."  I enjoy vacations at the beach but now that I live here, there's absolutely no way that I would want to live there full time.  VERY hot and way too many tourist - just my choice of lifestyle.  At the same time there are of course many expats that enjoy living along the coast very much.

Personally, I would avoid being too close to the city of Limon.  Not a safe area.  But, as many have said before me, you need to find what is the perfect location that fits "you" and "your lifestyle."  There is something for everyone here!  🌴🌈 ☀️

- Expat Dave

I would recommend the Tamarindo area.  The only area that's really touristy is Tamarindo itself.   Depending on your budget, a long-term rental at the Westin Conchal would fit your wishes pretty nicely.  It's right on Playa Conchal, one of the calmest and nicest beaches in Costa Rica.  The area has lots of great restaurants and a large expat community.  The only time it's really hot here is March and April, before the clouds and rain come.

Thanks Dave for taking the time to share your post.

We would never consider the Limon area either.  Really can't imagine not being by the beach.  That is what we both love.  Also, we would do a good 1-2 long term rental before deciding on our final destination.

Hi Dave,

I've been in the Montezuma area for over 28 years now.  I obviously like it here.  But I suggest you make a list of the things you want and don't want about your new town.  And as mentioned many time by others, yes, rent long term before making the big decision.  You can find reasonable rentals everywhere.  For me, here I find a good community, great drinking water, lots of rivers, beautiful beaches (I prefer the tide pools), organic market, an excellent college for my son and lots of friends.  Good luck and take your time.  Let me know if you have any questions.  Gini

I would recommend looking at Montezuma area - there are a few other beaches near there as well. And the area south of Manuel Antonio - Matapalo, Dominical, Uvita. Dominical not so much, because unless you are a surfer or very young it's probably not for you imho. Nice to visit but I wouldn't want to live there. An area north towards Matapalo maybe... or south of Dominical?

Here's one thing:
Not many beach areas that I am aware of have hospitals close by. I think there is now a hospital out there around Manuel Antonio or Dominical, I'm not sure; maybe someone can answer that.

But in Montezuma as far as I know, it's very far from a hospital. I will ask giniwishes in another post.

So if you are of retirement age, you should take this into account. I know in SOME beach areas there is an airport where for $100 or so (?) you can fly back to San Jose.  But how often are the flights and can you get one in an emergency?

My only advice is IF you like the beach, you should live within a block of the beach, not a long walk or drive to it. Because it is VERY hot and humid at the beach here in the near-equator sun, and you need to dip off in the beach regularly throughout the day to cool off. If you live "near it" you will in practice probably not dip in as much as you'd like, to cool off, and I know I would not be happy, if I were to live at the beach, unless I was ON the beach. (I have lived on the beach and for various reasons I chose to move to the mountains.)

I don't know how it is now, but Playa Conchal that someone mentioned above, was a very nice beach when I went there years ago. Again, I don't know what the hospital situation is. And while I am healthy now, at my age, anything can happen and I'm not sure I'd want to live TOO far from a hospital just in case.

giniwishes :

Hi Dave,

I've been in the Montezuma area for over 28 years now.  I obviously like it here.  But I suggest you make a list of the things you want and don't want about your new town.  And as mentioned many time by others, yes, rent long term before making the big decision.  You can find reasonable rentals everywhere.  For me, here I find a good community, great drinking water, lots of rivers, beautiful beaches (I prefer the tide pools), organic market, an excellent college for my son and lots of friends.  Good luck and take your time.  Let me know if you have any questions.  Gini

I'm curious about retiring at Montezuma or an area like that:
What about hospitals and CAJA?

Is there a CAJA doctor there full time or part time? And are there any private doctors near these beach areas, and how often are CAJA doctors there and are they any good?

Since you've lived there a long time what is the CAJA/ hospital situation there? If you need an operation where do they send you? And is it a good hospital in your opinion? Have you or anyone you know had an operation there?

I'd be curious to know about Playa Conchal and Tamarindo and other areas at the beach as well: what provisions are there for surgery, private doctors, CAJA? Where do you go and is it good?

You won't find many calm beaches on the Pacific coast, which is why I mentioned Conchal.  It's about as calm as any beach I've found here.   To get really calm waters, you'd probably have to go to the Caribbean side, which is crime-infested.   In my opinion, I wouldn't recommend the southern Nicoya peninsula like Dominical because the waters are not calm, the road atrocious and the amenities thin.  However, many people love it there!  Just not for me.   

The main thing is to scope out many different places and rent for 1-2 years before buying anything.

thewizz :

You won't find many calm beaches on the Pacific coast, which is why I mentioned Conchal.  It's about as calm as any beach I've found here.   To get really calm waters, you'd probably have to go to the Caribbean side, which is crime-infested.   In my opinion, I wouldn't recommend the southern Nicoya peninsula like Dominical because the waters are not calm, the road atrocious and the amenities thin.  However, many people love it there!  Just not for me.   

The main thing is to scope out many different places and rent for 1-2 years before buying anything.

The road is atrocious to Dominical? I thought they put a nice new highway in a few years ago. No?

As to the ocean, no it's not super calm but certainly usable if you know how to swim and are familiar with ocean swimming or boogie-boarding. Good for surfing and boogie boarding imho. And swimming, like I say, if you are familiar with the ocean and tides and such.

samramon :
thewizz :

You won't find many calm beaches on the Pacific coast, which is why I mentioned Conchal.  It's about as calm as any beach I've found here.   To get really calm waters, you'd probably have to go to the Caribbean side, which is crime-infested.   In my opinion, I wouldn't recommend the southern Nicoya peninsula like Dominical because the waters are not calm, the road atrocious and the amenities thin.  However, many people love it there!  Just not for me.   

The main thing is to scope out many different places and rent for 1-2 years before buying anything.

The road is atrocious to Dominical? I thought they put a nice new highway in a few years ago. No?

As to the ocean, no it's not super calm but certainly usable if you know how to swim and are familiar with ocean swimming or boogie-boarding. Good for surfing and boogie boarding imho. And swimming, like I say, if you are familiar with the ocean and tides and such.

My mistake.  I meant Montezuma.  However, the OP was looking for super calm waters, which are pretty rare around here in my experience.

Ahh yes, the road to Montezuma.  :huh:   Although I ride a moto to explore the many backroads, and it's built for off-road, that road was a killer.  There are soooo many large pot holes you can't always get around them.  Has to be the worst road in CR.

- Expat Dave

Been to the Dominical and Uvita area several times and found the roads in good shape with the new highway. I will agree that the ocean can be really rough but it is great for surfers

I always took the bus to Montezuma so never noticed the road being that bad, but I believe you. I'm guessing either it wasn't that bad years ago when I went many times by bus, or - more likely - the bus driver knew where every hole was to avoid.

I have spent a year in the Montezuma/Santa Teresa area and a year in Guanacaste (playas del coco/playa Hermosa) area.

Unless you like solitude and minimal things to do except taking in the sun, air, and stars, Montezuma is a bit way off the tracks for my personal liking.  It is beautiful and typical.

On the downside, the roads in the area are horrendous, some of the worst in the country, and electricity and Internet can be "down" fairly often.  Amenities are lacking for my tastes and it is difficult to get to any other area by car.  But it is nice!  I had to leave the area every 3-4 weeks just to get back in touch with reality.  Just my experience.  And many YOUNG people (locals and surfer dudes), Europeans, people looking to "get lost from society", and vacationers.  Few ex-pats.

The advantages of the northwest part of the country are as follows: great airport within short distance to beach towns; good hospital open 24 hours; plenty of beaches of all types that are good for swimming and some good for surfing; plenty of amenities; decent main roads (not so much for side roads); plenty of housing options; MANY ex-pats if that is what you are looking for; very leisure life style but not too rural or rustic that you feel isolated as in Montezuma.  Five star hotels, 2 golf courses, many great restaurants, movie theaters, and reliable electricity and Internet (though you may experience periodic short term outages).

Place to live is a personal decision.  Make a list of must haves then check off places and see what suits your must haves best.  And then live there at least a year before making a decision on your final destination.  Both Montezuma and Guanacaste are great choices to start with.

Hola SamRamon,

The Montezuma area is growing.  We have a public clinic (CAJA)  24 hours, 7 days a week, a private  LifeGuard clinic  with helicopter services in case of emergency.  We also have another private clinic starting to bring new doctors in.  The good thing, also,  is that we have the Tambor Airport at only 20 minutes.  There are various flights everyday from Nature Air and Sansa.  I guess it would be complicated if you have a special condition and need to see a specialist every month.

I know some women who had their babies at the public clinic here, but they are sent to the Monseñor Sanabrias Hospital in Puntarenas, for further control.   Any specialized surgery would be done in San José.  I once had a miscarriage and was sent to Puntarenas.  It was ok.

I don't know about the situation in Tamarindo or Conchal.  The only thing that I noticed when I visit is that it is hotter than here and the water is an issue.  Also, there is a bigger American community there.  Here we have more of a mix.

I hope the information is helpful.  Have all a great day, Gini

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