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Accommodation is plentiful in Costa Rica's capital, and you'll find something to fit any budget or requirement. Read this article to find out where to live in San Jose and what to consider. 

Most expats tend to rent accommodation while they are working in Costa Rica, but many of those who retire in the country choose to purchase their own property. Whether you wish to rent or buy, when it comes to looking for a place to live in San Jose, it's important to bear certain factors in mind. You may wish to base your choice of location around your children's school, a specific medical facility, or your place of work. As there is quite a bit of bumper-to-bumper traffic in the capital, it can take a lot longer to travel distances than you may expect, so it's worth being in close proximity to places you need to frequent on a regular basis.

It's also important to choose a house or apartment where you feel secure, in an area that is relatively safe. Many condominiums and apartments come with 24-hour security, so are particularly popular with expats. However, if you'd rather live in a house, then it's a good idea to install an alarm system if there isn't one.

Where to live

In recent years, Escazu and Santa Ana have arguably become the most sought-after areas for expats to live in and around San Jose, as they offer the convenience of being close to many great restaurants, as well as office buildings, the CIMA Hospital and the Multiplaza shopping mall. You can also find expat communities in Rohmoser, Ciudad Cariari (commonly known as Cariari), San Antonio de Belen (commonly known as Belen), Heredia and Alajuela.


Known as the Beverly Hills of Costa Rica, Escazu is particularly popular with foreigners, and you'll notice a variety of American chain stores in the area that meet Western needs. There's a big mix of accommodation offerings, from simple local houses to high-rise penthouses and palatial estates — and the nicest properties tend to be owned by wealthy Costa Ricans.

The exclusive Costa Rica Country Club can also be found in this area, as well as many private, bilingual schools.

Santa Ana

To the west of Escazu is Santa Ana and Ciudad Colon, and there has been huge growth in this area as the city continues to expand, especially as a highway that starts at La Sabana and stretches to the beaches on the Central Pacific means that you can be by the ocean in less than 1.5 hours!

Santa Ana owes its popularity to its warm, dry climate, as well as its nearby location to state-of-the-art medical facilities, the country's largest mall, and several upmarket hotels and office complexes.

A nice mixture of Costa Ricans and foreigners call this neighbourhood home, but downtown Santa Ana has managed to retain a distinctly Costa Rican feel that is similar to many small towns across the country.


Located on the outskirts of the city centre, the large La Sabana Park has many public attractions, such as trails, museums, sports fields, and an Olympic-sized pool, and is surrounded by relatively upmarket neighborhoods — one of which is Rohmoser, a longstanding favourite for foreigners and middle-class Costa Ricans.

Many expatriates live in this area around the leafy Rohmoser Boulevard, which is in easy reach of major highways, as well as a wide range of services and amenities.


Cariari lies approximately five miles north-west of the capital, just off the highway from Juan Santamaria International Airport, and is home to the Cariari Country Club, which has a beautiful course that attracts many golf enthusiasts. This is an upmarket neighborhood that boasts luxury hotels, great restaurants and the American International School.

San Antonio de Belen

San Antonio de Belen falls to the west of Cariari and is quite a laid-back town that offers a variety of housing options in all price ranges. The area has experienced rapid growth in recent years since INTEL opened a big plant there.

Heredia and Alajuela

Located about half an hour from the capital, Heredia and Alajuela also offer a range of accommodation options for all budgets and tastes, from modest houses to million-dollar mansions; and these towns offer beautiful views, a more rural environment, and a local flair.

Heredia is cooler than other areas and, as you go higher up into the mountains, you will come across upscale residential developments.

Alajuela is the country's second-largest city and is home to its major airport. If you head east, past downtown Alajuela, you will pass coffee farms, oxcarts, horses and countryside that give a true taste of Costa Rica.


Before you move into your rented accommodation, you may be required to pay a deposit upfront. If you are renting an unfurnished property, this can be the equivalent of one month’s rent, but your landlord could require two months' rent if the accommodation is furnished.

Generally speaking, you should expect to pay utilities in addition to your rent. However, if you rent a furnished property, some utilities, such as water, cable TV, or building maintenance fees, may be included.

 Useful links: – Accommodation in San Jose Forum – Housing in San Jose 
San José Official Portal
Paginas Amarillas San José – List of estate agents
Busco mi casa
Encuentra 24

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