The Best Places to Meet Expats in Costa Rica

The Best Places to Meet Expats in Costa Rica

Sharing your experiences with other expats is part of the fun of traveling and living abroad, and there are plenty of places to meet other expats in Costa Rica.

You’ll find expats almost everywhere you go in Costa Rica, but there are some popular spots where you’re sure to find expats in numbers, including:

San Jose suburbs: Costa Rica’s capital isn’t home to a large expat population, but the outlying suburbs have been popular for years with expats who want to base themselves close to the capital yet enjoy the views and fresh air of the Central Valley. You’ll meet expats in the excellent restaurants, clubs, movie theaters, and shopping malls that are found in the suburbs, which include:

  • Escazu, including San Antonio and San Rafael
  • Santa Ana
  • San Pedro
  • Rohrmoser
  • Curridabat

West and north of San Jose is the town of Grecia. Grecia has a small-town feel and great highland weather, and is becoming more and more popular with expats who want to be outside the Central Valley, but still within drive time (less than an hour) of the capital.

Eat at any of the larger restaurants downtown and the chances are excellent you’ll be just a few tables from other expats. (See this video to find out why I think Grecia is a great place to explore.)

Lake Arenal is a large, clear-water lake in Costa Rica’s western highlands and is becoming popular with expats, not just from the U.S., but from around the world.

The volcanic waters of La Fortuna feed the many spas on the east end of the lake, and you’ll find plenty of expats enjoying the thermal baths. Driving around the north side of the lake, stop at The Gingerbread B&B and Restaurant. Real estate agent Terry Moran has an office there, and between him and chef Eyal Ben-Manachem, you’ll be introduced to just about every expat on the lake.


Meet expats at the beach in Costa Rica

The beaches of Costa Rica’s northern Pacific Coast at Guanacaste have undergone a boom with the completion of the new international airport at Liberia, and expats are everywhere, especially around Playa Flamingo.

The central Pacific beaches from Puntarenas and Jaco south through Quepos, Manuel Antonio, and Dominical are world famous surf destinations, and expats have been coming here for years. Any lively bar or restaurant will have a good number of expats in it on a weekend. See this video footage below of my wife Suzan and I driving through the streets of the popular surf town of Jaco.

With the completion of the new coastal highway extension all the way to the Oso Peninsula, the once hard to get to beaches at Uvita and Ojochal are now just a few hours drive from San Jose and the international airport.

(See this video, where Suzan Haskins explains why Ojochal in Costa Rica’s Southern Zone is high on her list of dream retirement destinations.)

These beaches are among the nicest in Costa Rica and have drawn European expats who want to be off the beaten path for years. Now the new road is quickly bringing expats from the U.S. and Canada to the area, and any of the good boutique hotels and delightful little gourmet restaurants scattered above the beaches in the hills are a good place to meet other expats.

You can also meet other expats in Costa Rica through your own interests. Click here for a listing of expat clubs and societies from the Tico Times Directory Blog.

Learn more about Costa Rica and other countries in our daily postcard e-letter. Sign up for IL’s free daily postcard here and we’ll send you a FREE REPORT – Why Are Americans Still Flocking to Costa Rica.

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