The Central Valley, Costa Rica
Expats have been flocking to Costa Rica's Central Valley for decades and it’s not hard to see why. The spring-like climate, central location, and ready-made expat community are just a few of the reasons more and more expats are deciding to make the Central Valley their overseas destination.
The climate is perfect, the Valley’s altitude of 3,000 to 5,000 feet makes it comfortable all year round, and it has a climate that’s like few others in the world. Daytime highs are usually in the 70s F or low 80s F, and lows at night are typically in the 60s F. Few residents see a need for central heating or air conditioning.
It’s also hard to beat the Central Valley when you’re looking for a beautiful, friendly, and relatively inexpensive place to live. Parts of the Central Valley is positively alpine. Nestled among forests, mountains, and farms are villages where expats have been living side-by-side with Costa Ricans for many decades. As a result, supportive communities have formed, providing schools, clubs, sports, and a huge range of cultural activities.
Like the name would suggest, the Central Valley is central. You can be in San José, the country’s capital, and its suburbs within an hour to an hour-and-a-half at most from just about anywhere in the Valley. There you’ll find the best shopping in the country, including North American-style malls and warehouse shopping clubs. It’s quite common for expats living in the Central Valley to pop in to San José for shopping, dinner, and a movie. If you want to hit the beach, it’s an hour or so to the Pacific.
The Central Valley—home to about two-thirds of Costa Rica’s population—is also the place to find elegant residential communities, excellent medical facilities, splendid restaurants, luxurious hotels, and spectacular natural wonders, including volcanoes and rain forests. Expats and visitors alike won’t be disappointed with what Costa Rica’s Central Valley has to offer.
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Having lived in Costa Rica’s Orosi Valley for a year now, leaving our lives behind in Dallas was the best thing my partner and I could have done. I knew it would be years before I could afford to retire in the States but I was ready for an adventure. I didn’t want to wait. So I started searching… We visited Costa Rica numerous times in the three years before we moved here to find what we called our “Goldilocks Place.” The beaches were gorgeous, but too warm for our taste. The jungles were amazing, but too humid for us. The Central Valley was cooler and popular with expats, but just not quite what we were looking for. Then we found our place in the mountains of the Orosi Valley, about 20 miles south of the capital San Jose. It was “just right.”
I always tell people that I chose the Central Valley town of Grecia to retire to because it reminds me so much of my hometown of Ybor City, Florida…back in the 1950s. The warm-hearted people, the magnificent natural beauty, the weekly feria (farmer’s market) with its fresh flowers, eggs, chicken, and just-picked produce, brought by the farmers in their trucks directly from the farm, and the pura vida (pure life) all drew me here to Costa Rica.
I live in the heart of Costa Rica’s most populated region, the Central Valley. In fact, I live in the Gran Area Metropolitana (GAM), the name given to the capital, San Jose, and surrounding suburbs. The Valley has about 70% of the country’s population. It’s a center of culture and commerce. And the GAM, which contains towns popular with expats like Escazu, Santana, and Heredia, is honestly a sprawling urban area with traffic and noise.
My wife and I were enjoying coffee on our back porch the other day when we turned to each other and said, almost simultaneously, “Can’t beat this weather, huh?” And really, here at our home in the heart of the Central Valley, in the hills above the town of Grecia, I have to admit the weather is perfect. (My apologies to all those reading this up north who still have snow on the ground.) It averages about 75 degrees year-round and, up here at 4,500 feet, it gets cool enough…
Hi, I’m Dan Prescher. Want a great example of how to move your family AND career to a tropical paradise? Look no further than Jason Holland, who lives and works in one of the most beautiful spots in Costa Rica with his wife and two young children. Jason made his move abroad in the middle of a job crisis, a world economic downturn AND the arrival of his second child…
It wasn’t practical reasons like lower cost of living, great—and cheap—medical care, and friendly people that convinced Dave Scott, 65, to move to San Ramón, a town on the western edge of Costa Rica’s Central Valley region.Though the country has all those advantages and more, and while those were factors in the decision, it was something else that drew him.“It was like an invisible string around my neck pulling me here,” says Dave. “It’s more of a heart thing than a head thing. It’s hard to explain. It was just the feeling we had.”
There are many benefits to moving overseas: the weather is better, your quality of life will improve and you will always have something to do. Here are a few quick questions that you should ask yourself before moving overseas. 1. What type of weather do you like? If you don’t like the snow then you should…
Costa Rica has been a top retirement destination for more than three decades. An estimated 20,000 North Americans call it home today (more if you count part-timers and “snowbirds” who come for North American winters). And it continues to be a favorite of retirees for the same reasons it always has been: low cost of living; ideal climate; natural beauty; a stable government; friendly locals; safety; easy residency requirements; and bargain real estate.
It’s the friendly and welcoming people, the natural beauty, and the tropical lifestyle that will really steal your heart. “Costa Ricans are a gracious people,” says Rene Aoki, who has lived in the Arenal region for 19 years. “It’s an easy place to live where you can make close friends.” New expats find well-trodden ground and benefit from the experience of those who came before them.
The region of Costa Rica surrounding the capital San Jose is known as the Central Valley. Set at 3,000 feet, the weather is temperate, averaging in the mid-70s year-round.
“I knew when it was time to retire we’d move to the tropics. I was bored with the predictability of life in the U.S….the politics…the franchises,” says 70-year-old Roberta Laidman.
Expats have been flocking to the Central Valley for decades. Despite the name, it is actually a high-altitude plateau—above 3,000 feet—that is surrounded by tall mountains. In the middle you have Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose.
Costa Rica’s Central Valley has been an expat haven for decades. For good reason. It’s got one of the world’s best climates, averaging in the mid-70s year-round. And most towns are within short driving distance (30 minutes to an hour-and-a-half) of the amenities of the capital, San José, and its suburbs like Cariari and Escazu. We’re talking North American-style shopping malls and multiplex movie theaters (with movies in English), plus the country’s best private hospitals.
After a lifetime of cold weather in Alberta, Canada, retired couple Rick and Peggy Stewart were ready for a change. And they found a perfect climate—and many more benefits—in the rural community of Santa Eulalia about 20 minutes outside of the small town of Atenas, in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. From their new home in the tropics, they can’t help but rub it in with friends and family back home.
Every expat who moves from the United States to Costa Rica has to make some adjustments. Things are slower, more relaxed. The lifestyle is about time with family and friends, not work and material possessions. You won’t find big box stores on every corner…
I’m sitting poolside as I write this, enjoying a cup of delicious Costa Rican coffee and a scrumptious plate of fresh tropical fruit. A kaleidoscope of tropical flowers, the sweet singsong of birds, and the colorful flash of hummingbirds buzzing from flower to flower surround me. This is an average day in my Costa Rican paradise.