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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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…
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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.
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