In recent years, Costa Rica has become a top destination for folks with a portable income. If your job can be done from a laptop—and these days, most jobs can—you can enjoy an enviable lifestyle in Costa Rica, thanks to the low cost of living and reliable high-speed internet.
The southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, known as the Southern Zone, is a place of raw, natural beauty. Tall, tree-covered mountains and hills come right up to the shore. The beaches are uncrowded to the extreme—often you could be the only person around.
Whether you’re looking for a bustling beach resort town with plenty of restaurants, chic boutiques, and nightlife…or you’d rather string up your hammock between two palms and fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves and not see another person all afternoon…you can get it in Costa Rica.
What makes for a good retirement destination? For those on a budget (and those who aren’t) a place with a lower cost of living is key. But it’s not only about the money. You want to be comfortable and feel safe. Modern services like high-speed internet, top-notch medical care, and good value real estate are also important. And if you’re from a northern climate, the benefit of warm weather year-round (no more coats, no more snow tires) might be the biggest motivator.
I’m looking over the deep blue Pacific. Fisherman with nets wade out into the shallows, flinging them periodically to catch bait fish. There’s not a cloud in the sky, and the water, with the sun high in the sky around lunchtime, glitters with light. Here on the northern Pacific coast, it’s the sunniest part of the country.
For David Scott Bowers, 55, a little farm on the side of a mountain with a river running behind it, complete with a swimming hole for refreshing dips is home. A small village is nearby and a larger town a little farther down the road. There’s a nature preserve within walking distance. With the elevation at just over 2,900 feet, the climate is temperate and you can enjoy the outdoors year-round despite the tropical latitude.
I was hurtling down a mountain, on a narrow two-lane road, surrounded by jungle…while avoiding the deadly scratches of a terrified animal. How did I get here? Let’s go back to the beginning. I had traveled to Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast to check out the expat communities there.
Set in Mexico's famed Colonial Highlands is San Miguel de Allende, which many consider to be the most charming town in this region. It's certainly one of the most popular with expats. They've been drawn here since right after World War II by the artsy and bohemian vibe, the full calendar of cultural events, indigenous festivals, an ideal climate, and low cost of living.
For Steve and Nancy Riley…it’s paradise. They live on a little over 12 acres of land on a hillside, with panoramic views of the surrounding forest and farmland thanks to the elevation of 4,300 feet. A former coffee plantation, they’ve transformed their property into a botanical garden with walking trails and thousands of tropical plants like heliconias, bromeliads, 550 different species of orchids, and more. It’s Nancy’s vision and passion, and with a helper, she works hours a day in the garden.
As they conquered and colonized Latin America, the Spanish conquistadors—and later settlers—certainly left their mark. Using the old cities of Spain as a model, they built imposing cathedrals, well-tended public squares, large homes, and other structures. Throughout the region, from Mexico to Argentina, and everywhere in between, you can find these historic districts often covering dozens of city blocks, full of ornate buildings.