As I drive east out of San Jose and its suburbs, the gridlock, gleaming shopping malls, and dense urban development of Costa Rica’s capital slowly melt away. Within 30 minutes I’ve found myself in the countryside, following a winding road that hugs a mountainside as it descends into the valley below.
You’ll find colonial towns and cities all over Mexico. It’s a legacy of its long history as one of the most important colonies in the Spanish Empire until its independence in 1821.
Santiago de Querétaro, in Mexico’s Colonial Highlands, has a lot going for it: an ideal climate, top-notch but affordable medical care, a well-kept Spanish colonial centro, friendly local people, and much more.
Just 10 minutes’ drive south from the popular tourist destination and expat hotspot of Playas del Coco, is an escape. Playa Ocotal is one of the prettiest beaches on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast. It’s a little out-of-the-way but definitely worth the journey to get there.
For the most part, I consider myself a pretty downhome kind of a guy. I stay in simple hotels when I travel—if there’s internet, I’m set. Fancy restaurants are okay. But usually I have more fun and get tastier food where the locals eat.
Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast is known for its dramatic coastline of tree-covered mountains dropping suddenly to the ocean, empty beaches, and lush rainforest full of wildlife like toucans, howler monkeys, sloths, and dozens of other species.
There’s a steady breeze blowing. The sand is black—it’s volcanic—flecked with small crystals that twinkle in the sunlight. The sand is quite hot too in the heat of the day…best to wear flip-flops.
Food is cheap—and very tasty. Rents are affordable even for those on super-low budgets—$200 to $400 gets you a nice place in a great neighborhood. The climate is comfortable…the people friendly…there are modern services…and the vibrant mix of music, festivals, indigenous culture, and colonial history is evident everywhere you turn. It should be an option for anyone considering a retirement in Latin America.
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.