Once voted the “Cleanest Town in Latin America” Grecia is a jewel of the Central Valley of Costa Rica. Far enough away from the hustle and bustle of Costa Rica’s largest cities, Grecia is a quiet hamlet.
The center of town, both literally and figuratively, is the beautiful Catholic Church, Iglesia de la Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes. Made entirely of prefabricated steel, it is known as one of the most unique churches in the country.
Adjacent to the church is a large central park where residents and visitors talk, relax, gaze at the many exotic birds that fly by, or just people watch. In the center of the park is a band shell that hosts frequent performances. Everything from the town’s youth orchestra to rock bands have performed here.
Grecia is a farming town, mostly coffee and sugarcane, but also some produce and citrus. The people are friendly and welcoming and love to celebrate during holidays.
The downtown is bustling with activity as the residents shop, do business, and drive through town on their way to another city. Most inhabitants, expats and ticos (as the Costa Ricans call themselves) live outside of downtown. There are multiple communities a short drive from the town center that provide easy access to the conveniences of town, but without the traffic. There are also five inclining mountain ridges that run for about 10 miles out of town. These ridges provide the coolest temperatures and best views.
Retire in Grecia, Costa Rica
Grecia is the perfect place to retire. The town is a medium sized farming town of about 18,000 residents. It sits on the slope of Poás Volcano in Costa Rica’s Central Valley, meaning it is surrounded by mountains. Elevations for Grecia and its environs range from 3,000 to 5,500 feet, providing ideal temperatures year round and stunning vistas from most places in the town.
In addition to the weather, Grecia is large enough to have nearly all the conveniences you might need. There are plenty of options for shopping in town. Multiple grocery stores provide everyday staples, and there are clothing stores, hardware stores, and even a mall.
For healthcare there are multiple pharmacies, each with a nurse on staff. The town has many general practitioners to choose from, as well as some specialists. There are at least three dentists and a couple of optometrists too. Many of the doctors are U.S. trained and speak English. Grecia also has its own hospital and Caja office (Costa Rica’s national medical program).
Another great thing about retiring to Grecia is the town’s proximity to other conveniences. The international airport in Alajuela (along with other excellent shopping options) is only 40 minutes away. And the capital city, San José, which provides cultural activities as well as excellent restaurants, is only an hour away.
Lifestyle in Grecia, Costa Rica
Grecia provides a great lifestyle for those exiting the rat race of the U.S. and looking for a slower pace of life. Grecia’s perfect temperature encourages outdoor pursuits like walking or hiking, bird watching, and photography.
The expat community in Grecia is large and active. There are many clubs and activities that allow for socializing and there are also many volunteer opportunities for those that wish to give back to the community.
The town has multiple restaurants, some even feature live music provided by local expat bands. And then there is the feria, or farmers’ market. One of the best in the Central Valley, Grecia’s feria is a great place to meet up with friends and find great deals on produce.
Real Estate in Grecia, Costa Rica
Real estate in Grecia is still affordable. Basic homes are available for around $100,000. A typical two- or three-bedroom, two-bathroom home will cost between $150,000 and $250,000. There are also many high-end homes over $500,000 and a few over $1 million, if that is what you are looking for.
A typical rental range for a home that has two-bedrooms with one or two bathrooms is $700 to $1,000 a month.
Cost of Living in Grecia, Costa Rica
Since Grecia is a farming town and consumable goods are priced for residents, not tourists, prices for daily living are some of the lowest in the country. Produce is much cheaper than in the U.S. and meats are about the same. Each weekend farmers set up there stalls at the feria and shoppers can get deals like three pineapples for $2 or a huge bunch of bananas for $1.
Grecia has a mall with retail stores and a movie theater showing new releases. A pair of movie tickets will cost about $12. The mall also has a North American style food court with a McDonalds, KFC, and Taco Bell restaurant, among others. A combo meal will cost between $7 to $9.
For a sit down meal you can hardly beat the prices at a soda (a small family owned restaurant). The price for a casado, a typical Costa Rican meal of meat, rice, and beans, along with a beer will cost about $8. A meal at a larger restaurant will be more in line with prices in the U.S. For example, a meal for two with a glass of wine can run $40 or more.
Household help is affordable in Grecia as well. Cleaning staff or gardeners for your property will run $3 to $4 an hour.
A typical monthly budget for a couple runs between $2,000 and $3,000, with two of the largest factors being if you have a vehicle and whether you rent or own your home. Here’s an example of a monthly budget for a couple living in Grecia without a car and renting a two-bedroom, two-bathroom home:
|Gas & Water||$20|
|Cell Phones (x2)||$25|
|Groceries & Household Items||$600|