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.

Retire in The Central Valley, Costa Rica

Retire in The Central Valley

Costa Rica’s fame as a retirement destination is richly deserved and in the Central Valley the climate is always pleasant.

Expats are attracted to Costa Rica for numerous reasons, which include the low cost of living, excellent health care, modern telecommunications infrastructure, beautiful beaches, rainforests, lush valleys, and cool mountains…not to mention the theaters, art galleries, and fine dining.

By almost any standard, Costa Rica has some of the best health care in Latin America. Not only that, but the country’s public and private health systems are constantly being upgraded—new hospitals, new equipment, and improvements in staff training. San José, the country’s capital located in the Central Valley, has the best public and private medical care in the country. This of course makes the Central Valley in particular a popular spot for retirees.

Lifestyle in The Central Valley, Costa Rica

Real Estate in The Central Valley

It’s hard to beat the Central Valley when you’re looking for a beautiful, friendly, and relatively inexpensive place to live. 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. This built-in expat community will leave you with plenty to keep you busy.

If you find it difficult to choose which climate you prefer, you will be glad to know that the mild temperatures of the Central Valley are just one hour by car from the closest tropical beaches of the Pacific Coast. Therefore, if you are looking for mountain living, but not willing to forego the beach, the Central Valley allows for both lifestyles.

As in many other parts of the country, expats in the Central Valley have the opportunity to socialize with local residents, who happen to be some of most successful and best-educated people in Latin America. In some parts of the Central Valley you can find suburban communities like those in upscale parts of California or Florida, although the climate is far superior in the Central Valley. To the west of San José, you’ll find rural areas where country estates overlook Costa Rica’s stunning mountain ranges. Throughout the Valley there are historic towns that will remind you of another age—some of the most popular towns are Atenas, Grecia, Escazú, Heredia, and San Ramon.

The rich volcanic soil of the Central Valley has also made this an ideal spot for agriculture. Coffee plantations blanket the mountainside—gourmet coffee from this area is highly prized. And farmers line the roadsides with strawberries—a couple of bucks for a kilo.

Costa Rica is renowned for its Pura Vida lifestyle. The Central Valley, with its lush mountain ranges, exquisite coffee, and warm friendly locals offers the perfect lifestyle for those looking to slow down and enjoy life.

Real Estate in The Central Valley, Costa Rica

Real Estate in The Central Valley

Real estate prices in Costa Rica and the Central Valley in particular remain reasonable. The most popular areas for foreigners are to the west of San José, including towns like Grecia, Atenas, San Ramon, Sarchi, Escazu, Santa Ana, Puriscal, and Ciudad Colon. But if you head east of the capital, you’ll also find attractive towns and neighborhoods like San Pedro, Pinares, the Granadilla/Altamonte area, Curridabat, Tres Ríos, Barrio Escalante, the Orosi Valley, and Cartago.

Throughout the Central Valley you’ll find quick access to first-rate private schools, restaurants, shopping malls, and excellent medical facilities. Real estate examples in the Central Valley include:

  • A three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,900-square-foot home in the El Cajon area of Grecia. The property includes a large kitchen with a view of the valley, a sun room, and a large living room. Below the home is parking space and a workshop. The paved drive has an electric gate and the front yard has room for fruit trees and tropical flowers. Price: $150,000.
  • A 2,000-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in the Jardines del Beneficio neighborhood in Heredia. Covering two stories it also has a two-car garage and a terrace. The kitchen features granite countertops and other modern features. This house is close to shopping and five minutes from the National University. Price: $185,000.
  • To the west, not far from Escazú, are the Rohrmoser, Pavas, and Sabana neighborhoods. Once they were separate villages, but now they’re essentially part of San José. Embassies of several countries, including the U.S., are located in this area. An example of a property for sale in this area would be:
  • A modern, 1,100-square-foot, loft-style condo with one bedroom, two bathrooms, and a garage. It’s located in the Altos de Horizonte subdivision, which has a community park and tennis courts. Price: $145,000.

*Prices as of 2014

Cost of Living in The Central Valley, Costa Rica

Cost of Living in The Central Valley
One of the reasons that many expats continue to flock to the Central Valley is the reasonable cost of living that is still available.

Here is a sample monthly budget for a couple:

U.S. $
Rent (furnished, two-bedroom home)$500
Utilities (including phone, electric, water, Internet, and cable TV)$200
Groceries$300
Maid (once a week)$40
Clothing$70
Entertainment (two people dining out eight times a month at top restaurants or other entertainment)$250
Health care (four $50 visits to a doctor per year for two people, divided by 12 months)$33
Total per month:$1,533

*Prices as of 2014

See below for a slideshow demonstrating the unique charms of the Central Valley.

Central-Valley-slideshow-1Central-Valley-slideshow-2Central-Valley-slideshow-3Central-Valley-slideshow-4Central-Valley-Slideshow-5Central-Valley-Slideshow-6
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The Mercado Central, or Central Market, is the place to buy fresh produce, meat, fish, honey, and more. Most towns have a market like this, usually located near the bus station to cater to residents without cars.

From the Archives of Central Valley, Costa Rica

Appreciating the Beauty in Our Back Yard in Costa Rica

Appreciating the Beauty in Our Back Yard in Costa Rica

There are many reasons my wife Jen and I love living in Costa Rica. We enjoy the slower pace compared to the busy lives we led in the U.S. We enjoy the pleasant temperatures provided by living in the mountains of the Central Valley. But mostly, we love the abundance of nature and wildlife that exists all around us. I enjoy taking a hike each morning. I usually do one of three hikes I have found that take me through coffee farms, over rivers, and up into the mountains that surround Poas Volcano, near where I live.

You Can Have It All in Costa Rica’s Central Valley

You Can Have It All in Costa Rica’s Central Valley

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.

Perfect Weather in the Heart of the Central Valley, Costa Rica

Perfect Weather in the Heart of the Central Valley, Costa Rica

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...

IL Radio Episode 41: Raising a Family in Costa Rica’s Central Valley

IL Radio Episode 41: Raising a Family in Costa Rica’s Central Valley

Beach Living
By |
January 7, 2014

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…

Video: The Hills of Costa Rica’s Central Valley

Video: The Hills of Costa Rica’s Central Valley

Lifestyle
By |
April 4, 2013

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.

A Perfect Climate in Costa Rica’s Central Valley

A Perfect Climate in Costa Rica’s Central Valley

Climate
By |
March 5, 2013

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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