Still Affordable: The Best Views in Costa Rica

When you live in Costa Rica’s Southern Zone, the beach and the blue Pacific become a focal point.

Surfers and beach combers hit the shore. Restaurants and beach bars pack them in for sunset happy hour. Homes with views of the Pacific start at $150,000. The 180 degree ocean-view is the most desirable, but you’ll pay extra.

The Southern Zone’s beaches merit the attention. They are some of the most beautiful in the country—wild and deserted.

But that’s just one side of the story. Go inland, into the mountains to 1,000 feet and up—still below the cloud line so you don’t miss out on sunshine—and there’s a whole other type of living, with views rivaling the ocean.

You’ll hear it called “mountain-view.” But it hardly conveys the reality.

Picture steep walls of rock rising out of the jungle—covered in vibrant shades of green that are most pronounced in the rainy season from May to October. The mountains aren’t just covered in wild vegetation. Patchwork cattle ranches and cultivated fields feature too.

The familiar mixes with the exotic here. On the mountain you’ll see sure-footed cows perching seemingly precariously on the steepest grazing land you’re likely to see… but you’ll also see the jungle creatures, like toucans, howler monkeys, and two-toed sloths, that call this area home, too.

It’s a charming vista that enthralls many who see it. In fact, many locals and long-time expats come to prefer the mountain-view to the coast the longer they live in the area.

Plus, away from the beach, the humidity and heat drops considerably. The winds coming down from the mountains keep the air fresh and cool. Instead of air conditioning, people throw open the windows and patio door. That’s when they’re indoors—you can do a lot of your living outdoors here. All this and you’re a 20-minute ride to the coast when you want to visit.

And, finally, the price is right. Homes in inland areas can be much lower than those with ocean-view.

Despite all that it has going for it, this is no expat enclave. In towns like Platanillo, you’re in small town  Costa Rica, where you can become fast friends with your neighbor and local shopkeepers and get to know everybody at least by sight. The town is home to a church, soccer field (Sunday’s the day for local leagues to battle it out), schools, and small grocery stores.

It sits along the road (paved and in good condition, by the way) between Dominical, a surfing town on the beach, and the regional center San Isidro de El General, which has larger grocery stores, a hospital, department stores, and more. You can be surfing and enjoying fish tacos in 20 minutes in Dominical… or hitting up the large farmers’ market in San Isidro 30 minutes the other way.

It’s an unbeatable mix of great location—easy access to the beach and the biggest town in the region—price, and climate.

A two-bedroom home on nearly an acre (1,590 square feet) with North-American-style appliances and finishes, a little more than a half-mile from the main road, is $210,000. It’s almost brand-new construction. But the view from the back patio is what it’s all about. Perched on a hillside, the home has a great vantage point to take in the tall mountains and plunging valleys that make up the foothills of the Talamanca range.

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