“This is the Best Place in Costa Rica for me”

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.

The South Carolina native has called this little slice of Costa Rica’s Southern Zone home for the last six years—he was in the capital city, San José, for 10 years before that. He lives in an area called Perez-Zeledon which has been a little-known expat destination, not getting the attention of the Central Valley to the north or the country’s Pacific beach towns. But it has a lot going for it.

David’s home is about a 40-minute drive inland from the Pacific coast, very close to the major city of San Isidro de El General. It’s an agricultural region. Mountainous. With cooler weather than the hot and humid coast, thanks to the elevation.

“This is the best place in Costa Rica for me,” says David. “They say that San Isidro is the second largest city outside the Gran Area Metropolitana [the name of the capital, San José, and surrounding area]. And it’s growing like gangbusters. But I love that it still has a small-town feel. You can walk around easily, and there are still mom-and-pop shops.”

Still, this is a modern place, and “you can get everything you need,” says David. “It ‘grew up’ as an agricultural community, so you have a mix of high fashion and farm supplies.”

The town of San Isidro itself has electronics stores, supermarkets stocked with imported goods, and other conveniences. Of course, most of the region is rural countryside covered in forest and farmland.

San Isidro acts as a hub, with a weekly feria, or farmers’ market, bringing in growers from around the region to sell their produce.

“There are little pueblos all over. Rivers, waterfalls, little hole-in-the-wall bars,” says David. “This is pure authentic culture. The people are the friendliest around. The expats here integrate more. It’s more traditional. That’s why people live here…to assimilate into the culture.”

The abundant nature is a huge draw for David, and he spends much of his time traversing the back roads to little-known hiking spots, waterfalls, and rivers.

“Probably my biggest thing is ‘la naturaleza,’ especially crystal-clear rivers and swimming holes,” says David. “And I love to hike.”

With low costs, he also frequents local restaurants serving typical Costa Rican food—filling meals for $4 to $5 a plate and beers for $2 a bottle.

David first visited Costa Rica as part of his previous career as a corporate tax lawyer specializing in mergers and acquisitions. He had his own boutique firm and did very well in the days of internet companies. When the tech bubble burst, his business suffered. But around 2001 he started on a big business deal in Costa Rica and was coming down every month for two years.

“Over time, I fell in love with the country and a woman,” says David, whose wife, Liliana, is from Colombia.

These days he’s involved in real estate, a hydroponics business, and a travel and tour agency that he’s run for many years.

He loves his mountain home, which comes with one more benefit. “I can be in the water on my surfboard in 30 to 40 minutes. It’s the best of both worlds,” says David.

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