When my wife Jen and I chose Costa Rica as the country we would retire to, like many moving to a tropical climate, we had visions of morning runs on the beach, learning to surf. We imagined ourselves fishing and snorkeling in crystal clear waters, and watching the sun sink into the ocean as we sipped cocktails with friends. In short, we envisioned beach life.
Instead, we ended up in the small, coffee-farming town of Grecia—or rather, just outside the town, in the surrounding mountains. We now live a good hour-and-a-half drive from the nearest beach. So why did we choose the mountains instead of the beach? Well, for the reasons listed below:
Even after almost two years of extensive research on Costa Rica we were having a hard time pinning down exactly what our budget would be. Specifically, if we lived at the beach, what would our electric bill look like with the expense of running an air conditioner? Estimates varied greatly from $150 to $400 a month and that was just too much of an unknown for us.
With that in mind, we chose the mountains above Grecia to live, about seven miles from the town center, at an elevation of 4,600 feet. This elevation provides us with spring-like weather year round. Imagine a daily temperature range of 60 F to 85 F. With this weather we don’t have to worry about the cost to heat or cool our home. In fact, very few homes in our area have air conditioners—just slide a window open if you are warm.
Proximity to San Jose
When we moved to Costa Rica we knew that one of the things we would work on right away was establishing residence, and that required an attorney. Our attorney, like many, has his office in the capital city of San Jose. San Jose, is about 18 miles, as the parrot flies, from Grecia, or about a 45-minute drive or hour-long bus ride. We don’t own a car, so when we travel to San Jose we take the bus, and bus service to San Jose from Grecia is easy and inexpensive.
The San Jose bus leaves Grecia every 20 minutes during peak times and costs about $2.50 each way. In addition to our attorney being in San Jose, the capital provides many cultural activities along with great shopping and dining opportunities.
A Room with a View
One of the main requirements we had in choosing a town to live in was that it had to have a view. We were not picky; it could be an ocean view, a mountain view, or any other natural setting. Luckily Costa Rica has no shortage of views. Living in the hills above Grecia gives us a sweeping panoramic view of the entire Central Valley and we get to see the sun set behind the mountains every evening.
Just like in the story of Goldilocks, Grecia was just right in size. The town of about 17,000 people is large enough so that the majority of our shopping needs can be taken care of in town, and we have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to eating out, yet it is small enough that we know our neighbors. It is an odd day when we don’t run into someone we know if we are visiting town.
We may eventually move to a different part of the country, either to one of the many beaches, the rain forest, or another mountain town, but I doubt seriously if we could have chosen a better place to start our new life and adventure in Costa Rica than Grecia.