Costa Rica rates as one of the best retirement havens for North Americans, with the premium and affordable health care system, ideal climate, laid-back vibe and lower cost of (tropical) living enticing Americans by the plane load every year. Yet in the last few years, there are countless others who are wisening up to the deal, and realizing that Costa Rica is one of the best expat destinations in the world, irrespective of age.
From endless stretches of pristine beaches to mountaintop locations that delight in cool temps, there are quite a few cities and towns that make for ideal expat bases. So whether you wish to spend 6 months or 6 years living in this phenomenal country, traveling solo, as a couple or with kids in tow, you’ll find several retirement havens that’s just right for you.
Costa Rica’s Top Five Retirement Havens:
1. Costa Ballena – Puntarenas province
A fave of foreign retirees, the whole Costa Ballena section of Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast boasts a collection of charming seaside towns that accost the favored sea enclave of mating humpback whales who come here every year.
Costa Ballena actually translates from Spanish as Whale Coast. Here is where you’ll find arguably the most famous beaches in all of Costa Rica. Ever heard of Playa Hermosa, Playa Dominical and Playa Tortuga? Yep…they‘re all here, along with a great degree of infrastructure which makes living here – not just vacationing – much easier. The Ballena Marine National Park faces the largest coral reef in all of Central America, so if you wish to include a lot of snorkeling and SCUBA trips, into your new and improved everyday life as an expat, this area should definitely be at the top of your wish-list. Given its popularity with North Americans and Europeans alike, the whole Costa Ballena is home to a plethora of amazing resorts and fantastic international restaurants, perhaps the best in the entire country. For the ultimate in tropical sea-change, the Costa Ballena is unsurpassed.
2. Tamarindo – Guanacaste province
While not one of the cheapest places in which to live in Costa Rica, Tamarindo is still, nevertheless, one of the very best. With a thriving expat community and welcoming local one, Tamarindo is ideal if you’re dreaming of a beach life for a while. Surfing is tops, as is the wide array of restaurants. In high season, the town really comes alive and erupts with a bustling nightlife, plenty of live music and a healthy tourist crowd. For younger and more active expat singles and couples, Tamarindo just can’t be beat.
3. Uvita – Puntarenas province
Just a little further south from Playa Dominical, Uvita is one of those gems that’s perfect for those who want the best infrastructure with just the right amount of privacy and feeling of ‘remoteness’. Quieter than its northern neighbors, Uvita has something really special going for it: it is the one area where the mountains, quite literally, tumble onto the sandy shores. Want cooler temperatures? All you need do is simply find a house that’s a 10 minute drive inland, and you’ll take advantage of the altitude and the more temperate climate that brings.
4. San Jose – San Jose province
By far one of the most popular retirement havens in any country, the world over, is always the capital city. This is especially true if you wish to move here with your whole family, want access to the best schools for your children or are looking to find work locally. Although San Jose is dismissed by many visitors, who tend to use it as a mere springboard to get in and out of Costa Rica, it actually does offer plenty to the discerning expat. Ideally located right in the heart of the country and with easy access to all corners of the country – perfect for exploring your new homeland – San Jose is a great choice for those who still want a big city life, only in a much more exotic country. Aside the Costa Ballena, San Jose has the best food – and gastronomic options – in the whole country. A great art scene, including theater shows and museum events satisfies the culture buff, and a vibrant nightlife the younger and more spirited expat.
5. Central Valley
If a hot tropical climate is not your idea of a perfect year-long life then you ought to head to Costa Rica’s Central Valley, where altitudes hover between 2 and 5,000 feet and temperatures stay a stunning 70 degree Fahrenheit all year long. The proximity to San Jose makes for easy expat living, as do the lovely array of gated communities and smaller authentic towns which host quite a few expats already. Cartago and Alajuela are a top choice if you want the best infrastructure and mod cons, whilst Grecia and Atenas are home to expats who prefer to mingle with locals and enjoy a more rural and relaxing life.
Costa Rica is indeed an exceptional expat haven and – more than anything else – a superb adventure vacation destination. No matter where you choose to live, you’ll have the best of the country at your fingertips. Amazing hiking opportunities, stupendous seaside vacations and a host of adrenaline sports and activities to keep you fit, healthy and very happy.
Want to experience a taste of the Pura Vida, with the added bonus of an adrenalin rush? Then join us on an unforgettable Costa Rica adventure vacation and come see for yourself why thousands of foreigners fall in love with this addictive country…year after year.