Testing the Waters Before You Move to Costa Rica
It’s tempting for many to dive right into a real estate purchase, especially after a series of fabulous Costa Rica vacations. But before plunking down your hard-earned cash on the property of your dreams, it’s smart to test drive a few locations to better determine if the surroundings, amenities and weather truly meet your needs and expectations. That’s why we always recommend renting before you buy to increase your chances of a successful relocation, whether for retirement or to start the next chapter of your life.
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Location, location, location
One of Costa Rica’s most unusual and appealing aspects for potential expats is its diversity of microclimates and terrain. The sun-dappled beaches of Guanacaste’s Gold Coast, including Playa Flamingo and Tamarindo have long attracted North Americans and Europeans in search of the “pura vida” lifestyle, while farther south, Jaco and Manuel Antonio rein king among central Pacific hotspots. Daytime temperatures soar into the mid- 90’s, but evenings are cooled off with refreshing ocean breezes. On the other hand, the Central Valley is known for its perpetual Spring-like weather, which usually hovers in the 70’s to upper 80’s. Towns like Atenas, Grecia and Heredia are wildly popular and offer a range of affordable housing options along with access to city amenities.
City resources, beach town bohemia or peaceful countryside
Highly developed beach towns like Tamarindo and Jaco boast modern conveniences and infrastructure, leaving little to be desired. Brimming with ocean view condos and houses, these two towns offer a vibrant nightlife and social scene, and have experienced a huge surge in development over the past 15 years. The same can be said for any of San Jose’s more upscale suburbs such as Santa Ana and Escazu, where slick shopping malls, sophisticated nightclubs and myriad restaurant chains can make you feel like you haven’t really left home. In contrast, towns like Grecia, San Ramon and Atenas are still very authentic, and what they lack in city amenities, they make up for in traditional culture, gorgeous countryside and peaceful living. The Orosi Valley is another burgeoning destination among recent expats, and is celebrated for its cooler climate and below-market prices on housing.
Important to rent before you buy
Give yourself at least six months before purchasing a new home in Costa Rica. This should allow ample time to explore different towns, various climates and see how you tolerate the weather extremes between the rainy and dry seasons. Consider short-term rentals of one or two months that will let you experience different neighborhoods and regions before investing your money. Most rentals come fully furnished with all appliances, and depending on your length of stay, may include Wi-Fi and utilities in the cost.