Despite what what hungry Yogis and desperate real estate agents on Craigslist might tell you the Beach Life isn’t for everyone but don’t strike Costa Rica off your list just yet.
To help you narrow down your search we’ve compiled a handy list of the Top 5 Places to Live in Costa Rica that aren’t the beach for all you freckled people, werewolves and anyone that else that might spontaneously combust when exposed to direct sun.
By V.A. Infierno
#5. Heredia, The City of Flowers
Heredia, affectionately referred to as ‘The City of Flowers‘ is nice little town that has offers a little of everything. From upscale shopping centers and high rated universities to back alley dive bars there’s no shortage of ways to spend your money in Heredia. Housing is available for any budget and the public transportation is accessible and will get you anywhere you want to go. People that live here claim it’s the best town in Costa Rica but as anybody with a car will tell you the narrow streets and heavy traffic make for a nightmare for those of us who have to commute.
#4. Grecia, The City of Metal Churches
In the mountains of Alajuela after passing a seemingly endless line of used car lots you will find the peaceful little town of Grecia. Most likely the cleanest town on the whole list there’s no shortage of garbage bins here and the locals Pride themselves for being environmentally aware in culture that unfortunately has garnered a bad reputation to the contrary.
There is quite a large Expat community in Grecia due to it’s budget friendly housing options, exceptional views and frequent bingo meet-ups. If you enjoy using terms like “microclimates” and “ridges” Grecia might be right for you.
#3. Santa Ana the city of No Public Parks
We would have ranked Santa Ana even higher on the list if it weren’t for the lack of public parks and green areas, unless you count soccer fields, then yes they do have those. Santa Ana has tons of great schools to choose from if you have children but having your own yard here is a must for those who would like to retain their sanity but unfortunately rent is not cheap. A house with a yard can easily run you between $600 and $1,000 a month. The upside to Santa Ana is a great climate, amazing restaurants, modern shopping centers and the luxury of having McDonald’s deliver nuggets to your doorstep, the downside is home-invasions and motorcycle bandits.
#2 Atenas, Best Climate in the World
Located just 45 minutes away from the San Juan International Airport you will find the sleepy little town of Atenas. Touted internationally as the best climate in the world and known locally as the Sock and Sandal Capital of Costa Rica, Atenas is very popular among the retired Gringo crowd. Rent is much cheaper in Atenas than in the Central valley or GAM as it is known among Ticos but life in Atenas isn’t as cheap as one might think once one tacks on the amount spent on electricity for air conditioning and/or a pool pump for those wishing not to die of a heat stroke. Despite it’s “Best Climate” moniker Atenas might be a little too warm for your average Joe which is why it didn’t come in at number one.
#1 Ciudad Colon, The City of Colon
Just a stone’s throw west of Santa Ana you will find the small town of Ciudad or Villa Colon as it is referred to locally. Famous for it’s proximity to nature and friendly citizens Ciudad Colon is a great option for those who prefer a rural setting with enough modern conveniences to not lose your mind. Ciudad Colon is particularly suitable for outdoor activities such as horse riding, mountainbiking, running and hiking. There are quite a few expats from all over the world and a nice selection of restaurants like Zompopas (Traditional), Maya Lounge (German) and Che Pizza (Best Pizza in the Central Valley).
Ciudad Colon has the type of diversity that you might not find elsewhere, for example it’s not uncommon to see cowboys and cross-dressers drinking and sharing stories together in harmony in front of the liquor store on a Friday night. We came for the Tope and stayed for the pizza. We ranked Ciudad Colon as #1 due to it’s wide open spaces, peaceful neighbors and proximity to the Caldera highway which makes heading out to the beach a breeze.