How To Find Your “Perfect Place” in Costa Rica
Okay, you’ve visited Costa Rica a couple of times, read everything you can get your hands on, and you’ve decided that you are ready to move here. The reality of such a big move hits you, and you want to make sure that every decision along the way is the right one for you. I don’t blame you.
Ojochal turned out to be “just right” for us, but where is your “just right” place? When it comes to picking the right town in Costa Rica to settle in, we have a few tips for you, to help you find your place in “Paradise”!
First, know that there is no “perfect place.”
Anywhere you choose to live will require some compromises, either on the weather, or the size of the town, or something. We know people who have lived at 4,000 ft. elevation and wished that they were about 500 ft. lower in elevation because it wouldn’t be as cool. We live at 600 ft - where the mountains meet the sea, with great, cooling breezes ... and love it!.
If you don’t demand perfection and try to live each day with a very Pura Vida attitude, you’ll be much happier here.
Try before you buy! Travel around and visit the many various climates Costa Rica has to offer! We think it’s a great idea to just come, land somewhere, and then give yourself the time and opportunity to explore the many different areas of this amazing little country. What is “spring-like” to one person is chilly (or too warm) to another person, so you need to experience it yourself to see if it would work for you. That’s all part of the adventure!
Experience Costa Rica in both the dry season and rainy season before you decide where to settle down. Late September into October is the rainiest time on the Pacific side of the country; but in the dry season, by March and April, things can be looking pretty brown in the northern, Guanacaste area.
The southern Pacific, the Ballena Coast area, is very different from the north Pacific! It is green all year around, because of the jungle covered mountains that meet the sea, and dense rain forest. And, it is not as hot as the North Pacific. The breezes coming off the mountains and the ocean have such a gentle, cooling effect! Few people find it is necessary to use AC.
The Caribbean side of the country has different weather patterns, with no extended dry season and it rains throughout the year.
The Central Valley tends to have more wind and can be quite cool at times. I have had to wear a heavy coat in San Ramon, because I found it way too cold and windy for me!
Remember that because of the many micro-climates in Costa Rica, sometimes you can be in the same general location, but up on a hill or down in a more protected area and there can be a 5-degree difference in temperature. It might be windier if you are on top of a hill and not so windy if your house is up against the side of a hill, especially in the central valley where there is a lot of wind. There are so many variables that it’s hard to generalize. Again, you just have to experience it for yourself.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to live at the beach or at sea level; but you can’t stand the heat day after day, and air conditioning is expensive! Consider living at a higher elevation near the beach area, in which you are interested. When we selected Ojochal, (where the mountains meet the sea, on the Ballena Coast) we liked the cooler temperature and nice breezes we get by living in the mountains; but also, the fact that we can be at the beach in 15 minutes. We wanted to live in a place where we didn’t need heat or air conditioning; and where we could keep our doors and windows open during the day.
If you choose to live at the beach, at sea level – which many people do – just know that you either need to be extremely tolerant of the heat or live in air conditioning (and pay high electric bills) for at least part of the day.
Finding a great place to live is a very personal choice. If you haven’t done so already, make a list of what’s important to you in terms of access to the kinds of activities you like, community, climate, type of neighborhood, distance to attractions, great restaurants or shopping, etc.
Your ideas about where you want to live, and the reality of living there may turn out to be very different. Living out in the country may sound like a good idea, but the trek into town on Costa Rican dirt roads could get old. Or, you might like the stimulation of living in town, with the ability to walk most places, but you find that you really want to be around more “green”, nature and less noise. You may want to grow things, so want a larger piece of land, or you are tired of yard maintenance so want a smaller, city sized property. Maybe you are convinced that you want a top-of-the-mountain, central valley view, but you later find that the accompanying winds that come with being so exposed dampen your pleasure. You may be convinced that you want a “white water” ocean view; but find that being so exposed to the salt air and sun is too much for you. There are many trade-offs you may need to make, that you can’t even conceive of until you are actually here.
So, bottom line, when trying to find your “perfect place,” do your homework, make a preliminary, educated decision about where to land, and jump in!
Living here is far different from visiting here! Being a tourist and wanting “tourist” type of things, is far different than living here! While on vacation, that ocean view is so stunning, walking to the beach is amazing; however, when you think about living here and the consequences of those environments … they may not be so awesome!
Most people have been told that you have two choices – the hot, dry, crowded, touristy beach area of the northern Pacific or the cooler, windier mountains of the central valley. Because of this, many people never venture or explore the southern Pacific part of the country... and that may be where your new home is!
Part of the adventure is getting to know all of this beautiful country first-hand and to discover what’s right for you, and we are here to help!
Questions about this article or Costa Rica real estate? Our team of experienced agents are waiting to talk to you!
Let’s have a conversation about what you want, help you figure it out!