Home Living in Costa Rica The Top Places for Expats to Live in Costa Rica

The Top Places for Expats to Live in Costa Rica

by rpetersen

Costa Rica has a variety of landscapes and lifestyles that have attracted expats from all over the world for many years.  With its diverse regions, each offering unique experiences and lifestyles, it can be hard to decide where to settle down and live. Here’s a guide to the top places for expats to consider in Costa Rica.

The Central Valley

The Central Valley, renowned for its spring-like weather, is a favorite among expats.   There are several cities and towns in the Central Valley that provide many of the conditions that expats are looking for in Costa Rica.  Let’s check out some options.


Atenas, often quoted for having the “best climate in the world,” is a small town that’s big on community. With a mix of local and expat residents, it’s perfect for those looking for a blend of cultures.  Atenas has become one of the most popular destinations for expats looking at the Central Valley.   You have the small town feel yet it is only 45 minutes from the hustle and bustle of San Jose. 


Grecia, known for its friendly community and affordable living, offers a more authentic Costa Rican experience.

Its housing market, notable for its affordability, attracts both local residents and expatriates in search of good value. Furthermore, the establishment of new Free Trade Zones in the vicinity has catalyzed economic growth in the region, enhancing its attractiveness as a place to live and work.

Escazu and Santa Ana

Escazu and Santa Ana are probably the most affluent cities that are part of San Jose. 

Escazu was the original favorite expat hotspot for U.S. and European expats in the 90’s and back then Santa Ana was just a  rural farming community.  Today the expats that favor Escazu are coming from other South and Central American countries such as Argentina, Colombia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and others. It has become the financial hub of Costa Rica with many companies having their headquarters in the area.  Some of the reasons why ex-pats choose Escazu and Santa Ana are: 

  • Modern Amenities and High Standard of Living: Escazú and Santa Ana offer modern amenities such as high-end shopping centers, international restaurants, and luxury housing options.
  • Proximity to San José: Its proximity to the capital city, San José, and the International Airpot in Alajuela makes it convenient for those who want easy access to downtown San Jose and the international airport.
  • International Community: Both Escazú  and Santa Ana hosts a significant international community, including a large number of expatriates.  This creates a very internationally diverse population.
  • Healthcare Facilities: Escazu and Santa Ana are known for their excellent private  healthcare facilities, including CIMA Hospital, which is one of the best in the country. In Santa Ana, you have Clinica Biblica and Hospital Metropolitano also top notch medical facilities.  These options are a major draw for expatriates with health concerns.
  • Scenic Beauty and Climate: Escazú and Santa Ana are surrounded by mountains and offers beautiful views, along with a pleasant climate. Within minutes you can escape the hustle of the city into the surrounding mountains.
  • International Schools: The availability of high-quality international schools makes it a preferred location for expatriates with families.
  • Safety and Security: Generally considered safer than other parts of San José, Escazú and Santa appeals to those who prioritize security


Guanacaste, with its dry tropical climate and beautiful beaches, is ideal for beach lovers. This area has seen enormous growth and investment in the last fifteen years.  It has its own international airport. The Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia, Guanacaste, offers good connectivity, making travel to and from the province convenient for expatriates.  There is a wide variety of living options within Guanacaste catering to all different price ranges.  From modest accommodations to ultra luxury mansions, Guanacaste has it all.

Playas del Coco

Playas del Coco, a once sleepy fishing village, has evolved into a bustling town with lively nightlife and a strong expat community.  The biggest advantage is that you are only 35 minutes from the International Airport.  

Nearby you have quieter options such as Playa Hermosa and Playa Ocotal.

Playa Flamingo and Potrero

Flamingo and Potrero, with their stunning white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, are perfect for those seeking a more tranquil setting. These areas are known for their luxurious homes and breathtaking ocean views.

Tamarindo, the surf and party town, offers a vibrant nightlife and a famous beach for surfing. It’s a melting pot of cultures, appealing to younger expats.


Nicoya Peninsula

The Nicoya Peninsula,  offers a more secluded and natural environment.

The beaches on the Nicoya Peninsula range from secluded, pristine stretches of white sand to rugged, rocky coastlines. The diversity in the landscape caters to a variety of preferences, whether one is seeking tranquility or adventure.

Santa Teresa

 Santa Teresa, a booming surf town, attracts a younger, bohemian crowd.  The town has become a trendy and fashionable destination.  Many celebrities have visited Santa Teresa increasing the visibility of the area.  Some of the top reasons that make Santa Teresa and attractive destination are:

  • Surfing Haven: Santa Teresa is a paradise for surfers of all levels.

  • Natural Beauty : The beach is characterized by its stunning natural beauty, featuring long stretches of white sandy beaches lined with lush tropical forests.

  • Relaxed and Bohemian Atmosphere: Santa Teresa is known for its laid-back, bohemian vibe.

  • Yoga and Wellness: The area is a hub for yoga and wellness, with numerous retreats and studios offering classes and wellness programs.


Nosara, with its world-renowned yoga retreats and unspoiled beaches, is ideal for those looking to connect with nature and wellness communities. 


Samara Beach’s combination of natural beauty, calm waters, a friendly community, and an authentic Costa Rican experience sets it apart from other beach towns in the region, making it a favored destination for both tourists and expatriates.

Central Pacific

The Central Pacific region is easily accessible from San Jose.   It is about 1 1/2 hours form the international airport in San Jose to be on the beach in the Central Pacific.


Jaco, the closest beach town to the capital, offers a mix of beach life and city amenities. It’s popular among expats who want the best of both worlds.

Quepos-Manuel Antonio

Quepos-Manuel Antonio, famous for the Manuel Antonio National Park, is a hotspot for eco-tourism. It offers a combination of rainforest, wildlife, and beautiful beaches, ideal for nature lovers.

South Pacific

The South Pacific, known for its lush landscapes and national parks, is for those seeking a tranquil and natural environment


Playa Dominical is renowned for its impressive surf. With consistent waves year-round. Unlike more developed tourist areas, Playa Dominical offers a more relaxed, tranquil lifestyle.


Uvita, famous for the Whale Tail beach and Marino Ballena National Park, is a growing community with a focus on eco-tourism


There is a growing community of expatriates in Ojochal, which helps newcomers to integrate more easily and find a sense of community. Ojochal is close to several natural attractions, including Marino Ballena National Park and Corcovado National Park, offering incredible opportunities for eco-tourism and wildlife observation.


The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is known for its vibrant cultural diversity, significantly influenced by Afro-Caribbean heritage. This adds a unique cultural dimension compared to other parts of the country.

This region is home to some of the most lush and diverse rainforests in Costa Rica, offering abundant wildlife and natural beauty. National parks like Tortuguero, Cahuita  and Gandoca Manzanillo are renowned for their rich biodiversity, including a variety of bird species, monkeys, sloths, and sea turtles.


In conclusion, Costa Rica offers a diverse range of locales for expats, each with its unique allure. Whether you’re looking for a beachfront paradise, a serene mountain retreat, or a bustling town with modern amenities, Costa Rica has a spot that feels like home.

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