Where to Live in Costa Rica: PRO & CON LIST

 A brief pro and con list of the areas we visited to help us decide on where to live in Costa Rica.

NOTE: If you are thinking about vacationing in Costa Rica, I should add a disclaimer that this Pro and Con list really wouldn’t apply. Our perspective in making this list was purely on if we could live there. We found that there were a lot of places that we absolutely loved but only as a vacation spot, and that places we could see ourselves living in wouldn’t necessarily make the best vacation spot.

San Jose:

San Jose
San Jose – Central Market Area

Pro:

  • Car not necessary
  • Affordable
  • Lively area and all the perks that comes with urban living
  • The hub of Costa Rican culture
  • Lots of bars and restaurants
  • Great climate
  • Central location for day trips to wildlife and adventure trips

Con:

  • All the negatives of urban living
  • Not as scenic and away from nature
  • Congested

Escazu/ Santa Ana Area:

Pro:

  • Upscale with American amenities
  • Lots of restaurants and brand-name shops
  • Great climate

Con:

  • Expensive
  • Congested
  • Not as scenic and away from nature

Puriscal:

Pro:

  • Beautiful mountain top scenery
  • Very affordable
  • Small inviting expat community
  • Very authentic small town Costa Rica
  • Great climate

Con:

  • Remote location that’s hard to get around without a car

Tamarindo:

Driving though Tamarindo. Lots of restaurants, stores and surf shops.
Driving though Tamarindo… Lots of restaurants, stores and surf shops.

Pro:

  • Developed beach town with lots of restaurants and shops.
  • Great beach to learn to surf at
  • Lively area

Con:

  • Expensive
  • Very touristy
  • Pretty much can’t avoid constantly being offered drugs
  • Very hot

La Fortuna:

The main street going through La Fortuna
The main street going through La Fortuna

Pro:

  • Great view of Arenal volcano
  • Lots of adventure activities nearby

Con:

  • Expensive
  • Very touristy

Monterrey:

Beautiful scenery around Monterrey
Beautiful scenery around Monterrey

 

Pro:

  • Beautiful scenery
  • Amazing views of Arenal Volcano
  • Lots of adventure activities nearby
  • Great climate
  • Affordable

Con:

  • Very remote
  • Very small town with not a lot of options
  • Hard to get around without a car

Nuevo Arenal:

Pro:

  • Good expat community
  • Nearby lake and adventure activities
  • Great climate
  • Good options for restaurants
  • Affordable

Con:

  • Remote
  • Difficult to get around without a car unless you are in town

Jaco:

Pro:

The beach at Jaco
The beach at Jaco
  • Lots of restaurants and shops
  • Closest beach to San Jose
  • Easy access to highway
  • Car not necessary
  • Lively area

Con:

  • Rocky beaches
  • Not very scenic area unless you’re on the beach
  • Even though there were a lot of restaurants, we didn’t really find one we liked
  • Very touristy
  • Not quite our scene
  • Pretty much can’t avoid constantly being offered drugs

Santa Teresa:

Hanging out on the beach with our new buddy.
Hanging out on the beach with our new buddy.

Pro:

  • Beautiful beaches
  • Laid back vibe
  • Great mix of restaurants
  • Lots of nearby activities and adventures

Con:

  • Expensive
  • Remote with unpaved roads
  • Extremely dusty
  • Very hot

Dominical Area:

Pro:

  • Good expat community
Our neighbor in the jungle above Dominical beaches.
Our neighbor in the jungle above Dominical beaches.
  • Great temperatures in the mountains (straight up from the beach)
  • Amazing jungle and ocean views
  • Nice beaches
  • Laid back vibe
  • Great restaurants nearby ranging from beach front bar & grills at Dominical to gourmet European expat restaurants in Ojochal.
  • Easy highway access

Con:

  • Car is a must if you want to live in the mountains, to truly enjoy the area and to get adequate supplies.
  • Constant dampness if up in the cloud forest

Quepos/ Manuel Antonio Area:

Beach in Manuel Antonio National Park
Beach in Manuel Antonio National Park

Pro:

  • Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Beaches
  • Lots of options for restaurants
  • Lots of activities
  • Best of both worlds nearby: Tico town next to a popular tourist destination
  • Easy access to highways

Con:

  • Very expensive unless you stick to Tico places
  • Need a car to get around unless you live in town

Monteverde/ Santa Elena:

Monkeys we spotted in the Monteverde Cloud Forest
Monkeys we spotted in the Monteverde Cloud Forest

Pro:

  • Expat community
  • Lots of activities and adventures
  • Close to nature and Monteverde Cloud Forest
  • Cute town with lots of restaurants/ cafes
  • Amazing mountain and forest views

Con

  • Need a car to get around
  • Very remote

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