Best Places to Live in Costa Rica For Expats

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Throughout the years Costa Rica has become a very popular destination and a very attractive option for foreigners looking for a new place to call home. An average of 10% of Costa Rica’s population corresponds to the expat community alone.

Costa Rica has invaluable natural beauty in the form of national parks, lovely beach towns, and unique wildlife. The peaceful Costa Rican culture, its delicious food, steady weather all year long, laid-back and friendly people as well as a low crime rate, are just a few reasons why this destination is repeatedly chosen for many expats to live in.

If you are considering the option of moving to the safest country in Latin America, keep reading the useful data presented below about the best places to live in Costa Rica.


Central Valley

Out of all the towns situated in the central region of Costa Rica, our picks are:


Located close to downtown San Jose, Escazu has become a favorite spot for many expats to live in. It is conveniently located near major hospitals, bilingual schools, a wide variety of great restaurants, shopping areas, private clubs, movie theaters, and the Juan Santamaria International Airport. The cost of living here is high, but the views of the city, the exclusive area, and all the amenities needed to live a comfortable life are found in the town of Escazu. Another perk of living in this place is that it is among the safest places to live in Costa Rica.


Grecia is known for being a farming town (mainly for coffee and sugarcane), and for having one of the best farmer’s markets featuring the freshest and yet inexpensive fruit and vegetables. It is also notorious for its breathtaking views, and high-quality, affordable real estate, making it a very sought-after town for those wanting to live in perfect peace. It is encircled by mountains without being too far away from sunny beaches, the capital city of San Jose, and close-by malls, cinemas, stylish bistros, as well as many good restaurants to choose from.


Atenas is a small, quiet, and picturesque town about 22 miles from San Jose. It is pretty popular among ex-pats, especially retired ones. Just to give you an idea, out of an estimated population of 27,000 people, around 1,500 are expats. Three main aspects that seem to be most valued in this area are a warm, friendly community that always carries a big smile, a strategic location (halfway through San Jose and the beautiful beaches of the Pacific Coast), and perfect weather (sunny during the day and cool at night, without the need of either air conditioning or a heater).


Central Pacific Coast

Aerial view of Jaco, Costa Rica
Jaco, Costa Rica is surrounded by the mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

The central pacific coast of Costa Rica is a lovely area fitting between high mountains covered in clouds and beaches packed with palm trees. Our suggested towns are:


Jaco is hands down one of the most popular beach towns in Costa Rica, a quite developed one in terms of real estate, and the closest to the capital city of San Jose. It has countless local and international restaurants and bars, and full access to anything needed to live comfortably (banks, grocery stores, drugstores, a private bilingual school, and more). Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and rich mountains with spectacular hiking spots, Jaco is reasonable when it comes to the cost of living, as there is room for all types of budgets. You can find affordable properties whether you decide on a place close to the beach or up on the surrounding hills.

Quepos/Manuel Antonio

Quepos and Manuel Antonio are right next to each other (less than 5 miles apart) and have the luxury of being located in an astonishing area blessed with incredible biodiversity. Quepos is a fishing village that hosts a top-notch marina, a true haven for those who love sailing, while Manuel Antonio is a popular tourist destination that has several white sand beaches, and a world-renown national park. Both areas are equipped to meet daily needs with all types of services and modern amenities.


North Pacific Coast

Tamarindo Beach in Costa Rica
Tamarindo has one of the most famous beaches in Costa Rica.

The northern pacific coast of Costa Rica goes along the Guanacaste province shoreline.


Tamarindo has grown to be another upbeat and developed beach town rated as a very safe place to live and one of the most famous beaches in Costa Rica. Its town has lovely shops, cafes, all types of restaurants, and commerce ready to satisfy any need. Conveniently located about an hour from Liberia international airport, Tamarindo offers both serenity and relaxation surrounded by nature and the fervor of a bustling little town. There is a great balance found here with a strong sense of community that makes everybody feels at home.


Flamingo and Potrero are two spectacular beaches located one next to the other and around 40 miles away from Liberia’s international airport. Potrero, formerly known as a little fishing town, is one of the most famous sailfish fishing locations in the world. Flamingo, is a little more upscale and luxurious, with a beautiful marina and one of the most impressive beaches in Costa Rica. They are both home to an interesting community formed by locals and expats with a common love for peace, quiet and breathtaking sunsets. A wide variety of shops, restaurants, and discos are found in the area, as well as countless options for outdoor activities. These towns are also close to a couple of great private/bilingual schools. 

Playas del Coco

Playas del Coco is the closest beach town to an international airport in Costa Rica. It is only a 30-minute drive from Liberia (the main city in Guanacaste Province) and its iInternational airport. Situated in an area known as the gold coast, Playas del Coco is one of the most established ocean-side networks in the country and a very popular expat town. It has all types of commerce  and nightlife literally within walking distance. El Coco is also close to many great beaches in the area. Locals are friendly and helpful and there are plenty of affordable lodging and housing options around.


South Pacific Coast

The South Pacific Coast is a distant region with unblemished sea shores, different natural life, and immaculate rainforest.


Untouch nature all around assisting you to dial back into a relaxing kind of living is what you can expect to find in Uvita. This magnificent paradise isn’t overdeveloped as it remains a small town, so instead of listening to all the noise of a big city, you will be hearing the sound of monkeys, toucans, and many birds around. Thanks to the variety of amenities that can be found there (such as a bilingual school, supermarkets, banks, and good healthcare including dental) it is a good spot to consider if you move to Costa Rica with kids. The expat community here loves outdoor activities as there are many to do in the area, along with wellness centers, farmer’s markets, and more.


Only a 20 minutes drive from Uvita, there is Dominical, which has some of the best waves for surfing in Costa Rica. With green mountains all around and sort of a hippie town vibe, Dominical lacks commercial development but yet manages to have the essentials around like restaurants, and mini markets, to name a few. It is about 22 miles from San Isidro del General, a bigger town that has a public as well as a private hospital and good quality healthcare, a variety of banks, bigger shops, government offices, and more.


Nicoya Peninsula

Sunset in Nosara, Costa Rica
Nosara has a wide range of beaches to explore.

National Geographic named the Nicoya Peninsula one of the 5 Blue Zones in the world and surely one of the best places to live in Costa Rica.


Nosara has a wide range of magnificent beaches famous for a variety of activities such as surfing (Playa Guiones), kayaking (Playa Nosara), fishing (Playa Garza), turtle nesting (Ostional), or simply relaxing and sunbathing (Playa Pelada). Having all that easily accessible makes Nosara an area very appealing to expats. Diversity not only in nature but in the population is another interesting aspect of this place, as numerous expats from everywhere in the world live here. Nosara has at your disposal all the commodities needed to satisfy your needs, including a steady internet connection.


Montezuma is a small but thriving bohemian beach town located in a uniquely amazing geologic place. The coastal village of Montezuma is another culturally diverse community that has embraced many expats that have come to enjoy life in a less-paced way. Since it is a small town, it is very united and everybody knows each other. The cost of living here is very affordable compared to other areas in Costa Rica and it offers high-quality conveniences and facilities to meet its community standards. Business improvement has not impacted Montezuma’s natural surroundings in a negative way, on the contrary, it has promoted a healthy balance that expats love about this place.


Don’t trust only the research or recommendations from others about a specific place to live in Costa Rica. Rent a place for a few days in the area you like the most and experience for yourself if  it meets your expectations and needs.

The cost of living depends highly on your lifestyle,  however, you will find that even when Costa Rica is more expensive than neighboring countries in Central America,  it is certainly cheaper than US coastal towns.

Experience The Best Places to Live in Costa Rica for Expats

Any of the locations listed above count on many options when it comes to housing (either buying or renting). If you have made up your mind about the possibility of moving to Costa Rica and need further guidance, don’t hesitate to contact our real estate experts at Special Places. 

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