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Top 11 places to visit before you retire to Costa Rica

Top 11 places to visit before you retire to Costa RicaBefore you retire to Costa Rica, you need to find out if Costa Rica is your best choice. Only by doing your homework, you’ll learn which country fits your requirements to retire to or buy a 2nd home.

Once you have decided Costa Rica will be your retirement destination, in 3 weeks you can tour the country.  After the tour, you’ll be able to find out which locations to concentrate your search on or scratch them off your list. Hundreds of retirees and buyers of 2nd homes before you have done their own due diligence on where to live in Costa Rica before you. Those that don’t, make a huge mistake.

Doing your online due diligence is only the start. I know some people who bought a house in Escazu years ago and still only do the trip Airport – Escazu and vice versa. They have not seen any part of this beautiful country, even though they had originally planned to. Please don’t be one of those; you don’t know what you are missing.

The real fun starts when you arrive and rent a car for a couple of weeks. Leave your GPS at home and just get lost. When you hit the ocean, you know you will have to turn around.

Top 11 places to visit before you retire to Costa Rica

5 Preferences

Let’s give you a hand getting started. You first want to make a list of your personal requirements.  The decision on where to live should be made depending on 5 preferences:

  1. Your lifestyle
  2. The beach, the city, or a rural area
  3. The weather you like best
  4. Your budget
  5. The amenities you want and need, now and in the next 10 years.

Don’t fall in love – yet

To be able to find out which area in Costa Rica can satisfy all five preferences, you will need to travel the country. You need to feel it, sweat it and taste it.

Don’t start looking at property for sale like crazy yet. Ask our agents to recommend the best places to stay in each area and to schedule a tour of 2 properties that would fit your lifestyle and budget.

Don’t fall in love with anything yet. Just monitor what you see and what you feel. Use the flyer our agents give you on each property to take notes on your findings.

Top 11 places to retire

While reading and investigating the different destinations, you might already have a pretty good idea. Nonetheless, these are the top 11 places you should visit to decide where to live when you retire to Costa Rica.

Top 11 places to visit before you retire to Costa Rica

1. Cariari

The first place you hit when going from the airport to San Jose. Suburbia, clean and organized neighborhood, no shacks in sight. Good mall, great golf, nice country club, even better weather. Great real estate agent, knows his job and the area.

2. Escazu

City, malls, culture, shopping, wining & dining, condos. Centrally located, plenty of schools, country club, hospital, luxury homes, cooler climate, and where I live.

3. Santa Ana

Growing like crazy, good investment, great food, warm weather. Good shopping, nice communities, golf too, closer to beaches, no pressure from pushy agents if you pick the right one.

4. Atenas

Retirement lifestyle, close to all but away from the city. Best weather in the world, views, views and more views. Great local food, plenty of socializing. Agent who can show you how to take it easy and enjoy life.

Top 11 places to visit before you retire to Costa Rica

5. West of Juan Santamaria

Grecia – Naranjo – Sarchi – San Ramon.

City mixed with the rural, views & views, local culture. Tico food galore, lower budget living, choice of many temperatures in a relatively small area, wow nature. The agent went native and you’ll love her for it.

6. The Eastside

The cool side, city but with mountain views. All you’ll ever need for shopping. Spanish is the language mostly used. Good schools. Close to Universities. You’ll get the best attention from the only gringo realtor on the east-side.

7. North Pacific

Playa Tamarindo – Flamingo Beach – Playas del Coco – Hermosa Beach.

Close to the airport – many beaches close to each other – best vacation rentals. Palm trees, beach, deep-sea fishing, surf, sunshine, golf, dry heat, piña coladas, and great food.

8. Northern Nicoya Peninsula

Samara Beach – Playa Nosara – San Juanillo – Playa Garza – Guiones beach

Natural beauty, awesome white sand beaches, shallow waters, But also beach bums and surfers, tropical rainforest, Isla Chora, laid-back living – good food, lots of yoga.

Top 11 places to visit before you retire to Costa Rica

9. Central Pacific

Jaco beach – Los Sueños – Playa Hermosa – Esterillos – Manuel Antonio.

Only 2 – 4 hours’ drive from San Jose. Great amenities, golf, closest to hospitals, 2 marinas. Incredible surf, deep-sea fishing, seafood, American pizza and fish tacos, crocodiles in Tarcoles.

10. Southern Pacific

Dominical – Uvita – Ojochal. South Pacific paradise, sandy and pebbled beaches, whale tail, national park, sunshine, lots of jungle, live a perpetual vacation. Warmer climate, fancy food, ocean breezes, laid-back beach lifestyle, surfing.

11. Southern Caribbean

 Cahuita – Puerto Viejo – Punta Uva.

The Costa Rican Caribbean, Rasta culture, rice ‘n beans, Patti, best snorkeling and surf, coconut, white sand beaches and coral, tropical rainforest.

Top 11 places to visit before you retire to Costa Rica

A large circle

With these top 11 places to visit, I made you drive a circle with never more than 5 hours to drive from one place to the other. Our real estate network has agents in each of these locations. There are also plenty of places to stay, no matter what your lifestyle and budget are.

While going from place to place, you should go and see some national parks and volcanoes. At least get a taste of the country before you make the decision of retiring in Costa Rica or not. Don’t worry; you’ll be in good and expert hands. Need any help planning your due diligence, contact us now.


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I DO want to remind our readers that we appreciate any referrals you can send us. Please remember the GoDutch Realty agents when you talk about your home in Costa Rica, we appreciate it.

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Ivo Henfling

If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the central Valley, or looking for any property for sale in Escazu, you need to call me. I have been selling real estate in Escazu for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and other areas. To me, a deal is not a good deal unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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