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HomeLifestyleExpat & Retirement LivingBeach vs. Central Valley Living in Costa Rica: What's the Difference?

Beach vs. Central Valley Living in Costa Rica: What’s the Difference?

Costa Rica has some of the of the most beautiful beaches in the world. When the country is mentioned, most people visualize themselves sitting on a paradisaical beach sunbathing and sipping on an exotic beverage. While this scenario is entirely possible, living at the beach is not for the faint at heart nor for everyone.

Here is a brief overview of the advantages and disadvantages of living by the beach or in the Central Valley of Costa Rica

Living by the Beach

Retirement in Costa Rica

First, the first issue is boredom. Other than going to the beach or participating in watersports like swimming, snorkeling, surfing or fishing, there is often little to do. More developed beach towns like Jacó, Quepos, Tamarindo or Dominical offer good restaurants and nightlife.

Bringing your own entertainment can help alleviate boredom to some extent. For a short-term stay it is relatively easy to keep busy and entertain oneself. Snow birds, tourists and other part-time visitors are the ones who will mostly benefit. However, living full-time can provide its challenges.

Furthermore, if you do not like the heat, then the beach is definitely NOT the place for you.

During the 40-plus years that I have lived here I have observed many expats who live at the beach become heavy drinkers and succumb to other vices, especially single males. Loneliness and boredom most certainly come into play.

In some areas like Dominical and Uvita in the South Pacific, they can observe first-hand that there is a lack of services and traditional entertainment. But there is an ample selection of restaurants, basic shopping and outdoor activities like visiting spectacular waterfalls, hiking, bird and whale watching and water sports, but that is about it.

Those looking to live in Costa Rica have also noticed that unless one has a four-wheel drive vehicle, it is well-nigh impossible to reach many properties. A large tour bus, for example, can never negotiate some of the steep, unpaved backroads. During the rainy season, this situation is compounded. Although Costa Rica’s infrastructure has improved dramatically over the last 20 years, it is still developing in most rural areas.

Don’t get me wrong! The Dominical and Uvita areas are drop-dead gorgeous and one of the most beautiful and lush tropical places in the country. Many expats have found their slice of paradise there.

Living in the Central Valley

Life in the Central Valley and nearby areas offers is entirely different.

First, the Central Valley boasts year-round spring-like weather. National Geographic considered the mountain town of Atenas to have the best climate in the world.

The area’s infrastructure is the most improved in the country. In addition, the four-top public and private hospitals are located here.

Depending on what entertains you, boredom will not be a problem. There are entertainment venues including a symphony orchestra, clubs and organizations for expats, exhibitions, parks, language schools and much more to stay busy and happy.

The best shopping in the country is also found here. Almost everything is available at large stores like Walmart, Pricesmart (a membership store similar to Costco), giant shopping malls, specialty shops and huge weekend farmer’s markets that feature a wide variety of local vegetables and fruit.

The lifestyle here is unparalleled to which many expats will attest.

Bottom Line

Based on my years of living here and by observing foreigners living in different locations I have come to the following conclusion: While living at the beach seems intriguing, the country’s Central Valley offers a more practical and comfortable lifestyle for most expats.

For more information about living in Costa Rica go to

To find out more about living and daily life in Costa Rica or to have your questions answered, talk with Christopher Howard at 877-884-2502 or 011-506-8849-0081

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