Living within walking distance of a tropical beach is a dream for many. Moving to Tamarindo could make this dream come true. This small town along the pacific coast of Costa Rica has much to offer that further adds to its appeal.
Have you always dreamed of living close to white sandy beaches and the blue, clear ocean? Then please, read on!
1. Tamarindo is a good place to live if you want a simpler lifestyle
If you want to take a step back from city life but still want restaurants and shops nearby that have everything you need, Tamarindo is a great place to live.
Tamarindo lies in the North West of Costa Rica and is a beach town located on the Nicoya peninsula. The laid-back lifestyle and healthy food make it one out of five Blue Zones globally.
Even though Tamarindo is a small town, you can still find plenty of amenities, including supermarkets, hardware stores, surf shops, clothing shops, and more.
Tamarindo is especially popular with tourists. This means it is easily accessible and is still enjoyable if you only speak English.
The infrastructure is good with paved roads, buses directly from the central city San Jose to Tamarindo, and the closest airport, Liberia, is just over 1 hour away. At Liberia Airport, you will find many direct flights to the USA and Canada.
2. Tamarindo is safe
Tamarindo is known for attracting many tourists from America and Canada. In Costa Rica, tourists are also called Gringos, and Gringo prices are something to watch out for.
The small beach town is also a popular holiday destination for young backpackers from all over the world.
Unfortunately, like everywhere else in the world, when people are poor and know where to find people with money, robberies occur.
However, the majority of the crimes are often harmless. You mostly hear of car break-ins and pick-pocketing. So lock your doors, don’t park in small side streets or remote places, and keep an eye on your purse.
If you stay inside the town centre, walking alone at night is not a problem.
Before Covid, Tamarindo was well known for its nightlife. However, it is not recommended to walk alone at night in remote places or on the beach.
As explained above, Tamarindo is a Blue Zone. Therefore, eating and drinking out is safe, and the used products are of high quality.
Be aware, though, that most places don’t advise drinking tap water. If you are unsure if it is safe, we recommend asking the owners, or if you don’t want to take any risk, you can buy drinking water from the nearest supermarket.
Most people are attracted to the beautiful white beaches and blue sea in Tamarindo. There is a long stretch of beach in front of the town. If you follow the road south, you will find Suizo beach. Often this beach is calm, and during low tide, it is safe to swim for everyone.
During the rainy season, you have to be careful with crocodiles entering the sea from the rivers. There are lifeguards on duty that will advise you on where you can swim.
3. Tamarindo is still quite affordable
Costa Rica is more expensive compared to other Central American countries. Now that it has become popular with expats, house prices are going up.
If you are looking to move to Tamarindo, there are plenty of options from big houses to small condos, ocean view properties, and city centre apartments.
Tamarindo is a popular place, so houses don’t necessarily come cheap. However, if you want to live near the town in a one-room apartment, prices start at around $1200 a month.
South of Tamarindo, you will find Langosta, known for its more luxurious and bigger houses.
Buying a home in this popular location will come at a higher price, though. You will be looking at at least 1 million dollars for 3700 sq. ft. if you want to live there. However, most of these houses do come with an ocean view.
Most people don’t know that you can find different houses for sale at a lower cost just outside of Tamarindo, still near the beach. We recommend asking your realtor about possible options.
There are many options when it comes to doing your groceries. Finding the local places and learning how to speak Spanish will keep your wallet filled a little longer.
The main supermarket in town has everything you need making your shopping trip quick and easy. However, if you want to save some money on groceries, purchasing food from the smaller supermarkets and the Saturday morning market is better.
Another option is taking a ‘collectivo‘ for 500 colonies (about 80 cents) to Villa Real.
Collectivos are easy to recognize. Stand alongside the street, and small, older cars will beep and ask you where you want to go.
Villa Real is about a five-minute drive out of Tamarindo with a few bigger supermarkets and fruit and vegetable stalls. Here you will find the same products for a much lower price.
There are various cafes and restaurants in Tamarindo catering to all tastes and preferences.
A delicious stone-baked pizza will cost you about $10. If you want to enjoy the sunset while eating freshly baked fish, check out waterfront restaurants where your meal will start at a price of approximately $20.
If you like to eat out but you are on a budget, Tamarindo caters for this as well. There is a food quarter in the centre of town that offers meals inspired by different cultures. You can order meals based on your budget.
If you want a local experience, you can buy a Casado (a traditional Costa Rican dish serving rice, beans, a source of protein, plantain, and salad) for only $5. You can find Casados at home kitchens, also known as Sodas, or you can buy them out of cars parked along the street. Yes, this food is delicious and safe to eat!
4. There are more pros than cons of living in Tamarindo
For a small town, Tamarindo offers a lot. Having many things around can work to your benefit but can also have downsides. So, before you decide if Tamarindo is the place you want to live, we want to mention some of the pros and cons of living there.
Why you should live in Tamarindo
- Modern, well-built houses
- Easy to get by when speaking English
- Generally safe, clean, Pura Vida lifestyle
- Walking distance to the beach with diving, surfing, and sailing
- Restaurants serving cuisine from all over the world
- The nearest airport is just over 1 hour away
- Great community spirit
- Lots of activities and things to learn
Reasons that can possibly make you change your mind
- Can be busy with tourists
- Lots of rain in the rainy season
- The nearest fuel station is 15 minutes away
- Not much of the traditional Costa Rican culture remaining
- The nearest hospital is 50 minutes away
Which is better, Tamarindo or Jaco?
If you follow the coast south of Tamarindo, you will find the beach town Jaco, which is also located on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. Jaco is another popular destination for expats wanting to live near the beach.
Compared to Tamarindo, Jaco is much bigger, giving it less of a town vibe. The beaches are black, and not as clean. In addition, the sea has a strong rip current making it less safe to swim.
Compared to Tamarindo, the expat community in Jaco is much smaller. However, the beach is an hour and a half away from the largest city in Costa Rica, San Jose, and attracts many local families.
Both beach towns are known for their nightlife, along with drug use and the high flow of alcohol. But, if you ask around, more people will say that Jaco is less safe and less family-friendly.
If you compare how well it’s developed, Jaco is ahead of Tamarindo. It is famous for the excellent paved road along the beach and luxury hotels.
The prices of food are more reasonable in Jaco due to the high competition in restaurants. Both beach towns are known for their great surfable waves attracting surfers year-round.
5. There are great neighborhoods in Tamarindo for expats
If you want to live in a quiet place with a bit of luxury and an ocean view, we recommend going on a house hunt in Langosta.
If you like living in town with many different shops and restaurants only a few minutes away, one of the apartment buildings in Tamarindo city centre should be on the list for your real estate agent to keep an eye on.
However, if you like the beach but not the crowd, living outside of Tamarindo might be exactly what you are looking for.
Across the estuary from Tamarindo, you will find Playa Grande. It’s a brilliant beach loved by surfers, and also a little town where you will find a few restaurants, surf shops, a couple of hotels, and houses and properties in many different price ranges together with a community of locals and expats.
Living in Tamarindo – summary
There are plenty of great locations in Costa Rica for expats, but if you want to live in a laid-back beach town with the amenities and luxury you are used to from home, Tamarindo should be on your list of possible options.
However, its popularity with expats is becoming more noticeable, particularly when looking at house and living prices. In return, though, you will have the beach within walking distance and summer all year round. People are friendly and believe in a simple, pure life. Pura Vida!