The Central Valley of Costa Rica is right where you guessed it! In the central region of the paradisical country surrounding the outskirts of Costa Rica’s bustling capital of San Jose.
The gorgeous Central Valley offers a small-town friendly atmosphere with some of the best climates in the country and even the world.
To know if this mountainous and idyllic countryside is the quintessential destination to live out your expat days, here are some of the best must-know facts about the Central Valley.
Sit back and relax, reading on to see if you can envision your mornings with your fresh Costa Rican brew looking out into the green hillsides of Costa Rica’s refreshing Central Valley.
1. Diverse international community
With more than a third of all of Costa Rica’s population living in the Central Valley, you will find plenty of expats residing within.
Expats have discovered ideal locations creating culturally diverse communities throughout the region and finding new friendships and connections.
Just post on one of the many social media pages of Costa Rica, and you will be more than surprised how many expats are actually in the area scattered throughout the hills and valleys.
2. All modern conveniences are available
The Central Valley offers you the conveniences of both of your favorite worlds: living out your pura vida days peacefully in serene small-town charm with the luxury of everything you need not far away.
Upscale malls and plazas, urban centers, and the comforts and familiarity of home are only 30 minutes away.
Head into Alajuela, San Jose, or even Escazu to stock up on those must-haves and retreat into the slow pace of life for the rest of the day.
Walmart, PriceSmart, name-brand clothing and shoes, all those essentials you still want are right there in one quick trip to the city.
3. It is centrally located near Costa Rica’s natural playground
Jaco is the closest beach town having you at the Pacific Coast in just a short drive. It is an easy trip for the day to walk the black sand beaches and enjoy some surf and waves or enjoy the chill vibes of Playa Hermosa.
Explore Poas Volcano and its stunning crater in the Central Valley or hike one of the many National Parks, all within one easy day trip, returning to the comforts of your own bed for the night.
4. The unforgettable and stunning views
Living in the hillsides of the Central Valley may have you spending most of your days just in your backyard.
The breathtaking views of Costa Rica’s captivating landscapes are something that you will never grow tired of. The rolling green mountains of rooftops lining the scenic countryside are priceless.
5. Great travel connections
The Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO), is one of the only two international airports in Costa Rica and is a short distance away. Heading home to see loved ones is quick and effortless.
Even better, why not have them come to see you? Picking them up at the airport is direct, and you will be in and out in no time at all. The bus stops right in front of the SJO airport.
6. Never a dull day when looking for some excitement
The Central Valley’s convenient location to San Jose means that you can revel in your quiet days in the surrounding regions and still get to everything you need quickly and easily.
You will be close to the National Theatre, museums, galleries, outdoor concerts, and festivals with art, culture, and nightlife all in neighboring proximity.
Sports events, casinos, clubs, and all the exciting destinations are within the Central Valley. The Central Valley is essentially the hub and pivotal destination for the country.
7. Top-rated healthcare is easily accessible
With the best public and private hospitals in the country close, you have easy access to the top healthcare in the country.
One of the most popular private hospitals for expats is right in San Jose at Hospital CIMA.
Hospital Clinica Biblica has plenty of English-speaking staff, and Hospital La Catolica is within a short driving distance from many of the Central Valley communities.
Hospital de Ninos (Children’s Hospital) is less than an hour away in the capital.
If healthcare access is an important variable in your decision, then the Central Valley is a must as it is the epicenter for all the private hospitals in Costa Rica.
When it comes to healthcare options, many expats opt for international health insurance. To ensure you get the best value for money, compare international health insurance options from various providers to find the best deal.
8. The best places to live in the Central Valley
If you love the urban lifestyle, then living in San Jose is for you. It’s a true urban jungle, vibrant and lively, set against the backdrop of the country’s lush green mountains.
But if you are after a more peaceful lifestyle, the following locations might be worth your attention:
Gorgeous contemporary homes and ranches are sprinkled throughout the mountains with stunning views of the Central Valley.
Gated housing, vista communities, and private casas without a neighbor to hear – the selection is extensive in Atenas. It is one of the top expat destinations in the Central Valley with its mild and near-perfect climate.
To learn more about this town, its costs, and the lifestyle it offers, read our Living In Atenas guide.
Grecia is a lovely town 29 kilometers (18 miles) from San Jose International Airport. It is considered one of the cleanest towns with a mixture of country and suburban lifestyles.
Grecia is not very touristy and has a very pleasant family atmosphere. It’s perfect if you are looking for a city feel but do not like the hustle and bustle of San Jose.
Grecia is especially popular with American and Canadian retirees for its mountain views and fresh weather. It’s also a cooler place with pleasant temperatures.
Grecia is conveniently close to San Jose. If you are not a fan of driving, you have the option of taking a bus. Buses are pretty regular, departing every half hour from early morning to 8.30 in the evening.
Under an hour from San Jose, with mountainous landscapes of fincas, fruit trees, and upscale family homes, La Garita’s community is a notable place for relaxed living.
It doesn’t have all the busy amenities but is a quiet, small town where you can spend your days in peace and tranquillity.
Several other areas worth noting are Escazu, Santa Ana, Tres Rios, Heredia, and even over towards the mountainous and cooler region of Cartago.
9. Plenty of affordable and modern housing
Renting is the ultimate way to see if your heart lies in a town and is the most affordable way to start your expat journey.
Less than 15 minutes from the SJO airport in La Garita, rentals can be as low as $900 fully furnished for two people, including all your utilities! Gardens, privacy, and modern living, all with the tranquillity you desire.
Upscale condos with up to 4 bedrooms, fully furnished, three bathrooms, private with a yard fit for a playground or a patio or ranch, can be as low as $1500 in Grecia. 2-bedroom casas fully furnished can start as low as $550.
As Atenas is a popular expat destination growing in its community size, rent can be a little more, but homes can come with several acres and views to write home about.
Just under $1,000, with all utilities included, can be enough for a two-bedroom home with a stunning terrace to look out into the hilltops.
You can learn more about the cost of living in Costa Rica in our Living In Costa Rica guide.
10. Arguably the best climate in the world
The Central Valley’s Atenas has been tagged as one of the best climates in the world for health.
Depending on whether you are in the valley or the mountains, the temperature, and heat can differ, with some boasting spring-like feels.
You don’t need to run your air conditioner all day long with temperatures ranging from the 70s to low 80s, typically 72F to 75F, with cool, comfortable evening weather.
Living at the higher elevations in the Central Valley can make it a bit cooler, allowing you to pull out your familiar long sleeves and pants for a cozy evening.
11. Refreshing winds to keep you cool
You will look forward to the balmy winds, mainly the Christmas winds that last at least a month, sometimes a bit longer. A breeze and wind are a blessing in a country of high temperatures and humidity.
There is indescribable magic as the winds flow through, swaying the tropical leaves as you sit back and feel the revitalizing energy.
12. International and authentic cuisine
Dining out could be where you see much of your money going.
It is because you are in the hub of amazing international and delightful cuisine—pizzerias with seafood toppings, aromatic Pad Thai, salmon and steak burgers, and savory Indian dishes.
You may find it hard to stay in and cook!
Don’t forget about the freshest and best strawberries from Poas or the endless fruit and vegetable stands of all the country’s flavourful exotic fruits.
13. Coffee, coffee, and coffee!
Coffee plantations are prominent in the Central Valley, with rich volcanic soils and ideal altitudes and climates. They are stunning to see creating postcard-worthy visions.
Enjoy the gift of freshly brewed Costa Rican coffee right from your own region.
14. Paved roads and highways for good travel links
Unlike the rugged terrains of many of Costa Rica’s roads, the Central Valley has plenty of paved and reasonably direct routes. You won’t need a 4 x 4 to get around. Just be cautious of Costa Rica’s notorious potholes.
The photographic mountains and lush rolling hills can have you weaving in and around on frightful heights, so night driving can be a bit scary if you aren’t accustomed to the terrain.
The positive is that the daylight hours have you looking out upon miles of breathtaking landscapes that you will never grow tired of.
15. Safety of the Central Valley
Regardless of where you live in Costa Rica, it is typical to have some protection within your home. It might be choosing to live in a gated community, have a dog, strong doors with bolts, or a security system.
You won’t have the same petty thefts of opportunity as the tourist beach towns, but certain precautions are necessary.
Always leave valuables locked up at home, and don’t leave them out on display in your vehicle. Take the time to know your neighbors.
Common sense is one of the best forms of prevention.
Final thoughts on living in the Central Valley
Living in the Central Valley brings a sentiment that truly feels like home.
It is one of the best places to live in Costa Rica, where you instantly feel a part of it without needing much adjustment. You won’t miss much when relocating to this paradise.
The less humid temperatures, the magical winds, the vibrant morning skies, and the twinkling lights of the homes through the valleys and mountains can sometimes feel surreal.
It is one of Costa Rica’s never-ending gifts that keeps on giving all through your glorious expat days.
You might find useful:
- Living In Costa Rica – a detailed expat guide to moving to and living in Costa Rica
- The Best Places To Live In Costa Rica As An Expat
- Didn’t find what you were looking for or need further advice? Comment below, and we will do our best to help.
Helpful external links:
- Costa Rica’s Central Valley – University of Costa Rica.