Living In Uvita, Costa Rica: An Expat’s Guide

Discover Uvita, one of the best locations on Costa Rica's Whale Coast for expats to enjoy a tranquil tropical life.

Uvita is the ultimate expat destination for those wanting to reconnect with nature’s harmony. With the Pacific Ocean on one side and the jungle-covered mountains on the other, you are engulfed in Costa Rica’s lush wilderness.

Let’s talk about living in Costa Rica’s southern zone to help you determine if Uvita can be your perfect expat home. 

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What living in Uvita is like?

Relocating to the southern zone of Costa Rica takes you away from the urban capital of San Jose and into the remote regions of the country. Free of towering condos and skyscrapers, you aren’t bombarded by billboards and traffic. It is pristine nature, slowing down your daily life, and discovering the pura vida – the Costa Rican dream.

The small-town essence of Uvita brings a casual and slow pace. There is no hustle and bustle here, just friendliness and the desire to enjoy life each and every day. Life is simplified and you will see that through the minimal overdevelopment and urbanization. 

There is access to several banks, pharmacies, supermarkets, gas stations, and the necessities in town but you won’t see cinemas and large commercial shopping centers. That is one of the many reasons why so many fall in love with the beauty of Uvita. 

Whale watching in Uvita

Uvita is situated on the Costa Ballena – the Whale Coast – and it was named so for a very good reason.

Uvita is home to Marina Ballena National Park where twice a year humpback whales journey here to birth and raise their calves. 

Living in Uvita gifts you the honor of being able to watch mother whales and their calves splashing and jumping through the protected waters.

Interestingly enough, when the tide is low, sand and rocks form into the shape of a whale’s tail, right where the whales frequent yearly. You can walk out onto this famous formation and it is truly a remarkable sight to see. 

Uvita is where Costa Rica’s Whales & Dolphin Festival takes place every year in September.

Expats in Uvita

Those that venture to Uvita and establish their new life often are lured by the serenity of its sprawling paradise. The scarlet macaws, toucans, and monkeys overhead, it is these sounds you hear as opposed to traffic. 

It is an undeniable escape into the heart of a tropical retreat where life evolves into a healthy balance of your mind, body, and spirit. The expat community continues to grow, attracting those that relish spending their days in the outdoors. Kayaking, surfing, biking, exploring, hiking, and waterfall chasing, it is the quintessential expat home for those that have a passion for the great outdoors.

With yoga studios, wellness centers, weekly book clubs, and farmer’s markets the village is welcoming and you become part of the emerging and developing expat community quite quickly. 

The climate and weather

There are two main seasons in Uvita, it is either wet or dry, there isn’t a middle ground.

Along the coastal waters regardless of where you are in Costa Rica the dry season brings very hot and humid days.  During the warmer months, temperatures can reach up to 90 F with the evenings cooling down to mid to low 70 F. If you are not accustomed to this type of sweat and humidity, the only way to make it comfortable is to use air conditioners. 

The wet season in Costa Rica is one of the downpours. When the season starts you can still have the sunshine in the mornings and the rains roll in during the mid-afternoon.

As the season progresses it can rain for days. But as the rains come down, life is injected back into the towering trees and the dense jungles of green burst full of life. 

A car is a luxury you don’t want to sacrifice

Life in this mountainous region will require you to have a vehicle to get around effortlessly and will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Living in Uvita - the whale's tail
The famous whale’s tail in Uvita

Having to pay for a taxi or Uber to get to the grocery store or the beach can end up being quite costly over time. 

Plus, having a car will grant you the luxury of being able to get outside and explore the paradise that you are now living in. Whether new or used it is an investment that is worth looking into. 

If you don’t mind living on tico time and don’t feel the rush to get to places quickly you can make use of the bus system.

Getting to most places in the country will require you to take several buses but if you have an adventurous spirit and a bit of patience then the affordable bus is perfect!

The cost of living in Uvita

The cost of living here ultimately depends on how you want to live out your expat days, whether you want to continue to live with all the luxuries as before or if you choose to assimilate yourself into the culture of the country.

A couple can live comfortably on approximately $2,000 a month and not feel like they are sacrificing much. 

If you envision your life in a more simplified way, a basic one-bedroom rental without any furnishings can start as low as $500 a month without utilities.

Add around $150 a month for gas, water, and electricity.

On sunny days you have plenty of natural light and most often than not you won’t be spending your days staying in.

Since Uvita has evolved into a growing expat zone, furnished apartments are becoming much more common and can be an easy way to transition and establish yourselves.

Modern homes and rentals are frequently posted on social media groups to meet the demands of Uvita’s jungle paradise. For $1,000 a month you can find a 2-bedroom furnished home rental with a full kitchen and modern amenities many of us are accustomed to. 

Fresh and affordable food in abundance

Spending time at the local feria (market) is where you can spoil yourself with the bounty of Costa Rica’s fresh fruits and vegetables and keep your costs down. Mangos, papayas, pineapples, and avocados, – all the delicious treasures that the country blooms with are spread out in vibrant colors at the local markets. 

A street scene in Uvita
One of the streets in Uvita

Sodas (local restaurants) are one of the best ways to familiarize yourself with typical Costa Rican food.

Casados (meaning marriage) are the traditional dishes in all the restaurants where there is a marriage of the foods and tastes. Typically piled high with rice, beans, salad, and one of their flavourful seasoned meats. A casado can vary in price from $7 to usually $10. 

When you need a break from rice and beans, there is an array of international cuisine here as well. The Mediterranean, Latin, fresh seafood from the ocean, Argentinian, sushi, fresh pasta, pizzas, and even the elusive bagel can be found here. 

Educating children in Uvita

Life Project Education in Ojochal takes a holistic approach through their conscious education. The bilingual school is aligned with organic childhood learning through the community and village perspective. Children are guided to be resourceful, innovative, and self-directed through empowering themselves, surrounded by the energy of the jungle.

Uvita Christian Academy is a bilingual international school that provides education for families living or traveling overseas and local children.

These are just a few of the options available. Once you start connecting with other families through online groups, you may find yourself drawn to other schools. 

It’s not necessary to live in the urban center of Costa Rica for children to have access to schooling. The country’s vision on education is open with a wide variety of options from jungle and nature schools to the more traditional learning centers so that every child has the opportunity to find what is right for them. 

Water sports and activities in Uvita 

With the Pacific Ocean at your doorstep days are spent offshore fishing, snorkeling, boating, swimming, and kayaking.

The area around is stunning and provides wonderful walks. Discovering Nauyaca Waterfalls takes you into what feels like a utopia against the backdrop of the greenery.

The neighboring Dominical is well known and popular for its surf, regardless if you are a beginner or have been riding the waves for years. The town has a bohemian vibe where people come for a chill, laid-back atmosphere. 

Remote living

San Jose, the capital and hub of Costa Rica, is almost 4 hours away. This can be a positive to some, escaping from the chaos of the city, and negative to others that need the amenities of the city. 

Just outside of the capital is the international airport, therefore, if you travel frequently, this may be a bit of a hassle for you having to drive such a distance. 

There is great medical care in the Uvita area with hospitals, doctors, and dentists. However, if you are needing treatment for more serious and complicated issues then having the top medical treatment and hospitals almost 4 hours away may not serve your needs. 

Much of one’s shopping is done in the Central Valley cities of San Jose, Alajuela, and Escazu at the urban commercial centers where you can find name-brand clothing, familiar shops and large items for your home.

Final thoughts on living in Uvita

If you are moving to Costa Rica for the beauty and serenity, Uvita will resonate with you instantly.

The sweeping mountains hiding Costa Rica’s exotic wildlife, cascading waterfalls, paradisical beaches, and a sense of wellness make up the spirit of Uvita. It is a breath of fresh air living here. Your mind and body reset, and a new way of living commences. It is a place everyone dreams of, and you wonder how so much beauty can exist in one place. 

You might find useful:

Sarah Jordan
Sarah Jordan

Sarah is a freelance writer who has given up her criminal justice career to follow her passion for writing. After volunteering with the sloths and monkeys, she knew her heart belonged to Costa Rica and it has been her home since 2019. A proud mama to her rescue dog Coconut, together they enjoy the Pura Vida life.

She is a contributing writer for the Costa Rica news and loves to write about all things travel and wellness-related.

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  1. I’ll be arriving in Uvita in September and am hoping to make connections with the expat community in the area. Do you have any suggestions on how I may be able to do that?


    • Hi Doug, there’s a Facebook group About Uvita which you can join and start making connections. Alternatively, our Costa Rica expert and relocation advisor Paola lives in Uvita. She can help with every aspect of your relocation and introduce you to the community. If you would like her services, get in touch with us via Contact Us page

  2. Hi Brian,
    Thank you for reaching out, I apologize for the delay.
    A wonderful project to visit and get involved in for a day is the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center. It is located just outside Turrúcares, 30 minutes from Juan Santamaría International Airport.
    The center has a long history of challenges that the family has had to face to be able to continue to support the rescue and rehabilitation of Costa Rica’s wildlife. It is something for all ages and abilities and will introduce your family to some of the wonderful wildlife of sloths, monkeys, parrots and plenty others. There are sloth gardens, an animal kitchen, animal enrichment projects and many rescued animals that rely on the help of the volunteers and visitors that come by.
    Rescue Center Costa Rica is another great place if you and the family are short on time. It is very close to the airport in Guacima, Alajuela on a 10 acre farm.
    Best wishes for your upcoming family trip! Pura Vida!

  3. Could you please email me? My wife and I are coming to Coasta Rica at Thanksgiving time and we have five children. Wanted your thoughts on maybe a community service project we could do during one of our days there.

    Brian Wickstrom