Living, Working, or Retiring in Costa Rica Escazu and Santa Ana

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Living, Working, or Retiring in Costa Rica Escazu and Santa Ana

Thinking of moving to Costa Rica to live and work or even retire?   I will talk about the neighborhoods of Escazu and Santa Ana.   But first let me tell you, I can certainly answer your questions and give you great guidance and advice. . I first began visiting Costa Rica in 1968 and have lived there full time starting in 1997, in a nice upscale “gated with 24 hour guards”..residential community. Built 2 condos ..lived in one and rented the other one. Part of my time there, I lived alone, so I can advice you ladies who are asking “Should I take the leap and move alone to Costa Rica”?

First I would say to all interested: Come on down and rent a place for several months. Get your feet wet. In the central valley most Americans and Canadians live around Escazu and Santa Ana. There is a lot of social life so its easy to integrate and make friends. English speaking clubs such as: New Comers club, Womens Club of Costa Rica, Wine Club, Birding Club, Golf, Tennis, Bridge Clubs, Little Theatre Club, and many many more.

For the younger and “older” singles, there are many gathering spots: it doesn’t take but a little asking around where these places are and you can quickly make new friends.

I joined several of these Newcomers clubs ( I am the age group considered just entering my golden years) and soon I made many new and wonderful friends . People were definitely eager to meet new people and widen their range of friends- broaden their interest and
learn new things. I enrolled in Spanish classes 2 times a week..which I will never regret. And still today continue my study of the Spanish language.

Escazu and Santa Ana, a lush mountain-side location ( suburbs of San Jose, the capital city.) have a beautiful climate of eternal Spring, tropical flowers everywhere, no heating or air conditioning needed. There are so many excellent restaurants from around the world. Shopping for all ones needs is near by. Grocery stores carry American products, the beautiful mall has all current fashions and movie theaters showing latest American hits. It’s almost like living in the US with all the comforts of home. The roads are in good condition, although the traffic can become congested.

Medical care in the private sector is first class. Most of the doctors have trained in US and speak English. The private Hospital Cima has it all..great doctors in every specialty at very reasonable fees. They actually sit down , listen to you, and talk for the time necessary to understand your needs. Equipment inside the hospital is new, state of the arts.
Private Health insurance can be purchased at reasonable rates… and with comprehensive and quality coverage.
Another option : You can enrole in the government health care (socialized medicine) . This is not free. Monthly premiums are different for different levels of income. But the general senario is long waits to see a doctor and longer waits to get treatments for routine and non emergency illnesses. Getting perscriptions filled within the system can be standing in line for as long as 4 hours.

In summary, I highly recommend the neighborhoods of Escazu and Santa Ana.

Advise from one who has been there: 1. Rent a place that is gated and guarded. Unfortunately, theft is common. You want to leave your home and not worry about it while you are out having a nice time.

2. Be careful of the maids and gardeners you hire, don’t tell them any of your secrets or confide in them. (example-location of the family safe.

3. Don’t leave money or jewelry lying around in visible places.

4. Rent in this area is a little steep. $700 per month and up– But spend some time with a reputable real-estate company and you will find the right fit for you. Reference: American European Real Estate Group

5. DON’T buy until you have been there at least one year and have found the area that is just right for you.

Question: Can I live cheaper here then in US or Canada? Yes you can..because you dont have heating or air conditioning bills, quality health care and medications are much less expensive,
you can travel by taxi or very good public buses so you don’t Have to own a car. Groceries are about same cost as USA however if you shop at Friday afternoon and Saturday local farmers market , you can buy freshly locally grown fruits and vegetables at 1/2 the cost of the grocery stores. You will buy less clothes because the climate is mild, so you don’t need 2 seasons of clothing.
Apartment or condo rent is about same as in a city in USA or Canada.

Phones are cheaper, electricity is cheaper, water and real estate taxes are cheaper.
You should need only part time domestic help..perhaps 4 hours twice a week so you probably don’t want to hire a full time maid. I could spend this entire page giving you reasons, from personal experience, why it is better part time.

Valuable Resources:
1. Association of Residents of Costa Rica (ARCR)
2.Book: Living Abroad in Costa Rica by Erin Van Rheenen (Moon) Entire section dedicated to resource web sites to help answer almost all questions a foreigner would ask about living in
Costa Rica. Available at
3. Book: The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica by Christopher Howard
Very detailed and comprehensive Available at
4. Tico Times, the English language weekly newspaper search google: just type in tico times


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