Southern Costa Rica Living –
Everyone has a different reason for moving to Costa Rica–some to retire, some to enjoy the wonderful surfing, or maybe to immerse themselves in a new culture!
My husband and I moved to Costa Rica about 2.5 years ago to retire and live a more stress-free lifestyle. Since we’re young and wanted to not work the rest of our lives, we needed to be able to afford to live without future income. In addition, we needed health care since we aren’t eligible for Medicare yet.
So we went on a mission to figure out where we could live within our budget and still obtain healthcare affordably. We looked at many countries including, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Belize, Panama, and even Portugal. While many of the countries had a lower cost of living, we were concerned with the safety, the accessibility to go back to the United States, and the healthcare system. We ended up choosing Costa Rica.
Once we decided upon Costa Rica, we had to decide where we wanted to live. Now mind you, we’d only been to Costa Rica once on vacation for 5 days about 7-8 years before we decided to move. Needless to say, we weren’t really aware of Costa Rica and ‘where to live’. So I researched….and yes that’s what you’ll have to do when you decide to live in Costa Rica. Figure out what you want out of living here and look for those attributes in various locations to help you decide.
Since we speak very little Spanish, I wanted an expat community so I could find friends easier (I’m the social one!) and use them to help us ‘find our way’ initially. I also get cold easily, so I wanted to be in warmer weather–we come from several feet of snow each winter with sub -zero temps! My husband loves wildlife–so thankfully that is all over the country! In addition, my husband loves to dive, so we wanted to be close to the ocean/beaches. And finally, we didn’t want a huge tourist area–some is okay but not lots.
With those criteria I searched and searched various cities around the country and I ended up selecting Uvita. Remember, we had never been to that city—and in fact we moved before ever visiting!! WOW!
Uvita is located in the Puntarenas providence of Costa Rica and in the Osa canton, which is considered Southern Pacific Zone of Costa Rica. I’m not sure of the population, but it’s relatively small and has many great beaches. It is somewhat of a tourist destination, but again not as much as other locations like Tamarindo or Samara.
So, what are the pros and cons of living in the Southern Zone? Well, I’ve mentioned some of the pros, but since they’re so good, I’ll mention them again.
1) the beaches–while maybe not as nice as beaches up north, it’s still a beach and there’s sun!
2) Beaches also mean we’re close to water, which means diving for my husband!
3) As I mentioned beaches and sun, the weather is actually warmer here–close to the beaches, than you will find in the mountains.
4) Tons of wildlife–we know people who have monkeys visit their houses daily!! Amazing!
5) It’s not touristy (or a lot), so that means not as many people—but because it does have some tourist attractions, there are things you can find to do, such as diving, surfing, whale watching, ATV, hiking, waterfalls, horseback riding, river rafting, etc. So many things to do—but with less people?!?! Pro in my book!
But with all the pros, there are some cons:
1) We get rain…LOTS of rain. Rainy season here is from May through November, but October is the worst. I don’t mind rain and actually outside of October there aren’t many days where it rains all day, usually just from 3pm into the evening.
2) Being so close to the equator, the sun rise and set are pretty much the same all year round (within 30 min), so the sun comes up around 5am and sets around 6pm. This is hard when you come from the United States where in summer it’s light out until 9 pm each night. But you get used to it
3) We’re 4 hours from the San Jose airport, so you really have to plan your travel accordingly, which means you may have to purchase hotel rooms in the front or back end of your trip, which costs extra money.
4) There’s no fast food—well at least not the type you’re used to seeing. In Uvita, we do have a fast food fried chicken place, but you’re not going to find a Burger King or McDonald’s in our town. The closest McDonalds is an hour away on a horrible road, so not something we eat often.
5) Shopping is limited…if you’re in San Jose, you have numerous stores and malls in which to shop and find everything your heart desires. But here in Uvita, you’re limited to the grocery store, a couple odd and end stores, a goodwill type store, and a couple furniture stores. No Walmart, but we at least have Colono which is a hardware store!
Whatever your reason for moving to Costa Rica, figure out how you want to live and what city bests suits your needs. Costa Rica has lots to offer and is diverse enough to make everyone happy they’re living in paradise!