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A Look Inside:Living in San Ramon de Alajuela, Costa Rica and the Central Highlands

Top 20 Reasons for Moving to San Ramon Costa Rica

Of all the Places to Live in Costa Rica, Why we Chose San Ramon to Live, Play, Grow, Travel….

Our TOP 20!!!

There’s lots of reasons to live in the different areas of Costa Rica, but here are our Top 20 Reasons for Moving to San Ramon, Costa Rica

1 – Affordable healthcare in both the private and public sector – CLOSE BY.

My Dad broke his neck here while visiting (age 91) and was in both the public hospital and private for neurosurgery – see my other blog for more on this. The first hospital we visited is right here in San Ramon, 10 minutes down the road. Then he was transported in 35 minutes to Hospital Mexico in San Jose. Once the surgery was performed (we chose the private sector for this because there was no wait time), he had his stitches taken out at our local clinic 5 minutes away. Besides our elderly parents, we also have three school age kids, and anything can happen. Everything we need is right here. We wanted to make sure we are close to the care we need. We also use the dentist a lot (new teeth, old teeth, middle aged teeth!), and there are great ones in San Ramon. Plus my eye doctor who did her residency in Newark NJ and speaks perfect English, right here in downtown San Ramon.  We will be starting a contact list soon that you can access for the different folks we recommend for different things.

2-Cost of living is lower than many other developed areas of Costa Rica, especially expat areas.

San Ramon is still primarily a tico town. Cost of food is high all over Costa Rica, check this recent article for more on that. But the Feria (open air farm market) on Saturdays and Sundays, or organic feria on Wednesdays, and local stores can keep things pretty low compared to areas at the beach and big expat towns. And stay away from the imports! My husband went to buy Munster cheese at Pricemart (near SJO, about 50 minutes away) and his brother stopped him. $18USD for a 1/2 lb of cheese! Want take out?  We tend to bring in food about 1x/week, but I have heard some folks around here have made it a business of going to people’s homes and cooking for them. I will put that on my contact list when I find out because for the same price as take out pizza, we can have someone come cook a whole well balanced meal for us! with the food included!

3- Open air farm markets are a norm for grocery shopping, not a special thing to do.

Everything is seasonal, and not transported by air land and sea, using fuel and pumped full of anything to make it last.  While there is concern here over the amount of pesticides being sprayed onto the food, and the contamination of the earth and rivers, I still can’t imagine it being equal to the amount of larger farms in other areas that then transport the goods all over the world.

4— Fresh, clean air:

Not for nothin’, the mountains of San Ramon really do offer some of the freshest smelling air around! from the coffee fields, trees and cloud forest all doing their part for mother nature, there is no smog, no chemical clouds hanging in the valleys- we are up high and the breezes move everything right through. After the winds or the rains come, it clears the view right to the ocean, breathe in deep!

5-Close enough to Family and Friends here in Costa Rica and in the states.

Over half of Costa Rica’s population lives right around San Jose, and our tico family is no different.  We are about an hour form all our tias, tios, primas and primos..  Then there is our family back in the States.  My parents are much older and I want to have easy access to them when something happens. I would say if, but one day, it will happen. That is something many expats have to come to terms with when they move to Costa Rica – reaching their family in other places quickly in an emergency.  SJO is just 45 minutes away by car, or the bus from town stops right in front of the airport in about an hour. With United Airlines reaching our area of NY in just over 5 hours, and specials bringing the RT ticket to about $435 on a good day, if we leave early enough, we can be back with our NY family by 3 pm the same day. Great for fun, and emergencies.  The best airlines for Costa Rica, in my opinion, are Jet Blue (click here to go directly to their best fare finder) and United to the East Coast.  I have heard DELTA has the cheapest/direct to the West coast.

6- Great jump off point to explore all over Central and South America, And Costa Rica!!!

Access to highway one is right here – volcanos, beaches, cloud forest, rainforest, head south to corcovado, north to rio celeste… I use the bus a lot, my husband not so much. But for $5 I can go to La Fortuna and be right at the base of Arenal Volcano for hiking, waterfall jumping, hot springs, and we now have a hotel for $15pp/night right in town! or we can take the bus to Puntarenas and go to the beach with the kids, eat ceviche for lunch, and be home by dark, for about $40 for the whole day for all of us!  Check out our favorite hotels here: A Moms Guide to Costa Rica

7-Save money on utilities.

Our heating bill in NY was $2900 our last year there. And that’s low compared to most because we used alternative fuel and a pellet stove. In the summer, our electric bill could be $350 with A/C. We just don’t have those bills here. We use the ceiling fans once in a blue moon, and I wish I had a fireplace about 7 times a year.

8- Freedom –

More like the US was 100 years ago when everyone wasn’t looking over your shoulder. Your mortgage doesn’t consume you, your paycheck at least goes to a pension and healthcare, and owning your own business does not feel like you are working just to pay government taxes and healthcare.  You own your own land – there in no eminent domain.  If I have a bonfire, I don’t worry about the neighbors complaining.  I can buy fireworks, and medicine, without leaving the state or seeing 4 doctors for a cough.

9-Slower Pace of Life

Its enjoying what you did today, not stressing about what you didn’t do – and in a tico town, this is more prominent than in large expat areas.  Cars don’t speed, people don’t rush past you, and people walk and talk in the streets.

10-Less Materialism

Sure, its on the rise, and there are a few families in San Ramon that help support the Justice store and the Lincoln Mall and the MultiPlex….(if you have a girl between the ages of 5 and 18, you know, or used to know Justice VERY well). But beyond that – the stores here in San Ramon are all their own, small businesses, with most things made in Costa Rica. There are at least 6 fabric stores in town because people here still make their own things – costumes for kids plays, curtains, traditional dresses for the holidays, shirts, dresses, bedding – its refreshing!

11 – Pretty multi-cultural for a tico town in CR!

First, let me point out that San Ramon is considered a big city in Costa Rica.  But for me, growing up in NYC, it is more of a large town.  Even still, I love that we have Japanese food, Italian, Colombian and Peruvian.  We have  2 universities, University of San Jose, and the University of Costa Rica’s San Ramon Campus with a full curriculum.   San Ramon also has several bilingual schools for younger children – please check my blog for more on these schools . There is a Chinese store where I can get random cooking products I used to get in China town, like rice vinegar and sesame oil, plus chopsticks and weird glow fountains. I’m good.

12 – Housing prices and land$/m2 are surprisingly low compared to many parts of Costa Rica.

Lots can run about $15/m2 with ocean views, and basic construction can run only $40USD/m2 for concrete or wood. So for us, since we would like to expand our B&B into small rentals, and lots for sale with pre-build plans (ecofriendly), that seemed like a great price!

13- its SAFE

And has been, and continues to be.  Many of the other countries that are recently chosen by expats as possible living destinations JUST DON’T HAVE THAT HISTORY, OR FUTURE – beautiful to visit, but Costa Rica can be trusted to live in, especially San Ramon. No, I’m not talking about theft.  There is a lot of theft, even here in San Ramon – I have heard the numbers from the UN can be astounding.  BUT…. this includes leaving your computer charging near an open window, car theft and housing break-ins all lumped together.  Most theft occurs in the tourist areas, and larger expat neighborhoods.  Remember, your cell phone sitting in the car is the equivalent of some people’s monthly salary. Don’t tempt them. But when it comes to personal safety – Costa Rica ranks as one of the safest.  You may walk in on someone stealing your jewelry, but you will also walk back out again.  Most other countries, you could not say the same.  So you may lose your wallet, but you will walk away unharmed.  You really can’t say that is many parts of the world.

14- Warm friendly people

The ticos are inviting and are so proud of their country, they love it when people decide to move here. And San Ramon is filled with families, children, and lots of Pura Vida. There are play parks, playgrounds, activities, art classes, music classes, cheerleading, swimming, tennis, you name it! And there are all those things for adults too!  Meet your neighbors through different things you enjoy and be welcomed into our San Ramon community very quickly.

15 – Great Way to Learn Spanish

Although I will admit, I am a little slow and admittedly use my husbands Spanish as a crutch to my own detriment… if you move to San Ramon, you can learn Spanish faster than many other areas.  This is not the beach, a touristy area, or Escazu and Santa Ana.  This is Costa Rica – the real Costa Rica, and people here actually speak ….. Spanish!  Not to knock those other areas, I love the beach and I am a perpetual tourist, visiting as many areas as I can with my family… but whenever I go to those areas, everyone greets us and speaks to us in English.  Even to my husband – who is tico!  Not here.  They will assume you speak Spanish, and if you don’t, you learn.  There are also many Spanish conversational classes – cheap – for expats here.. check with the CAA for their next schedule.

16 -Sports!

There is the obvious hiking and biking in the mountains, but we also have public, and VERY CLEAN swimming pools, basketball courts, tennis courts, playgrounds for the kids, even PICKLE ball courts! Of course there is soccer too, but besides that 🙂

17- The Park, and San Ramon centro:

We have such a nice park in town, a gorgeous church that is lit up with different colors at night (tastefully, this is not the Limelight), ice-cream vendors, bakeries – just walk around town with the kids, stop in the park and let them run around till their hearts content. Again, its safe, they always find other kids to play hide and go seek with, its just nice. Folks can stroll the streets after dark and feel safe.

18_ Museo de San Ramon and SINEM – Arts & Culture

We have a lovely little museum with changing exhibits that I am going to volunteer at one of these days !!! and a cultural center with all kinds of arts and music classes AND a whole music school for truly serious musicians of all ages (has a grand piano and everything).   There are also several “bands” and a chorus here.

19- Gorgeous Views

From where San Ramon in positioned, with the areas closest to the center ranging from 2500-5000 feet above sea level, this area of Costa Rica has some of the most expansive views in the entire country.  We didn’t even know it ourselves until we came here.  My husband just knew San Ramon was on the way to the beach when he took the bus as a child.  Whether its the mountain ranges, the Ocean, the Nicoya Peninsula and the Islands, or even the gorgeous light of the San Ramon city from above –  most people don’t even know that we are here, looking down and out, over all of them.  Probably 20 min away from the Pacific if you could drive straight, the Ocean views are absolutely spectacular.

20-Organized Expat Community

Not that we tap into it all the time, but knowing there is a great, and organized expat community here is helpful when you really need some English time! the CAA organizes fun events like Octoberfest, St. Patty’s day… they are highly invested in the betterment of the community from getting dogs off the streets and neutered to working with the local school for the first ever rural solar powered system right here in San Ramon! They also do alot of work with our local Hogarcito (orphanage) and that is where I like to join in.

Everyone has their own reason for moving to San Ramon. We hope to welcome you to yours in San Ramon real soon.

 

Top 20 Reasons for Moving to San Ramon Costa Rica
Reasons for Moving to San Ramon Costa Rica
Of all the Places to Live in Costa Rica, Why we Chose San Ramon to Live, Play, Grow, Travel

Kim Rubens-Quiros

From NY and San Jose, we are a mixed gringa/tico couple with a dream of sharing our wonderful area of San Ramon with you! Pura vida!

4 Comments

  • Rusbell Madrigal 10 months ago

    I agree I moved from Jaco Beach to San Ramon and I can say that is one of the safest places in CR.

    Reply
  • Leo 8 months ago

    Costarican here… Well, as a local I can easily say that San Ramon is one of the nicest places to live in Costa Rica. Not too hot, not too cold ( if you can call some parts of Costa Rica cold…LOL.. compared to Europe or US). Unlike San José , which has become a nightmare with traffic jams with so many locals and foreigners living now, San Ramón still has the rural charm and laid back vibe that was so typical of yesteryear Costa Rica. People are still chill and extremely friendly , unlike the capital. San Ramon is a very clean and safe province compared to the rest of the country. If you love mountains, San Ramón has plenty of them and you have the convenience of having the beach in less than an hour away. I have lived in many places in Costa Rica ( Escazu , Santa Ana, Guadalupe,Calle Blancos, La Merced) and will take San Ramon any day of the week. I also find the women of San Ramon very beautiful! Email me if you´ve got any questions. Saludos!

    Reply
  • Robert Thomason 7 months ago

    Did you see previous message?

    Reply
    • crpmcom 6 months ago

      Hi Robert,

      I had emailed you back several times with the Spanish Class info, but I only heard back from you the one time! Hope you are enjoying Costa Rica, and please let me know if we can help you with anything else!

      Reply

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