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

Why Move to Costa Rica?

After all these years, why are people still moving to Costa Rica?  It used to be an easy question to answer – stable economy, cheap living, no army and daily sunshine.  Things are not as easily answered these days – especially as much of our expat community not only has changed from young surfers to retirees and whole families, but as many other countries have started to welcome expats across their borders with promises of easy living. Adventurous people around the world are searching for better places to live as the political climate of their home countries becomes more and more unstable.  Or just to try and different lifestyle!  So again- why move to Costa Rica?  Why not some other exotic destination that is being touted as the new up and coming place to live?

Well, for one, the original answers are still there. And the fact that they have been there, for all these years, means stability.  First and possibly foremost, a stable economy.  While things have gotten more expensive here in the past 20 years, where haven’t they?  And prices have pretty much capped out in the past few years.  Most products here say Hecho en Costa Rica (made in Costa Rica) which I love.  Things made here, bought here = jobs, taxes, production.  The minimum wage is $3 hour, and people can live on that because of the cultural dichotomy.  I am not going to get into that now, but its doable when there are several people in the household working for that, and when property taxes run an average of $200/year and overall utility bills can be held at $100-$150.  So if you are a pension status resident, bringing in $1500 plus per month (usually there are 2 of you)  you can certainly figure out how to live in Costa Rica on your budget. Houses in the mountains of the Central Valley where i live start at $90,000USD for a 1BR expandable home and lot.  And if you complain that food is more expensive than in Mexico, let me know how you like living in Mexico.  There’s always a tradeoff.

No Army – That means more and more to me each time I go somewhere and I stand next to a guy in green with a machine gun.  I HATE IT.  Even after you cross the border in Nicaragua there are 2 more check points with guns held.  The first few times I went to Belize and exited the airport (1997, 1999), I came face to face with them – they are the police force. I did not do anything wrong, there’s no juicy details, but they were there, walking around with guns in hand waiting for the strike.  That makes me feel uneasy, especially now with my children.  And after being in Costa Rica for years I honestly forget what it feel like to have all that ‘protection’ around. I head back to the US and it’s the same – guns in holsters everywhere, guns guns guns.  Military in the streets in NYC, my home town.  NO thank you.  I do not take our No Army status for granted, I truly appreciate. it.  And I realize that having the US as a friend is much of the reason why we have not needed an army in the past (we will see what the future holds as we continue to hold 2 seats in the UN).  My children are growing up in a very uneasy and UNPEACEFUL world, but they are living in Costa Rica and I feel safe here.  I cannot say the same for other countries in Central and South America.  We have residents moving here constantly from EL Salvador, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Columbia and Brazil to name a few.

Daily Sunshine

That’s never ending!  Originally people flocked to the beaches to ride the waves and live the pura vida.  Or else they got stuck living in the city for work – either way it gets HOT HOT HOT!   Expat residential areas have grown all over as we get to know the rest of the country, and start choosing other places and reasons for moving here.  I chose San Ramon with my husband, who is from San Jose Costa Rica originally, because I wanted the beach and he wanted cool air.  We visited and looked for a house for the first 15 years of our marriage, had 2 deals fall through and returned to the drawing board each time we came back visiting.  First with no children, then 1, then 2, then 3…. when we finally came upon San Ramon one day as a full family of 7 with my parents in tow.  We were 2 inches away from buying a giant property in Atenas or a B&B in Orosi valley, had narrowed it down to those 2 when someone told us about San Ramon – so we took a look on our last day here.  15 years and 15 minutes later we were making an offer on the home where we happily live now.  Gorgeous views of the ocean (if I couldn’t live there, I at least wanted to see it!), with daily temperatures in the 70s-80s year round, healthy living (great public and private healthcare) with no a/c or heat, and no bills to prove it!

So the question of why to move to Costa Rica can still be answered as it always has, but to answer the questions of why NOT to move somewhere else?  You just have to come see.  Costa Ricans are welcoming and proud.  They love their country and love it when we love it too!  We are a live and let live group = everyone is welcome.  Pura vida! No matter what your family type, lifestyle, age, language, religion, sex or martial status, you will find Costa Rica inviting.  In my particular area of the Central Highlands (the mountains that create the central valley), several single women including widows and young professionals and college students live in our area because it is safe and fun! I have same sex couples seeing properties with me monthly, and choosing our area to live because they feel comfortable here.  Families are choosing San Ramon more and more because of the excellent schools – both public and private, some bilingual, and 2 Universities to choose from.  Retirees continue to buy homes and invest in developments in our area as they welcome others to great medical options, fun jazz nights, an organized community of volunteering and much much more.  Come see for yourself why Costa Rica continues to be on so many people’s wishlist for living – and not just in retirement!

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!

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