People often ask me what I like most about living in Costa Rica. That’s a very hard question to answer because I like so many things about the pura vida lifestyle in Costa Rica. Locals like to describe the lifestyle as tranquilo, which means “quiet, tranquil, peaceful, calm, relaxed or easy.” I often use the word “chill” to sum up my new lifestyle here. Costa Rica just has a whole different vibe that I thoroughly enjoy. The people are extremely friendly and are not in a hurry; they even walk at a slower pace while shopping.
Costa Rica is a small country in Central America located between Nicaragua and Panama. The country covers 19,700 square miles, which makes it a little bit smaller than the U.S. state of West Virginia and a little bigger than the European country of Denmark. The capital, San Jose, is located in the center of the country, meaning you can travel to all of these amazing towns and beaches to the north, south, east, and west in a matter of a few hours. Each town has its own unique flavor, character, and beauty. Some towns, such as Tamarindo, Guanacaste, and Manuel Antonio-Quepos, are more touristy destinations than say Grecia, where we live.
Costa Rica has about 2 climate zones and many microclimates throughout the country. If you are vacationing or living in the South Pacific area of Jaco, Dominical, or Uvita or even on the Caribbean side, where Puerto Viejo is located, the weather is hot and humid most of the year. Meanwhile, the Central Valley area, especially in the 5 ridges of Grecia, experience spring-like temperatures year-round. Costa Rica has two seasons. The dry season runs from December to April whereas the rainy season runs from May to November. I love the tropical rains, otherwise I wouldn’t have moved here. During this season, the pure natural beauty of Costa Rica comes alive, and the hillsides turn a deeper shade of jade. Trees, plants, and foliage across the landscape are lush as the rains bring cool air. This is one reason why people fall in love with this amazing and beautiful country.
I love Grecia because it’s not a tourist town and the approximately 17,000 residents live life at a slower pace. The neighboring town of Atenas, about 11 miles away, have a population of approximately 18,000 people. We live the tranquilo lifestyle, surrounded by coffee and sugarcane plantations. A bus trip to the town center takes about 20 minutes and costs only $1.77 round trip.
Transportation here in Costa Rica is the best and most convenient I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world. We often take the bus, taxi, or Uber wherever we want to go. In addition, plenty of shuttle services operate at affordable rates if you wish to take a road trip to other towns further away. I decided before leaving the United States that I didn’t want to ship my car or buy one and have to deal with the extra expenses of insurance, gasoline, inspection, license plates, and repairs. I wanted to wind all the way down and live a simpler life and at a slower pace.
I shouldn’t forget to mention the cost of food. Most weeks we stock up on groceries at our local feria (open-air market), where you can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables directly from the local farmers. Ferias are located throughout Costa Rica. You get great prices on produce, and they’re open on Fridays and Saturdays.
If you’re contemplating a visit to Costa Rica—and I hope you are—decide where you want to visit and check out the hotels, hostels, and B&Bs to determine what costs you are comfortable with. Prices tend to be a little higher at certain times of the year, including Christmas, New Year’s, and Semana Santa (holy week before Easter), but during COVID-19, most rates are extremely generous and some businesses are cutting prices. Enjoy your pura vida experience!