Article Written By Linda Freeman

Where Should I Live In Costa Rica? – Expats Answer

Live In Costa Rica

In Our Facebook Groups for Expats, when someone asks where to live in Costa Rica, the replies are often from people who know. The answers are not helpful for someone just looking for help on where to move to.

Bloggers may discuss TOP 10 PLACES TO LIVE IN Costa Rica and BEST 5 CITIES for expats, but they don’t really know what life is like as an expat can only be written by expats. It’s impossible to obtain a perspective of how an expat lives abroad through someone who toured multiple cities on a gap year.

We have come up with an easy solution: Inviting members who are writing in the Facebook Group to create personal blog articles about life in their region for those people trying to find content related to your original question.

If you are an expat living in Costa Rica, please submit your stories on the ARTICLES tab in the main menu.

This article is intended to continually expand and change, so it is worth bookmarking and revisiting at a later time. We hope you find it helpful when planning your relocation to Costa Rica.

The person that is moving to Costa Rica might really only want to live in an Expat community, trying to find the perfect spot by reading what other people have written in discussions on Facebook Groups. Typically, it turns out there are numerous responses telling people which exact zip code/city which is not surprising as that topic usually ends up being hot and others recommending places where they currently live often with no thought of the future listener

Bloggers may write about the best destinations for couples or the top 5 countries with a good quality of life but they do not really know what it is like to live as an expat, because only people who are living in a new country can truthfully write about it.

The solution we have come up with is simple, within our Facebook Groups (Link) we are inviting members who are writing in the groups to create a short contribution to Expat life in their region in order to give those that are trying to find an answer to the original question a much more in depth and meaningful article to read versus a re packaged top 5 places in Costa Rica to live or best 10 beach resorts in Costa Rica etc.

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If you’re an expat living in Costa Rica you can submit your experiences on the submissions page under the ARTICLES tab.

This article will continue to expand, that is worth bookmarking and returning to in the future. We hope you find it helpful with your relocation to Costa Rica.

San Jose


Del Coco Beach (Playa Del Coco)

Hello & Pura Vida! Expats have many great places to look for property. They can find the Pura Vida lifestyle along the Pacific Northwest coast. This area is known as Guanacaste (Gwana-KAH-stay) in Costa Rica. However, for first-timers, I heartily recommend Playas del Coco.

Del Coco Beach

Playas del Coco has a bit of everything that Expats look for. Coco is a small beach town with locally-owned restaurants, boutique shopping, English-speaking medical care, and its own police force for security. The beach is very accessible with all (2) roads leading to it, one of which runs the length of it. This is a dark sand beach. Frankly, it’s not my favorite. But, there is a lovely walking path along the beach with a few cute, cozy, and lively bars and restaurants. They face the water and the beautiful sunsets. They make the beach scene in Coco lively and vibrant.

Coco is also within 30 minutes of Liberia, which hosts the closest international airport to the northern Guanacaste coast. This is a huge plus as the larger airport in the capitol of San José, is anywhere from a 4-8 hour drive one way depending on traffic, slow-moving trucks, and construction across the mountains on a two-lane road (that is, one lane in each direction). Costa Ricans often pack a meal to make the trip because no one ever knows how long it will take! Expats in Liberia get shopping similar to North American standards. They have a well-stocked Home Depot (Do It Center), a large Costco (Price Smart), and a good Walmart. Even if this doesn’t seem ideal for those wanting to escape, you’ll appreciate having these stores for your needs.


Del Coco Beach

Coco is not my top pick for sunny beach days. However, its north end by Coco Bay offers a wide, quiet beach. It’s perfect for sunsets. Nearby are charming beaches. Playa Hermosa is to the north, and Ocotal is to the south. Both are within a 15-minute drive. They boast a few good bars and restaurants. But, unlike Coco, they lack a cute town with amenities. This makes Coco a more attractive, walkable option, reducing the need to drive for shopping and dining. My other favorite beaches lie 30-45 minutes south of Coco. This varies by season and water crossings. They include Playa Portrero, Playa Flamingo, and Playa Grande. These are easy day trips to beautiful, surf-friendly beaches with cozy local spots.

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Playas del Coco is growing by leaps and bounds in positive ways! The big news is the construction of an international deep-water marina in Coco Bay. This will attract more interest and money to the area. So, real estate investments in Coco will be profitable for years. For example, a new Westin resort worth millions is under construction. It’s located between Coco and Hermosa. Also, the luxurious Four Seasons Resort on the Papagayo Peninsula is getting a multi-million dollar upgrade. This is to prepare for more tourists from the new marina.


There is a lively Expat community in Playas del Coco. This is a huge bonus and support system for all the little things – and some big things – especially for first-timers. The majority of the Expats are from Canada and the U.S. (particularly, Texas!) and all enjoy sharing information, resources, and activities. Making connections is as easy as going out for a drink or eats at Coconuts, or Z’s, or any of the other popular and friendly watering holes along the main drag to the beach! Expats in Costa Rica are also very active on Facebook. Join the Coco Chit Chat group on Facebook for living and working tips in Playas del Coco. It also shares real estate posts. However, for the latest property opportunities in Playas del Coco and across Costa Rica, join Costa Rica Property Sales on Facebook.


Del Coco Beach

Coco is unique on the Guanacaste coast because of its location, infrastructure, and opportunity. The closest comparison in this region for Expats would be the more well-known town of Tamarindo, about an hour south of Coco. Tamarindo burst onto the tourism and Expat scene about 10 years ago as a popular go-to spot for surfing, shopping, and dining. However, Tamarindo’s popularity is waning due to over-development and over-population. Traffic through town has become a bit of a nightmare and crime is definitely on the rise. As well, real estate prices are high making profitability more challenging. Tamarindo is fun to visit for a day or two but it is no longer the most desirable place to live or own property on the north Pacific coast.

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Since becoming a resident of Costa Rica, my family and I no longer need to cross a border (or “border hop,” as it’s commonly called) every couple of months. Until recently, the requirement for anyone on a tourist visa was to leave Costa Rica every three months (90 days). The government recently increased that requirement to every six months (180 days) to the delight of non-resident Expats. Still, the need to border hop makes Playas del Coco a most attractive home base for Expats. The town lies just 45 minutes south of the Nicaraguan border. This makes it easy and even fun to get the required exit and re-entry stamps in a matter of 2-3 hours on a sunny afternoon. Expats use the local cottage industry of tour operators and private drivers to pay $45 per person to hop on a small shuttle with other Expats and a guide for border run. Many include lunch on the Nicaraguan side! Expats in other parts of Costa Rica must travel further and pay more to leave. They often go to Nicaragua, Panama, or take an international flight. Living in Coco, close to the border, is a big plus for long-term stays.


There is so much information online about finding your place in Costa Rica that it can be overwhelming. The best two places I know to get accurate, relevant, and English-speaking expertise and resources online and on Facebook.

Fly into Liberia, visit Playas del Coco, and see for yourself! The Liberia airport is an easy entry and exit point for international travelers, and is currently being expanded and modernized in light of the area growth. Hope to see you there soon!

About the Author(Linda Freeman)

Retired journalist (TV news producer). Fluent Spanish speaker. Married, 4 adult children, 2 dogs/2 cats, property owner/legal resident in Costa Rica, and amateur competitive pool player in the States.

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