Where We’ve Lived in Costa Rica

Over the past thirteen months, we’ve lived in eight towns across Costa Rica. From the Pacific to the Caribbean, we dragged our eight suitcases through booming resort towns, quaint mountain villages, and everything in between. Before we started our travels, we knew about Costa Rica’s regional differences in climate and landscape, but were really surprised at some of the other differences we encountered.

Below we share our impressions of where we’ve lived, both the good and the bad. This is our take based on our own personal experiences. If you’re considering a move, this information might help narrow your search, but keep in mind that everyone’s needs and experiences will be different and a place that wasn’t for us, might be just right for you.


13 months on the road and still counting...
13 months on the road and still counting…


Manuel Antonio (Central Pacific Coast)

What we loved: The best thing about living in Manuel Antonio for us was being within walking distance to a beautiful beach. It was great to just roll out of bed and go for a run along the sand or take an afternoon sunset stroll. Another thing we loved was its pure convenience. It was close to the awesome Quepos farmer’s market and tons of great restaurants (many within walking distance), had a bus that ran regularly to and from Quepos, and had good shopping. It didn’t have nearly the variety of what you can buy in San Jose, but we could find most things we needed in downtown Quepos or at the Maxi-Pali, a larger, Walmart-owned store. Another great thing about Manuel Antonio was its large, close-knit expat community which immediately made us feel welcome.

What we didn’t love: Manuel Antonio is one of the more touristy areas of Costa Rica so the beaches and national park can get very crowded, and prices at restaurants are higher because they cater to tourists. While we got a good deal on a rental because we stayed in a small studio, prices are generally high, again because of the area’s popularity.

Dominical (Southern Zone)

What we loved: We lived in a tiny village in the mountains near Dominical called Hatillo and loved the small-town feel. We also loved the landscape. The Dominical-Uvita area is for us one of the most beautiful in Costa Rica because the lush mountains roll right down to the sea. It’s less developed (though growing every day) so the natural beauty is still intact. Other great things include: the many secluded beaches and restaurant options; all the great places to go hiking; and the non-touristy feel.

What we didn’t love: While we liked that the area was more remote and pristine, this was sometimes a downside side too because things were more spread out and we had to drive to get everywhere. Although there was a local bus, it only ran a few times a day, so having a car was a necessity. For shopping, nearby Uvita had two fairly big grocery stores where we could buy most foods. But for other items and fresh, cheap produce, both the Quepos and San Isidro markets and stores were a little far (about 45 minutes away). Another downside was that Dominical is a bit far from the airport (around 3.5 hours from San Jose).

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (Caribbean Coast)

What we loved: Our favorite thing about Puerto Viejo was the stunning beaches and the fact that they were good for swimming. A lot of the beaches in Costa Rica are rough and have riptides, but the water on the Caribbean side is calmer in general, aside from the surfing beaches of course. We also loved the culture. The Caribbean coast is the only place in Costa Rica where you’ll see the Afro-Caribbean influence and it’s a really chill, cool place. We also liked how the area was set up and thought it had a good balance of having things to do without being too developed. If we wanted to go out, we could head to one of the bars or restaurants in downtown Puerto Viejo, or if we wanted a casual night, we could check out one of the more laid back places in Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita, or Playa Punta Uva. Everything was really close by too so if we couldn’t walk, it was just a short bicycle or car ride away.


Puerto Viejo Culture
Culture House in Puerto Viejo


What we didn’t love: This is one area of Costa Rica where we didn’t feel 100% safe all of the time. While most people just visiting for a week or two probably wouldn’t notice anything, petty theft, break-ins, and drug trafficking are somewhat common and you start to notice it more once you live there. Our neighbor had his iPhone stolen from inside his house when we invited him over for dinner (just a few steps away), and while he should have had the place locked up, it was still alarming that it happened at all.

Another thing that we didn’t love was that groceries were overpriced. Restaurants were also on the expensive side because they catered to tourists. Finally, the humidity was crazy and our clothes, car, and house got really moldy.

Playa Hermosa de Uvita (Southern Zone)

What we loved: Similar to Dominical just to the north, we loved our stay in the tiny Tico village of Playa Hermosa because of the small town feel (we frequently saw local guys riding by on horses), beautiful scenery, beaches, and wildlife. Living in Uvita, we were very close to a couple of bigger grocery stores too, which is great if you need something in a pinch.

What we didn’t love: Many of the communities in the mountains of Uvita, including Playa Hermosa, are accessible only via rough dirt roads. We needed four-wheel drive to get up the hill and the road was really rough, taking a toll on our car. Our Internet connection was also the slowest we’ve had so far in Costa Rica. This may change if a new tower is put up, but for now the connection in Playa Hermosa is limited to a 3G wireless stick with super slow speed (cable Internet is not available). We had the same type of connection when we lived near Dominical but the speed there was much faster. Finally, because Uvita/Dominical is growing in popularity with expats, rental prices are on the high end for Costa Rica (we paid $800 a month for a simple, two-bedroom Tico-style house).

Tilaran (Lake Arenal)

What we loved: We stayed in Puerto San Luis near Tilaran and liked it so much that we came back and lived in the neighboring town of Tronadora for a couple more months. This may sound strange, but we liken this area of Costa Rica to rural northern Maine where Jenn’s family was originally from. It’s the country, Costa Rica style, with lots of rolling farm fields, complete with cowboys and horses. The pace was slow and relaxed and the local people were so nice.


Cow near Lake Arenal
More cows than people on the lake 😉


Other things we loved were its proximity to Tilaran, which has a lot of smaller shops and grocery stores; the awesome veggie and fruit stores in Tilaran where we bought all the produce we needed for a week for just $10; the lower cost of living in general (rent and grocery prices were among the lowest we’ve seen in Costa Rica); high-speed cable Internet; we felt very safe; it’s not touristy; the mountains are beautiful; and it’s close to Liberia international airport.

What we didn’t love: Because it’s more remote, there wasn’t a ton to do and there weren’t many restaurants (although the ones they had were some of our favorites in the whole country). From the Tilaran side of the lake, it’s over an hour to more restaurants and activities in La Fortuna, so we only made it over there a few times.

Other things we didn’t love were that it was super windy, and although it might not always be, really rainy during our second stay in mid-June through mid-August (raining all day most days). Also, we’re more beach people so we missed the ocean, which is at least three hours away.

Playa Grande (Northern Guanacaste)

What we loved: We loved being just a five minute walk to a beautiful beach. On top of that, we had a nice pool that was a great way to cool off or take a break from writing. We also enjoyed the wildlife and birds and how peaceful it was.


Playa Grande Beach
The stunning Playa Grande


What we didn’t love: Northern Guanacaste is the driest area of Costa Rica and almost everything was dead and brown when we lived there at the end of the dry season. There were even forest and grass fires in the surrounding hills. We like the heat but it was even too hot for us, getting into the mid-90s on most days. Another thing we didn’t like was feeling isolated. It’s possible to take a boat across the estuary to Tamarindo, but aside from that, you have to drive at least a half-hour to get anywhere. Most of the people around us just stayed for a few days or a week max while they were passing through on vacation.

Other things that we didn’t like was that everything was really expensive; there weren’t many restaurants nearby unless you went to Tamarindo; there was little local culture as most of the homes were owned by foreigners; break-ins were a problem (although we didn’t have any issues); we missed the lushness of the tropical jungle; and there wasn’t much hiking nearby because it’s relatively flat.

Nosara (Central Guanacaste)

What we loved: Nosara has a great, laid back feel and the lush jungle setting is gorgeous. We loved seeing howler monkeys in our yard almost daily and heading to the beach whenever we wanted. We also loved that you could get just about anything you wanted for food, fulfilling our cravings for things like pizza and good burgers.

What we didn’t love: Our car hated us for living in Nosara. The roads were terrible, dirt, and pot-hole ridden (get a quad if you live there), and our shocks, struts, etc. even had to be replaced after living there. Other things we didn’t like: we heard about a lot of break-ins and often didn’t feel safe leaving electronics and other valuables at home; restaurants and groceries were more expensive because they catered to tourists and the large expat population; the town was spread out and you had to drive everywhere; and it was isolated from other major towns (at least 45 minutes away).


Muffler falling off after a bumpy ride in Nosara. Yikes!
Muffler falling off in Nosara. Yikes!


We loved exploring Costa Rica and getting a feel for the different areas, but moving around so much is definitely starting to get a little tiring. We think we’ll settle in one place sometime soon and are leaning towards the Southern Zone but nothing is set in stone. And who knows, maybe our wanderlust will keep us on the move.

Check out this post to find out how we lived in all these places for less than $2,000 for the year!

What’s your favorite area of Costa Rica? Let us know below.

*   *   *

So What Happened Next . . . ?

In July 2013, we boarded a plane for a new life in Costa Rica. Want to follow our story as it happened? Check out the posts below to see how our dream became a reality and what it has been like so far.

We’re Moving to Costa Rica!
First Impressions on Living in Costa Rica
Living in Costa Rica: One Month Update
Buying a Car in Costa Rica
Fun Facts From Our First Six Months in Costa Rica
Our First Year in Costa Rica
House Sitting: How to Live in Costa Rica for $2,000 a Year
Two Years in Costa Rica: How Life Has Changed

Post by: Matthew Houde and Jennifer Turnbull-Houde


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    1. Hi, loved your blog “Two Weeks in Costa Rica”. Actually my husband and I are planning to drive to Costa Rica with our two dogs and two cats from Montana…4,000 miles..yep…I have been reading all I can about the trip. I have a few questions..1) Were you required to have a roundtrip airline ticket when you arrived in Costa Rica? 2) What type of permit did you receive in order to be able to live there longer than the usual 90 day? Look forward to your feedback and thank you again..Regina

      1. Hi Regina,
        Wow, that sounds like quite an adventure! But it is totally doable- not sure if you’ve seen it yet, but Tico Times Travel just did a series with a guy who drove from the US to CR. You might want to check it out. On your questions: (1) You will get lots of different answers on if you need a round trip ticket but I will just tell you about our experience. In the past, we haven’t had round trip tickets but just had plane tickets showing proof of onward travel out of Costa Rica within 90 days. We had tickets from Nature Air to Panama once and more recently, a flight back to the US. Now, the rules seems to have changed a bit and a plane ticket back to your home country is sometimes required (depends on the immigration agent you get). (2) We haven’t applied for residency yet (will be doing so soon though) so we leave the country every 90 days. Usually we go to Panama or Nicaragua. You should check out our FAQ About Moving to CR article– it has lots more info and detail. Be sure to join the Costa Rica Expats Groups on Facebook too- they’re good resources for getting the latest info about what’s being required to enter the country. The links to the groups are at the bottom of the FAQs post. Good luck with the move!

  1. I am late in responding to your very informative email regarding living in CR on just a little over $2000/mo.
    It was very, very interesting to learn about house sitting throughout the world. If I didn’t have an elderly dog that I will not abandon or try to adopt out to go traveling I would surely give it a try. My Boston Terrier has been with her for her entire 13 years and I will continue to support her in her coming years, whatever comes.
    I belong to an on-line BT board that is devoted to all things BT and so many of the BTS that were members when I joined have passed on and they have all been younger than Liza. So I consider myself very lucky that she is in overall good health and still wants to play soccer at least 3-4 times a day which is only limited by high temps.and humidity. Brachycephalic dogs don’t do well in extreme weather conditions.
    I occupy my time with volunteer work for Our Companions Animal Rescue located in Manchester, CT (home office) and the animal sanctuary located in Ashford, CT. It’s the best job I’ve never gotten paid for and I work exclusively with dogs. It is wonderful and then I get to come to my own dog too!! Who could ask for more?
    You have been very honest about areas of caution in CR and about the beauty and hazards of getting around, 4-wheel drive seems almost mandatory if you want to see the country rather than get stuck in one place or relying on the bus. You are lucky to be a couple as that provides another layer of security and a helpmate. It is always a better experience to share the adventures of life with a loved one or a close friend.

    So happy that you got to visit family and friends in ME. It is one of my favorite places to visit. Can’t resist the lobsta’ and clam fritters and chowder. My mouth is watering right now.

    Best of luck and life to you both.
    I wait anxiously for your posting, find your photography stunning.
    You have a wonderful site that I return to time and again to get my fix of pura vita in New England.
    My very best to you,
    Jane Ellen Howeson
    and her wacky sidekick, Liza, the Boston Terrier.

    1. Jane Ellen, thank you so much for keeping up with our journey. Yes we are lucky to have each other but it is also great to know that people like you are following along with us. It sounds like you have your hands full with Liza the wacky BT and volunteering up in Connecticut! We love dogs too and have really enjoyed taking care of a few great ones while house sitting. We’re hoping that soon, when we are more settled in one place we’ll be able to adopt one of the many street dogs down here. For now, we carry a big bag of dog bones and make friends along the way! Thanks again for following, we’ll keep sending pura vida your way. 🙂

  2. I was using Google to research an upcoming trip to Costa Rica and came upon your site. Great job with it! I will be in Dominical/Hatillo at the end of November. Are there any special tips/tricks to vacationing here? Thanks!

    1. Stacie, you should definitely read our post on the Costa Ballena which covers the Dominical area all the way down to Uvita and Ojochal. We talk about some great activities in there like visiting the Nauyaca waterfalls (one of our favorite waterfalls in the country) and the National Marine Park in Uvita. In Dominical, check out Maracatu Restaurant and Dominical Sushi, they are both great! Have a wonderful trip and let us know if you need any more help.

      1. Fantastic! I did read that blog post and am getting more and more excited. We’re both PADI certified so hoping to get in a diving trip, too. So much to do! Thank you!

  3. Jenn & Matt,

    Thanks for taking the time to create this site as it has been very helpful. My husband is from CR however moved to the states when he was still a child. We will be visiting in June this year with our three kids. We are planning on going to several areas one of which is La Fortuna, Arenal. Would love to hear what you think what and where we should visit. I hear a day pass at Tabacon resort is the thing to do, what are your thought?

    Next the plan is to go Manuel Antonio, and last of all Herradura. Please let me know what is a must see. Again Thank-you for sharing your life in CR with us, it’s pretty fantastic you actually got up and moved and live in this beautiful country.

    Lorene Viquez

    1. Hi Lorene, sounds like your trip planning is coming along. A day pass to one of the resorts like Tabacon is highly recommended. Check out our posts on La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio for more about those destinations. We’ll be working on some posts about Jaco/Herradura soon so stay tuned for those too! If you have more questions, we’d be happy to answer them in our Forum, or check out our new book which has lots of info on those places.

  4. Hey!!

    I’m just about to book a flight to Costa Rica with no real plans in place.. I figure I have from now until the end of March to get that planned out! (March 30-April 14)

    Wondering what tamarindo is like? I’m flying in to SJO, and will be travelling solo so will likely rent a car for the week. But I’m contemplating doing four days or so at a surf camp.. Among volcano visits and seeing the Caribbean as well. Am I being over ambitious? I definitely like to go with the flow, but with only a couple of weeks would like to have some plans in place..

    Anyway, props to you guys for living life so adventurously !

    KK from Canada

    1. Hi KK, no worries, you have plenty of time to plan. With 2 weeks, you should be able to do a surf town like Tamarindo, volcanoes, and the Caribbean side. Just plan your order of travels carefully so that you’re not wasting time backtracking. Tamarindo is a cool surf town- it’s a little built up, with lots of great restaurants. Lots of people go there for surf camps. Check out our post about it for more info. If you’re looking for a more chill surf town, there’s Playa Hermosa (near Jaco) or Dominical on the southern Pacific Coast.

      We can help with the rental car too if you like. We work with a few companies and get a discount through one of them. Let us know or you can find more info here.

  5. Love all the great information! I’ve read every almost every article on your site. My husband and I just returned from spending 2 1/2 weeks in eight different towns in Costa Rica to see where we might want to move to in the future. Your assessments of the pros and cons are similar to our experiences. For us, we found Manuel Antonio to be everything we are looking for. We met many expats there and enjoyed that aspect as well. We’ll continue to follow your adventures.

    1. That’s great, Jill, you made our day! Manuel Antonio is a really special place. The expat community is so helpful and friendly, and it’s great having so many restaurants and things to do close by. We loved our month there and go back for dinners quite often. Let us know if you do end up moving there so that we can meet up for an Imperial. Pura vida!

  6. Hello!
    I spent about 4 months in CR a few years ago, and my boyfriend and I are planning a move back there. I spent a very short time in the Domical area but I believe I like the energy there the best. Puerto Viejo was not for me, and Santa Teresa/ Mal Pais was very dusty and I didnt feel very safe there.
    We are looking at buying land near Hatillo Domical. Have you guys decided where to settle yet?
    I should be out there solo in April to look at land, my boyfriend can’t leave work so I have to do it on my own.
    Our biggest concern, is how to make money down there. Our plan is to start up an eco-resort, but it will be some time before that is in fruition, so we are not sure how to make money in the mean time. How have you guys been hacking it?

    1. Hi Crystal, the Dominical area is an awesome spot. It’s our favorite part of CR and we’re actually living here longer term now. Hatillo is a great place to build too- we spent several months there house sitting and loved how it was a small Tico town but still fairly close to grocery stores, restaurants, etc.

      Our advice to people thinking about moving here is always to rent for a while before you commit to buying anything. That way you’re not locked in if you decide CR isn’t for you. A huge percentage of expats leave within their first year of trying it out–not that it’ll happen to you of course, but you never know. It’s also really good to wait until you’re down here to buy because you’re much more likely to get a better deal and get exactly what you want, where you want it. There’s lots of land for sale in Hatillo and I don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon.

      On making money, a lot of people work online for companies in the US or elsewhere or do freelance. We make money through our website and books. It’s tough because you can’t work legally in CR for a CR company unless you’re a permanent resident.

      One more thing- an AWESOME way to save money here is house sitting. We’ve been doing it since we got to CR in July 2013 and have only had to pay rent for a few months in between gigs. A lot of people leave CR, especially in the rainy season, to go back to the US or wherever they’re from and need someone to look after their house and pets. They let you live rent free in exchange for taking care of their house. It can be tough to find something if you’re set on living in one area, but it’s awesome if you can. We have some blog posts about how we got started if you’re interested: https://www.twoweeksincostarica.com/category/housesitting/. I know there are typically a lot of house sits in Ojochal, near Uvita.

      Hope that helps! Best of luck with the move and let us know if you have any more questions.

  7. Thx for finding me on Twitter. Am now following you, too.

    You have a great site! I spent a week in Puerto Viejo last fall for the Chocolate Fest and loved it. If you have a minute, please drop into my blog and check out the posts on Costa Rica. I’d love your feedback as you’ve certainly seen much more of it than I have.

    1. Hi Doreen, thanks very much. It’s funny, we were in Puerto Viejo then for the Chocolate Festival too- great event. We’ll head over and check out your blog. Glad to connect!

  8. hello! I read almost everything on your website and it has been very helpful!
    I know you’ve been moving around the country and haven’t settled yet but I was wondering.. now that you have lived in many different areas..which one would you chose to live permanently and why ?

    thank you!

    1. Hi Lauraine,
      After moving around the entire country and comparing different places we’ve ended up right back where we originally planned, which is near Dominical and Uvita on the Pacific Coast. We love this area because it has a lot of lush jungle, great hiking and wildlife, and nice beaches. It’s hot and steamy and things are spread out so it’s not for everyone but we really enjoy it 🙂

  9. I am so glad to have found your website guys! My husband and I have got married in Dominical in 2011 and have been back several times since and have gotten to know some people there too now. We are IN LOVE with that town and area and will be moving there in fall 2016 and can’t wait!

    I am going to be devouring your website because I have a lot of concerns about buying a car, internet (i will be working remotely) and rental prices as they don’t seem much cheaper than Denver (where we are now).

    I am starting to look into house sitting also but we will have an almost 5 year old by then and not sure we want to keep moving every few months so we’ll have to see what options there are. Have you found that there are many house sitting opportunities that are more long term?

    Sounds like you guys are back in the area, would love to meet up next time we are there. We plan to spend a month next May/June to really scope things out, find a place to live, etc. as 1 week here and there doesn’t give you much time to really do that.

  10. Oh I’m also curious to know what are your favorite “neighborhoods” or areas to live in in the Dominical/Uvita area. We usually rent homes in the hills just above the town, but last time we stayed in town and decided we didn’t want to live there. Too hot and loud. There lots of pretty spots in Lagunas but I’m afraid it might be too far from the beach? But maybe not once you’re there….

    We were thinking possibly Uvita but don’t know much about the vibe there and I love the “downtown” feel that Dominical has vs Uvita’s more spread out feel. Just curious about your thoughts.

    1. Hi Marianne, to answer your first question, yes most house sits are just a month or two maximum but you can find situations that are longer. Usually those go to people who are already living here and are found through word of mouth. It also might be tough with your internet needs to house sit, since it can vary greatly from house to house. It’s good that you are planning on coming down for a month to scope things out though. Like you, living down closer to the beach can be really hot. Even in the hills it gets somewhat unbearable during the peak of the dry season. But each neighborhood and even each house is different. They all have a different breeze, shade, internet, water sources, road conditions etc. so you really have to be here to test what it is like and what is best for you. You might even want to split up your month by renting in several neighborhoods/communities to see what you like best. For us, we like the neighborhoods up in the hills because they tend to cool off a bit at night, have good views, and privacy. That said, the trek up a 4×4 only mountain road does take its toll on a vehicle and we often find ourselves carefully planning when we will take a trip down to town or the beach instead of just going on a whim. Hope this helps!

      1. Thanks so much for your reply! That totally makes sense and yes the drive up the hill on those roads every day does concern me a little bit. We stayed in a house just above town last year and while it was gorgeous and had great jungle views, that drive every day was awful! The tight turns and super rutted out road made that part a teeny bit stressful 🙂 But I guess that’s part of living there and at this point I’ll take that over city traffic any day! haha

  11. I’m curious. Where are you now? You still have to try areas like Grecia, Naranjo, Cartago, Turrialba, Atenas. Or Puntarenas, Santa Teresa. Or Los Santos, San Vito de Cotobrus…

    1. Hi Victoria, We’ve settled down in the Dominical area and are pretty happy with our choice. We’ve visited many of those towns you mentioned, but knew that we wanted to be closer to the beach so places like Grecia, Naranjo, Cartago, Turrialba, Atenas, and Los Santos were out. We loved visiting Santa Teresa last year but felt it was too remote for us (and far from the airport) and Puntarenas too much of a city. We still have to check out San Vito (and plan to soon for a birding trip), but it’s also probably too remote for us to want to live there. Some good ideas for people thinking of moving to Costa Rica though….

  12. My family will be visiting Costa Rica in July an are so looking forward to all the beauty the Country has to offer. I am very interested in hummingbirds and would like to know if there is a particular area that I must visit to see as many as possible. Thank you

  13. Wow, I just found your website and it’s just what I was looking for. My husband and I are looking to move to CR for the winter season each year, living in northern New Hampshire in the summers. I’ve been researching areas and, as my husband is a PGA pro, need to be within half an hour of at least one golf course. I know the Guanacaste coastal area has a few, but the climate seems quite hot. The weather seems to be nice in the Central Valley, but I can’t find any golf courses. We’re not city people, so San Jose is probably out. Have you been in any of the following areas? Santa Ana, Playa Herradura, Tambor Beach, Guacima. …? Any input is greatly appreciated. Love your insights!

    1. Hi Kathi, Guanacaste, where the most well known golf courses are, does get very hot during North American winter. Of the other places you found, we don’t know much about the courses there, but Santa Ana is very close to San José so probably out if you don’t like cities. Same for La Guacima. Playa Herradura is near Jaco so not far from San José, which is convenient, and has a lot of amenities as far as restaurants and shopping. The beach itself is fairly nice but not spectacular; however, there are some pretty beaches nearby. Tambor is on the Nicoya Peninsula, a more remote, isolated area with not much around other than a resort. Despite being remote, it’s fairly accessible as you can take a ferry to get there or fly. There is also a course in the Costa Ballena. It’s newer and I’m not sure it’s a full 18 holes but you could look into it. It’s south of Ojochal.

  14. Dear Jenn and Matt, I love your site and your articles. You are doing a fantastic job, so thank you! We are looking at places to live in Costa Rica. You say in Dominical that it takes you 45 minutes to get to a farmer’s market? Are there smaller markets nearby where you can buy fresh produce from the locals?
    Next question: you say Dominical is spread out. Is there a main road or central part of town where you can walk to various restaurants and shops like in other parts of the country we have visited? And finally, is there a school where expat kids go in the area? How do I find out about private schools? I didn’t have much luck with internet searches. Thank you again for your the service you are providing. It’s awesome.

    1. Hi Susan, We go to the farmers market in Tinamaste, which is about 40 min from Dominical. We like it because it’s organic so don’t mind driving. There is also a weekly market in Uvita on Saturday morning. Quepos (about 45 min north) has one on Friday p.m. and Saturday a.m. Right in Dominical, a new little produce stand recently opened up. Not sure where it comes from but they have a decent variety of fruit and some veggies. Mama Toucan’s natural food store in Dominical has a lot of organic produce too.

      Dominical does have a small main area of town where you can walk to some restaurants and shops. It is quite small though. You should read our Costa Ballena post to get more of a feel for it.

      Uvita has the Christian Academy and Escuela Verde for private schools. Another new school is supposed to open up soon too. It will be called Kabe International Academy.

  15. I’m looking for the most remote jungle anti-tourist area of CR. Suggestions from your experiences? I currently live on the Gulf Coast in a tourist area and sort of want to disappear in the jungle for a while.
    Thanks for your excellent website. Best out there I’ve found. Very interesting and well written articles. Kudos and Congrats.

    1. Hi Stan, We would recommend the far Southern Pacific Coast, south between Coronado and all the way to San Vito. Lots of very small towns near the coast here and not much tourism. Coronado has some because it is closer to Uvita, but the farther south you go the farther you get from it. If you’re looking at a map, starting from San Vito and going north, any of the places farther inland on Route 237 to Route 2 would be good options too if you don’t care about being near the beach. Not much there but the land is beautiful.

  16. Hello! thank you for documenting your Costa Rican adventure so well! This is a wealth of information for us. We will be spending time in Costa Rica from January to May 2022 with our 3 daughters (aged from 1 to 7).
    We had settled to live in the Dominical/Uvita area to enrol the girls in the Centro Educativo Costa Ballena. But I have of course a 1000 questions in mind.
    As I am looking for a Pilates instructor training, we are now also considering Nosara (I only found Yoga teacher trainings in the Dominical area). But I read that Nosara is really dry and dusty, less agreeable to live. Any opinion between the two locations?

    For accommodation options, would you recommend to book a 5-months house online already, or to book something for a few weeks and look from there? I am concerned that most long-term houses would be booked by the time we arrive. However online prices seem really high! I will be looking into housesitting as well, but my guess is that with 3 kids, owners may be less likely to choose us as home sitters…

    I spotted a house near Hatillo, in your opinion would that be a bit far from the school? I am happy to drive but not spend the day in the car!

    Sorry for all those questions, and many thanks in advance if you manage to answer a few!

    1. Hi Naima, Nosara is much drier that time of year. It has also gotten very expensive. We would do the Dominical/Uvita area if you can. Hatillo is just north of Dominical so it would only be a 15 minute drive to the school. We would reserve your accommodations in advance for sure since that’s high season and things will fill up.

      If you have more questions, we have a video chat service that may help. We’ve been talking to a lot of families like yours who are spending extended periods of time in Costa Rica. Here’s the link with more information: https://www.twoweeksincostarica.com/video-chat-service/. Best of luck with your plans!

  17. I think you meant “13 years” rather than “Over the past thirteen months, we’ve lived in eight towns across Costa Rica. “

    1. Hi Keith, No, we did mean 13 months. This is an old post from just after our first year in Costa Rica (in 2013) when we did house sitting all around the country. After that, we did a long-term house sit in the Dominical area where we lived for about 4 years. We’ve stopped house sitting since then.

  18. Your website it is absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much for all the great suggestions.

    We are planning to spend 4-5 weeks in Costa Rica this summer. Was wondering if you might know of any day camps in the Uvita area? Have a six year-old and 11-year-old.

    Thanks advance for your help.

    1. Hi Kim, Some of the private schools have short camps during their school break but we aren’t sure of the specifics. Keep in mind that the school calendar for many of the schools in Uvita will be different from other places in the world (not sure if you are from the US/Canada). The school calendar in CR is Feb. to end of Nov. approx. with a long break in December/January and a few weeks off at the end of June/early July. This is for schools accredited by the Costa Rica government (MEP). Some schools follow the US calendar if they are international. Here’s a link to our Private Schools post so you can see the school options in Uvita. Maybe if you go to their Facebook or IG pages, you could see if they did any camps last June-August timeframe.

      There’s also a Facebook group you could join to search old threads called Pura Vida Mamas.

  19. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it. Didn’t realize Costa Rica schools were on a different calendar that US schools. Don’t know why I would have assumed they would be.lol Will check out some of the local International Schools. Thanks again!

  20. Do you have any recommendations of places with easy/moderate bicycle trails that are not in big cities? We will be arriving in San Jose and will be in CR 11 days.

    1. Hi Angela, Costa Rica doesn’t have too many options for bike trails. The Rio Perdido hotel has bike trails onsite if you’re interested in staying there. Otherwise, while Costa Rica does have a lot of cycling enthusiasts, most of them just bike on the side of the road. La Fortuna/Arenal is one good area to do this. There are some smaller dirt roads near the lake that you can bike on. A company called Desafio rents bikes and does tours and there are probably others as well.

  21. Thank you for such a great knowledge base about Costa Rica.

    Is there an article describing why did you choose to buy a house in the Jaco area? So much good feedback about Uvita-Dominical across the website, makes me wonder what made you change your mind! 🙂

    1. Hi Konstantin, Dominical became too rural for us. It was hard living there with kids as schools and amenities were farther away. We live being in the Jaco area because we’re close to everything and San Jose is only 1.5 hours away.

  22. Hi Jenn and Matt, I have been reading about your experiences which is so fun. Thanks for posting!

    We are a family of four (kids 16 and 18) who want to go to CR for three weeks over Christmas. We are beginner surfers and hope to become better. That is our main focus. We don’t do well in very high heat so I am thinking that a water activity is a great plus.

    I am thinking we will stay in two or three places during those three weeks. I have found a lovely (very basic, cold water, no wifi, sleeping outdoors with mosquito netting) place 15 min from Playa Guiones and I am thinking of Dominical for the last week (more upscale). Any suggestions for another beginner beach for the second week (that would be the Christmas week)? We like smaller places/villages (not built up too much and we don’t need to party), happy to be without wifi, but do like good food/reastaurants.

    Any ideas would be appreciated.

    Thanks, Linda

    1. Hi Linda, You could look at Montezuma for in between Nosara and Dominical. It’s a small town with some surfing beaches nearby. It does have some good restaurants too. Shouldn’t be crazy busy over the holidays either. Another option is Playa Esterillos Oeste on the central Pacific coast, a little south of Jaco. This is a locals’ town and it has good surfing as well. Hope that helps!

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