What are the top factors to keep in mind when searching for a place to live in your city?
When searching for a place to live, some important factors to consider are safety, location preference and individual needs. Depending on your preferences, you might want to find a place close to schools, churches, transportation, shops, medical facilities, or your job site. Most importantly, you might require an area that is secure and safe. A good thing to keep in mind is that traffic is often bumper-to-bumper, making distances seem longer than they really are. Make sure your home is in close proximity to places you visit most often, such as work, school, shopping malls and health clubs.
What are the most popular neighborhoods in your city for expats?
Rohmoser has always been a favorite neighborhood for expatriates. In recent years, the Escazu and Santa Ana areas have become the most popular neighborhoods in San Jose. They are close to the biggest shopping mall, Multiplaza, as well as the private CIMA Hospital, the Forum business center and many restaurants.
La Sabana Park is a large city park with lakes, trails, museums, sports fields, a stadium, Olympic-sized pool and many more attractions that are open to the public. It is located just on the outskirts of the center of the city and has nice upscale neighborhoods to the north, south and west named after it. Just west and north of those is Rohmoser, which is an excellent neighborhood made up mostly of homes with some businesses along the main tree-lined road of Rohmoser Boulevard.
Many expats' homes are located in this area, which has very nice neighborhood parks. Most residents are middle- to upper-class with a mixture of Costa Ricans and foreign nationals. There is excellent access to all major highways and to all types of services and amenities. Shopping in the area includes Plaza Mayor Mall, an English language bookstore and movie theaters. Pavas is just west and south of La Sabana and is highly commercial with homes being mostly middle-class. The main road is Pavas Boulevard where the U.S. embassy is located, as well as banks, restaurants, shops, cafes, bakeries and just about any type of store you might need.
This is an extremely popular neighborhood with foreign residents. In fact, as you go down the main road into Escazu and see the variety of stores and restaurants, such as Tony Roma’s, McDonalds, KFC, Rooms to Go, and such, you have to blink twice to make sure you're not in the U.S. Here you can find palatial estates, high-rise penthouses, luxury temporary accommodations, such as Villas del Rio, ambassadors’ homes and, mixed right in, you will also find simple local homes.
Many of the finest homes in this area are owned by wealthy Costa Ricans who enjoy the beauty of the area and the convenience of having everything from great restaurants, top-notch shopping malls, state-of-the-art medical facilities, office buildings and great nightlife and entertainment center nearby. This neighborhood is also home to the exclusive Costa Rica Country Club, which offers golf and tennis for its members. Many private, bilingual schools are also located here or nearby. Known as the Beverly Hills of Costa Rica, this area's popularity is going strong. The upscale neighborhoods of Trejos Montealegre and Bello Horizonte are both located here as well. Check this area out.
Just west of Escazu is Santa Ana and, further west, is Ciudad Colon. This area has seen tremendous growth as the city extends itself outward. A big push has come from the beautiful highway that begins at La Sabana and goes all the way to the Central Pacific beaches. This highway has put the ocean less than 90 minutes away!
Santa Ana is a great place to live as it offers a warm, dry climate year-round and is near the CIMA Hospital and Medical Tower (a state-of-the-art facility ), Multiplaza---Costa Rica's largest mall---the Intercontinental Hotel, Marriott Courtyard, the modern Plaza Roble and Forum office complexes and so much more.
Here again you will find a good mixture of Costa Ricans and foreigners enjoying life to the fullest in one of Costa Rica's favorite neighborhoods. Downtown Santa Ana, however, retains its local small-town flavor and is very much like the majority of small towns in Costa Rica, with a church opposite a park and a soccer field at the center of town. Santa Ana also has an interesting variety of restaurants, including a great Tex-Mex restaurant and some small boutique hotels nearby including Hotel Alta, which we highly approve of and which also has an excellent restaurant. Definitely a booming area as the city grows towards the west.
Ciudad Cariari/San Antonio de Belen:
Known more commonly as Cariari, and located approximately five miles northwest of San Jose, this neighborhood has as its centerpiece the Cariari Country Club and its beautiful golf course. Located just off the highway from Juan Santamaria International Airport, you can find fancy hotels including Melia Cariari, Herradura and the Residencias de Golf, as well as great restaurants and the American International School. This is a great high-end neighborhood. Just across the highway is Real Cariari----a major shopping mall with a great kids' carousel inside. Just to the west of Cariari is San Antonio de Belen. More commonly known as Belen, this generally laid-back town has experienced rapid growth since INTEL's huge microprocessor plant opened. You can also find a variety of housing available here in all price ranges as well as the luxurious San Jose Marriott Hotel.
These towns are on the outskirts of San Jose and offer all the green areas and views Costa Rica is famous for, with all the local flavor. There is a variety of housing options from inexpensive simple homes to multi-million dollar mansions. There is definitely something for everyone here. Heredia is nice and cool and as you go higher up the mountains in areas such as El Castillo, you will find the beautiful La Condesa Hotel and several upscale residential developments, San Rafael and Barva. This area is located 25 to 30 minutes from San Jose and offers a beautiful rural environment with plenty of homes and lots available.
Alajuela is the second-largest city in Costa Rica, located about 30 minutes out of San Jose and home to Costa Rica's major airport. As you pass the airport and head east past downtown Alajuela, you will very quickly encounter the real feel of Costa Rica with lots of coffee farms, an oxcart or two, horses and many green areas and spectacular views. Again, plenty of homes and lots are available for every budget and taste. As in most of Costa Rica, outside of gated developments and a few neighborhoods, you will find housing varies greatly with expensive homes often built near more-modest residences and nobody seems to mind.
Do expats tend to buy or rent their homes?
Most expats who come to work tend to rent a home. But many expats, especially North Americans who retire in Costa Rica, buy their own house.
Typically, will I be required to pay additional money up front (such as a deposit) before moving into leased housing? If so, how much is common?
Most landlords require a deposit equivalent to one month’s rent for an unfurnished house or apartment and two months' rent for a furnished one.
Are utilities generally included in the price of rent, or are they extra?
Typically, utilities are not included in the price of rent. In some cases, when you rent a furnished apartment or house, they will offer utilities such as cable, water or building maintenance fees.
Are there special security concerns I should be aware of in regards to my home or choice of neighborhood?
There are many condos and apartments that have 24-hour security at the entrance. It is recommended that you choose these types of dwellings. If you can't, it is recommended that you install an alarm system in your home.
I’m not sure if I should bring my appliances. What is the electric current, Hz and plug shape in your city?
The standard current is 110 volts, 60 Hertz. The shape of the plugs is either Type A flat blade or Type B flat blade with a round grounding pin.
Do you have any other accommodation information that might help me?
Please contact the Crown Relocations office in San Jose for further information and recommendations.
Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.