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Costa Rica's Central Valley's Still Top Choice for Most

By David Boddiger, Staff
Tico Times

March 22, 2002

Home to the bustling capital of San Jose, Costa Rica's Central Valley is still the most popular place to live, for both Ticos and foreigners alike. Home to some 70 percent of Costa Rica's population, the Central Valley - more a plateau than a valley – lies between the agriculture center of San Ramon to the west and the historic city of Cartago to the east.

The Central Valley is outlined to the north and east by the Central Mountain Range, which offers a breathtaking view of the Poas and  Irazu volcanoes. Equally impressive is the north end of the Talamanca Mountains to the south. Coffee trees still adorn parts of the landscape, reminding residents daily of the crop and its importance in the lives of many Costa Ricans.

The Valley's mild climate, ranging from 65 lo 85 degrees F, is conducive to growing almost any type of flora.

To better enjoy this connection with natural beauty, more and more residents are heading out of San Jose, leaving behind tense traffic and disgusting pollution.

"The metropolitan center is saturated. People are changing their minds and migrating to the east and west, where life is better and more secure," said real estate broker Edwin Sanchez.

Twenty minutes west of San Jose lies Escazu, once a sleepy country area and now the most popular residential community. Its main attractions are its remmants once a sleepy country area and now of rural charm, its near-perfect climate, its unique blend of laid-back sophistication and ongoing commercial development, including the massive Mall Multiplaza. Good restaurants, nightlife and numerous opportunities for sports and recreation are added values.

Just west of Escazu lies Santa Ana, currently the fastest growing community after Escazu. Further west lies the increasingly popular Ciudad Colon.

According to Marilyn Henderson, co-owner of Carico Real Estate in San Jose, although the two communities are growing, there are still plenty of bargains to be found. As Escazu becomes increasingly crowded, people are beginning to shy away from buying property there, which has caused real-estate prices to level off after a couple of flat years.

Other popular areas northwest of San Jose include the affordable Heredia hills (with homes at $50,000 and up) and the upscale San Antonio de Belen, comparable in price to Escazu. Both are within easy access of shopping malls, schools and quality services, including a short drive to Juan Santamaria International Airport.

Prices for these areas can range anywhere from $30 to $200 per square meter. Discounts can often be negotiated for purchases of larger parcels. Land in Escazu generally begins at $100 per square meter. Homes range from $150,000 to $300,000.

To the east of the capital, the climate is generally cooler, but still quite agreeable. On the eastern border of the Central Valley, Cartago and Turrialba are peaceful and relaxing, but generally not popular because of their distance from the capital and the fact that general supporting facilities are not exceptional.

The Orosi Valley is beautiful, but also relatively far from the capital. A decent house with land can be found there for $150,000. Houses in Cartago are less expensive, $40,000 and up.

Nearer to the capital and more popular are the communities of Pinares, Fresas, Alta Monte. Lomas de Ayarco (north and south), San Ramon de Tres Rios, Sabanilla, Santo Domingo de Heredia and Curridabat. Depending on size and location, prices range from $50 to $100 per square meter.

Both west and east of San Jose, residents are a pleasant mix of Ticos and foreigners. Investors have followed the migration of residents, constructing numerous condominiums, especially in Escazu and Santo Domingo de Heredia. Condos can cost between S100,000 and $400,000. According to Sanchez, many people are attracted to condos because they offer high security.

Future development plans are bound to attract even more people. Another Multiplaza will soon be built in the San Jose suburb of Zapote, near an already-existing Price Smart shopping center.

The Central Valley also has many high-quality bilingual schools.

As people continue selling and moving outward from the metropolitan area, their houses are increasingly being used as office space. This is a growing phenomenon in Los Yoses. Barrio Escalante, Dent, Francisco Peralta and Barrio Turnon - all good locations for those looking to open an office in a structure originally built for living.

Copyright ©2002 The Tico Times. All rights reserved.

Note: The above information is not to be used for any other purpose other than private study, research, criticism or review. Thank you.

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