Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: 2015 Marchamo on a 15 year old SUV (yearly Car registration and insurance combined)—$220
It’s six in the morning and I’m watching a flock of parrots land in one of the many almond trees outside my house. They disappear behind thick leaves, squawking their way through the branches.
I just moved into our new rental: one rich with dense landscaping and vegetation. Even though it’s only ten minutes from our previous home, it’s remarkably cooler. The almond trees battle back the sun’s rays allowing only a few to pass onto my terrace. When I open all the sliding glass doors, a breeze sweeps through the house carrying the smell of tropical flowers and fruit trees into my living room.
This brings me to Costa Rica weather which can vary greatly. You can experience an extreme example of this when driving up into the mountains. The temperature can drop as much as thirty degrees the higher you go. Trees begin to change as well: palms turn into evergreens, tropical flowers turn into thick shrubs. When my husband and I lived in Grecia, we frequently went on scooter rides to the tippy-tip of the mountain just to see the different plants.
You can easily enjoy moderate temperatures at higher elevations in places such as Grecia, San Ramon, Naranjo, and Sarchi. 75 degrees is the magic number, a temperature that makes your joints jump for joy. Cracking knees are lubricated again, achy neck pain starts to disappear. This explains why so many retirees relocate there, anticipating a life with less arthritic pain. It also makes for great sleeping weather.
Costa Rica Weather: Mountains
When writing Happier Than A Billionaire: The Costa Rica Escape Manual, it was important to include many different places one can live in Costa Rica. Each is unique with its own microclimate and different types of animals. For example, when we lived in Grecia our home backed up to a national forest. My husband insisted that we had a strange animal living in our backyard. Since I’m one who appreciates wildlife and never wants to intrude on their environment, I chased the critter for months—stalking it like paparazzi—to eventually uncover that it was a squirrel without a tail. In years to come, future generations will ponder why the fruitcase in Costa Rica took one thousand pictures of a moderately misshapen squirrel.
Although Grecia had moderate temperatures and cockeyed animals, it also brought a ton of rain during the green season (May through November). If you are looking to avoid this, then your best bet is to head over to Guanacaste.
Costa Rica Weather: Guanacaste
Guanacaste is the driest part of the country. The good news is that there are rarely mudslides or disasters caused by extreme rain, the bad news is that with less rain comes drought-like conditions.
But heavens it is beautiful here. Beaches lure you to paddle out and snorkel in hidden coves, and the sound of the surf will entice you to rock in a hammock for the better half of a day. You’ll rarely see anyone wear a watch since time is just a suggestion: rarely cared about, positively unenforceable in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica Weather: The Caribbean
If humidity doesn’t bother you, check out the Caribbean side of the country. Its turquoise water makes it a dream for the right expat. Without huge hotels, this side of the country feels like one big jungle. It gets much more rain than Guanacaste, but the sound of it passing through the canopy of the rainforest could be the most potent antidote for stress. It’s impossible not to fall into a blissful catatonic state during these midday showers. Everything in life feels a little sweeter after you visit the Caribbean coast.
Costa Rica Weather: Arenal
Arenal is an interesting place in regards to weather. You can have incredible storms lasting for weeks. Roads wash away and people begin to wonder if they should build an ark. Then a moment later the rain stops and you’ll have weeks of sunshine. This starts to makes sense once you’ve visited Arenal Volcano. It’s the boss of this territory: a presence so majestic it seems fitting that this area has two extreme weather patterns.
You can’t help but feel as if this volcano and its energy controls everything in the sky, much like Zeus did while standing on top of Mount Olympus. When lightening crashes to the ground and thunder erupts overhead, it’s almost as if the volcano is punishing the area. But just as quickly as these storms begin the rains stops, blue skies emerge, and a rainbow appears across the lake. Arenal can be kind as frequently as it can be cruel. It’s all worth it once you start exploring the amazing ecosystem that surrounds the volcano. There is nothing like it in the world and it’s fun to get a glimpse of what this planet looked like millions of years ago.
So where does this leave you when considering moving to Costa Rica? It’s difficult to pick an area when each provides something different. As I wrote the road trip chapters in The Costa Rica Escape Manual, it made me want to explore even more places. From Dominical to the Osa Peninsula, each new town and each change in temperature felt like a new adventure.
Searching for your perfect weather is just half of the fun. The quest will likely take you up a mountain and down to the shore. The other half of the journey will be the people you meet living high on a ridge in Grecia or in a beach house surrounded by almond trees.
There is happiness at every temperature, especially if it includes a cross-breeze.