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Retiring in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Why So Many Retirees Are Flocking to this Region of Costa Rica

On the northwest coast of Costa Rica lies the province of Guanacaste. Nicaragua borders it to the north, and it stretches south along the Nicoya. Known as the "Gold Coast," Guanacaste beckons visitors to explore its rich culture and numerous beautiful beaches.

Guanacaste is fast becoming a haven for many retirees, as its dry, flat plains blend tropical dry forests and distant mountains to create landscapes resembling African savannas and the American "Wild West." Guanacaste is a beautiful place suitable for most people with its wildlife reserves and national parks. It is known for its sugarcane and beef production. But above all, the jewel in Guanacaste’s crown are its miles of pristine beaches.

Origin of the name Guanacaste

The province is named after Costa Rica's national tree, the Guanacaste. The tree is abundant in the region, easily spotted because of its enormous size and arching, spherical crown of leaves. The tree produces seed pods, and some locals boil or roast the ripe seeds, which are edible. In Guanacaste, women use the seeds for jewelry.

Guanacaste is a ranching area, and the cowboys are very fond of the tree which provides them with plenty of shade on the hot savannahs. Likewise, the cowboys still hold rodeos every weekend night between February and April.

Reasons why so many want to retire in Guanacaste

Many desire to retire in Guanacaste because the region offers space and tranquility. In addition, life's pace is slower in Guanacaste. As a result, it's a place where you can spend more time socializing and interacting with people. The residents are helpful and friendly, and the expat community is like a close-knit family.

Moreover, the province allows you to be with nature every day, which heightens a sense of well-being. But Guanacaste also has several towns and cities if you want a taste of an urban lifestyle now and then. The towns have everything you need, from a great education system to modern infrastructure. You can find malls, restaurants, supermarkets, and other modern conveniences in many locations. Moreover, you can access excellent healthcare facilities in most cities.

Proximity to the International Airport

Conveniently, the Daniel Oduber International Airport (Liberia International Airport, or LIR), one of Costa Rica's two international airports, is located in Guanacaste's capital, Liberia. From the airport, most of the best beaches and resorts in the region are less than one hour away.  There are numerous direct flights from Canada, the United States, Europe and Central and South America.  Big carriers such as KLM, United, American, Southwest, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines all fly directly into LIR.

Northern Guanacaste’s Wonderful Climate

Guanacaste is one of the favorite destinations of retirees and vacationers because of its superb climate. The weather is warm and dry for most of the year, making the area desirable to pensioners who want to escape cold and wet weather conditions. Even during the rainy season, it does not rain every day.

There are seven provinces in Costa Rica, and among these, Guanacaste is the driest and warmest. Most of the region is covered with tropical dry forests, protected parklands, and open pasture.

Amazing Beaches

There are about 300 beaches all over Costa Rica, and over 65 of them are in Guanacaste. Some of them are in remote locations; others are accessed easily. Some are isolated and remote; others have restaurants and nightlife nearby. There are calm beaches and surfing beaches, beaches with black sand and others with white sand. You can choose the beach that you prefer!

If you prefer to be part of the expat beach communities and look for real estate in Guanacaste, check out the available properties in the most popular areas within the Gold Coast region, especially Papagayo.  In this area you will find Playa del Coco, Playa Hermosa, Playa Panama, Matapalo and Ocotal.  Each beach community has its own personality and flavor.  And, although the communities are near the beach, you'll still enjoy many modern conveniences, good infrastructure, and business opportunities.

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean in Guanacaste

Quality of Life and Lifestyle

The lifestyle in the province is very conducive to retirees. Most residents prefer a calm and tranquil lifestyle. Since they are retired, they want to enjoy their life in a more relaxed, laid-back way. They want to go back to the way things were before, where they are more carefree and enjoy the simple things in life, like walking barefoot, getting drenched by a gentle rain, enjoying good company, good food, and drinks while watching the sunset over the Pacific or waiting for the sun to rise. People who come to live in Guanacaste can live their lives as tranquil as they want, or they can enjoy a more active lifestyle and take part in many land and water-based activities the region offers throughout the year.

Low Cost of Living

Grocery store foods in GuanacasteAnother thing that attracts the attention of retirees to Guanacaste is the cost of living. Of course, it always depends on the lifestyle a person wishes to lead.  If you insist on having the exact same food brands (Kelloggs, Nestle, Yoplait etc.) you may find your grocery bill as high or higher than you are paying now in your home country.  However, if you take advantage of local products and the amazing variety of tropical fruits and vegetables you can live on considerably less money.  Most expats buy their fruits and veggies at the local farmers market and buy a few of their favorite brands at the larger super markets (such as AutoMercado or Luperon).  In this way they keep the grocery bill down and still enjoy a wide variety of foods.  If you plan to visit Costa Rica let us know and we'll be happy to fill you in on the best places to buy anything you need.

If you decide to rent a home for a while you will find that there are a few cheap places to rent away from town. However, we recommend staying near one of the major towns such as Playa del Coco or Playa Hermosa within a gated community or secure condo complex.  Costa Rica is a very safe place to live but petty theft is common so it's always best to have a place you can feel comfortable leaving empty while you travel around the country.

If you are staying for an extended period of time you may wish to consider purchasing a condo.  Many come to Costa Rica on a vacation and end up purchasing a vacation home they can use for annual family vacations and rent out during the rest of the year to help make the payments while they are out of country.  There are several good quality property management companies that can help you rent your property and keep it well maintained.

Cost of Buying a Home

If you're moving to Costa Rica and interested in real estate in Guanacaste, the price range varies, again, depending on the location. For example, if you want to settle in Playas del Coco, a two-bedroom, two-bathroom property with an ocean view will cost significantly more than a similar home in a more tropical, mountain view setting.  You also have the option to buy a lot and build a house. Building a home can be cheaper depending on the style and finish you choose but you will have to wait a while to enjoy your new home.  There are usually some great "ready to move in" options available for reasonable prices - just check with your Tres Amigos real estate agent for the latest listings and opportunities.

These are just a few of the reasons why many come to Guanacaste to live out their golden years. Aside from the lower cost of living, the lifestyle in the province is enviable. You can either have a relaxed, laid-back lifestyle or enjoy a more active and adventurous lifestyle. Of course, you can even do both! Whatever you want to do, one thing is sure: Guanacaste is an excellent destination to enjoy your retirement!