Relocation Hotspot: Grecia
Grecia, rated the cleanest city in Central America, offers residents mountain landscapes, friendly neighbors and provincial charm. The Central Valley town, located just 45 minutes from San Jose, centers around the Cathedral de la Mercedes, a brick-red metal church imported from Belgium that features a unique gingerbread trim.
The town sits 3,000 feet above sea level, so warm days and cool nights are the norm and average temperatures range from 67º- 82º F. If you drive just two or three miles into the surrounding mountains, you'll find expansive views – some even reach the Pacific Ocean – and several upscale developments and popular expat neighborhoods. You'll also experience cooler temperatures – ideal if your dream is to wear short sleeves by day and snuggle beneath a blanket at night.
One of Grecia's top draws is its affordable real estate market, which despite worldwide economic challenges has remained stable. If you're new to the area, a modest two-bedroom house including Internet, TV, electricity and phone averages about $600 per month. A furnished one-bedroom cottage can run as little as $375 a month. If you're ready to settle down, Grecia makes it easy to stretch your dollar: $165,000 will purchase a nice, three-bedroom home on less than an acre, while a larger budget affords luxurious details, ample acreage and, if desired, gated community living.
Though Grecia is a mid-sized city (population 16,000), it doesn't lack in creature comforts. The town has four modern grocery stores and many smaller markets sprinkled throughout the town and rural suburbs. The weekly farmers' market is considered one of the best in the region, with an array of fresh produce, local meats, delicious pastries and artisan cheeses at very affordable prices. Two nearby malls provide plenty of shopping, and movie theaters with 3-D screens.
As the sun goes down, Grecia comes alive – restaurants, cafes and bars dot the downtown. International cuisine is popular here, while small Costa Rica diners and roasted chicken restaurants also flourish. Most weekends promise some sort of live entertainment, and rock & roll cover bands perform at least once a month in local bars.
Nature lovers will find no shortage of things to do in Grecia. Hike through Bosque del Nino (Children's Forest), located in San Isidro de Grecia, where wildlife watching is superb. Five local trails meander up the mountains, leading you the back way to Poas Volcano. Or, take a day trip to Los Chorros Waterfalls, where hiking trails lead to a a beautiful river and scenic falls.
As an expat in Grecia, you'll have access to all the amenities. Public water, electricity and telephone are available everywhere, and most of the town and its suburbs have access to high-speed Internet and cable television. Public healthcare is administered through the local Ebais, and plenty of private clinics are also available to attend your medical needs. CIMA Hospital, one of the country's most modern, is located just 35 minutes from town and offers bilingual medical professionals and state-of-the-art technologies. And residents with children enjoy access to one of the country's top rated public bilingual schools.