Relocation Hotspot: Santa Ana
Noted for its verdant mountains and constant breezes, Santa Ana is one of the Central Valley’s top suburbs for expats who desire a blend of city and nature. Located just ten minutes west of bustling Escazu and 15 minutes from downtown San Jose, Santa Ana has experienced considerable commercial growth in the last five years. Affectionately called the Valley of the Sun, Santa Ana is celebrated for its warm, dry weather, abundance of outdoor activities, and provincial charm.
Santa Ana’s residents are diverse, and housing is designed to meet every need: choose between traditional neighborhoods, country estates, or upscale, gated communities. No matter where you live, you’ll enjoy a high standard of living and access to advanced technologies like high-speed Internet, 3G cell phone coverage, and cable television.
Compared with other San Jose suburbs, Santa Ana’s cost of living is moderate to high. Rents in central neighborhoods start around $450 for a furnished one-bedroom rental, while an unfurnished luxury home can easily surpass $2,500 per month. However, Santa Ana residents readily agree that the extra cost is worth it: the municipality is ranked as the country’s second best, thanks to efficient use of taxes and some of Costa Rica’s best public services.
Public transportation to and from Santa Ana is convenient and inexpensive. Every few minutes, buses head west toward Ciudad Colon, while eastbound stops include Escazu, Rohrmoser, Sabana, and downtown San Jose. Commuters take advantage of the urban train that connects nearby Rohrmoser to San Jose’s eastern suburbs. Additionally, the new Caldera Highway provides fast access to the Pacific Coast – drive from Santa Ana to Puntarenas in about 70 minutes.
Santa Ana’s greatest draws are its beautiful weather and spectacular landscape that beckon residents to spend time outdoors. The area is considered San Jose’s horse country, and several equestrian centers and small ranches dot the countryside. The most notable is La Carana Equestrian Club, which offers boarding, lessons and clinics and hosts a variety of events and competitions for jumping, dressage and endurance. Santa Ana is also home to the championship 18-hole Valle del Sol golf course, a public facility that hosts weekly social tournaments.
When the sun goes down, residents enjoy the area’s spectacular restaurants – Santa Ana and Escazu are home to some of the best in the country. Great nightlife and shopping are only a short drive away at Escazu’s Multiplaza Mall and Plaza Itzkatzu. For fans of the silver screen, Escazu’s new 3-D IMAX movie theater – the most advanced and impressive in Costa Rica – is just ten minutes away. For everyday goods, bargain hunters head to Escazu’s Pricemart, a local warehouse store similar to Sam’s Club or Costco. Upscale imported goods are available at Santa Ana’s Auto Mercado, a local supermarket that carries organic foods, fines wines, artisan cheeses, and hard-to-find food items.
Families with children appreciate Santa Ana for its convenient access to some of Costa Rica’s top schools. The metropolitan region is filled with excellent public, magnet, and private schools. Several private schools offer bilingual or English-only classes and are located within a few miles of Santa Ana. Expats tend to favor the Marian Baker School (San Ramon de Tres Rios), Pan-American School (San Antonio de Belen), the Blue Valley School (Escazu) and the Country Day School (Escazu). The Colegio Humboldt in Rohrmoser offers classes in English, Spanish and German, while downtown San Jose’s Liceo Franco Costarricense teaches classes in Spanish and French. Additionally, San Jose’s British School offers an English-only curriculum and a highly regarded International Baccalaureate (IB) program.
Santa Ana has many pharmacies, medical clinics, and private practices to address yearly check-ups and everyday problems. When more serious care is needed, most residents head to Escazu’s CIMA Hospital, a private facility with state-of-the-art technology and a highly trained bilingual staff.