For those North Americans looking at retirement in Costa Rica, many have seen Alajuela’s Occidente at the better choice because location, weather and what many consider being the lowest Cost of living in Costa Rica, in terms of populated areas.
Alajuela’s “Occidente” main 4 cities/towns are; Grecia, Naranjo, Palmares and San Ramon. The area has always attracted the “gringos”, North Americans, because of what is considered the best weather in the Americas, its proximity to everything you want; airport, Alaljuela city and San Jose and the Central Pacific beaches.
Because of this, many expats have chosen the Occidente to retire, invest, start a business, or to live part time.
Grecia Alajuela Costa Rica located in the center of the country, 20 km northwest of the city of Alajuela, and only about 20 minutes from the airport. Grecia specializes in growing sugar cane, coffee, strawberry and different kinds of orchids. After the Second World War, a group of producers of sugarcane and coffee, built a mill to help develop a sugar cooperative becoming the first in the country and in Central America to do so.
Grecia has become a popular expat town because of its proximity to all the popular amenities, such as Price Club, Wal-Mart, airport, and all that the city of Alajuela has to offer.
Naranjo is the capital city of the canton of Naranjo in the province of Alajuela in Costa Rica. The district of Naranjo only covers an area of 25 km², and has a population of 19,760.
At an elevation of 1,043 meters above sea level, like the rest of Occidente the weather is near perfect spring like conditions, warm in the day, cooler at night. Naranjo is only 30 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital city of Alajuela, and 45 kilometers from the capital city of San Jose. Perfect weather, rolling Colinas or mountain tops proximity and access draws expats and Costa Ricans alike that want to be close to everything, including San Jose but far enough away to be “out of the city”.
Palmares like San Ramon is right on the Pan Am highway (Inter-America Highway), only 30 minutes from Alajuela city and the airport. Palmaers is only 5 minutes from San Ramon and many consider them one. Downtown locations are selling well in Palmares San Ramon, most not staying on the market too long. This is primarily due to fact that both Palmares and San Ramon is only 40 minutes from the airport and the industrial zones around the airport, so many business and individuals see the growing community of Palmares and San Ramon and surrounding area as an ideal alternative to the much higher prices in Alaljuela city and San Jose.
Many expats that originally moved to popular expat destinations in the Central Valley, such as Escazu, Santa Ana, and Heredia have found that the cost of living increasing dramatically in the past few years, and more and more are opting to move a little further out of the main city to areas like the Occidente because of the much lower costs and as well safety.
In popular places like Escazu and Heredia it is hard to find a safe, secure 3 bedroom condo rental is for under $900, compared to the Occidente which tend to be around the $500 per month mark. And food prices, especially fruits and vegetables are significantly less expensive because the abundant agriculture in the Occidente.
In summary, the Occidente has what is considered the best weather in Costa Rica, proximity, access, beauty, lower cost of living and also culture and community. This has lead Alajuela’s Occidente to become one of the fastest growing areas in Costa Rica for North America expats, looking for their piece of paradise.
The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
San Jose Costa Rica