JPTenor / Alamy
Ashley Harrell
October 23, 2014

The only thing better than traveling to Costa Rica is living here, or at least having a vacation home that you can inhabit for as little or a much time as you’d like. For those who are serious about buying property in Costa Rica, I definitely recommend coming here first and looking around at the different options.

Super upscale types will probably gravitate toward Guanacaste, whether the opulent Papagayo Peninsula or Playa Danta, where an interesting new carless development called Las Catalinas is taking shape. Hippies with tend to prefer Santa Teresa or Malpais on the Nicoya Peninsula, and laid-back beach bums (again, with money) may like a chill spot in Esterillos Este. Oddballs who move to Costa Rica seeking a mountain landscape rather than the beach should check out the hilly, lakeside community of Nuevo Arenal, just a short drive from La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano.  

Malpais/Santa Teresa

There’s a good reason that people like Mel Gibson and Tom Brady have homes here: it’s secluded. Plus, it’s got everything a person could want, and it’s absolutely beautiful. The people who move here are mainly dreamers looking to escape to paradise, and for the most part, they have. The only setbacks are the heat and the dust.   

Playa Danta

The new Las Catalinas development is, in theory, not just another rich people vacation community. The developers have made it clear that they want to integrate interesting local businesses into the 2,000-home project, and to create a carless space where people want to hang out year-round. So far the place has the first paddle boarding shop in the country and a really fun beachfront with a slack-line, swings, live bands, and lots of water toys. From what I can tell, it’s off to a good start.  

Pagapayo Peninsula

This highfalutin finger of land appeals to the kind of person with oh, $30 million in the bank, a willingness to part with a large chunk of it, and an adventurous streak. Golfers, sport fishermen, and country club enthusiasts tend to populate the exclusive mansions on this peninsula, where they zip around each day in golf carts. It’s a nice life, if you can afford it. 

Esterillos Este

This is one of those places you could drive by 20 times and never realize it existed. A veritable no man’s land between the crowded beach towns of Jacó and Manuel Antonio, Esterillos Este is super chill and largely undeveloped. Being there allows people to actually relax, which is sort of the point of a vacation home, right? Build or buy here, and your neighbors will be friendly Gringo surfers who know how to kick back.  

Nuevo Arenal

In this seldom-visited area of the country, community is strong and property values are reasonable. The mountainous landscape and proximity to the Arenal Volcano are big selling points, as are the quaint restaurants and bars within the town. Although the beach is hours away, the enormous lake next door is a pretty good consolation prize. 

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