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Living in Guanacaste - Getting better every year.
Everyone has his or her opinion about the Guanacaste region and that's fine, I understand that it is not for everyone. Having said that, I would like to enlighten others about my personal experience living here, as a permanent resident, for over three years.
I've heard and read many things about this area that simply are not true. Some comments make me laugh and some make me wonder if the person has ever visited the area where I live. Common remarks are:
- It's very expensive to buy property in Guanacaste and it's only for the rich.
- The beaches are very crowded.
- The cost of living is too expensive.
- The roads are full of potholes.
- There are no essential services located in close proximity.
First of all, I purchased my home three years ago for just over US$125,000. I completely remodeled the home, which cost approximately US$60K more. Not too bad considering that I live in a community, which is approximately a ten-minute walk to some of the best beaches in the area. Which ones? Bahia de los Pirates, Playa Minas, Puerto Viejo (Pacific Coast) and Playa Conchal.
Never heard of these magnificent beaches?
That is precisely what I love about where I live. Current prices? Well, in this same area, currently, there are lots starting at US$40,000 and condos starting at around US$95,000
Crowded beaches? See the above photographs for an explanation of number two. Except for the major holidays of Navidad, Año Nuevo and Semana Santa, the beaches mentioned above, are pretty much empty. Playa Conchal is the only one that consistently has people visiting.
However, that is kind of expected when you have a golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. located on the grounds of Reserva Conchal. But even so, you can still find secluded spots to enjoy alone, depending on the time of year.
The cost of living here will depend on the individual, just like anywhere in Costa Rica. If you buy your imported foods from an upscale supermarket like Auto Mercado, you will pay the same as the Auto Mercado in Escazu. If you get your seafood from the many mariscos (seafood) trucks in the area, your veggies and fruits from the feria (street market) and meats from a local butcher, you can save money.
My wife's mother lives in Naranjo, her one Aunt in Curridabat and another in Sarapiqui. What we've discovered is the prices are basically the same for the common goods like rice, beans and other typical products. Imported items are a premium anywhere in the country.
The roads? Well, It's hard to explain the difference of the road conditions now compared to only a few years ago. I can only say this: it went from very bad to very good. We now have asphalt roads, marked with divider lines and reflectors that are a great help when driving at night.
The roads also have new signs that help guide you to your destination. These signs did not exist only a few years ago. Incredible! Many roads that were dirt roads are now paved and many more paving projects are scheduled for 2009/2010.
Finally, let's talk about services. Grocery stores have gone from the local "mini-super", to now having the option of Auto Mercado, Don Fernando, Mega Super, Super Compro and the independent, Super del Pacifico.
The Tamarindo airport has several daily flights to the Central Valley area, provided by Sansa or Nature Air. High speed Internet, cable TV, SKY, telephone landlines and cell coverage, all exist in our area too! Imagine that?
We have several 24hr medical clinics in the area and Hospital CIMA and Clinica Biblica are both in the early stages of developing sites in the Liberia area. If you want the professionals from CIMA, it may not be a problem.
Check with your doctor because there are several specialists from different fields, which visit the areas on a monthly basis. This makes routine visits very convenient. Several major law firms, banks, construction companies and other San Jose based businesses have opened satellite offices in Guanacaste, which makes living here even more convenient.
This is a true life experience of someone living in Guanacaste... Are there expensive properties? Yes! Just like anywhere. Are there some beaches that are crowed? Yes, don't go there if you don't want to. There are options. Is the cost of living higher? Could be, depending on how you live.
Are the roads full of potholes? No, the connector roads between the major destinations are newly paved, marked with signs and lined with reflectors for night driving. Are there any major services in Guanacaste? Yes, but I suggest each person decide what is important to him or her and do some research on the area you are most interested in to confirm the availability of these services.
As mentioned previously; the Guanacaste region isn't for everyone, but for my family and I, I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be right now so if you have ever dreamed about living near the beach in Costa Rica and would like to see some attractive real estate opportunities, drop us a line.
Written by Keith Clower, husband of our Recommended Realtor Becky Clower who was born in Chicago, grew up in Buffalo, NY and graduated from Arizona State University. Rebecca is fluent in Spanish, thanks to her mother who is "Tica."
If you would like more information about Costa Rica real estate 'deals' in this area, please contact Becky Clower by using the simple email form below: