In their September/October 2010 issue, AARP recommended Atenas, Costa Rica as one of the best places to retire abroad. The writer, Barry Golson, gave highlights of all the things one would expect to find in a retirement destination such as location, climate, affordability, safety, and government stability.

In the article Golson says, “It (Costa Rica) is lush with nature, extraordinary wildlife, active volcanoes…as well as such comforting amenities as malls, supermarkets, and restaurants. Retirees have flocked here for years, drawn by its mild climate, its prosperity, its literacy rate, its health care, and significantly, its stable government; with no army. This is as bio-diverse a country as you’ll find anywhere.”

Fast forward five years to November 2015 and you may ask, what has changed about Atenas in the past five years? The answer is that everything has changed, yet nothing has changed. Sounds strange, right?

At the time of the AARP article, Atenas had enjoyed a prosperous 10 year run of popularity as a retirement destination for retirees. That popularity has not waned; it has increased to the point where our inventory of quality properties, both for sale and for rent, remains extremely low. In Atenas, most new construction homes are either sold before they are completed or soon thereafter.

Interestingly enough, one of the unexpected changes has been a shift in the age demographic of those moving to Atenas today.

Atenas remains a huge draw for retirees but a new wave of younger couples and families have made their way to Atenas, finding peace and tranquility in the Costa Rican countryside. Recently I asked one of our younger client families, a family of four, (mother, father, and two children) why they were moving their family to Costa Rica.

Their response was, “We feel that we can give our children an experience and lifestyle that can no longer be found in the United States. We want them to experience real life, not something that is artificially created and spoon feed to them.”

Another big change has been the influx of Costa Rican nationals, both retirees and young families, moving into Atenas from the capital of San Jose, and the town of Heredia. I do not see a direct correlation with this migration and the 2010 AARP article, but what I can say is that a buzz was created about Atenas in that article that permeated the world. There was a big energy shift; a positive energy shift.

The biggest draw for the Costa Rican locals was the opening of the San Jose/Caldera Highway, also known as Highway 27. This new stretch of highway reduced the commute time to San Jose from 60-90 minutes to just 30 minutes, allowing professionals an easy commute to work. In a way, due to this influx of local professionals, Atenas became a ‘bedroom’ community of San Jose.

As one can imagine, with the demand many improvements have come to Atenas. New grocery stores have opened in town with the expansion of the local cooperative, CoopeAtenas, and a brand new Pali. A new gas station opened at the corner of the Radial Atenas and Highway 27. A good variety of new restaurants have opened.

We have a new farmers’ market (Feria), that is under roof where many of the vendors cater to the expat market. We even have a new wine shop that offers a great selection of wine, cheeses, and cured meats.

Several new communities have popped up around town, including Antigua del Valle, a small, boutique community of only six custom built homes. Roads have been paved and repaved, and our town installed a new, much needed water system. We even gained a new technical university campus at the edge of downtown.

With all the popularity within both the local and expat community, another change has occurred with the types of properties that developers are building. Ten years ago, a two bedroom, two bath, pool home of 1500 s.f. was common place and could be purchased for $250,000 to $350,000 depending on its location, amenities, and views. Now, developers are building larger three bedroom, three bath homes with more luxurious finishes and prices starting at around $450,000

However, with all the changes, most of which have been very positive for the local community, there are still a few things, gracias a Díos, or ‘thanks to God’ that have not changed. The people of Atenas are still among the most friendly and welcoming in the world. The stunning views and eternal spring like climate are still some of the biggest attractions.

Atenas’s location, with three major highways running through the town, could not get any better. The rural charm of this small village is something you typically only read about in fairy tales. I can say first hand that after living here full time for eight years, I still have to pinch myself to realize that I am not dreaming. I am truly blessed!

What’s Happened To Atenas, Costa Rica Since It Was Recommended by the AARP in 2010?

What’s Happened To Atenas, Costa Rica Since It Was Recommended by the AARP in 2010?

Article/Property ID Number 5596

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The AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) ranks Atenas as one of “The Best Places to Retire Abroad.”

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