I get lists of question from time to time due from people who want to move to Costa Rica. I wrote Vickey back and answered her questions, but I have taken the liberty to post the interchange here to my blog. I think that some of the readers of this blog will find it helpful.
I have interspersed some answers below.
I would like to get some advice from you.
When we visit CR how much time should we take to visit the Uvita area to see where we would like to live?
My initial visit to Costa Rica was for 3 weeks. From that I chose this area. I then lived in the area for 11 months prior to purchasing. Since it seems that you have already selected the Uvita area, you are miles ahead. When you get here, we can get together and do some serious consulting. This usually involves breakfast and/or lunch, a few cups of coffee and some serious talk talk, so that I can get a good understanding of what it is you are looking for. I will then do my best to familiarize you with the zone and where I think its all going. Then we’ll go out and put our feet on some of the properties. This frequently has the effect of helping to define the strategy.
Are there other areas between San Jose and Uvita that we should visit to get a good feel for CR?
That is a tough question to answer since the Dominical / Uvita area is so unique to the country. The other areas between San Jose and Uvita are either inland along the Panamerican Highway, or they are along the coast to the north of us. The coastal highway passes through Jaco, Quepos, Manuel Antonio, and numerous developments all along the way. What makes our area unique is the mountains come down to the sea. Also, we are one of the last areas of the country to get developed, so there is still that wonderfully jungly feel around these parts.
Coming down the Panamerican to San Isidro, and then over to Dominical and down to Uvita involves driving over the Cerro de la Muerte which is a stunningly gorgeous area, but it is HIGH and cold. So the areas along this route between San Jose and San Isidro are WAY different than what you might be looking for, if your choice of Uvita as a nesting spot is any indicator of your preferences.
Coming down the coast and through Jaco and Quepos/Manuel Antonio, you’ll pass through areas that are hugely popular with expatriots. You just might want to do that route and see what you think. Jaco is super developed with malls and a definite festive feel. Manuel Antonio of being (arguably) the number one tourist destination in Costa Rica. So again, if your selection of Uvita as where you might like to live is any indicator of what you’re looking for, I suspect that you’ll find these areas to be too U.S.-like.
Are there “good” and “bad” areas to live like in the U.S.?
Not really, but around San Jose yes.
How can we get info on the area itself since we are not looking for tourist info but rather living info?
I’d humbly have to direct you to read up on my site Domincal.biz. The forum there is full of information, although lately it has fallen into a bit of a slump, largely due to me being distracted with real estate. But I think that you’ll find the information to be useful to you.
How did you come to live in the area?
Please check out my story at: http://www.dominical.biz/about.htm
Is there a good source to get a detailed map of the area?
There is a map being made as we speak by the local equivalent of the chamber of commerce. It isn’t in print yet though.
What is the average cost of breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
The sodas, which are where you get the typical Costa Rican cuisine, offer up a great breakfast for around 1,500 colones, which is just under $3.00 at the moment. With coffee and juice, you’re probably around $3.25 for breakfast. Lunch will run you around 2,500 colones or a little over $4.00. There are getting to be some nice places to eat in the Dominical to Ojochal area. I love La Parcela, and Exotica, neither of which I have well represented on my site yet. But this letter is going to motivate me to get them posted. There is also a very nice Italian restaurant in Dominical. You can check them out by clicking here.
Also there is a good Thai restaurant in Dominical, but it also isn’t yet listed on the site.
How can we find someone to give us a Tico’s tour of the area rather than a tourist’s tour so we can see the area where we want to move?
I don’t honestly know. I think that you’ll find our initial consultation to be enlightening though. Perhaps from there we’ll have a better idea of how best to proceed. Do you speak Spanish?
While looking at your website we have fallen in love with the “lushness” of the area especially the water features on the properties. My husband is excited as he misses his native country of the Philippines.
Are there certain areas that are less developed and therefore better “deals”?
Yes definitely. The area between Dominical and Uvita has been, for the most part, bought up. There is a the occasional lot there. We’re seeing more and more condos and beach view villas going in in that zone. Its getting pricey. Uvita still has some decent choices, but they are going fast. South of Uvita in Ojochal and further south is where there is a lot of wide open space and wilderness with some excellent values. Large parcels of land (3 – 4 acres) with ocean views for around $200,000, all utilities included.
Are there areas you highly suggest and ones we should shy away from?
These is so personal that I’ll know more after we talk a bit. Not trying to be evasive, but there is no area in my zone here that I would caution you against. It boils down to what flavor do you like? Chocolate or vanilla?
Do you suggest that we subscribe to a newspaper? If so, which one? Online are there any or can we get one sent to us?
You should also join the number one newsgroup for Costa Rica expats. You can get to it by going to Costa Rica Living Yahoo! newsgroup.
Muchas gracias. (Is that correct for this closing?)