Central Valley

The Central Valley is one of the most popular places for foreigners to live, and is, indeed, the most populated part of the country overall. Its attractiveness comes partly from its lovely, eternal-spring-like climate. But the region also offers the best access to services and infrastructure in the country by far, including top-notch hospitals, an international airport, plenty of shopping, internet and cable connections, and public transportation. In addition to (or, more likely, because of) the preceding, the Central Valley is also the country’s business center. It has a wide rang of free trade zones and office parks, and many multinational corporations have their national or regional headquarters in the Central Valley.

The Central Valley’s relatively high elevation (it averages 1,200 meters) is a major reason for the area’s wonderfully temperate climate. The landscape is extraordinarily varied: there are three active volcanoes located diagonally northeast and smaller mountains to the North and South. Up toward Cartago, to the East, the rolling pasture land and cloud forests are reminiscent of the hills of England, and within a 30-minute drive in almost any direction you can find yourself hiking through rain forest. All this, packed into a 40-60 kilometer radius from San José. What you lack in ocean views is more than compensated for by the climate, varied landscape, and excellent services.

The region covers large urban centers including San José, Cartago, Alajuela, and Heredia; rural villages dotting the hillsides and farmland; and medium-sized towns including Escazú, Santa Ana, Palmares, Naranjo, Turrialba, Grecia, Puriscal, Ciudad Colón, and San Ramón. (Though it’s quite a bit outside the Central Valley, Orotina will be included in this section as well.)

The urban centers of the Central Valley were some of the first to be settled by Europeans seeking new lives from the 17th to the 19th centuries. The area comes as close to being historic as anything you’ll find in Costa Rica, though it pales in comparison to other colonial cities and towns in Latin America. Glimpses of a distinctly Ticoculture are everywhere, with traditional buildings, old fashioned shop signs and rolling fields and hillsides of coffee trees, the source of the magic bean that created the wealth of the Costa Rican aristocracy, including that of the incumbent president, Oscar Arias Sánchez.

The Central Valley – or more specifically, from Cartago west through San José to Santa Ana and Alajuela – is and always has been the focus of the country’s government, business and industry. The supreme courts, the majority of the country’s law firms, congress, the presidential house, the seats of all the ministries, and the headquarters of the major trade and agricultural associations are all located in San José and its surroundings, as are the aforementioned subsidiaries of the many multinational companies that have set up shop in free zones that offer tax benefits to exporters.

About 70% of the country’s 4.1 million population live in this region of the country, working in these companies, factories and government offices. The urban centers of this area are crowded during rush hour with commuters driving, walking, and taking buses to work. Affluent areas such as Escazú and Lindora where the majority of residents commute by car, are bursting at the seams and their roads become parking lots at the slightest delay. Urban sprawl in many areas around San José is doing away with some of the region’s natural beauty, something that will be discussed in more detail later on.

The Central Valley section of this chapter will cover the main areas of real estate development and split into five major parts: San José and its close suburbs; Heredia; Alajuela; the Atenas area; and outer-lying towns becoming increasingly popular with the opening of the new highway, including Puriscal and Orotina.


Properties in Central Valley

Daniel prop


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