A number of pretty country towns not far from Alajuela and the international airport have become very popular with expatriates. Located within 20 kilometers of Alajuela – the main city serving the area – the communities of Atenas, La Garita, and Grecia have seen substantial increases in land prices, reflecting the rising demand.

Atenas is located on the highway that currently serves as the Central Valley’s main connection to the Central Pacific. About a 25-minute drive from the international airport and close to a large city with all requisite services, Atenas also boasts a cool, breezy climate that is wooing beach lovers away from the relentless sun. It is a popular place for both retirees and the younger generation. Developers are building gated communities within a short distance of the town center, and there are wonderful views of the area’s mountains and valleys.

The other advantage Atenas has from an investor’s point of view is that it will be one of the communities easily reached from the new highway. This could be helping to bolster land prices in the area. The town itself doesn’t have much in the way of variety. It’s a traditional farming town with all the basic necessities plus a farmer’s market on Fridays. For imported goods, clothes and goods for the home, it’s a better bet to head for Alajuela, which has a large shopping mall, or go a little further to Escazú.

The expatriates living in Atenas are generally from the U.S. or Canada, though you do come across Europeans as well. Only a handful of gated communities have been established to date, but more are on the way, and it seems to be an increasingly popular choice for security reasons. Quite a few smaller, Tico-style homes are also on the market, and further outside town many farms are for sale that might be good for development.

The cost of living in this area is lower than Escazú, but mainly because life is simpler and there are fewer options. Good restaurants are hard to come by, and the ones you do encounter are mainly local – rather than international – cuisine.

While that’s good for the pocketbook, it’s charm may wear thin for those looking for a more fast-paced lifestyle. This is rural living, and you have to be ready for it. 

Properties in Central Valley

Daniel prop


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