Tucked at the foot of a steep and wooded hillside, Montezuma is a lively but quaint tourist town. Unlike almost every other beach town on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, Montezuma faces east, which allows residents to enjoy the sunrise rather than the sunset.

The town really got its start as a popular hippy hangout. During those times, the place was jokingly referred to as Montefuma – monte being the Tico colloquial word for marijuana and fumar being the Spanish verb “to smoke.” Those days, while not entirely over, have certainly past their former glory. The hippy crowd has given way to a more sophisticated profile of tourist and resident – possibly the very same clientelle as before, but grown up. They now have money and children, so they’re looking for a more  comfortable lifestyle that’s nevertheless off the beaten track.

The change seems to have resulted in a thriving little town that’s popular with families who have imagination and a sense of adventure and would be frustrated in Tamarindo or Jacó. The economy has come to rely heavily on tourism and increasingly on real estate. Some beautiful houses and villas are under construction on the cliff tops that ring the town and offer fabulous views of the coastline. Condominium projects are also now starting up, according to Tropisphere, a real estate company in the area at the time of research.

The same company notes that (at the time of research) there are very few nice houses available. It seems most of the real estate action at this point is in raw land rather than houses, and about half of the transactions are still first time sales by Ticos, rather than foreigners selling to foreigners.

The real estate market has been slower to take off in Montezuma compared with Santa Teresa and Malpais, which have always been popular with surfers with a little cash to spare for a home. The pace has lately picked up, however, and is likely to accelerate as visitors to the town appear to perhaps have more in the bank than before.

The ocean, as always, is an attraction for expatriates, and it’s here where Montezuma’s difference with its neighboring markets is most pronounced: Montezuma doesn’t have any surfing beaches. The sea is usually calmer than in Malpaís and Santa Teresa, and therefore more attractive to families. As with many other places in Costa Rica, many more families are moving to the area to relocate permanently, a fact reflected by a new demand for schooling in the area (see below.) Montezuma is also attracting the first wave of baby boomers, a group that will probably keep demand for property in the area high during the next few years.

Montezuema’s community is an interesting mix of Ticos, North Americans, Germans, Italians, Swiss, and other Europeans. Most expatriates moving permanently to Montezuma work in real estate or construction, or run tourism businesses. Despite its size, Montezuma has some wonderful restaurants thanks to the European and hippy influences. 

The town doesn’t offer many services like banks or grocery stores. However, the town does have an organic vegetable market once a week, and Cóbano – with its banks, supermarkets, and high-speed internet, is just 7 km up the hill. For shopping and going to the movies, you’ll need to either hop the ferry to Puntarenas or Jacó or, better yet, go to Tambor to catch a flight to San José. Construction supplies can be found in Cóbano or Paquera, though as in other coastal areas you’ll probably want to ship in your finishings from either San José or North America.

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