Northern Costa Rica

Northern Costa Rica’s crown jewel is the Arenal Volcano, an active volcano that trickles lava and smoke almost constantly, giving the landscape a variety of mystery found nowhere else in the country. Here, the four medieval elements are found in abundance: fire from the volcano, water from Lake Arenal, fresh air thanks to the work of the rain forest, and rich soil from the volcanic ash that blanketed the ground since the volcano’s last big eruption in 1968.

For those not interested in the ocean, or who want to avoid the heat and prices of the Pacific coast with a rural life away from the traffic of the Central Valley, Northern Costa Rica – particularly around the visually stunning lake and volcano – is a great choice for either a vacation home or a permanent residence.

Verdant rainforest blankets the hills in a chaotic tangle of vines, canopy, and aerials. Beneath it, delicate flowers bloom at various times of year, swaying in the slightest breeze. Countless species of animals dwell in this wilderness. The majestic cloud forest of Monteverde is an important ecosystem whose inhabitants are being threatened by climate change. Other parts of the area consist of endless cattle pastures demarcated by fence lines. Further north, on the flatlands, lie the fruit plantations.

Lake Arenal – really a man-made reservoir – is a vital economic and scenic landmark, stretching out across 85.5 square kilometers to the West of the volcano. When the Costa Rican Electricity Institute flooded the valley, the government moved the towns of Arenal and Tronodera to new locations. The water in the reservoir is now used to generate hydroelectric power for much of Costa Rica, as well as for export to Nicaragua.

Although Arenal Volcano is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Costa Rica, the real estate market in this part of the country remains more subdued than in the Central Valley and the Central and Northwest Pacific coasts. The town of Fortuna, which lies directly beneath the volcano, has quite a few small hotels, and many larger luxury hotels can be found on the road toward to lake that wraps around the volcano. The famous Tabacon Hot Springs are found in this area, as are many other, smaller hotspring spas, all heated by the volcano.

Demand for housing is higher around the lake, especially near the town of Nuevo Arenal. Bargains can still be found, but as is the case with most of Costa Rica, prices are increasing. Though this region covers a wide area, the real estate market remains concentrated in this small area around the lake, a bit more building taking place around the city of Tilarán. There is talk of some interest developing around the town of San Isidro, but the area has a lot of room to grow. For the time being, buyers are focusing more on investment in farming endeavors such as ornamental plant nurseries.


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