Costa Rica Expat City Guide

San José, Costa Rica

San José, the capitol city of Costa Rica, is a bustling metropolis situated in the heart of the Central Valley region of the country. Its location at an altitude of 1,160 meters above sea level means that San José enjoys a pleasant climate, with cool breezes and lower humidity levels.  It is a city that seamlessly blends modernity with tradition, and its unique characteristics make it an important location in Central America. The topography of San José is characterized by a mix of flat and hilly areas, with the city situated in a valley surrounded by green hills and mountains. The city’s natural surroundings are a major draw for visitors, with many parks and nature reserves in the vicinity, such as the Braulio Carrillo National Park, Poas Volcano National Park, and La Paz Waterfall Gardens.  

San José is home to numerous top tourist sites, including the National Theater of Costa Rica, the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, and the Jade Museum, all of which offer visitors an opportunity to explore the country’s rich history and culture. The city is also a hub for ecotourism, with many parks and gardens such as the La Sabana Metropolitan Park, the Children’s Museum, and the Simon Bolivar Zoo.  

San José’s economy is largely service-based, with the top industries being tourism, finance, and technology. The people of San José are friendly, welcoming, and proud of their city’s heritage. The majority of the population is Spanish-speaking, but English is widely spoken in many areas of the city, making it a convenient place for English-speaking expats.  

For expats, San José offers a variety of benefits, including a low cost of living, excellent healthcare facilities, and a stable political climate. The city has a growing expat community, with many people from North America and Europe choosing to relocate to the area. The city’s central location in the country also makes it a great base for exploring other parts of Costa Rica.

San José has several popular expat neighborhoods that offer a variety of amenities and attractions. Some of the most popular expat neighborhoods include:

  1. Escazú: This neighborhood is known for its high-end shops, restaurants, and upscale residential areas. It is a popular choice for expats who enjoy a luxurious lifestyle and easy access to amenities.  The neighborhood is also known for the large number of embassies.
  2. Santa Ana: This neighborhood is located to the west of San José and offers a more suburban feel. It has a variety of housing options, including apartments and houses, and is known for its green spaces and outdoor activities.
  3. Nunciatura and Rohrmoser: Rohrmoser is a centrally located neighborhood that is popular with expats who work in San José. It is known for its easy access to public transportation, shopping centers, and restaurants. Many foreign embassies are located in Rohrmoser.
  4. Sabana: Sabana is located near the city center and is known for its large park, Parque La Sabana, which offers a variety of outdoor activities. It is a popular choice for expats who want to be close to the city center but still enjoy outdoor activities.
  5. Heredia: Heredia is a city located just outside of San José and is known for its colonial architecture and beautiful natural scenery. It offers a more relaxed lifestyle compared to San José, making it a popular choice for retirees and families.
  6. Curridabat: Curridabat (“Curri”) is located to the east of San José and is known for its quiet residential areas and proximity to universities. It offers a more affordable cost of living compared to other expat neighborhoods in San José.
  7. Ciudad Colón: Ciudad Colón is a small town located just outside of San José and is known for its quaint streets and historic architecture. It offers a slower pace of life compared to San José, making it a popular choice for retirees and families.

Where is San José?

Map of Costa Rica

What's the climate in San José?

Climate Type: Tropical Monsoon

San José, Costa Rica enjoys a moderate tropical climate with temperatures ranging between 15.5°C (60°F) and 27°C (80°F) throughout the year. The average high temperature in San José is around 24°C (75°F) while the average low temperature is 16°C (61°F). However, temperatures can occasionally drop as low as 12°C (54°F) at night during the cooler months.The hottest months in San José are March and April when the average high temperature can reach up to 27°C (81°F). The coldest months are December and January when the average high temperature can drop to 22°C (72°F).

How do I buy a house in San José?

While Manuel Antonio has a range of housing options — condos and single-family homes available for rent or purchase at various budgets — we believe you should shift your focus when considering life in Costa Rica: buying real estate in Manuel Antonio shouldn’t be your first step!

Investing in Manuel Antonio property can offer fantastic opportunities, especially if you’re seeking residency, however it’s crucial to determine your lifestyle preferences beforehand. Many rush into property purchases only to realize that their decision does not fully meet their real estate needs in Costa Rica once the vacation mentality wears off.

Your Pura Vida operates differently.

We collaborate with a diverse network of trusted realtors in Manuel Antonio and nationwide. Our approach emphasizes exploration without the pressure often associated with realtor relationships.

Our sole priority? Your contentment and sustained enjoyment in the country. When you’re ready to buy or rent a home in Manuel Antonio, we’ve got you covered! When you’re ready, let’s talk.

San José Weather

San José, CR
10:05 am
weather icon 23°C | °F
L: 21° H: 23°
light rain
Precipitation: 0.01 inch
Visibility: 10 km
Sunrise: 5:24 am
Sunset: 6:01 pm

At a Glance

Population: 339,581 (2017 data)

Popular Expat Neighborhoods: Cariari, Curridabat, Desamparados, Escazú, Goicoechea, Paseo Colon, Rohrmoser, Sabana, San  Rafael, Santa Ana, Turrubares, Vasquez de Coronado

Largest Regional City: San José

Vibe: city, urban, shopping hub, commercial

Distance to Nearest International Airport: Juan Santamaria International Airport – 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) – approx. 20 minutes without heavy traffic


Ready to make your dreams in San José come true?

City Lead

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City Lead

We won't sell your information to anyone, promise! Pura vida!