Chinatown in San Jose, Costa Rica
Chinatown in San Jose, Costa Rica
Chinatown in San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose, Costa Rica

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Feb 11, 2022

Summary: Costa Rica's capital city, San Jose, has a population of close to 350,000 but it not a major destination for expats and other foreigners, who prefer The Central Valley (which covers a large area surrounding San Jose), coastal towns and the Lake Arenal area. Most foreigners who end up moving to San Jose are here to work. They enjoy the climate (temperatures are in the 70's to low-80s year round), the family-oriented culture, the low cost of living and that they feel welcomed by the locals. The challenges of living in San Jose include traffic, crime and pollution.

International Relocation Guide
International Relocation Guide
International Relocation Guide
International Relocation Guide

What do I need to know about living in San Jose?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to San Jose, they said:

"Come and see for yourself before you make a commitment to moving here. There is a lot of hype about Costa Rica being a paradise, a cheap place to live or retire, and a safe place because it eliminated its army in 1948. The reality is that San Jose has a high crime rate, the iron grates on all of the houses and businesses can be off-putting - as can the security guards with loaded riffles - and it isn't a cheap place to live. Food, utilities and rent in certain areas of the city are quite high especially for a developing nation. Other issues in San Jose: air pollution from cars is pretty bad; noise pollution gets on your nerves after a while; it isn't safe to walk outside in the late evening or night; the streets, sidewalks and highways are in terrible shape; and government monopolies make it near impossible to get a cell phone and makes renting cars super-expensive because of the mandatory insurance. People must visit and spend a few weeks talking to people before deciding to move here," mentioned another expat in San Jose.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 8 Best Places to Live in Croatia and the Living in Mexico Guide. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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