Relocation Hotspot: Naranjo
Imagine a quaint village surrounded by rolling hills laden with coffee plants: this is Naranjo, a small town (population: 35,000) just 30 miles from the capital city of San Jose.
Situated in the Espirito Santo Hills of Costa Rica's Central Valley, Naranjo sits 3,400 feet above sea level and enjoys mild temperatures (70º F average) year-round. Though best known for its java production, Naranjo is more than just a coffee town: four major rivers drain into the region, yielding some of the Central Valley's most fertile land. In fact, the town earned its name, which means "orange tree," from the citrus groves decorating the countryside. Since the first settlers arrived in 1830, Naranjo has been an agricultural hub for a variety of crops including corn, coffee, plantains, sugar cane, tapioca, rice, and tobacco.
Downtown Naranjo is quaint with basic amenities; you'll find several grocery stores, pharmacies, gyms, a central market, public park, and clothing stores in the town's center. Public transportation is reliable, and buses depart for San Jose, Alajuela, San Ramon, Sarchi and other nearby towns every 20-60 minutes. Residents have access to most major amenities, like high-speed Internet and cable television. For specialized services or nightlife, San Jose is just a short car or bus ride away.
Fill your daytime hours with outdoor explorations of Naranjo and its surrounds. The village is located three miles from Sarchi, eight miles from Zarcero, and nine miles from Grecia, affording residents plenty of day trip options. Go shopping for handmade furniture and crafts in Sarchi, meander through Zarcero's famous topiaries, or rappel down Grecia's Los Chorros Waterfalls. Both Penas Blancas Wildlife Refuge and Juan Castro Blanco National Park are nearby, and local hiking trails reach as far as the Pacific town of Jaco.
Despite its beautiful weather, peaceful atmosphere, and enviable location, Naranjo remains affordable for relocation. Costa Rican-style homes in the downtown area are a steal: less than $100,000 will purchase a 3-bedroom, 2-bath property. Small, gated communities on the outskirts of town boast larger lots and incredible views. Properties range from $200,000-$300,000 for custom-built homes made to North American standards. House rentals cost between $250-$1,000 per month depending on size, location and amenities.
Naranjo expats have access to medical care through the Caja's local clinic, and Central Valley hospitals in San Ramon, Alajuela and San Jose. CIMA Hospital, a state-of-the-art private medical center, is just 30 minutes away by car. For those with young children, there are several private schools in the area, including the bilingual Colegio Bilingue San Ramon, Sun Light School (San Ramon), Green Valley School (Atenas), and the Colegio Bilingue San Agustin (Palmares).