Relocation Hotspot: San Ramon
Located less than an hour from San Jose, San Ramon lets you enjoy the best of both worlds: a mountain town boasting a temperate climate and Pacific Ocean views. Nicknamed the City of Presidents and Poets -- five of Costa Rica's presidents and several poets hail from San Ramon -- this relocation hotspot has a unique blend of urban amenities and pastoral countryside.
Home to approximately 60,000, the town enjoys Spring-like weather, with an average temperature of 77º F. If that's not enough to lure you, San Ramon also has a low cost of living. Cable television, high-speed Internet, cell phone coverage, and other public services are available. A bus to outlying towns costs less than 40¢, and the hour-long bus ride into San Jose will run you just $1.
Real estate is a relative steal in San Ramon. One-bedroom, unfurnished apartment rentals can be had for as little as $150 monthly, while a three-bedroom home with ample backyard typically costs less than $400 per month. If you're looking to buy, you'll also find great bargains. Well-kept homes renovated to North American standards are often advertised for less than $100,000.
Surrounded by rolling green hills and coffee plantations, San Ramon's modern amenities and busy downtown belie its idyllic settling. This bustling city is home to a shopping mall, major hospital, banks, a branch of the University of Costa Rica (UCR), a movie theater, and plenty of restaurants. For many expats, the cherry on top of these conveniences is that San Ramon, despite all its modernity, retains its Costa Rican charm and country hospitality.
San Ramon's entertainment focuses around the Mall Plaza Occidente, with its multi-screen theater and upscale stores. For a night out on the town, restaurants offer a range of traditional and exotic fare, while neighborhood bars are the place to watch a soccer game. However, the real entertainment in such a picturesque location is the great outdoors.
Las Musas, San Ramon's most famous waterfall, is located just five minutes from the downtown area. Swimming in the natural pool is a favorite afternoon activity, but do not waterfall jump. Just north of downtown, Los Angeles Cloud Forest has 1,975 acres of primary cloud forest with waterfalls, spectacular viewpoints and great hiking.
Expats in San Ramon often send their children to the area's quality bilingual schools, including the Colegio Bilingue San Ramon and Sun Light School. Both have K-12 programs and classes are held in English and Spanish. The Hospital de San Ramon, part of the public health system, has excellent well and sick care. CIMA Hospital, a popular private hospital, is located less than an hour from San Ramon. Its services include English-language patient care, modern facilities, and cutting-edge medical techniques.
San Ramon's spirit is what attracts residents -- boisterous and fun, its busy downtown is contrasted by gorgeous countryside and a relaxed lifestyle. The expat community includes people from all walks of life, from Americans to Europeans, and college graduates to retirees. And its convenient location -- an hour to San Jose or the Pacific Ocean -- coupled with modern amenities makes this town a must on your short list of Central Valley relocation possibilities.
Expat Spotlight: Christina, Age 26
1) Why did you choose to live in San Ramon?
I was offered a job here and upon arrival, I fell in love with the environment. It's a small Costa Rica town that offers a bit of everything. There is a hospital and health care services as well as plenty of shopping to fit everyone's style. For nature buffs, hiking trails and beautiful scenery can be found within walking distance or a short drive away. My favorite part has to be our central park, where people of all ages gather to skateboard, play music or just pass the time with friends.
2) What are the positive and negative aspects of living in San Ramon?
The positive: there is a bit of everything without the hustle and bustle of big city life. The negative: there is not a huge foreigner presence which makes it difficult at times. If you don't speak Spanish, you should know that not many people here speak English.
3) What's the expat community like there?
The most common expat communities are outside of the town's center. I am not too familiar with these areas other than passing through.
4) What are San Ramon's best neighborhoods for expats?
Well, we don't have neighborhoods per se. However, there are a few communities in the mountains surrounding downtown that are popular with expats. Magallanes is the most well known, but there are smaller places found within La Paz and San Juan.
5) Anything else you want to add about San Ramon?
It is a wonderful place to make a life. I would invite anyone to see the hidden jewels inside this local community and escape from the city long enough to enjoy it all. Also, our farmers' market is one of the best in Costa Rica!
6) Any tips or advice about moving to Costa Rica?
While it is important to make yourself feel at home while living in a foreign country, it is also important to acclimate to the local culture. You chose to live in a new country, so keep in mind that things may work differently than what you are used to back home. Keep your head up and you will soon learn to make it part of your new life.