Relocation Hotspot: The Orosi Valley
Surrounded by evergreen mountains, natural hot springs, and a town known only as “Paradise,” the Orosi Valley is a picturesque place to call home. In addition to its scenery, the verdant valley boasts cool year-round temperatures, affordable real estate and a taste of authentic Costa Rican culture, along with attractions steeped in history.
The mid-sized towns of Ujarras and Orosi host most valley residents, but smaller communities dot the countryside. Real estate offerings are scattered throughout the valley, where even city life is affordable: a quaint two-bedroom home can be purchased for under $75,000, while $200,000 buys a four-bedroom house with spectacular views built to North American standards. If you plan to build your dream home, lots can be found for less than $20,000 per acre. Due to the low cost of labor, construction costs are affordable, hovering around $40-$70 per square foot for a high quality home.
The appeal of living in this emerald valley extends well beyond the wallet. The area has yet to be completely discovered, so the region’s few expat residents are treated not only to Costa Rican life, but to the charm of small town traditions. It is a place where neighbors leave fresh produce on your front porch, or invite you over for a coffee and tortillas served with fresh cheese.
Though the Orosi Valley may seem untouched by time, its location – just five miles from Cartago and 37 miles southeast of San Jose – makes it convenient to city resources. For major purchases, San Jose is less than an hour’s drive away. Valley amenities include grocery stores, hardware stores, restaurants, pharmacies, and public schools while Cartago has a public hospital, a larger selection of banks, and a relatively tame selection of bars and discos. Colegio Miravalle, a small private school located in Cartago, teaches classes in English and Spanish and serves the local community from pre-K through high school.
In the Orosi Valley, much of your free time will be spent enjoying the great outdoors. Temperatures are always pleasant, hovering between 70-80º F during the day and dipping into the 60’s at night. The sights range from cultural to natural – begin your day at one of the country’s oldest churches, and celebrate the sunset while relaxing in the mineral-rich waters at the local hot springs. Or, take a leisurely two-hour bike trip around the scenic Lake Cachi, which is fed by the mighty Reventazon River and home to one of Costa Rica’s largest hydroelectric dams.
The town of Ujarras is famous for its ruins at the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Limpia Concepcion. The story holds that after a passerby spotted the Virgin Mary in a tree, the townspeople built the church between 1681 and 1693 to honor her appearance. The church was almost destroyed by a flood in 1833, and today only the roofless facade, covered in climbing grasses, and well-tended grounds recall its former grandeur. After a walk through the old building, grab your bathing suit and head across the street to the outdoor swimming pool that is popular with the locals.
The town of Orosi is the valley’s crowning jewel. Home to the Iglesia de San Jose Orosi, Costa Rica’s oldest operating church, this small village is one of almost impossible beauty. Take to the hills on a hike through the surrounding trails, which meander by waterfalls and several peaceful swimming holes. Downtown, two public water parks offer your choice of aquatic comfort: cool swimming pools or thermal waters. For full-out pampering, try the area’s luxurious natural hot springs, located at Valle Caliente, a working coffee plantation that houses a lovely hot spring pool.
The nearby Tapanti National Park is one of Costa Rica’s least visited parks, but is well worth the trip. Tapir, brocket deer, falcons and tree frogs join some of the nation’s most iconic animals, including the resplendent quetzal and several species of wildcat. Several trails wind through the park; for a brief intro to the local habitats, choose the Sendero Principal (Main Trail), a 2.5-mile path that begins at the park’s Quebrada Segunda station.
If you’re seeking affordable small town life with proximity to city resources in a beautiful setting, consider one of Costa Rica’s up and coming relocation hotspots, the Orosi Valley.