Costa Rica

Researching life in Costa Rica (22 November 2005 - 10 January 2006)

San Jose


Just like Panama, a messy place.

San Jose is in a valley. There are pockets of new developments embedded in an overall mostly low-class urban sprawl. These new developments are not native, but mostly imported (American, European, .. ) and feel rather unnatural to me.

Temperature-wise, San Jose is actually cold in winter time, ie. november-march (something like 15 degrees Celsius is nothing uncommon for instance during the night and it has reportedly gone down as far as 5 degrees Celsius), especially if you’re staying higher up in the hills. The clouds can easily cover the top of the hills. But then people tell me that it’s actually colder in the summer (not sure I got this right) ! So you really wanna be at the beach or down in the valley or have airco/heating.

Where to stay ?

To find a place to stay I drove around San Jose, Escazu, Santa Ana and Heredia. It’s pretty hard to get a grasp of the map because there’s a lot of hills, Hence it’s easy to miss nice spots or newly developed properties. However, I do think that I have a decent idea of housing options since I used CraigsList, ForSaleByOwner (on the web), local newspapers (Tico Times, La Nacion), suggestions from locals, walked into condos/buildings with external advertisements. Here are some of the options I found:

  • good looking appartments (I wasn’t able to check them) furnished, with swimming pool for $300 weekly and $900 monthly (no lease, but a deposit of one week or one month)
  • furnished one bedroom appartment in new building in escazu, close (still need a car) to shops/bars, pool, balcony with great view, diy (do-it-yourself) wifi: offered to me for $1000 on a one year lease, then found someone to have it for $800/month on a one year lease, and finally found it through someone else who was willing to rent it for $700/month on a 6 month lease but with only limited furnishings !
  • furnished one bedroom appartment with no view in 5-10 yrs old building in gated area in escazu, close to shops/bars, pool with great view, diy wifi: $750/month on a one year lease, or $850/month for a 2 month lease
  • furnished one bedroom appartment with no view in 5-10 yrs old building in escazu, close to shops/bars, no pool, no view, diy wifi: $650/month on a one year lease
  • room in well-kept aparthotel La Sabana in sabana norte (middle-class neighbourhood very close to san jose), close to shops/bars, breakfast, no view, private bathroom, pool, wifi: $1560/month + tax
  • somewhat run-down, funky hotel called Hemingway Inn in colonial part of san jose, close to shops/bars, breakfast, private bathroom, no pool, no view, wifi: $840/month + tax
  • one bedroom appartment in more than 10 yrs old building in middle/lower-class part of san jose, not so close to shops/bars, no pool, no view, diy wifi: $350/month, no lease
  • a room for $120/week in a sort of do-it-yourself aparthotel called Hotel California in escazu up in the hills with a great view (see pict below), really quiet, furnished, wifi, large yard, private bathroom but with shared kitchen and living. The only real snag is that it feels more like being on a farm (note that there’s no glass in the windows so that the wind may easily chill you), so absolutely no class. See picts below.


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