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San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose: Costa Rica’s Cultural and Business Hub

Most tourists head directly from Costa Rica’s capitol city of San Jose to one of the country’s many rainforests or glorious sandy beaches. However, this metropolitan city has much to offer tourists and residents alike from lively local markets and historical museums to world-class entertainment and international restaurants. Many expats settle in San Jose where they can access first world conveniences and business opportunities yet still enjoy excursions to see the natural beauty of Costa Rica.



The city of San Jose consists of several smaller neighborhoods, called barrios, each of which offer a unique flavor and a wide range of housing options. Where expats decide to live depends largely on whether they plan to own a car, prefer to be in the heart of the city or in the suburbs, and how much they plan to spend on housing.   A few of the well-known barrios are described below:

Barrio Amon


This historic neighborhood is one of the most walkable in San Jose. Barrio Amon has many parks, restaurants, museums, and even an organic weekend market. The neighborhood is emerging as one of the hipper areas of San Jose, but be aware that in can be somewhat unsavory at night with prostitution.



Families looking for a safe neighborhood and a nice single family home take interest in Belen, a Western suburb of San Jose.  It is close to the airport and bordered by two major highways, which makes it a convenient location for those commuting by car.  This neighborhood is considered the best managed in San Jose.  Read more about Belen

Escazu/Santa Ana


The wealthiest locals and expats tend to live in Escazu, a Western suburb with the highest priced real estate in the country. Homes consist generally of high rise condominiums and apartment complexes. The neighborhood is an easy commute to downtown San Jose and boasts high-end international restaurants and shopping.  Read more about Escazu or Santa Ana



This diverse neighborhood houses many university and study abroad students along with single family residences. Homes in the mountainside, where many older expats reside, have views of the city and feel pleasantly removed from development. Heavy traffic into San Jose surrounds Heredia making it less ideal for commuters.  Read more about Heredia

Los Yoses


On the East outskirts of San Jose is Los Yoses, with many nonprofits and embassy headquarters. The neighborhood is quiet and peaceful but is still within walking distance of supermarkets, bus lines, restaurants, and cultural activities.

Rohrmoser/La Sabana


A popular barrio among young twenty and thirty somethings, La Sabana has plenty of hip bars and restaurants interspersed with offices. Young professionals make up most of the neighborhood, which lies in close proximity to downtown and makes it an inexpensive taxi ride for those who prefer to live without a car.  Read more about Rohrmoser

San Pedro


This neighborhood houses the two major universities: Universidad de Costa Rica and Universidad Latina.  Most residents are students or young English teachers who share multiple bedroom homes. Lots of the city’s inexpensive and lively restaurants and bars are in this neighborhood, making it a great place for young people. Popular bus lines take residents all over the city.  Read more about San Pedro



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