Living in Costa Rica is the dream of many. For here is where you swap your snow skis for blue skies, your snowboard for a surfboard, and your ice-scraper for sunglasses. And so, you’re off and down the rabbit hole, searching out the best places to live in Costa Rica with a family.
Because moving with kids? That’s its own ballgame. While you may not be worried about pensions or specialized hospitals, you are worried about international schools, extracurriculars, and your kids’ quality of life. You don’t just want your family to survive a move to Costa Rica from the USA; you want to flourish here.
And that brings you to right now: you’re considering not just Costa Rica, but Guanacaste. Probably the Tamarindo area. Because you’ve heard great things. The beaches are great. And the lifestyle – well, it fits your dream to a T. So now you’re wondering, could this be it? We say it could. Here’s why:
Reason #1: Year-Round Near-Perfect Weather
Think about family life in summer vs. winter. If you’re thinking about a move to Costa Rica from the USA, chances are, you’re not at your happiest when you’re shoveling snow or even jumping into leaf piles. You love the spring and summer months.
And if that’s the case, then you’ll love your family life here. There’s one major, warm, and very sunny reason why Guanacaste is considered one of the best places to live in Costa Rica with a family: the weather here is nearly perfect. In addition to year-round temperatures in the 80s and 90s (about 26-35º C), our privileged province is drier than the rest of Costa Rica. So, while much of the country splashes its way through 7+ months of rain a year, we have a shorter rainy season AND our rainy season days aren’t quite as rainy.
And that means more time to live, dine, and play outdoors. Every day of the year.
Reason #2: The Great Outdoors
As parents, we know how hard it can be to keep our kids engaged in family life (especially as they mature from little kids into big kids, tweens, and teens).
It’s a little easier when you can tempt them with surfing and ATV rides, stand-up paddle boarding and tropical forest hikes, snorkeling and swimming beneath a waterfall. Here, you’ll play more often. You’ll adventure as a family. You’ll discover new things. You’ll learn incredible new skills and sports. And, if you’re anything like most families, you’ll really field “Can we?! Can we?!” questions, every week, for years to come.
Costa Rica is a natural playground and a sun-splashed wonderland, where you can find a new trail to hike, a new cove to snorkel, a new beach to surf, and a new route to paddle, for every day of the year and for many years. Talk about family memories and quality time together!
Reason #3: Excellent International Schools
Obviously, a quality international education is something very near and dear to our hearts. But we’ll start with this: When you’re looking for the best places to live in Costa Rica with a family, you must also consider the educational offerings.
Because not every town in Costa Rica offers international schools. (Not even a single international school, in many places!) And yet, an international education is likely important to your family.
The benefits of an international education (vs. your standard Costa Rican private school) is that it prepares your children for future success: Whether you plan to raise them fully in Costa Rica or just spend a few years here, whether they go to university in Costa Rica or abroad, whether they plan to live in Costa Rica forever or return to your home country – an international school like CRIA gives them the tools and the options to take any path they choose.
Want to know more? Check out the 9 essential questions to ask when considering international schools in Costa Rica and the 3 essential attributes of an international college preparatory program.
Reason #4: A Multicultural Community and Welcoming Home
You know how some things in life just “click”? Like that perfect friendship – the one that felt like you had been friends forever, even when you’d only recently met – or the exact moment you knew which major to choose or what you wanted to do for the rest of your life… Guanacaste is like that, for a lot of families.
In a country as small as Costa Rica, it’s easy to think that any one place would be similar to any other. And yet, that’s not the case: For as small as we are, Costa Rica’s regions and towns and communities are very different. And Guanacaste is special among them.
Ours is a multicultural tapestry – one we can enjoy, not just for its diversity but for what that diversity brings to our everyday lives. Because it means that we’re immersed in Costa Rican culture – we can shop the local farmer’s market, learn to speak conversational Spanish, and even make friends – while still surrounded by some of the familiar things that make our transition a little easier and more likely for success.
And for our kids, it means being neighbors and schoolmates with kids who have been there, done that. Because sometimes, you just need to talk to someone who has picked up their life and moved abroad, gone to school in a foreign country and forged friendships in new languages. (And sometimes, those kids’ parents need that, too…) You’ll have it, in Guanacaste.
Reason #5: Costa Rica LOVES Kids
This one is more important when your kids are younger, but it remains important as they grow: Costa Ricans love kids. And by that, we don’t mean that they just love to coo at them.
Costa Ricans deeply value family. And when you move to Costa Rica from the USA, this can actually be a stark contrast to how strangers behave back home.
Because Costa Ricans are going to make faces at your baby and try to entertain him when he’s fussy. They’re comfortable with nursing in public and will offer to hold your baby while you’re unloading your basket in the grocery store line. Big kids – even tweens and teens! – hold their parents’ hands in public. They spend lots of time with each other. And they value their entire extended family unit.
And so, as you search out the best places to live in Costa Rica with a family, consider that anywhere and everywhere will be very family oriented. And that may change your family, too. Whereas much of life in the U.S. revolves around running to and fro, ferrying kids from this extracurricular to that, you’ll find that you spend a lot more of your time here just being together. Because that’s the rhythm of family life in Costa Rica.
Reason #6: Raise Citizens of the World
Children who live abroad are children who challenge themselves. Sure, your kids may not have been the sole decision-makers in your choice to move to Costa Rica from the USA, but they definitely are along for the ride.
And that means, they have and will face challenges. Your children will become bilingual. And not just bilingual, but bicultural: They will see the world from a perspective only afforded from the inside looking out. It’s not always easy but it is incredibly rewarding.
Your children will learn to navigate a new hometown, a new school, new friendships, and even new school subjects. And along the way, they will acquire gumption. They will learn about the world. Even as young adults, they will understand more about the world and culture and language and people – people’s similarities, not just their differences – than do most adults. It will change your children, in many good and right ways. It will build character and perspective and persistence.
It will also give them a leg-up on their college admissions.
Interested in learning more about our CRIA family?
We’d love to chat about life in Guanacaste, meet your family, and learn about your journey to researching the best international schools in Costa Rica. We’re happy to answer questions, discuss your options, and help you make an informed decision.