I first came to Costa Rica in 1995 to do something different. I had enrolled to study Spanish for a month at CPI Language School in San Joaquin de Flores, on the outskirts of the city of Heredia. My Tico “father” (I was in a home-stay/school situation as part of the language program) would go to Heredia every Saturday to shop at the huge Feria (Farmers’ Market). That was my first contact with this wonderful city. As the years passed, the thought of possibly retiring to Costa Rica became more of a reachable goal.
Heredia is the city in which I am now living. It is a city of about 43,000 people and growing, due to the increase in clean industry such as HP and the Amazon call center located in the area. The city is only 10 kms from the capital city of San Jose. I take the bus there often.
Heredia is also the name of the canton (county) and the city of Heredia is one of the five administrative divisions that comprise the canton. Heredia is actually the name of one of the founders of the area back in the late 1700s. Many people call Heredia the “City of Flowers” (Ciudad de Flores). Tour guides often tell people it’s called that because of all the beautiful flowers that grow here. The truth is that the name comes from the prominent de Flores family, a wealthy and influential family who settled here. One of the Costa Rica’s earlier presidents was a de Flores and the original de Flores house still sits on the edge of the central park.
I have been to Costa Rica five times and I love it all. The most difficult decision for those interested in settling or retiring here is where to live; it’s all good, as they say. It’s always a matter of personal taste. But as for me, I was already familiar with this city and have some Tico friends in the area. I did not want to live in a “gringo enclave” but with Ticos so that I could attempt to master this language and delve into the rich culture. As a single person I love to be around other people, so city life is just great for me.
I start each day with an hour walk through the city, noticing something new each day. I love to eat at the little sodas and read the paper in the parks. This is a great city as it is small and manageable for walking. I do not have a car as of yet and the walking is great exercise for me. If you are into shopping, which I am not, there is the huge Paseo de Flores Mall just outside of town. The city is also home to 4 major Tico universities including the Universidad Nacional, so there are always plenty of young people around and lots of different restaurants to appeal to their eclectic tastes.
I have just received my residency cedula and am a member of the health care system (Caja) and have found a doctor and dentist that I like very much. The Hospital de Heredia is just two years old and is a beautiful and cheerful looking place. Now a days, the famers’s feria that I used to visit with my first family is located all along the expansive street, not far from the hospital. I go each Saturday to get the most wonderful fruits and veggies as well as eggs, fish, chicken and all that you could possibly want.
I found a brand new apartment complex of just 8 units that is on the west side of the city and has a tremendous view of the south mountains. I can see Santa Ana from my bedroom balcony. I am the only gringo living here and my immediate neighbors are a young couple who are physicians in the public health system. I could not have found a better place. The view is worth the rent! Here are my first month’s expenses for the apartment:
- Rent: $750
- Electricity: $45
- Water: $6
- TV & Internet: $60
So I will continue to grow into the city here, even as I continue to explore other parts of this wonderful country. I also hope to visit other Central American countries now that I am settled here in Costa Rica and can use this as my center from which to branch out and explore.”