Escazu Costa Rica – What It’s Really Like Living Here

Escazu Costa Rica is a destination that anyone trying to sell you real estate will call “The Beverly Hills of Costa Rica.”  Granted, this is the prime suburb of San Jose and often regarded as one of the best places to live in the Central Valley.  I lived here before moving to adjacent Santa Ana, which is a little less congested for my liking, and today I’ll be sharing my experience about living in Escazu.

If you’re considering Escazu for its real estate opportunities, eager to check out its dining options, or curious about its cultural heritage, this guide provides the insights you need. I’ll discuss the climate, contemporary comforts and the ease of accessing the capital city of San Jose and it’s offerings, all from Escazu’s scenic vantage point in the Central Valley.

What is Escazu Like?

  • Escazú is a historically rich suburb of San Jose, Costa Rica, known for its colonial charm, luxury living, and a blend of local traditions with international influences, making it popular among expats.
  • Residents enjoy a prime location with convenient access to San José’s cultural amenities, set in a varied landscape ideal for nature lovers, with a mix of traditional and modern districts each offering unique appeal.
  • The area provides a high quality of life with luxurious real estate, diverse shopping and dining options, top-notch healthcare, recreational activities including golf, and a temperate climate suitable for year-round living.

Escazú Unveiled: A Glimpse into Costa Rica’s Prestigious Suburb

Situated at the core of Costa Rica, Escazu has a historical tapestry that dates back to its original inhabitants. Once called ‘Iz-Kat-Z’ signifying ‘a place of rest,’ this prized district gained its independence from Santa Ana in 1907 and was later acknowledged as ‘Escaz City’ in 1920. As time progresses, Escazu maintains its colonial charisma with traditional adobe houses and horses roaming the town center, presenting an undeniably quaint atmosphere.

As a hub for cultural convergence, Escazu marries local heritage with global influences seamlessly. The area boasts moderate tropical weather, upscale shopping experiences, varied gastronomic delights, and venerable landmarks within the old town section — factors which collectively attract European and North American expatriates alike. Positioned near San José’s capital city buzz and proximate to the international airport ensures both ease-of-access and practicality for those who settle down in this community.

Escazú’s Prime Location

Nestled within Costa Rica’s Central Valley, Escaz is more than just a region boasting beautiful vistas. Located about 3,645 feet above sea level, this area entices those who appreciate nature with its distinct microclimate and diverse topography. Within an area stretching only 2 miles in radius, the elevation can vary by as much as 2,543 feet—making Escazu not just geographically impressive but also a highly sought-after residential zone within the Central Valley.

Escaz’s charms extend beyond its scenic allure due to its proximity to San José. Residents and visitors alike have quick access to both cultural experiences and modern conveniences including museums, theaters, and gourmet dining options. Whether you are drawn to arts and culture pursuits or delight in indulging your culinary passions—or simply thrive on metropolitan energy—Escazu delivers an ideal blend of city life paired with natural splendor.

The Heart of Luxury: Residential and Lifestyle Highlights

When you step into Escazu, you’re stepping into a world of opulence. This suburban gem is overflowing with high-end dwellings including stately mansions, chic condos, and palatial villas that radiate finesse. In 2020, this bustling pocket was inhabited by roughly 70,054 individuals who enjoy an exceptionally high urbanization rate of 99.3%, accompanied by a nearly equal male-to-female ratio—testaments to its lively and flourishing atmosphere.

Renowned for its luxurious housing landscape, it’s clear why Escazu has been dubbed the ‘Beverly Hills of Costa Rica’. Mirroring the allure and investment appeal of its American counterpart in prestige real estate markets. Here properties are coveted gems. The residents tend to be mostly active within working age brackets contributing to the locale’s refined yet vibrant communal essence. We will now explore deeper into what constitutes Escazu, namely its primary districts – San Rafael, San Antonio, and Escazu Centro.

San Rafael de Escazú: Modernity Meets Elegance

In the district of San Rafael de Escazu, contemporary chic is seamlessly blended with sophistication, situated just a short distance from its equally captivating counterpart, San Miguel de Escazu. The area boasts an international flair brought to life by the substantial community of English-speaking expatriates. San Rafael is located higher up the mountain in a more tranquil, peaceful area that offers unparalleled views.

house in san rafael de escazu
Here’s a house high on the mountain in San Rafael.

San Antonio de Escazú: Tradition and Scenic Outlooks

Tucked within the expanse of the San José metropolitan area, San Antonio de Escazu stands as a beacon of cultural history. This suburb boasts a harmonious blend of picturesque vistas and time-honored traditions that provide insight into its rich past. Notably, an architecturally magnificent church takes center stage in this district, symbolizing the deep historical roots woven through its fabric.

Enter the quaint township of San Antonio de Escazu located within San José Province to experience a living snapshot of yesteryear.

Escazú Centro: The Historical Core

The central district of Escazu, known as Escazu Centro, serves as the cultural and historical nexus of the suburb. It presents a distinctive combination of traditional charm and contemporary energy. Here, one can find buildings with colonial architectural designs that evoke times gone by. At its core lies the Central Plaza surrounded by classic adobe structures and magnificent churches which stand as monuments to the area’s deep-rooted history.

Traces of Escazu’s beginnings as a modest indigenous community are evident in various forms.

  • The regional artwork
  • The prevailing Spanish colonial impact on urban design
  • Age-old adobe residences
  • Majestic ecclesiastical establishments
  • Charming local districts

Thus, Escaz Centro embodies an authentic reflection of this region’s historical journey.

Retail Therapy: Shopping Destinations in Escazú

In Escazu, shopping aficionados will find themselves spoiled for choice with an array of retail havens catering to all tastes. Multiplaza Escazu stands out as Costa Rica’s premier mall, celebrated for its selection of high-end shops, a diverse food court, multiple movie theaters and well-maintained facilities. Shoppers can explore a variety of international retailers including Zara, Tommy Hilfiger and H&M or enjoy conveniences such as complimentary valet parking service, play areas for kids and essential services including pharmacies and banks.

Multiplaza Escazu
The Multiplaza is a very modern shopping experience.

For those seeking refined shopping coupled with gastronomic delights should venture over to Avenida Escazu. This location boasts not only fine dining options and vibrant fresh food markets, but also promotes leisurely strolls amongst the shops. Beyond indulgent in retail therapy at luxury boutiques, you’ll also discover entertainment features like a 3D cinema experience while weekend events crafted for families alongside kid-friendly venues establish Avenida Escazu as more than just another mall—it’s a comprehensive leisure destination suitable for visitors across all age groups.

Escazú’s Dining Scene

Gastronomy lovers will find Escazu to be a hotspot of delicious culinary offerings. This Costa Rican suburb offers an impressive variety of global flavors, including:

  • Indian
  • Japanese
  • Italian
  • Mexican
  • French

Visitors can indulge in the local ‘tico’ cuisine, which represents traditional Costa Rican fare.

Noteworthy restaurants such as The Market and Pimento provide American and Italian specialties respectively, while diners seeking Latin fusion or a range of seafood delights may head over to Porto 8 or Product C.

Escazu’s dining landscape features everything from sleek modern cafés and grills to quaint bistros and classic restaurants that fuse international flair with hometown charm. As evening sets in, Escazu boasts an eclectic mix of sophisticated bars alongside timeless pubs — perfect for those looking for nightlife activities or simply wanting to mingle. The cost of enjoying a meal out in Escazu varies greatly. No matter if you’re saving pennies or feeling extravagant, there are bound to be options available for every taste and budget.

Wellness and Recreation in Escazú

In Escazu, those looking to enrich their well-being and engage in recreational activities will find an array of options suited for both the active individual and those in pursuit of relaxation. The community prides itself on accommodating a diverse range of interests. Dominating the scene for premier healthcare services is Hospital CIMA, situated within Escazu—widely acknowledged as a pioneer in medical tourism internationally. Its modern infrastructure combined with top-notch patient care positions it as an ideal choice not only for local residents but also for global visitors seeking superior medical attention. By keeping pace with contemporary scientific developments and technology, Hospital CIMA ensures that every patient receives tailored treatment plans while providing smooth service coordination amidst its advanced facilities supported by proficient bilingual personnel—a testament to why it stands out within the health sector.

What sets apart Escaz’s approach to wellness isn’t solely its excellent healthcare offerings. There is much more beyond them. For example, at one particular country club located here you can indulge your love for golf on a lavish 18-hole course among other high-end amenities available onsite. Such exclusive features contribute immensely to the refined lifestyle experienced by dwellers of this upscale region—underscoring why Escaz is synonymous with luxury living standards across various aspects including recreation.

Golf and Country Clubs: Exclusive Leisure

In Escazu, those with a penchant for golf will find some of Costa Rica’s most elite golf and country clubs where they can unwind in opulence while mingling with others. Los Reyes Country Club stands out with its superior clubhouse facilities, featuring a meticulously designed 9-hole course by Robertson Ward & Associates. For those who don’t mind traveling slightly beyond the Escaz borders, the Parque Valle del Sol extends an invitation to enjoy their 18-hole layout conceived by renowned designer Tracy May, at rates approximately $67.  This is where I gathered with my expatriate friends for a great round of golf.  It’s fantastic during the dry season and is a challenging course.

parque valle del sol
I’ve played over 1,000 rounds here. Great course!

The Costa Rica Country Club has been serving its members since 1940. It boasts an exclusive 9-hole golf course which enriches the selection available within this area for avid golfers looking to indulge in their passion.

Fitness and Health: State-of-the-Art Facilities

In Escazu, prioritizing health and wellness is part of the local culture. This suburban area offers cutting-edge workout amenities, providing its residents every opportunity to maintain their fitness and well-being. Adults can find a fitness club membership that aligns with their financial plan since monthly fees vary from 15,000 to 60,000 Costa Rican colonies (CRC), catering to all economic situations.

Adventure Awaits: Activities and Natural Wonders Near Escazú

Escazu is a haven for those with a thirst for exploration, serving as a gateway to an abundance of outdoor pursuits and breathtaking wonders. The alluring Cerro Pico Blanco sits near Escazu, providing stunning vistas over the Central Valley that captivate nature lovers. Adventurers are best advised to scale Pico Blanco between December and April when the skies are clearer, taking the eastern path up and descending via the western route. Although there aren’t extensive clearings at its summit for wide-ranging photographic opportunities, travelers can indulge in beautiful views over San Jose’s valley during their climb.

From this area you can always take a trip to places like Manuel Antonio National Park and numerous coastal spots with comprehensive amenities alongside transportation services on offer. Whether engaging in birdwatching adventures or horseback riding experiences or even delving into local coffee plantation tours, you aren’t far from the action.

Escazú’s Rich Heritage and Arts

The suburban area of Escazu seamlessly melds the allure of historical charm with the energy of contemporary life. Referred to endearingly as ‘Ciudad de las Brujas’ or ‘City of Witches,’ this nickname nods to its alluring past filled with fascinating legends and mythical entities like Tulevieja and Zárate. So intertwined is Escazu’s history with these myths that a witch riding a broomstick graces the municipal seal in Escazu Centro, celebrating beliefs and narratives dating back to the 1600s.

The cultural heritage in Escazu blooms annually during ‘Dia del Boyero’, where locals immerse themselves in festivities including colorfully adorned ox carts and youngsters dressed in traditional wear who gather at San Antonio’s church to honor their legacy. For those interested in sampling flavors from Escazu/s agrarian traditions, stopping by ferias or local markets becomes essential. There you can discover an array of farm-fresh goods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, meats, and seafood – reflecting the rich agricultural tapestry still present today.

Living in Escazú: A Comprehensive Guide

Living in Escazu means embracing a lifestyle that is not just about prestige, but also comfort, luxury, and cultural richness. Here’s what you can expect to pay for apartments in Escazu.

  • Buying an apartment in the heart of the city will cost around 83,455.32 CRC per square foot.
  • For those looking to purchase outside the central area, it’s approximately 58,379.25 CRC per square foot.
  • Renting a one-bedroom apartment within the city center typically falls between 350,000 and 650,000 CRC monthly.
  • If opting for something similar beyond the downtown area, rents range from 280,000 to 650,000 CRC monthly.
  • A family seeking a three-bedroom space would spend close to 81017001CRC each month if living centrally.
  • The same size accommodation on the outskirts averages at about less than this amount being precise -71716474CRC.

In terms of utilities for an average-sized dwelling, here costs are anywhere between the minimum figure or maximum figure depending on usage. When considering borrowing purchasing property, the annual interest rate averaged over twenty years fixed-term mortgage stands still at pretty steady value given after-tax net income statistics available which shows median personal earnings region residents tend to find their financial status well-suited to the demands associated with residing there.

What I Liked About Living in Escazu

For starters, there is no shortage of housing options.  From lower end, to ultra luxury, you’ll see it all here.  I’ve rented small condos when I was in my housing search and all came fully furnished and allowed me to live the digital nomad life.  There’s also a TON of places to eat, drink, and sip some great Costa Rican coffee.  This is the city where a lot of expatriates choose to live in, as it offers a quick journey (although traffic can be chaotic during rush hour) to San Jose, where most of the business takes place, and it also allows you to have some familiarity with like-minded people who call this city home.  Most people choose Escazu for safety reasons, as nearby cities such as Pavas and Rohrmoser can get a little sketchy.  Typically it’s safe to live in Escazu, but of course, there are bad apples everywhere so keep your head on a swivel.

I also liked the fact that my money went much further for services when compared to the United States.  My weekly maid was $100 and she cared for my son, staying over at the house 5 nights each week.  I had a gardener for $25 who came every Saturday and kept the property pristine.  The Internet was never an issue, and there was a decent enough lineup of American television programming, even in the early 2000’s.  If I needed something, Multiplaza Mall was close. Plaza Itskatzu was close.  Food comes in every type of cuisine you could expect – literally every type is represented here so you won’t have to travel far no matter what you like.

What I Didn’t Like About Living in Escazu

I ended up moving to nearby Santa Ana, just down the road minutes outside of town.  I felt it was more spread out and laid back, almost country-esque, compared to the bustling Escazu.  The cool thing was I could get to Escazu in minutes, yet avoid the crazy traffic every day if I wasn’t headed that way.  I’ll say this – I hated the Escazu traffic.  There are two main roads in and out of town and they are clobbered with traffic no matter when you are driving.  In the rainy season it’s pure chaos driving around town.  Rush hour?  Forget it.  It can take 30-40 minutes to go 6 kilometers sometimes.

santa ana costa rica
I moved to nearby Santa Ana to Alto Las Palomas and enjoyed it much better.

The food prices are out of control. It’s like living in Miami at times unless you resort to eating local Costa Rican food, which I don’t mind, but if you want Americana, be ready to spend money.  Hooters costs about twice what it does in the USA, for example.  Also, there’s a lot of old money in this area, so you will meet a lot of 1% earners who got money handed down from their families and they can be very snobby and anti-American.  It’s not everyone, but a lot of the local rich people can be just awful.  I usually kept my head down and stayed at the establishments that the Americans and other foreigners hung out at to avoid them, but if you are at a nice restaurant, playing golf, or at the bank, you will run into them.  Again, it’s not everyone, but it’s a well known issue in this area by all foreign residents.  This is a weird topic because overall I find Costa Ricans to be very nice people, some of the nicest people in the world, in fact, but the entitled, especially the younger ones, are very arrogant at times.

Escazú’s Climate and Best Times to Visit

Escazu features a climate that is welcoming for living throughout the year, with its distinct dry season spanning from December to April and wet season from May through November. If engaging in activities suited to warmer weather is your preference, consider visiting Escazu between early December and the end of March. Temperature in Escazu fluctuates between 63°F during nighttime and 85°F when it’s day, while humidity peaks in October but hits its lowest mark come March.

Hence, no matter if you have an affinity for sunny days or cherish rainy moments, Escazu provides it all!  If you are looking for a quick stay to check it out, here’s my hotel recommendations in Escazu.

Summary

Escazu is a unique blend of historical charm and contemporary conveniences, catering to various interests with its opulent homes, dynamic food scene, health-focused activities, and an array of natural and cultural attractions. This locality transcends the ordinary suburban experience by offering a way of life that integrates tradition with modern amenities. For those in pursuit of an environment enriched with past narratives yet abundant in present-day luxuries within a lively society, Escazu extends a warm welcome.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Escazú Costa Rica known for?

Costa Rica’s Escazu is famed as an upscale neighborhood that boasts lavish residences equipped with contemporary comforts. It sits conveniently near the allure of unspoiled nature as well as urban advantages, and it hosts elite shopping and gastronomic establishments, featuring the nation’s inaugural IMAX cinema.

What does Escazú mean in English?

Escazu means “resting stone” in English, derived from the indigenous word “Izt-kat-zu.”

It’s also known as “Little America” by some in the expat community.

How far is Escazú Costa Rica from airport?

Located approximately 15 minutes from San Jose and half an hour from the SJO international airport, Escazu is situated at a distance of 11 kilometers or 18.9 kilometers when measured along roads.

For those traveling without a car, reaching Escazu from the airport can best be achieved using a combination of bus and taxi services. This journey typically takes about 33 minutes and has an associated cost ranging between $17 to $23.

How far is Escazú from the beach?

Options like Puntarenas and Jaco, which are situated to the west, serve as the closest beaches to Escazu, each about a 3-hour drive away.

What makes Escazú a desirable place to live?

Escazu, esteemed for its fusion of quaint allure and contemporary amenities along with a deep-rooted historical context, boasts an energetic culinary landscape, opulent living spaces, as well as health and leisure activities. Situated near San José, it also delights residents with breathtaking views.

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About 

Tim Schmidt is a 20+ year Entrepreneur and Digital Marketer. A Fort Lauderdale-based "Digital Nomad," he enjoys traveling as much as possible with family and friends. AllWorld is his escape to document all of his adventures, including being a hardcore "foodie." He has property in Costa Rica and visits several times each year and is happy to offer his expert advice for planning your trip.

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