In Costa Rica – one of the world’s most popular expat destinations – the town of Atenas is a favorite place for international living. Find out what makes expats in Atenas, Costa Rica so happy.
Costa Rica is one of the most popular international expat destinations, and has become one of the world’s safest places to visit and to live. This year, Costa Rica once again topped the Happy Planet Index rankings as the Happiest Country in the World.
The Central American nation consistently ranks very high in international surveys about retiring and living in the country and quality of life for foreign residents. It’s not because every day is “living in paradise”; rarely, is it like that anywhere. It’s not easy moving to a new town or place, even if you’re in the same country, and Costa Rica is no exception. The reason is because the benefits in Costa Rica outweigh anything negative for most expats who are happy to live here.
Costa Rica recently ranked at the top as a great place to live for expats in the Expat Insider — one of the largest expat surveys worldwide, run by Inter-Nations. Overall, Costa Rica is the sixth best country to live in the world if you are a foreign resident, out of 67 countries surveyed.
Why Expats in Atenas, Costa Rica are the Happiest
We conducted our own expat satisfaction survey this month, interviewing foreign residents in Atenas from several different nationalities who have lived in the area from two years to more than 17 years. Not surprisingly, all said they love living in Atenas.
Out of a population of approximately 27,000, there are an estimated 1,500 foreign residents who live in Atenas full-time, and another 500 or so who own property and spend part of each year here.
What do they like best about living in Atenas? The small size of the town is very important. “Atenas has a small town feel where you quickly meet the locals, who greet you. I smile; I get a smile back, and sometimes a chat. I feel welcomed, everywhere. What you give here, you get back tenfold,” said one expat resident.
Atenas’ location also is attractive: halfway between the San Jose metropolitan area (amenities, hospitals, services) and halfway to the Pacific Coast beaches. Nestled in the mountains with beautiful views, there is plenty of nature to enjoy and explore. Expats like the weather, friendly community, and peaceful country lifestyle. “I love the fact that you can be outdoors 365 days a year!” said one long-time resident.
Atenas, Costa Rica
Results of the 2016 expat survey on living in Atenas, Costa Rica:
- 100% are satisfied with life in general in Atenas.
- 92% feel very at home living in Atenas.
- 75% find local residents to be friendly and welcoming toward foreigners and newcomers. “People are always friendly and will try to help you if they can,” most say.
- 67% say it has it been easy to settle into the community. Expats will find many more resources now than a decade ago to help them have an easy transition.
- 92% report that Atenas is a good place to live for health and well-being. Expats in Atenas like the simple and unhurried lifestyle, rural small town character, being uncrowded, and easy access to fresh food, good water and pure clean air. They say Atenas has everything they really need, including good private and national medical care.
- 92% love the weather in Atenas. Expats are happy they don’t have to shovel snow in Atenas, and the sun shines nearly every day. The city’s slogan is “The Best Climate in the World”, and many expats would agree, noting that the warm days and cool nights make for perfect temperatures where no air-conditioning or heat is needed.
- 83% say they feel safe and content in Atenas. “My overall feeling is that it is still much safer than many other places in our world today,” remarked another expat resident.
- 75% say the language has not been a problem living in Atenas; although everyone surveyed noted that learning to speak Spanish is essential to being happy here.
Article by Shannon Farley
Costa Rica Realtors Chamber
Tours in Costa Rica
Pure Life Development of Atenas is a full service tour company. We feature full vacation packages and day trips for the family. Our tour director Nelson Conejo is very experienced and provides a personal service and attention to detail second to none in Costa Rica. Please write Nelson or give him a call to arrange your next Costa Rican vacation at (506)2446-0447 or
Retirement Living in Atenas
Interview with Pure Life Development co-founder and certified realtor Dennis Easters, about Costa Rica ranked by AARP as "one of the best places to retire abroad".