What are the most important factors expats in Costa Rica like about the popular retirement town of Atenas? Location, weather and friendly community.
In Costa Rica – one of the world’s most popular expat destinations – the town of Atenas is a favorite place for international living and retirement.
“When we look out at sunrise from our terrace over the beautiful Atenas countryside, we know the meaning of gratitude,” said U.S. expats Michael and Karen Elder about living in Atenas, Costa Rica. “Living here gives you a fullness of life that we had not experienced before.”
Like many expats who have chosen to make the small mountain town of Atenas, Costa Rica their home, the Elders traded their life in South Florida – a nice home on a small lot in a good neighborhood – for country living among Atenas’ coffee plantations. With the income from their U.S. home sale, the retired couple built a beautiful, custom-built house with an infinity pool, guesthouse, and workshop in a gated community on a 2.5-acre coffee plantation with 300-degree views of Costa Rica’s Central Valley.
Out of a population of approximately 27,000, an estimated 1,500 international expats live in Atenas full-time, most of whom are retired. Another 1,000 or so are part-time residents and visit usually during North American winter.
What is it about Atenas that draws people from all over the world to relocate here?
Three essential factors: Location, weather and friendly community.
Perfectly positioned less than an hour from the capital city of San Jose to the east and Pacific Coast beaches to the west, Atenas offers its residents easy access to necessities and fun. It takes only 30 minutes to get to the San Jose international airport and the cities of Alajuela and Escazu, where there are hospitals and advanced medical care, and large-scale shopping. You can get to all three major highways of central Costa Rica in 15 minutes or less from Atenas.
“Atenas kept calling to us like it was home,” commented Karen Elder. “Being close to the airport, the beach, and good hospitalization and medical care is what brought us to Atenas.”
Nestled in the Central Mountain Range, Atenas features stunning mountain landscapes, year-round warm tropical weather, and panoramic valley, volcano and coastal views.
Expats in Atenas are happy they never have to shovel snow, and the sun shines nearly every day. The city’s slogan is “The Best Climate in the World”, and many expats would agree since the warm days and cool nights make for perfect temperatures where no air-conditioning or heat is needed.
Atenas’ mild climate is owed to its elevation range of 2,200 to 4,000 feet. Average temperatures in Atenas range from 70 to 85 F during the day, and 55 to 68 F at night, depending on the season. This starkly contrasts with Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast where temps soar high into the 90s F during the day and hover in the mid to high 70s F at night. Atenas also generally enjoys six months of dry season and six months of moderate rain.
“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,” remarked one Atenas resident.
Expats in Atenas like the rural town’s simple and unhurried lifestyle, safe neighborhoods and low crime levels, reliable public services, excellent public and private schools, and pure clean air. They say Atenas has everything they really need, including good private and national medical care, and one of the best farmers’ markets around.
“We wanted a town that was small enough where we could walk everywhere or get around easily because we didn’t want to own a car,” explained U.S. expat Linda Ledbetter. “Atenas was nice and small and had everything we needed.”
This time of year, in March and April, Atenas enjoys community festivals like the Annual Community Fair at the Atenas Senior Citizens’ Home from March 31 – April 3, the Atenas Climate Fair from April 28-30, and the town’s traditional Oxcart Parade on
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".