LIVE IN COSTA RICA – San Ramón is a small city located along the Panamerican Highway (Interamericana in Spanish) at the north-west corner of Costa Rica’s beautiful Central Valley.
It is about 60 km (36 miles) northeast of the port city of Puntarenas, the same distance from the northwest of the provincial capital city of Alajuela, 70 km (45 miles) from the country’s capital city of San José and a 40 minute drive from the San Jose’s main airport, the Juan Santamaría (SJO).
The population of the city is around 11,000 without taking into account the many adjoining neighborhoods and towns.
Nestled in the mountains, San Ramón or moncho as it is affectionately called by the locals, offers a slow and relaxed lifestyle with a small town flavor. The city attracts many foreigners who live there full time or as a part time second home. Away from the more touristy areas and far enough from San Jose, San Ramón has a rural charm, but still has a nice city center with plenty of activities, basic shopping and good food. Another feature of the area is the low cost of living. For example, you can rent a condo or small home for around US$500 to US$600 per month which makes it attractive to retirees who are on a tight budget or small pension. Another plus is that the town has an active, close-knit group of expats who help the community in a variety of ways.
Like most cities and towns in Costa Rica there is a feria (farmers market) on Fridays and Saturdays. A small mall with a movie theater, stores and food courts can be found at the main entrance of the city.
San Ramón sometimes referred to as “the city of presidents and poets.” Many of Costa Rica’s most famousl political and literary figures were born or lived in San Ramon, including former presidents Jose Figueres Ferrer and Rodriguez Carazo, as well as famous poets Lisimaco Chavarria Palma and Felix Angel Salas Cabezas.
One very strange thing about San Ramón is its weather. When you travel north along the Pan-American highway and get to the top of the hill just beyond the town of Palmares, you will notice an immediate change in the weather. As you descend towards San Ramón you see the clouds and can feel the cold air, wind and a sense a gloominess that fills the air. At first I thought it was my imagination but after talking to many Costa Ricans, they agreed with my perception of San Ramón. For instance, the other day I ran into a female Costa Rican friend who lives in San Ramón but works in Heredia, I asked how were things in San Ramón and she responded, “Cold!”
So, if she has lived there all of her life and thinks its cold, it must really be cold. I have also have a retired American friend who lives just outside of town who voices a similar complaint about the weather.
Furthermore, I know someone who used to live in an area in the hills just outside of San Ramón, called Piedades Sur. I remember that she always would complain about the cold climate before she eventually moved.
There is an area just outside of downtown San Ramón called Magallanes that is really popular with expat retirees because of the incredible views of the Gulf of Nicoya. Occasionally, I visit a couple of homes there on my monthly relocation retirement tours to give my guests an idea of what different living situations are like in Costa Rica. Indeed, Magallanes is beautiful but subject to strong winds during most of the year, occasional fog and some very cold nights.
Since San Ramón lies at an elevation of 3,468 feet above sea level in the Cordillera of Tilarán, the unusually cold weather that I refer to in this article is most likely due to altitude, the surrounding mountains and the city’s location on the Meseta Central (plateau).
In the tropics altitude determines temperature: The higher you are, the cooler the weather and the lower you are the warmer it is. I am not a mentirologo (liar or word play for meteorólogo which is weatherman), but I am sure that I am on the right track.
I really prefer the weather in Grecia and Atenas than that of San Ramón and therefore think that both are better places to live for expat retirees. In addition, both Grecia and Atenas are closer to better shopping, private medical care, cultural events, entertainment and the airport. I also like the ambience and general vibe better.