In the greater metropolitan area of the Central Valley there is basically no room to grow because of the lack of available horizontal space. The urban sprawl now extends from San José to Heredia in the north, to Escazú and Santa Ana in the west and to Curridabat and to the east. Consequently, the new urban trend has become high rise condominium towers that are maximizing the available space and taking the place of traditional single family homes.
In the 1990s there was an exodus to the suburbs. Now this process is starting to reversing itself since many people are tired of commuting and having to fight daily traffic jams.
Ever since the Municipality of San José decided to repopulate its urban area 15 years ago, 96 multi-story condominium towers have been built. In fact, so many towers are being constructed around San José’s Sabana Park that it is now beginning to resemble a miniature Central Park. This phenomenon is referred to as manhattanization or the transformation of the appearance and character of a city by constructing tall and densely situated buildings. The new Leumi Business Center, on the north side of the Sabana Park, is thirty-eight stories and 450 feet high. It is now Costa Rica’s tallest high rise and boast condos with incredible views but price tag is too steep for most retirees.
Towers are beginning to dot the skyline in San Jose’s neighborhoods like Mata Redonda, Paseo Colón, Barrio Escalante, Rohrmoser, Pavas and nearby Escazú. The cities of Heredia and Alajuela also have their share of towers.
Prices range from about $70,000 to $90,000 for a small studio to $175 for a one or two bedroom apartment. Studio apartments are ideal for professionals, young couples and above all single retired adults.
A few of the amenities that these high rise towers offer are: a gymnasium, swimming pool, a terrace, a grassy park-like area, places for “co-working,” offices, and even private movie theaters. Most of the buildings are conveniently located near shopping centers, restaurants, public transportation, hospitals and other services. One expat who lives in a tower near the Sabana Park remarked, “ I have three super markets within walking distance, pharmacies, doctors and dentists, 30 restaurants, a beautiful urban parks and easy access to highway 27 when I want to visit the beach.”
For retired expatriates, one of the advantages to living in one of these apartments is that security is excellent. You can basically lock your front door without any worries. On the other hand, isolated single family homes in outlying areas like Atenas, Grecia, or San Ramón can be easy targets for thieves because of a lack of security.
The bottom line is that there is now an affordable, safe and practical alternative to single family homes in the Central Valley.
I plan to include a visit to a high rise on my future Central Valley relocation tours.