Playa del Coco was a beautiful place and very, very relaxing. It was part two of my wife and I’s test to determine whether we wanted to live like nomads, wandering from country to country, or if we wanted to put roots down somewhere and travel occasionally.
Though we only stayed for a month and I was excited to live in Puerto Vallarta next, I found myself dragging my feet a little and wondering if maybe Playa del Coco should become our new normal.
While we obviously don’t live there now and we don’t have any plans to live there anytime soon or in the future, I decided to write this immersion article to help others determine if living in Playa del Coco is the right choice for them.
The community there is one of the more interesting out of all the places I’d been. It’s largely made up of expatriates, dual citizens, and retirees who have built a modest nest egg in more wealthy parts of the world and moved to Costa Rica to get the most out of it. These individuals have come together to create small businesses and neighborhoods that have recreated what it was like to live in the United States. The houses have the same architectural design as those in the US, the roadways are laid out the same, and there is a healthy blend of shops, restaurants, cafes, and other businesses that make it feel like somewhere right out of a small town in the US.
Playa del Coco seems to operate as its own self-sustaining economic ecosystem. Retirees bring in their money from outside the country, remote workers derive incomes from jobs out of state and the locals find ways to serve these individuals to create their own wealth.
The local officials and Costa Rican officials have recognized this and incentivized foreigners to put down roots there making it very affordable, convenient and tax friendly. There are individuals living comfortably on amounts of money in Playa del Coco that wouldn’t have enabled them to buy a house in the US or Europe.
La Pura Vida
The culture in Playa del Coco is very relaxing and leisurely. The chicken or the egg question is whether this was created by those retirees that wanted it that way or if the locals were already lowkey and that caught the attention of foreigners. In either case both locals and foreigners have benefited from living a life of leisure in a very safe part of the world. My wife and I felt very comfortable going out at night, wandering the beach alone, or leaving our belongings in view of anyone passing by.
When going out for morning jogs and exploring the neighborhoods we didn’t find ourselves worrying about if we were in the wrong part of town or that there wasn’t anyone else in sight. We were always cautious and we were never careless, but there was a very different vibe in Playa del Coco than other places we’d been.
Not Very Active
There is a definite spell Playa del Coco casts over you and it’s hard to resist. A few days in this place and you’ll find yourselves wanting to do nothing but curl up in a hammock with a good book and coconut water everyday all day.
If you’re wanting somewhere exciting with things to do, this honestly probably won’t be the place for it. It would be more of the place you find lodging, then make day-trips or weekend-trips to more interesting places.
There are national parks with bubbling volcanoes, beaches with sailboat rentals, snorkeling trips, diving tours, and more.
It’s not the most interesting place to do things, but it is certainly within distance of fun activities you could do. Assuming you feel up to it after snoozing in a deck chair by the resort’s pool on your first day.
But for those of you looking to slow things down a little and enjoy life on a very modest budget, then I strongly recommend making Playa del Coco a place to go to unwind. Who knows, after a few days you might yourself becoming enthralled by La Pura Vida and becoming neighbors with some of the other expats.
Author: Benjamin Baker
After serving abroad in a religious capacity for two years Ben has felt the pull to travel and explore ever since. This desire was further fueled by his wife Maddie and the two have traveled to many places over the last few years. Ben’s hope is that by sharing his knowledge and experiences obtained while traveling that others can improve their lives and the lives of others through travel. Check out additional articles written by Benjamin.