Why Do So Many Expats Live in This Part of Costa Rica?


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An eternal optimist, Liu-Yue built two social enterprises to help make the world a better place. Liu-Yue co-founded Oxstones Investment Club a searchable content platform and business tools for knowledge sharing and financial education. Oxstones.com also provides investors with direct access to U.S. commercial real estate opportunities and other alternative investments. In addition, Liu-Yue also co-founded Cute Brands a cause-oriented character brand management and brand licensing company that creates social awareness on global issues and societal challenges through character creations. Prior to his entrepreneurial endeavors, Liu-Yue worked as an Executive Associate at M&T Bank in the Structured Real Estate Finance Group where he worked with senior management on multiple bank-wide risk management projects. He also had a dual role as a commercial banker advising UHNWIs and family offices on investments, credit, and banking needs while focused on residential CRE, infrastructure development, and affordable housing projects. Prior to M&T, he held a number of positions in Latin American equities and bonds investment groups at SBC Warburg Dillon Read (Swiss Bank), OFFITBANK (the wealth management division of Wachovia Bank), and in small cap equities at Steinberg Priest Capital Management (family office). Liu-Yue has an MBA specializing in investment management and strategy from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Marketing from Stern School of Business at NYU. He also completed graduate studies in international management at the University of Oxford, Trinity College.

By Suzan Haskins

Grecia is a medium-sized town in Costa Rica’s Central Valley, about a 30-minute drive from San Jose. It’s half an hour that makes all the difference in the world, say expats who live here.

While nearby San Jose offers world-class hospitals and all the shopping malls and big box stores anyone could want or need, it’s also fraught with big-city woes…especially mega hustle and bustle and traffic problems.

Not so, though, in Grecia, where the pace of life is slow and there’s plenty of time to stop and smell the coffee…literally.

At an elevation of just over 3,000 feet, the hills above Grecia are lush with coffee plantations. And should you want some sugar in your coffee, you’ll be happy to know that sugar cane also grows here.

This perfect combination of altitude and latitude makes for temperate weather conditions, too. The days are warm and mild…and the nights are mild, too. Overall, daily temperatures range from 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

We spent a day there strolling through the colorful mercado (fruits, veggies, seafood, and carnicerias), peering into the pretty church that anchors the plaza and sitting under a shady tree in the park eating ice cream. That evening we met friends for dinner at Restaurante La Galeria where we feasted on ribeye steaks that rival any served by restaurants back home in Nebraska, but at half the cost. (This is cattle country, too.)

The next day, our friends took us on a tour of the nearby mountain ridges that overlook Grecia and nearby Sarchi (one of Costa Rica’s famous woodworking towns). These ridges are where most of the expats live. They’re looking for fresh air and expansive vistas…both are in plentiful supply here.

You can still buy a sizeable lot for $30,000 or less, or a home on a couple of acres of productive land for about $100,000. A gorgeous 2,100-square-foot, three-bedroom cabin with handmade artisan furniture and two large patio areas is on offer for $159,000. On three-and-a-half acres of fertile land—perfect for fruit trees and more—the real estate agent we spoke with thinks it will sell for less. (Bring an offer…the global economic problems have hurt real estate sales all over Costa Rica.)

For even more bargains, he says, look to villages a bit farther out…like Naranjo and San Ramon.

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