“You don’t choose where you are born, but you can choose where you live” wisely states the message from the town hall of Atenas, Costa Rica for its 147th birthday celebration this past August 7.
This pastoral coffee town in the mountains just west of the capital city of San José, is known for its ideal location and great weather. That, plus its location and small-town ambiance that make it a special place to live for its 15,000 residents (27,000 including outlying neighborhoods).
“Everyone is friendly and says hello. It is a tranquil town. I’ve lived here my whole life and will probably stay,” one resident recently told me.
“We take care of each other. It is in our roots. Even with our town’s growth, we have still preserved our small-town feel and our customs. People here love our traditions and our tranquility,” added another.
Atenas is a top place to retire in Costa Rica, cited by International Living, HelpAge International and AARP, and has attracted a substantial international population from all over the world. “One of the main reasons we picked Atenas is because we wanted a cool fresh climate, and it is close to the beach, close to the airport, and close to the city,” said one new resident from Canada.
“We picked Atenas because of location – being half-way between San Jose and the beach. We love Atenas for the climate, living in the country and being a small town. People are very friendly. It’s a quaint old-style village,” commented another Canadian.
“Everywhere your eye falls, it is so beautiful. The weather is great. The people are the friendliest of anywhere in the world,” says another expat from the U.S.
A Little History
Atenas was founded in 1868 as a main point along the oxcart trail that transported coffee from the fertile Central Valley to the Pacific coastal port of Puntarenas. Traders from the coast would travel up the low coastal foothills to Atenas to meet merchants from San José and the valley, each side selling its goods to the other.
As Atenas developed, citizens from neighboring cities of Alajuela, San José and Heredia relocated to the region. Atenas’ oxcart history is immortalized in the famous Oxcart Monument in town by sculptor Manuel “Manolo” Torrecillas López (below).
San Jose is less than an hour to the east, and some of the best Pacific Coast beaches are less than an hour west. The town’s rugged terrain of mountains and valleys ranges in elevation from 2,200 to 4,000 feet, offering its residents wonderful weather, stunning mountain landscapes, and panoramic valley and coastal views.
The heart of Atenas is its central park, with the Catholic church bordering one side and ringed by shops, restaurants and cafes, the National Bank and the Atenas town hall. The park is a perfect spot to enjoy an ice cream or coffee or simply take in local life. In the late afternoon, flocks of green parrots and the occasional toucan settle in the palm trees above the park.
Visit or live in Atenas, Costa Rica
To visit or live in Atenas, Costa Rica, contact the real estate agency Pure Life Development of Atenas. Costa Rica realtors Dennis Easters and Gerardo Gonzalez-Porras specialize in Atenas homes for sale, Costa Rica properties for sale and Costa Rica vacation homes.