The mind’s eye is a powerful tool. So, here’s an equally powerful question to pair: What does the “perfect” lifestyle look like, to your mind’s eye?
What’s the first thing you would see, when you woke up in the morning? What colors would paint your windowscape? How would your view unfold? More than that – what would this life feel like? What would your daily schedule consist of? What would the air smell like? What would be on the menu?
What is your version of “perfect”?
Because these everyday moments – the decisions you make, the sights you see, all the many daily “defaults” that we take for granted – are what make up a lifestyle. This is what marks the difference between life in, say, Michigan and life in Costa Rica: Not us – because we are who we are, anywhere we are – but rather, what surrounds us: The day’s weather forecast. The sights that reside outside our windows. The daily sun hours. The produce that’s in season. The animals that pass through our backyards.
These are the factors you should – that you must – take into consideration before buying a house in Costa Rica. Or anywhere, for that matter. Dozens, if not hundreds of big and little things define your “perfect.” And no one can (or should) influence that. This decision is yours.
What we can do, though, is tell you a little about our version of perfect – about all the many reasons we are so enamored of Vista Bella and Playa Marbella. Because, for us, there’s nowhere in the world we’d rather be. And we want to know if you feel the same, too.
But First! Before Buying a House in Costa Rica…
One of the reasons we settled at Vista Bella is not for what we could build here, but for what we couldn’t: Biodiversity. Authenticity. Culture. Sense of place. All the things that we can’t create or construct or even recreate, no matter how hard we try.
Playa Marbella and our tight-knit community are the Costa Rica of yesteryear: Still a little off the beaten path, not quite accessible to the masses, and surrounded by the sights and sounds that first made us fall in love with this incredible country.
Waterfalls and rivers, ocean views and beaches. By and large, still undiscovered. These are the things that were – and are – important to us. (Is living in Marbella, Costa Rica right for you?)
And so, we encourage you to seek out the things most important to you – before buying a house in Costa Rica. Because Costa Rica, and even our province of Guanacaste, are often more about the where (and your personal why) than they are about the what: Here, resources and biodiversity and specific location inform community and lifestyle and amenities.
A Day in the Life at Vista Bella
Years ago, when we closed our eyes and let our minds wander, we envisioned Vista Bella. We didn’t know it yet, but this is where our hearts yearned to be.
Because Vista Bella is the kind of place where you step out your back door and onto your sunset-facing, ocean-view private terrace. Rarer still, Vista Bella is the kind of place where you own 2.5 private acres (1 hectare) – almost unheard of, when it comes to Costa Rica’s private neighborhoods and gated communities.
But it’s so much more than that. Because ocean views and private acreage, while rare, are still available elsewhere. It’s all the other stuff that’s not. That stuff is unique to Vista Bella. (And we don’t miss out on the important stuff about buying property in Costa Rica, including lifestyle and security amenities.)
It’s walking through our community while inhaling a rich mountain breeze. It’s the aroma of sun-warmed ground and ornamental blooms – and, perhaps, a fresh rain. Meander any which way, and your feet take you past iconic Guanacaste trees and peekaboo Pacific vistas, raucous howler monkeys and curious coatimundis. Speaking of…
In so much of Costa Rica, communities (even of the upscale variety) are so overbuilt that there’s no room left for the original residents: the wildlife!
This is one of the top reasons why our neighbors settled on buying a house in Costa Rica and, specifically, at Vista Bella: Here, wildlife is everywhere. You could even say that the animals are our primary residents! And you’re going to love it.
Walk through the highest part of our community, and you can’t miss the vociferous howler monkeys. You’ll more often hear them – their territorial roars, echoing through the treetops – but not infrequently, you’ll also see them crossing over the road. Here, too, is a great lookout point for rainbows. (And we consider Vista Bella the pot of gold at the end!)
What else might you spot on your daily sojourn? The question is almost, what won’t you? Vista Bella is like a wildlife refuge where you can both live and freely roam: Here, you’ll see green iguanas and ctenosaurs (spiny-tailed iguanas), tree frogs and crested caracaras, collared aracari toucans and lineated woodpeckers.
As dusk falls, look out your window and play the Vista Bella version of Where’s Waldo? Can you find the grey fox, peeking out from behind the grass? Is that an inquiring raccoon, galloping down the road? Keep a list of your sightings; it’s going to get long!
Beach living is the dream of so many. But, so many later decide that they just don’t love beach living. Why? Because it’s hot. And crowded. And there are just so, so many tourists.
Not here. Vista Bella is the best of both worlds: Perched on a mountain with year-round breezes, but just minutes to the beach. Secluded enough that tourists bypass our community, and yet populated enough to merit amenities like high-speed fiber-optic Internet, a staffed gatehouse, swimming pool, and parks.
But, back to that beach: Step out your door and onto your patio, and you’re looking out to Marbella Beach, aka Playa Marbella. (Side note: Six of our seven available homesites have direct ocean views!) A popular surf destination and palm-lined paradise, Marbella Beach shows off its white sands and clear blue waters – and, usually, nary a crowd in sight.
Look north to Playa Pitaya and south to San Juanillo. If you had a bird’s eye view, you’d also have a straight-line view 6 miles (10 kms) south to Playa Ostional, famed home to Nancite Beach and Santa Rosa National Park, one of only two crucial nesting sites in the world for olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea).
… And Surf
When you live in a surf destination (including Playa Marbella), you quickly learn that beaches and surf are two very separate things: Beautiful beaches can have little surf – or worse, bad surf. Surfing “beaches” can be pebbled, rocky, or otherwise uncomfortable.
We’re not ones to settle with one or the other; we always have an eye to the best of both worlds. (That’s what drew us to settle here, in the first place!) And so, we wanted you to know: That surf you see crashing in the distance, from ocean-view Vista Bella? Well, that’s some of the best surf in Costa Rica. It’s consistent, year-round, and it still swells when other surf beaches have fallen flat.
We guess you could say that quality of surf is a component of quality of life, when you’re buying a house in Costa Rica.
Rivers + Waterfalls
Ask us, and rivers don’t get the glory they deserve. In Costa Rica, rivers are more than a source of water (and that’s important!): They are a cool respite on a hot day. They’re the headwaters for natural swimming pools and thundering waterfalls. And they’re home (and watering hole) to colorful frogs and howling monkeys, curious toucanets and sunning iguanas.
When you live at Vista Bella, you live beside and close to two such rivers: the Río Tabaco, which runs through the north side of Marbella and the south side of our Vista Bella property line; and the Río Cuajiniquil (prounounced, coo-ah-he-nee-keel), 4 miles (6 kms) south and crowned by a strong bridge to see our region through the rainy months.
In summer, when the river is low, you’ll often find kids fishing for snapper and playing in the refreshing water. This is the perfect time to bring your kayak and paddle downstream, while the current is tame. Ask around, and your new neighbors can also tell you how to find the local waterfall: truly a best-kept secret, this no-name waterfall is known only to those who live here. We’ll never tell!
The view outside your window is one of the most overlooked (literally and figuratively) aspects of living in Costa Rica. Though you probably didn’t put “trees” or maybe even “flowers” at the top of your wishlist, this is one of the reasons why you’re likely considering buying a house in Costa Rica.
And that’s because these trees and flowers and bushes and landscapes are not only home to the animals you love and the tropical colors you can’t wait to see every day, but they’re also beautiful in their own right. Take our native Guanacaste trees (Enterolobium cyclocarpum): huge, shady bells that form perfect crowns to dot the landscape. Or the showy corteza amarilla (Tabebuia ochracea), with its brilliant yellow canopy.
These are the sights that form and inform your view. You will grow to love them, during their every phase and month of the year. Truthfully, every day welcomes a new discovery outside your window; all you have to do is look.
Food is quantifiable and yet, its quality is somehow incalculable. It’s more than a feeling but beyond a simple checklist: It’s quality of life, in its own right.
First things first, did you know that Costa Rica is home to one of only five Blue Zones in the world? Blue Zones – regions where people live much longer, on average – are rare and, while much of their whys are still being researched, diet and water consumption are known key components.
And Playa Marbella is just a few minutes north of the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica’s Blue Zone. As for our food and water? Well, they’re key components to the Vista Bella lifestyle.
So, while you’re not here for Michelin-starred dining or 15-course tasting menus – and while you will find some great restaurant options (that’s a topic for another post!) – you’re considering buying a house in Costa Rica, at least in part because of the foods you hope to put on your table. And by that, we mean fresh everything. Year-round sunshine and warm weather do that to the food chain and local produce. And we’re so happy it does.
Here, your kitchen counter is a rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables: Mottled yellow-and-orange papayas and spiky pineapple, pink-fleshed guava and exotic soursop. Leafy lettuces and purple-red beets, sweet winter squash and you’ll-only-find-them-in-Costa-Rica tacacos (indescribable, but delicious!) And then, there’s the rich, orange-yolked eggs from the neighbor in town who has pet chickens. There’s the ultra-fresh, just-caught-today snapper and tuna, conger and corvina.
And then, of course, there’s our province of Guanacaste and its rich culinary traditions: purple pujagua corn and Christmas tamales, casado plates piled high and sweet arroz con leche (similar to rice pudding). We’re hungry just writing that.
Food in Costa Rica and, specifically, our area of Guanacaste is not a study in fancy, but rather a quiet dedication to excellence. It’s a celebration of all things fresh, just picked, just caught, and just prepared. And it’s now one of our favorite things about life here. We can’t wait to share it with you.
The tropics are funny, when it comes to weather. Read about it online, and weather in Costa Rica seems like a binary kind of proposition: dry season or rainy season. One or the other. This or that. Just two modes.
When you live here, you soon discover how both right and wrong that is. Because the weather in Playa Marbella is both predictable and capricious – in the most wonderful of ways. It’s the joy of being caught in a summer shower, the jubilation of an unexpectedly all-day blue sky, or the surprise of walking out your door to discover a rainbow.
It’s serendipity, every day. And there’s a little bit of magic in that, especially once you’ve learned what to expect. To wit:
- Dry Season (“Summer”): From December through mid-May, you can expect nearly 5.5 months of constant sun and little to no rain at Vista Bella.
- Wet Season (“Winter”): From mid-May to November, we can receive anything from a quick shower to a torrential downpour. The most rain falls in September and October.
And yet, as we said, the weather here is so more than that: November, December, and January bring gentle winds that kiss the skin and wash away the rains. The landscape, still lush from winter, explodes in green and every flowery hue.
Winds pick up in February, heating Guanacaste through April. And then, by mid-May, the scent of spring is upon us. Greenery begins to take root again and everything cools in the daily watering; it’s enough to make you want to go outside and enjoy a rain shower!
But, go a little east, a little south, a little north, and your mileage may vary. Costa Rica is a country not only of great diversity but of a great many microclimates. And here, high on a mountain and overlooking the sparkling Pacific, we think we may have found one of the best microclimates of them all.
Want to check it out for yourself? If you think the Vista Bella lifestyle may be your “perfect” fit, then please get in touch! My name is Jim, founder of Vista Bella (and your future neighbor?), and I’d be happy to discuss buying a house in Costa Rica, Playa Marbella, and our community more in-depth.