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A Closer Look: Moving to Limón

  Limón is arguably the most beautiful province in Costa Rica. It spans approximately 120 miles of coastline and is located between Panama and Nicaragua. It can be a wonderful destination for expats to visit. However, not many Americans choose to actually live in Limón, due to cultural differences and language barriers. That doesn’t mean it can’t be a great place to live, but think carefully before making the decision to move there and buy a home in Limón.

Limón: The Paradise of Costa Rica

Limón is a tropical paradise, home to some of the most beautiful rain forests in Central America. Here are some of the primary reasons people enjoy visiting the area.

Beautiful Climate

Limon is one of the most tropical parts of Costa Rica. Temperatures are comfortable and change very little throughout the year. The cool coastal breezes are also very refreshing. However, the amount of rain the region receives is one downside to living in Limón. Rains are particularly heavy in July, but expats should prepare themselves for year-round rain. To start, you’ll need to make sure that whatever housing you choose to live in is well insulated from the rain.

Luscious Vegetation and Unique Animals

Limón may be the perfect place to live for nature lovers looking to spend more time outdoors. The province is home to over 8,000 different species of plants, including many of Costa Rica's banana trees. A wide range of exotic animals also live in Limón. Nearly 700 different types of birds and 10% of the world's butterfly population delight visitors. There are quite a few tours conducted in the rainforest throughout the year, although native Costa Ricans can explore them on their own, and usually know the area well.

Quiet Lifestyle

Costa Rica is known for being an idyllic and relaxing place to live. The residents of Limón depict this image perfectly. Unlike the people living in the Central Valley region, Limón locals shun the stress of big city life. Limón residents tend to enjoy spending time alone or in close-knit groups. Only 58,000 people call the capital city home.

Strong Afro-Caribbean Culture

Limón is the most diverse province in Costa Rica. It is also the center of Costa Rica's Afro-Caribbean culture, so many people in the area speak Creole. Expect to meet fans of Bob Marley and reggae artists in the area. Limón is also home to a number of talented indie musicians, and proves a popular place to live for young adults. The culture and support for local music makes Limón a great place to live for people looking to get in touch with their roots.

Major Areas of Limón

Limón is one of the smallest provinces in Costa Rica. It is home to approximately 386,000 people, which is only slightly larger than the province of Guanacaste. Despite its small population, there are a few beautiful and upscale places to live in Limón. Expats may want to consider the following areas for relocation and relaxation.

Puerto Limón

Puerto Limón is the capital city of the province of Limón. It was founded in 1870 as a base to export bananas and other fruits to parts of the Americas. Puerto Limón is home to about 58,000 people, so it’s the closest thing to a city that you’ll find. As the capital city, Puerto Limón is the center of the province’s economy. While the province has stopped producing many different types of fruits, bananas and plantains are still harvested regularly. These exports account for a substantial share of the region’s economy. The province of Limón is fairly undeveloped and remains pristine, while the city of Puerto Limón has grown as the area’s economic center. The capital is the pulse of the region and attracts locals, business people, expats, and visitors alike to congregate.


With a population of 18,000 people, Siquirres is much smaller than Puerto Limón. The city itself doesn’t have a lot of activity, but there are still a lot of fun things to do in the areas around it. Many residents venture outside the city limits to listen to popular reggae bands and go sightseeing.

Within the city of Siquirres, you can dine on fine cuisine at some of the local eateries and find inexpensive places to spend the night.

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (known simply as Puerto Viejo to locals) is a wonderfully diverse city. It was once mostly made up of Jamaican immigrants, but many Europeans have since moved to the area. While it is smaller than Puerto Limón and Siquirres, Puerto Viejo has more restaurants and other services than any other city in Limón. Check out our homes for sale in Puerto Viejo.

Puerto Viejo is also a popular surfing community. While the waters are too turbulent for most people to swim in, many people don’t mind taking the risks riding the waves. 

Isla Uvita

The island of Isla Uvita is about a 15-minute boat ride from the capital city Puerto Limón. History buffs may remember that it’s the island that Columbus first arrived at when he discovered the Americas. Nobody actually lives on Isla Uvita, but it’s a popular place for people to visit.

Several tourist agencies and hotels offer boat trips and day excursions to Isla Uvita. Unfortunately, you won’t find any restaurants in this undeveloped area. Pack your own food before traveling there.

Why don't more expats live in Limón?

Limón may be one of the most beautiful places in Costa Rica, but it’s not the most popular destination for expats. There are a few reasons people tend to live in the Central Valley and other areas instead.

Limited access to technology

Living in Limón often means being cut off from the creature comforts of modern civilization. There are fewer broadband networks and cell phone carriers in Limón than in other parts of Costa Rica. You won’t be completely severed from the 21st century, but you will need to make do with slower connection speeds, more downtime, and less reliable service. This may be a difficult sacrifice if you plan to work remotely or need a constant, quick connection to the digital world.

Reputation for crime

Limón is known for having more crime than other parts of the country. The U.S. Embassy in San José has warned tourists about staying in Limón, and shares that many Americans have filed reports about robberies and violent crime in the area. Criminals reportedly target rental homes and eco-lodges. However, the crime problem in Limón isn’t quite as bad as people make it out to be. You can live safely in the area, but crime will still be a problem in the province. Expats should consider the warnings and speak to locals about the issue before relocating there.

Language barrier

Unless you speak Creole, it’s difficult for expats to speak with the locals in Limón. Even Costa Ricans have difficulty communicating in Limón because Spanish is not widely spoken in the area.

Take the time to learn Creole and work on your fluency while learning local customs. It will be difficult to relocate to Limón without these valuable skills.

Unsafe Waters for Swimming

Limón has some beautiful beaches that attract visitors and locals alike looking for an afternoon stroll. However, the waters can be treacherous, and swimming is highly discouraged. Despite the warnings, many people still go surfing in the area. People who enjoy swimming should play it safe and live elsewhere in Costa Rica.

Is Limón the Right Community for You?

Limón is a beautiful place to visit, but requires a lot of careful consideration and soul searching before deciding to live there. Here are some things that different demographics should consider before making a decision.

Young adults

Limón is a province for people who enjoy their independence. It’s especially attractive to the younger generation and anyone who enjoys reggae and hip-hop.

People working online

Many expats telecommute while living in Costa Rica. Limón probably isn't the best place for digital professionals to live. You won't enjoy regular access to the internet, making it difficult to earn a viable living. Instead, consider living in San José or another city in the Central Valley.


Senior citizens should consider the type of support they’ll need in their golden years. Unfortunately, there aren't many healthcare facilities in Limón, so it probably isn't the best place to live if you aren't in relatively good health.

Free spirits

Limón is a great place to live for the young at heart. You’ll find there are fewer rules and regulations to follow than if you were living in a more populated area.

Families with young children

If you have young children, Limón probably won't be at the top of your list of places to move to. Costa Rica has many exceptional schools, but few of them are located in this province. There are also fewer people living in Limón, so children won't have as many opportunities to socialize and explore extracurricular activities.

Are you considering moving to Limón? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.