Why Grecia?

Why Grecia?

Well, really I was sold on the little town of Grecia, Costa Rica when I first heard that people living here did not have heaters OR air conditioning in their homes – you just don’t need it!  That’s right – Grecia is supposedly the “perfect” temperature, year round.  This sounded perfect to Greg & I, who are both a little hot natured.  Also, it makes it easy on the electric bill.  Temperature’s get down to as cold as the high 50’s (fahrenheit) at night or in the rainy season, and rarely hotter than the low 80’s during the day.  See what I mean?  Perfect!

Grecia (which means “Greece” in Spanish), has a population of approximately 16,000 people, and is the capital city of the canton of Grecia, in the province of Alajuela in Costa Rica.  Grecia is in the Central Valley and has several “ridges” as they call them, which are mountain ridges that veer off from one side of the city like spokes of a wheel.  The ridges have gorgeous views of the valleys between them.  We live slightly outside of Grecia (7 miles appoximately), up along one of these ridges called “El Cajón” (in spanish, El Cajón means “the box” – I was recently told that when the El Cajón community first started, it had the shape of a box).  Where we live, El Cajón has an elevation of about 4,500 feet, which is much higher than Grecia Central, and helps contribute to our cooler temperatures.  So even when it is 80-90 F degrees in town – it is always much cooler, and with a breeze, in El Cajón.

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Grecia Central – the park and the church

When most people think of Grecia, they think of the church in the center of town – Iglesia de la Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, which, you can’t really miss it, if you’ve been here.  It is large and red, in the center of the town right across from the park, and was built entirely of pre-fabricated steel plates.  When you ask for directions to some place in Grecia, they always start with “well, you know where the Church is, right?…”.    There are several urban legends of where this church came from and how it came to be here in Grecia (see Wikipedia): 

  1. The metal church was a donated gift by a foreign country meant for Greece, but alas was shipped in error to Grecia (remember, Grecia means “Greece” in Spanish).
  2. The church was meant to be shipped (in parts) to Punta Arenas, Chile, but instead went to the port of Puntarenas, Costa Rica and later sent to Grecia where it was assembled and put together (another shipping mistake).
  3. And, in case you’re interested, this is the true/boring account: the building of the church was a organized effort between the Costa Rican Government, the Catholic Church, the population of Grecia and Alejo E. Jiménez Bonnefil (a Costa Rican coffee producer/exporter).
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My favorite pic of the church through the park – looks haunting, doesn’t it?

Why did we choose Grecia?  Well, the perfect climate was our #1 reason.   #2 – there is not a lot of tourism here.   It is a very small, cute, cozy town, but seems to have enough of what we need – several small grocery stores, soda’s (which are small café’s), banks, even a “mall” – which is pretty small, but truly has quite a few clothes shops and even a movie theater(!).  We wanted to live in a “local” place – with not a lot of tourists, or tourist shops.  I mean – we weren’t moving to Costa Rica for a vacation – we were coming here to live.  We wanted to try to get to know the Ticos (the local Costa Ricans) and live amongst them as best as we could.  Also, Grecia is not too far from one of the international airports, and is also close to San Jose, where we needed to go to start our residency process.

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Looking at the park from the church steps.

For now, we are very content to stay in El Cajón de Grecia.  We like the climate, the small-town-ness, the NON-tourism-ness, and mostly the people we have met here (both Ticos and Gringos alike).   Grecia is home.  Pura Vida! — Jen

ice cream

Oh – and they have good ice cream!

Jen

I quit my job in my early 40’s, sold everything and retired early to live a simple life in Costa Rica!

Check out my book: "Costa Rica Chica" - the book.

Check out my Arm Candy: Costa Rica Chica Arm Candy.

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23 Responses to Why Grecia?

  1. As always, another wonderful post, Jen! Please write more about Grecia and what it’s like. So interesting. Thanks for your insights …. and photos!

    • Yes, we agree with Dull Roar. Lots of nice places to live in central valley. We keep reading about Atenas as a nice place to live. I know someone that lives in Atenas. She says it rains more in Grecia than Atenas. But I have heard that Atenas is hotter than Grecia. I have also read that Grecia is a bit more run down than Atenas. I have read this quite a few times. Both towns look nice to me from photos. The houses I have seen for rent in Grecia look more run down as compared to Atenas though.

    • Yes, we agree with Dull Roar. Lots of nice places to live in central valley. We keep reading about Atenas as a nice place to live. I know someone that lives in Atenas. She says it rains more in Grecia than Atenas. But I have heard that Atenas is hotter than Grecia. I have also read that Grecia is a bit more run down than Atenas. I have read this quite a few times. Both towns look nice to me from photos. The houses I have seen for rent in Grecia look more run down as compared to Atenas though.

      • I would dis agree. Grecia is written up to be the cleanest City in all of South America. Atenas is hotter and more run down town than Grecia. WE lived there and moved to Grecia. Much cleaner. YOU can find good Rentals in both places that are not run down. LIKE the USA you get what you pay for. If you want to pay $700 you get tico run down. You want to pay $1,400 all inclusive and modern you get USA living. All depends on you needs and pocket book. YOU have to live here to make a rational decision what is good for you. NOT every one lives in Palm Beach, Fla. and those that do would not live in UTAH. IT just depends on your financial and weather comfort.

        • What would you say the rent in Grecia is these days for a not-so-rundown-Tico house these days (4/17)? Also, as I have some mobility issues, are there a lot of one floor dwellings?Thanks.

          • It depends, how many bedrooms and baths. A 2 bedroom 1 bath would be $500-700 for a Tico house. Yes there are 1 floor dwellings, however Grecia is not a very mobility issue friendly city…

            • Hi again & thank you for your response.
              The mobility is going to be a tough one I can see, I can manage the low hills of a park or 1/2 hour walks in San Francisco…
              Another individual without completely trying to talk me out of my heartfelt dream to go to CR, certainly rained on my parade. She meant well as I am certain you do, too. 🙂
              The remt sounds perfect, I can even go as high as $900 but I’d rather not. Let me ask you something, if I was your mom, or older aunt, a bit weak at the joints and creaky, do you think that you would be nudging me more toward the more touristy areas? Perhaps as some areas (San Jose?) are more expensive, might they also be more accessible.
              (PS I’m 1/2 Transylvanian. Seriously. With the heart of a warrior, but I am trying to be realistic too, I don’t want to go there and have a serious fall my first day there, so I will gratefully take your advice. Muchos Gracias,

              • The touristy areas are definitely more friendly to those with mobility issues. Yes more pricey, as well. Grecia downtown has very uneven sidewalks and the whole city is VERY hilly, except for the small downtown area. Could you visit and check it out for yourself possibly?

                • Hello Jen,
                  A visit is not in my immediate plans. Are there cities or towns other than San Jose that might be a bit more level? I don’t expect perfectly paved roads but perhaps a less hilly terrain? Thanks in advance for your sage advice.

    • To: A Dull Roar
      Yes, you are right. There are a lot of nice towns in Central Valley. We hear over and ever that Ateans is pretty but hotter than Grecia. We heard it rains more in Grecia than Atenas. We heard that Grecia is older and a bit more run down than Atenas. We also heard that Atenas is a little more expensive than Grecia. Both towns look nice to me in all the photos I have seen thus far. Atenas is nearer to the new highway which will help to keep the prices higher. Pursical is supposed to be the up and coming town near the new highway. Also, we heard that Heredia is nice,a bit wetter and cooler.

  2. Really enjoyed your report on Grecia. Enjoyed the pictures also. Now we need more of this, you have our interest and we want more info and more pictures. 🙂

  3. Hello . I am from the Cajon, I will visit Costa Rica in June, I hope to meet you. thanks for all the nice things you said about Grecia

  4. I would love to know about that cement dome out front! The church is nowhere near as interesting and unique (to me)… It appears to be ~monolithic.com technology which I would love to make for my own home eventually. The size despite its thinness is remarkable.

  5. Hi,

    I am a civil engineer writing articles on steel constructions, and at the moment on some french engineers from the time of Eiffel. I would be so gla to have in my collections a few very good photos of the church. I can have some, but most of the time they are already just reprints, or scans and the like.
    Can you please help me? I would of course mention your name in my publication.
    Marc braham

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