I have to be honest. I never heard of Playas del Coco before I moved to Costa Rica. Actually, I only heard about Coco the day before we moved there! Yeison and I had planned on living in the mountains of Heredia but opportunity knocked and two weeks after I flew down, we found ourselves with all our possessions stuffed in his four door sedan.
We would make the four hour drive from Heredia to Coco to start a new life together at the beach, in a town that I knew absolutely nothing about. Zip, zero, nada. It would be a completely new and different experience for both of us since Yeison had never lived outside of the Central Valley before and I of course never lived anywhere but Washington!
You can call us crazy for not doing any research but that’s the kind of people we are: spontaneous, definitely a little crazy and willing to take chances! 😉
I experienced several surprises living in Costa Rica as an expat but they were all life experiences I’m glad I went through. As someone who had literally no knowledge about Playas del Coco, I had to adapt to several things when I moved there.
One thing that wasn’t hard to adapt to? A beach life. Living in Coco has made me quite the beach bum.
When people ask me how life is in Coco or what I thought about living in this little beach town, my first answer is that it was kind of a love-hate relationship. There were so many things I loved about Coco yet at the same time, there were several things I didn’t like.
However, everyone has a different experience. I know some people who came to Coco and hated it. I know many people who came to Coco and loved it. I know even more people who came to Coco and never left!
If you ask me if you should move to Playas del Coco, well it’s impossible to for me to give you a straight yes or no answer. Costa Rica is a beautiful country but like any other place in the world, there are the ups and downs, the goods and bads, the decent eggs and the rotten eggs. No beach or town is perfect – but you can make it perfect for you depending on your attitude.
It’s all about perspective.
So hopefully I can help you answer this question – should you move to Playas del Coco?
To live or not to live in Playas del Coco?
A lil intro first
Playas del Coco is a small beach town in Guanacaste, about a twenty minute drive from Liberia lying within the Gulf of Papagayo. The town has become a popular choice for retired North Americans and “snowbirds” to have a warm winter getaway or to live out their retired life at the beach.
Want to know more detailed information about Coco? Read our in-depth guide.
Why you will love Coco
Family Friendly Beach
More sunny days than the rest of the country
Some of the best snorkeling/diving in the country
Lots of hidden beaches around
Close proximity to other natural landmarks and attractions
Fantastic wildlife watching
Why You Might Not
- More tourists and expats equal higher prices which also leads to Coco being more Americanized. There is now a Hard Rock Cafe and I heard they’re also putting in a McDonalds -_-
- It is hot! Low heat tolerance people will suffer in Coco. Be prepared for high electricity bills cause you will need AC
- Coco beach isn’t that pretty compared to the other popular beaches in Guanacaste (See Playa Conchal or Playa Flamingo)
- More retirees and less young people (could be a positive or negative depending on which life stage you are in)
Why I love it
For the reasons described above for why you will love Coco, those are also my reasons. I’m a big nature and wildlife person so being at a beach that is great for swimming and all sorts of water activities is pretty much the peak for me.
From every apartment we have lived at in Playas del Coco, we could walk to the beach in 2 minutes. Anytime we needed a break from our computers, we’d throw on a swimsuit, head to the beach and relax in the waters under the sunset.
Some other reasons are:
- Dog friendly beach
- Good nightlife
- Plenty of grocery stores
- Great for fishing
- Very reasonable rental prices
And why I don’t
- Hard to meet younger expats since there aren’t as many
- Being in such a small town drove us crazy sometimes – we had to to leave Coco once in awhile to refresh ourselves
- No Asian food – actually no good variety of food
- The garbage problem is awful
- Internet is terrible
Is Coco for you?
I always encourage people to stay in Coco for at least a couple weeks or more before they make the big decision. It is always different to live somewhere than to vacation somewhere and I think many people don’t realize that until they get here and are like, oh sh*t this is not what I expected…
However, I would say the majority of expats and foreigners I know that live in Playas del Coco visited at least once or twice and then decided to move down. So they knew already had an idea of what to expect. Digital nomads also pick Coco due to its location, proximity to beautiful beaches and large expat community.
Me? Well honestly after nearly 3 years of living here, I’m ready to move on. Coco is a wonderful place for families or retirees but Yeison and I are at that stage of our lives where we’re looking for more. Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll come back but for now, we enjoyed our time in Coco and are excited to explore the rest of Costa Rica.
If you want to be near Coco but not directly in it, Playa Ocotal is your best bet. We lived there for 9 months and it is a much quieter area. It’s just a 2 minute drive (depending on how many cows, bikes and people are on the road) from downtown Coco and Ocotal is a nice little beach.