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Arenal, one of the most popular destinations in the Costa Rica is famous for its Arenal Volcano and a large freshwater lake. The surroundings of this cone-shaped symmetrical volcano offer plenty of activities for visitors from kayaking to fishing to windsurfing. Arenal is only on the northwest of San Jose, located three hours away from the capital city. It is a perfect place for retirees, who seek for a relaxed life as the town offers pleasant climate, attractive landscape, and affordable real estate, low cost of living, and friendly locals and expats. Even after development in Arenal, this area still remains preserves its natural charm. Warm and friendly people further make this even more livable.


The area around the lake is picturesque and can be toured on a mountain bike or horseback. El Castillo and Arenal Dam are in close proximity to the Arenal Volcano. The town of El Castillo provides its visitors with plenty to do and see with activities including sky trekking, horseback riding, hiking, and kayaking. Eco Zoo, Butterfly Conservatory, and La Gavilana are the three attractions to check out in El Castillo.

Historical Background

Arenal, a famous tourist spot in Costa Rica is home to an active volcano. According to anthropological evidence, it is believed that people inhabited in this area even 10,000 years ago. There was a large explosive eruption of this volcano in 1968 unexpectedly which killed many people. The population in this area never grew large and after the eruption people would move many miles away and return only to check their crops. Arenal National Park is a main attraction of this region which was established in 1991 in order to protect the wildlife and to ensure a safety zone around the volcano. Today, a lot of people visit Arenal to hike the volcano and explore other tourist attractions. Besides, it is a favorite destination for many retirees because of its easy, laid-back lifestyle.


Arenal offers a laidback atmosphere in a rural setting. People in this place lead a simple life with a closely knit expat community. They regularly arrange get-togethers at each other's home to socialize more. The active community here often meets for parties, celebrations or even for just card games. They also love to help injured or abandoned animals or arrange trips to national parks or other tourist attractions together.

Generally, the people of Costa Rica are polite and most follow the Catholic Heritage in their everyday culture, rituals, and language.

Retirees Love

Retirees Dislike


average annual weather


Sunny and Dry

In the months of February, March, April, and July, Arenal is considered best for the visit as the months receive maximum sunshine. Most of the year, the temperatures remain steady with daytime temperatures hovering around 70 – 80 F, while the nighttime temperatures fall down to 65 F.




The town is situated 11 miles east of Arenal Volcano with internet cafes, restaurants, shops marking the main street. It is easy to walk to the attractions, shops, and cafes, however, to get to father areas, a boat taxi, bicycle, or bus service is required.





Arenal has a low cost of living, where a couple can easily enjoy an excellent lifestyle under $2,000 a month. This includes rent, grocery, utility bills, and entertainment.

real estate affordability


Arenal has several small villages dotting the lake with some of them are gated communities. One of the main reasons why retirees choose this destination to settle or for long term vacation is its affordability. They can buy a small American-style home for nearly $1, 00,000. A lake-view 4-bedroom home on 2 acres of land can be purchased for $189,000 while a fully furnished home of 2-bedrooms with several amenities like tennis court, pool, horse stables, boat storage and floating dock can be acquired for $215,000. Also, a smaller one-bedroom cottage is available can be bought for just $49,000 in Arenal.

economy strength


Arenal is an economically stable destination, thanks to the scenic landscape and impressive biodiversity, which make it an important destination for eco-tourism. Traditional agricultural exports and high value added goods and services are also boosting the economy of the country. The well-educated population, rich rainfall, and easy access to markets of North and South America mainly add to the stability of the economy. The estimated GDP of the country for 2017 is US$61.5 billion and the per capita is US$12,382.




expat population




literacy rate


Health & Safety

healthcare quality


All residents of Arenal participate in the CAJA, the national social security and health insurance system of Costa Rica. The standard of medical care is very high not only in this region but throughout the country. The region has excellent private clinics that take care of the ailments common diagnostics and ailments. However, for major medical interventions and emergencies, San Jose is the city to head to that has 3 private hospitals and 6 public hospitals.

number of top hospitals



Costa Rica is a safe country and Arenal is one of the safest areas in Costa Rica. Residents can avoid petty theft by taking preventive measures such as avoiding going alone at night and not carrying a lot of cash while getting around. The town is free from violent crime.


public transportation


The Costa Rica government has provided bus services in all areas to transport passengers from one place to another. There is a regular bus service between Arenal and San Jose everyday from the terminal Atlantico Norte in San Jose at $3.76. Similarly, people can get to Arenal from other places like Ciudad Quesada and Tilran. To get to Monteverde Cloud Forest, the town provides taxi/boat rides. There are plenty taxis around and one can easily take one to go nearby destinations like Ciudad Queseda, Tabacon Hot Springs, San Ramon, Arenal Lake and Arenal Volcano. To explore the town at a slower pace and in a more fun way, bicycles and scooter rental are good options.



High speed internet services and outstanding telephone and cell phone services are available in Arenal. The whole country has relatively a very good and modern communication infrastructure which helps retirees to stay in touch with their family and friends. It is easy to find internet cafes in Arenal and most of them sell coffee and food for people who surf the net.

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