Considering living in Tamarindo? We are excited for you! Whether you’re moving from abroad or from another region of Costa Rica, a potential move to the beach and, specifically, to Tamarindo is exhilarating.
An idyllic town on Costa Rica’s North-Pacific coast, in the sun-drenched province of Guanacaste, Tamarindo is what many consider the perfect destination for life and lifestyle: Stunning beaches. A vibrant international community. Rich culture. Vast natural beauty. And that’s just the tip of the sandcastle.
Envision waking up to a symphony of crashing waves and hooting howler monkeys. Inhale the aroma of tropical fruits lingering in the air. Step out onto your terrace and take in the panorama of lush greenery stretching as far as the eye can see.
This is the everyday reality of living in Tamarindo. This small town (and sometimes, “big city”) is a haven for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and those craving a relaxed lifestyle. However, like any destination, Tamarindo presents both advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore what makes this town a haven for some and a potential challenge for others.
The Pros & Cons of Living in Tamarindo
If you’re thinking about moving to Tamarindo, you’re probably researching this vs. that, the pros and cons, and every other comparative aspect you can. Us, too, friend, us, too.
And so, with that in mind, here’s a list of the biggest pros and cons of living in Tamarindo, from people who have been there, done that.
Pro: Car-Free, Walking Convenience
You’ll often see Tamarindo referred to as one of Guanacaste’s largest beach “cities,” but the truth is that it’s a town that measures about a mile from tip to stern. That means that, if you live in downtown proper, you can cover Tamarindo’s approximate one-square-mile area on foot.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t or can’t own a car. Instead, it means that if you want to ditch the car for any reason – whether you don’t want to contend with parking or are simply up for a leisurely stroll – you can walk anywhere. Alternately, grab your beach bike, call a taxi or torito (tuk-tuk), or use any other form of easy, short-distance transportation that makes you happy.
Pro: Tamarindo Amenities
Ok, ok – backtracking for a minute! So many refer to Tamarindo as a “city” because it has the amenities of a small city. Tamarindo’s amenities are pretty incredible, especially when you consider its size.
We’re talking dozens of restaurants – and Tamarindo restaurants extend to fine dining with your feet buried in the sand; a smoothie, blended from just-picked papaya and fuchsia-hued dragon fruit; fresh-from-the-sea lobster and just-caught mahi-mahi; and so very, very much more – paired with nightlife and shopping. Tamarindo also has the best grocery stores in the area, from the budget-conscious to the import-heavy variety.
Add to that, you’ll find the Tamarindo Night Market, evening fire dancing, a weekly farmer’s market, and so much more. If it’s an amenity in the area, it’s almost certainly an amenity in Tamarindo.
Pro: First-Class Medical
Speaking of amenities, here’s one that we don’t want to lump into the rest.
Depending on your needs, medical may be high on your list of priorities. While you’ll find a primary care physician (PCP) in almost every town and area of Guanacaste, Tamarindo is a great choice if you need something more.
In addition to basic healthcare – PCPs, pediatricians, pharmacists, and dentists – you’ll also find specialists and access to major medical. Because in the grand scheme of comparisons, major hospitals aren’t always as easy to access. And that’s where Tamarindo can shine: you’d be about a 90-minute drive to Hospital San Rafael Arcangel, the premier private hospital in Guanacaste. You’ll also have easy access to the public CCSS hospital in Liberia.
Pro: Beach Bliss
If you’ve always dreamed of living in a vacation world, then Tamarindo is as close as it may be possible to get.
Tamarindo’s sun-kissed, powder-soft beach is not only beautiful but also multi-faceted, as far as Costa Rican beaches go. While you’ll find that many beaches are best for one pursuit or the other, living in Tamarindo means you’ll have easy access to a surfing beach, a swimming beach, a lounging beach, and a strolling beach. Just be sure to ask where is best for which!
Pro: Surf Paradise
We know we just mentioned this, but Tamarindo’s surf deserves more than just a sentence.
Because the surf is always great in Tamarindo. Due to our location, we get NW and SW swells, which peak (literally) at different times of the year. So, while you’ll probably develop a favorite Costa Rica surf season – depending on your skill level, favorite breaks, and preferred type of surf – you’ll be able to get on your board, 365 days a year and as often as you choose.
Pro: International Community
Living in Tamarindo is as close as it gets to seamless integration into Costa Rican life and living.
This tight-knit, relaxed community encompasses neighbors from almost everywhere in the world. From beach enthusiasts and families to digital nomads and food connoisseurs, this destination welcomes all who are sociable, outgoing, and outdoor enthusiasts – and especially those expats who desire an easy transition marked by minimal cultural adjustments.
Con: Not an Authentic Tico Town
Tamarindo was once a sandy fishing village but as it rose to surfing fame, it also rose in world renown.
Over the decades, Tamarindo has definitely evolved into somewhat of a tourist destination, which means that for much of the year – high season runs December-May, with significant shoulder seasons tacked on to either end – you’ll share your hometown with tourists, digital nomads, and other visitors and/or short-term residents.
While this tourism infrastructure has created many benefits (including many of the amenities we listed above), it also means that living in Tamarindo doesn’t provide the authentic, old Costa Rica experience. You won’t find many families who have lived on the same property for generations. It’s not often that riders on horseback show up at the market. Most people speak English (whether that’s a pro or a con is up to individual interpretation). Etc. etc.
Con: Not a Snorkeling Beach
Tamarindo Beach is incredibly versatile, but it’s worth noting that it’s not a snorkeling beach. Notably, there are plenty of snorkeling destinations nearby. They just won’t be your home beach.
Con: There’s Traffic
There’s no getting around, detouring, or ignoring this one: Tamarindo’s small size, paired with its popularity, creates traffic congestion. (See “walk anywhere,” above!)
Depending on the day, the time of day, and your destination, you could run across serious traffic; this is particularly common during morning and afternoon rush hour, and during school entrance/exit times. If you can, avoid rush hour and when possible, live close to where you regularly need to be (ex. a specific school).
Con: And It’s the “Big City”
As one of the country’s larger coastal cities, Tamarindo attracts some bigger-city problems. We’ve already covered the traffic issue but in addition to that, for example, you’ll find that crime is higher here than in nearby, smaller, less popular towns.
Con: Higher Cost of Living
Related to the “big city,” the cost of living in Tamarindo is higher than in some other areas of Costa Rica. As a general rule, life at the beach is more expensive than inland, due in part to popularity and in part to practicality (ex. the added cost of air-conditioning).
There is no one cost of living in Tamarindo. Here, as anywhere, your monthly and yearly expenses are dependent on the life you lead: Your cost of living will be very different if, say, you’re a family of four with kids in private schools than if you were a retired couple living on a pension. For more information, check out our guide to Costa Rican cost of living.
Living in Tamarindo: What’s Your Dream?
You have questions, we have answers! Whether you’re already well on your way to moving or just dipping your toes into research, we’d love to help you explore the possibilities of life in Costa Rica the options in Playa Grande, Costa Rica.
We’re happy to discuss real estate and help you decide which step to take next. We can refer you to residency attorneys or other sources of information and are also happy to share our own experiences and lessons learned.
Because at Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica, we thrive on relationships and promise the fastest communication and best services in the industry. And that begins with lots of information. We are happy to answer your questions and point you in the right direction, including on all things related to the Costa Rica and Playa Grande.
We’re proud to offer some of the best Costa Rica real estate, from condos and homes to land and businesses for sale. So, go ahead – try us. Give us a chance to show off our expertise – and wow you with the possibilities! We look forward to it.