San Jose the capital

San Jose, the capital and business center of Costa Rica, is a comfortable place to live despite its large population. Although downtown streets throng with shoppers and automobiles, neighborhoods a few blocks away can be tranquil residential areas. San Jose doesn't suffer slum problems that plague many U.S. cities. You'll find modest neighborhoods, to be sure, but not the starkly depressing ghettos so apparent in the U.S.A. Truthfully, I've found few residential neighborhoods in San Jose where I would feel uncomfortable or ashamed to live. There's a slight smog problem, but very slight when compared to cities like Athens, Los Angeles or Rome. Continual cross-breezes keep air clean. As you might expect, the farther from the business center, the better the housing. However, this isn't because of a decaying city core, as is the case with most U.S. cities; it's because the center is taken up with businesses, hotels, restaurants and uncountable shops and stores. For some reason, people from all over the valley feel a compulsion do their shopping in downtown San Jose. This is mostly from habit and the fact that shopping is something of a social event. By the thousands, crowds of shoppers amble along the streets and avenues, checking out window displays, making purchases and gossiping with friends. Most could shop in their own communities and neighborhoods, but it's more fun this way. So many pedestrians pack the main downtown avenue (Avenida Central) that the city has been forced to turn part of it into a mall. During peak periods, pedestrians turn the rest of the downtown section into a virtual mall by filling the streets, forcing drivers to detour around Avenida Central. Although just about any neighborhood in San Jose is comfort?able, North Americans are predisposed to congregate in some of the more costly areas. This is understandable, since they tend to be more affluent than Costa Ricans and can better afford upscale neighborhoods. The southern part of the city attracts a large percentage of foreign residents, particularly around the Sabana condos for sale or rent here. Typically, rents for one-bedroom condos start around $500 and can go as high as $3,000 a month for a super-luxurious manor. Other San Jose areas where North Americans choose to live are Cariari and Rohrmoser (expensive), and Los Yoses and San Pedro (moderate). San Pedro has a university atmosphere with rentals ranging from $450 a month for an apartment to $800 for a house. By shopping around, you can usually find places even more reasonable, and you must remember that ads in the Tico Times are directed toward North Americans who can afford to pay more. The less expensive places will be advertised in La Nacion, where Ticos find their rentals. San Jose has several apart?ment complexes that rent furnished places by the day or week, that make excellent "base camps" while looking for permanent quarters or when trying out Costa Rica as a place to live. My favorite? Rohrmoser, where we enjoy a condo with a great view.

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