Guacimal sits amidst mountains and rivers at an altitude of 508.00m/1666.67ft, according to elevationmap.net. This elevation gives us wonderful weather. Not as hot as the beaches, nor as windy and rainy as the cloud forest in Monteverde. We get sunshine almost every day of the year; great for birders or sun worshipers like me! During the rainy season which starts in mid-May and extends until mid-November, we get less sun; but almost it comes out almost every day, for at least a couple of hours in the morning. The rains begin in the afternoon and it rains most every day, with heavier rains during the months of October and September. I love the rains as everything comes so alive. It just makes it a little challenging to go to the nearby river, an activity that I enjoy very much.
It only takes 25 mins by car to Santa Elena, Monteverde, and the road is fully paved now! Santa Elena is the heart of the Monteverde district. It is a busy town. You can find a myriad of restaurants, shops, banks/ATM’s, churches, entertainment, etc. The actual town of Monteverde is another 5 mins past Santa Elena and it features two bilingual schools K-12 grade and it is the heart of the Quaker ex-pat settlement.
Guacimal also has Spanish only public schools, which give an authentic cultural and language immersion experience. There are two small grocery stores well-stocked with the typical items Costaricans consume daily. You can request specialty items if needed. Many of us consume products that people produce around here such as eggs, milk, cheese, fruits and veggies (though this is limited at times), beans, root vegetables, etc. There are three restaurants/eateries (incluing our very own vegetarian café and small shop, see the Café-Bazar Om tab), a soccer field, the Guacimal and Veracruz rivers to swim in, and many smaller streams to hike along and bathe in. People can also enjoy the nearby hot springs. Biking is also a favorite sport as the roads are in good condition and the scenery quite beautiful. We are part of the Bell Bird Biological Corridor and of the Pacific Hiking Trail which extends from Monteverde to the coast. Our town is at the base and neighbors the reserves of the Monteverde Cloud Forest, which is why we have abundant water sources. There are several churches of various denominations.
We are close to the two main airports. It is 151 km to the Juan Santa Maria airport in Alajuela, and driving time according to Google Maps is a little less than 2 hours, but this depends on traffic. I make it in two hours if I leave really early in the morning. To the Liberia airport is 120 Km with an approximate driving time 1 hour and 45 mins. Both airports are reached via paved roads which are in good condition. To the Puntarenas Ferry, it is 49 km and it takes one hour. And to the closest beach, Playa Dona Ana, it is 40 km and it takes 46 mins. To the city of Puntarenas where you can conduct most business activities such as banking, legals, post office, etc, it is 48 km, and it takes a little over 1 hr.
Here are a few blog clippings to help you understand more of our philosphy and reasons for creating this intentional community
Intentional Community. The time has come.
Last week I was doing my usual morning contemplation/meditation. There were two questions asked “What do you really really want?” What do you value?” I pondered as if the answer was going to be granted by a genie. I want spiritual, mental and physical health. I thought about my answer because as a parent of a teen son, I am always thinking about his happiness and wanted my answer to ensure he was included. He has his own life, he is the captain of his own ship, yet, if I am healthy, I can be the best mom, my very best self to be able to listen and be present and to love him through his highs and lows on his travels. I also thought about others I love… the best gift I can give, is my unconditional love and compassion and I can only gift something if I already have it within myself to give. And I thought about the environment, other sentient beings and the state of affairs of the people in the world… I can only stay conscious amidst the pain and be most useful, if I am strong, resilient, if I have a good attitude… in other words, if I am healthy.
My definition of health is to have peace and joy that run deep, deeper than the world we normally pay attention to. It does not necessarily mean to have a perfect body, or perfect mind, nor a spirit that has achieved enlightenment, but simply a positive attitude towards life and a will to continue to grow and learn and improve… an inner knowledge of my place in the whole, the understanding that I am the drop in the ocean and I am the ocean, to have a clear sense of the inter-connectedness of all beings, as if we were all cells in an organ which then belongs to the body of our Mother Earth. So that I am very aware that what I do matters, what I think matters, what I feel matters… and that I am then careful as I walk on the planet.
Connected to personal health is collective health. As what I do affects others, what others do clearly affects me. Therefore, it behooves me to help create the conditions, not just out of love and compassion, but
out of common sense, to ensure every person on the planet, every sentient being is healthy at all levels because we truly are ONE. This is a time to realize our ONENESS and co-create the conditions that allow HEALTH
to flourish as a prime directive for our lives and for our Mother Earth.
The idea of drawing more people to our community from other communities around the globe has always been present. It makes sense to balance the scales. Our community has what many others don’t: clean air, clean water, fresh food, healthy soil, forests, rivers, wildlife, peaceful and healthy people- i.e. an environment already conducive to good health. Now with the new world situation, more than ever, our community needs people with good intentions that can inject their own energy into the system to help co-create an intentional community based on the value of personal and planetary health.
It is like building a home, or a body; we need different parts, different organs. We can’t build an entire system with the same type of energy. We realize that each country, each town,has its own type of energy, its own strengths and skills to develop, and in this co-creating, we can all help one another balance the scales.
We invite you to take a look at our community, and if you think you have something to learn and something to teach, something to contribute and something to take, and your main life directive is collective health based on personal health, then living in our community is worth exploring… to live a life worth living and at the same time to collaborate in the healing of our planet and elevating the vibration of our collective human consciousness. It is a win-all!.
There are several public schools in our district. The largest and closest to us is just a few blocks from our Sustainability Center. There is no cost to attend and foreigners can enroll their children. The school cycle starts in February and they have strict age guidelines.
In addition, there are two bilingual (English-Spanish) in the nearby town of Santa Elena/Monteverde. It goes from pre-K to 12 th grade and they even administer the SAT and do college prep courses.
If you become a resident, you will have the opportunity to belong to the public health system and pay a small sum monthly for free meds, labs, tests and doctor’s visits. The sum may be higher if you report a high income. It gets calculated on the basis of your income. I pay about $50 per month. The doctors and nurses come to Guacimal a few times a week. If people need emergency care, they can travel 20 mins up to Monteverde and go to the free clinic or go to a private clinic where they speak English and are open 24 hrs, mostly catering to the foreigners. This is not free, but it is inexpensive compared to the USA. For instance, when I lived in Monteverde, and before I transferred to the public health care system, I called this clinic in the middle of the night as I though my son had appendicitis and did not want to move him. The doctor came and drew blood for tests, and examined him for $50 USD. I was greatly relieved! This was 10 years ago, but I don’t think it has gone up that much. Some times the wait times for free care can be very long. You have to learn to navigate the system, so you may choose to pay for an occasional test out of pocket to expedite the care you need, but even then, it is soooo much cheaper and easier than in the US.
We have relatively fast internet at the Center now via a special antenna. Most people use internet from their phone and do a hotspot or they obtain a modem and set it up at home to give wifi to several computers. There are landlines available in most places around our area and cellular phone service via Kolbi, the carrier with best coverage here.
There is actually fiber optic running under our main road, which we can hook into. Some day there will be enough of us using the Center who are willing to pay the price of having unlimted super fast internet
WATER. We have EXCELLENT spring water! Costa Rica supplies a third of its water, specially in the rural areas, via all-volunteer non-profit organizations called ASADAS who administer the water distribution. These ASADAS fall under the jurisdiction of the overarching water distribution organization called the AYA. The ASADAS capture water either from wells or springs and set up a water distribution system. People pay for the water they consume very much in the same way as in the US. You get a bill online and can also be scheduled for automated payments online. Some farms also have their own springs and can use this water or use the city water from the ASADAS or both. A typical water bill for a household of three could be around $10-$20 USD per month.
ELECTRICITY. In our area, we get our electricity from ICE, the Costa Rican electric company. We are trying to get solar panels, but have not done it yet. A typical household of three pays about $40 USD per month.
TRASH COLLECTION. The township association has taken it upon themselves to establish a trash collection route. The community members enroll voluntarily in this effort to keep our town clean and it all works out! We pay $6 per month and the trash gets collected every Monday. We recycle, but most people don’t. This is something that we can work towards.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT. Buses run to and from San Jose/Alajuela Airport to Monteverde and Puntarenas passing by both main access highways (routes 605 and 606) twice daily. There are also collective shuttles to various locations throughout the country.
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS. A group of families from neighboring communities have formed what we called COMUNIDADES. It stands for Comunidades Unidas para un Desarrollo Ecologico y Sustentable, which translates into United Communities for a Sustainable and Ecological Development. It is a non-profit association and anyone can belong to it. We are mostly organizing to produce our own organic food and to support one another to promote well-being in general.
Rios Libres was born as a community-wide movement to save the Veracruz River from being dried up. Now it we have a group chat that keeps us connected and keeps active in case of any other threat to our natural resources. It is also a way to disseminate useful information about what goes on here and elsewhere in the world.
RutaCom- Inter-Community trading route. We trade goods and services in our area and the route extends all the way to Isla Caballo in the Gulf of Nicoya. Trading allows people to improve their lives by allowing access to food, necessary items and services that perhaps could not be accessed if they had to be purchased with money
We are very lucky to have a lawyer we can trust and who has been helping our community ever since our struggle to save the river. Though she does not live here permanently, she is here as needed to help solve the legal issues of us the residents as well as to become involved in all the various activities and initiatives, such as the Trading Route, which by the way, though she gets paid for most of her services, she also actively participates in our trading. She can help all the way from immigration issues to acquisition of land, merchant contracts, etc.
Some people who reside in Costa Rica never become residents, but I think it is a good idea to get residency if you plan to stay all-year round. If you only want to stay part of the year, you can stay for up to three months at a time. You can travel to a neighboring country and re-enter and stay another three months. Most foreigners only need a passport to enter, no visa is required.
People can become residents under various categories. Two of the most popular are Pensionado and Rentista. Under the first, you must prove you receive a pension of at least $1,000 USD per month for the rest of your life. Under the second, you must prove you can receive an income of some sort of at least $2,500 USD per month for a minimum of two years. There are other categories, for instance by marrying a Costa Rican citizen, or by making a large investment in the country, or by obtaining certain jobs. These amounts may change, but once you are locked in, the amounts don’t change for you.
Our community lawyer is available to help you through the entire process. Once you apply, immigration allows you to stay in the country without having to leave every three months while the process of becoming a resident goes on.
Properties for Sale/Rent
Housing options are varied and they range from acquiring property, to renting a house, all the way to a combination of both (rent to buy), or neither. There are three nearby homes that can be rented (see our Lodging tab) at an integrated farm called Rancho el Rio. We also will allow selected families/individuals to rent space for a trailer/mobile home at our 67-acre experimental farm, El Encanto or on the Center’s grounds. The Center’s headquarters also has housing available which is often reserved for staff and long-term volunteers. But feel free to inquire about it.
Things are changing very quickly, and from my own experience, properties in Costa Rica, specially near a popular spot like Monteverde, keep going up in price. So if you can afford it, it would be best to buy. Reach out to us directly via our email for more information on properties for sale, financing options from owners, and other housing opportunities to fit your needs.
Anyone can own property in Costa Rica. You do not need to live here, nor be a resident. See our Immigration tab for more information
Why Costa Rica
In 2008, I felt very moved to getting out of the USA when my son was 5. My husband had passed away when I was pregnant with our son in 2002. By 2008 I was living in a neat and clean family neighborhood in South Jersey… There was a city ordinance to have 6-foot fences, so all my little son saw out of our lovely backyard was wood planks. I went to visit the schools as he would be soon entering kindergarten … I was shown the classrooms where he would be expected to sit for so many hours a day. Something did not feel quite right. I was working as a hospice social worker at the time and I recalled there were days I dropped him off as soon as they opened the day-care center, in fact, I would be in my car waiting for them to open, so I could go to work. And often I would be rushing home to pick him up at the very last minute before they closed. By the time we got home, quality time was nowhere to be found. I felt sick, physically, mentally and spiritually. There must be a better thing for us, I often thought. Also, I am from Mexico and after spending most of my life in the USA in places where we had to have our windows and doors closed for about half the year, inhaling recycled air, I also longed to see green all year round, and to eat the fresh fruit I ate when I was a child…right from the trees. I also began to feel very uncomfortable with the fact the vast majority of the country’s budget was being spent of the military instead of education or medical systems… it was a combination of these and perhaps other factors that made me feel uncomfortable enough to take action. I knew I needed to get out, but I was not sure where to. I asked for Divine guidance, and I got it in the simplest and most direct of ways… I saw a sign on the street as I was driving home one Sunday, and decided to enter the Quaker meeting it advertised that was going on right at that time. My son was in the backseat. We walked in and participated in the quiet “service”. It was more like the meditation I was already practicing. And at the end of the meeting a woman stood up and asked us all to “hold in the light/pray for her daughter who was on a turbulent flight from Costa Rica back to the US. There was an instant recognition. Costa Rica was THE place I was looking for, though I knew very little about this beautiful, peaceful country. My research showed my logical brain that my intuition was right. In a few short months I made arrangements to visit, and we moved in August of 2008. It was the best decision I could have made. And as they say, the rest is history.
In 2013, I moved to this town of Guacimal. The same story played here than everywhere in the world… those who had more took advantage of those who did not. But this town had something different. They were ready to give up their lives to prevent privatization of their pristine river… and when they asked for help, there was only one thing to do.
This is how we got fully engaged in keeping Costa Rica the beautiful paradise it still is. This is why the Sustainability Center was born and why we believe so much in the power of community… the power of the human connection and of the love for simple things. For me Costa Rica is the perfect place (and I am sure there are many others) to give birth to what I long for… a new humanity… a new way of doing things where our health and the health of the planet takes priority, where we can thrive, not just survive
The Corona issue is telling us in no uncertain terms that the time has come for each of us to “sign up” to straighten the course of humanity… it is possible with everyone doing what we feel called to do in our little corner of the world.