Cartago Homes for Sale & Real Estate

Listings last updated 09/26/2022
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Located in the center of Costa Rica, Cartago is the capital of the Cartago province and is situated less than 20 miles from the capital city of San Jose. There are approximately 156,000 people living within the 58.95 square miles of the city and over 413,000 in the metropolitan area. Cartago is one of the oldest cities in Costa Rica.

Cartago’s economy is based around agriculture, mainly onions, potatoes and orchids, in the rural areas and tourist destinations throughout. Many of those living in Cartago commute to work in the surrounding metropolitan areas, especially in San Jose to the west. There are a few international companies and Costa Rican companies located in Cartago’s industrial park. The major institution for higher education in Cartago is the Costa Rica Institute of Technology, which is known as one of the most prestigious and important colleges in the country.

As one of the oldest cities in Costa Rica, history and religion play a major role in its culture. There are ruins dating back hundreds of years such as the Santiago Apóstol (St. James) Parish Ruins encompassing several churches needing constant repairs since their establishment in 1575 due to earthquakes. The Basílica de Nuestra Senora de los Ángeles is a beautiful church dating back to the 17th century and is visited by over 2.5 million annually in August during the feast day of the Virgin of the Angels.

Cartago was established in 1563 by Coronado and is considered the first successful establishment in Costa Rica. Cartago remained the capital until 1824 when it was moved to San Jose.

You’ll find the Central Market, which is busiest on Thursday and Sunday, the Irazu Volcano, and the Ruins of Santiago Apostle Church in Cartago.

Cartago is full of tropical rainforests and located in the shadow of two volcanos: Irazu and Turrialba. Cartago’s weather is fairly consistent all year long with average highs in the mid-to-upper 70’s. Lows average in the 50’s year-round as well. Although summer rains are consistent, the rainiest month in Cartago is December in which it receives nearly 7 inches of rainfall out of the approximately 55 inches of annual rainfall.

Real estate and rentals are generally less expensive in Cartago than in other parts of Costa Rica. As an affordable city with beautiful scenery and easy access to San Jose, Cartago is part of the expanding urban area of the Central Valley.

Cartago increasingly is becoming the ideal home to those seeking life away from the major city while still being able to take advantage of public transportation to make it into San Jose with ease. While still predominately agricultural, Cartago is becoming more industrial and commercial.


Cartago, Costa Rica

Cartago, Costa Rica
  • Country: Costa Rica

  • State: Cartago

  • Nickname(s): "The City of Fogs"

  • Population: 156,000

  • Area:

    Land: 152.68 km2


Lifestyle and Culture

There are two main museums in Cartago: the Museums of the Central Bank of Costa Rica and the City Museum - designed to preserve Cartago’s historical, social, cultural and architectural heritage. The City Museum also displays the history, culture, and natural value of the area. The Historic City Station Gallery was originally a railroad station but was remodeled to be a modern art gallery.

Cartago hosts the day of the Blessed Virgin of Los Angeles every August with over 2 million people making the pilgrimage for this annual event. Another major event is Independence Day celebrated in mid-September.

Although considered one of the oldest cities, Cartago has many modern amenities including a Walmart and two shopping malls. There is even a hospital located within Cartago as well. The Costa Rica Institute of Technology is the only public higher education institution in Cartago and educates 9,000 students.


Entertainment and Tourism

One of the main forms of entertainment in Cartago is being a part of nature. Along with hiking the two volcanos, white water rafting on the Rio Reventazón or the Rio Pacuare is another draw to the city.

Cartago is not known for a thriving nightlife as it is considered a quieter spot amid beautiful scenery. The two main hot spots are the Metropolis Bar and the Club de Cartago.

The major sport in Cartago is football – the home team is the Club Sport Cartaginés Deportiva S.A., or simply known as the Cartaginés. It is the oldest club in Costa Rica with roots dating back to 1906. They play at the Estadio Jose Rafael "Fello" Meza Ivankovich which has a capacity of 10,000+ sports fans.

Entertainment and Tourism

Districts & Neighborhoods

Cartago’s downtown area is made up of eleven districts including Oriental, San Nicolás, El Carmen, Dulce Nombre, San Francisco and Guadalupe. There are many cantons in the Cartego province as well including:



Oreamuno is located in the Cartago Province. It is situated right at the base of the Irazu Volcano and is known for its agricultural economy. The main agricultural items include potatoes, onions, carrots , yucca and lettuce. Tourism is also a big part of the economy due to the proximity of the volcano.

El Guarco

El Guarco is a canton in the Cartago Province and set along the foothills of the Talamanca mountain range. Its history dates back to pre-Columbian times and was officially established in 1939. El Tejar is the major town in the canton and is located minutes from Cartago.

Real Estate Market

Cartago residents often commute to San Jose and the surrounding areas. With a bus service that is considered very good and a newly-constructed commuter rail, trips into the city for work or leisure are quite easy.

Foreigners and expats do not generally reside in Cartago. Costa Ricans live in the city and often commute to San Jose. Its cooler climate and distance from the ocean also keeps the foreigners away. Real estate prices are generally lower in Cartago than in the rest of the Central Valley.

Rent and real estate in Cartago is over 40% less expensive than in nearby San Jose. Compared to Alajuela to the northwest of San Jose, Cartago has a similar cost of living. Rent and real estate prices are just 5% more expensive than in Alajuela.

In the Central Valley, where Cartago is located, demand for real estate is rising and has the highest number of developments in progress. While many work in San Jose, most residents are seeking homes outside of the city limits. Cartago is known for its small town charm while also boasting modern luxuries and amenities.

Construction is booming throughout the Central Valley as a more accessible bus service comes online and major international companies build retail stores.

Unlike Mexico, which has strict laws about foreigners purchasing property, Costa Rica is known for being transparent and friendly to those interested in real estate. There are no restrictions against foreigners buying property and they are able to do so in their own name as opposed to going through a trust.

Home Style Average Rent Price
1-bedroom apartment in City Centre $312.85
1-bedroom apartment Outside of Centre $235.71
3-bedroom apartment in City Centre $542.85
3-bedroom apartment Outside of Centre $459.99

Source: (May 2017)



The Costa Rica Institute of Technology is located in Cartago and is considered one of the most prestigious engineering and science schools in the country. Over 9,000 students attend the Costa Rica Institute of Technology, which offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering fields such as construction, industrial production, electronics and biotechnology, as well as degrees in computer science and business management.

In Costa Rica, public education is free for students in preschool all throughout their basic education. For those 18 years of age or younger, school is mandatory. Uniforms are required in school with the purpose being to reduce the visibility of socioeconomic status between students.

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