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Looking to move to CR for one year (w/ 4 kids!) (San José)

I guess that when it comes to research Protected content everything else Protected content have to start somewhere. Unfortunately for all of you, I'm starting here! : )

My wife and I are thinking of moving to CR for a year starting in the fall of Protected content of a sabbatical year, I guess you could call it). I lived in CR for part of a year back in the mid-90's (post university volunteering) so I am loosely familiar with the country but: (i) clearly much has changed in CR since then; and (ii) clearly my needs as a 22 year old are much different than they are now with a spouse and four kids!

I was curious to hear some thoughts from people in country these days re: where we should think about living, maybe a bit about schools and so forth, etc. My wife and I will probably be making a "scouting trip" sometime this fall (thus the desire to check out a few of these sites to see what I can learn in advance).

A bit about what we are looking for from our year abroad...

--- a bit of ex-pat exposure is definitely welcome but we don't want to end up in a self-segregated "ex-pat and vacationer" area of some sort. We want the family to get some cultural immersion from the year as well.
--- if we were going for longer, throwing the kids in a school speaking 100% spanish would be great but given the "one school year" time frame, i don't want them to fall wildly behind and we are therefore looking to locate ourselves somewhere near an international school where they can be on a US calendar and get a MIXTURE of english and spanish in school.
--- main point is that we want the kids to have enough schooling in english that they don't miss a beat when we return but we very much want them to pick up a good amount of spanish over the year
--- my wife wants to be near a spanish language school where she can take some classes (she knows some spanish but not a lot). i used to be (close to?) fluent but that was many years ago so I could definitely use some practice, too!
--- my wife is a social worker and very active in the non-profit world (has started multiple charities of her own, etc.) and wants to be in an area where she can find volunteer opportunities
--- more of a "nice to have" but wife also loves yoga, book stores, etc. and being nearby those types of amenities would be great. Same thing with ideally having access to stuff like music teachers for the kids, etc.
--- my wife doesn't necessarily want to be on the beach and in the heat, but she is a bit wary of some spots (like my initial push to move to the Monte Verde area) b/c she wants to at least be able to appreciate some of the benefits of being in a warmer/tropical location for the year
--- we'd be looking to rent a house for the year. and ideally be in a spot we could use as a good launching point to explore the country more on weekends, with visitors, etc.

On the one hand, saying "it's Cost Rica, let's live near the beach" sounds great but we think that would suck us too much into vacationer/ex-pat/less-authentic sort of a vibe.

As I said above, I love the Monte Verde area but i'm not sure my wife would want the weather there for a year and the isolated nature of the area might not be ideal.

We definitely don't want to live IN the city.

So...I was thinking maybe the best bet would be to pick a cool, smaller town/city outside of San Jose? Probably gets use near schools. Near amenities and classes my wife likes. Good launching off point. I'm just not sure where to look and what all of those towns are like these days.

Gotta run. I'll stop rambling and see if any responses come in before I write more!

thanks for reading this!