Explore First, Then Decide If You Want to Stay
If you've never been in Costa Rica and you think you'd like to live there permanently, I'd recommend that you first take some time, perhaps three weeks to a month and visit not only the larger towns and cities but also the rural areas.
In case you should stay longer, renting an apartment or a house, would be ideal. That'll give you more time to get a feel of the country and let you know more about the nature of its people. Should time permit you to visit twice, once during the dry season and another during the wet or rainy season, that would enable you to decide whether the six months of no rain as well as the six months of daily afternoon showers would suit you as a place in which to live permanently.
Definitely, before making a decision of where to settle, visit several small towns in the Central Valley, then try the Pacific and Caribbean beach areas, the northern plains, and eventually the southern valleys and flatlands extending to the border with Panama. By renting a Jeep or other four-wheel drive vehicle, you won't have trouble going over many back roads which will take you to beautiful more remote areas. However, since most roads are paved, even though many have plenty of potholes, most towns are reachable year-round by using a regular car. Generally, every small town has available places such as pensions or small hotels where you can stay while you continue to scout around. Also, in many rural areas where farmers are trying their hand at small tourism activities, you can find a place to stay for a day or two. That will give you an opportunity to get to know the people better.
Some American expatriates, who have retired semi-permanently in Costa Rica and can afford it, like to maintain two homes: their own in the States in which to stay from the end of March to early November, and another in Costa Rica where they pass out the harsh northern winter. However, most have sold their house in the States and later either bought, built or rented one in their new country.
As a reader of this book you undoubtedly are in the process of examining this country from many angles before deciding where to settle abroad. And I hope the information that follows leads you to eventually choose Costa Rica.