Those who are looking for a change but not ready to quit their jobs are wondering how possible is it to work in Costa Rica? Read on to learn more about what our recent clients have found in their transition to working life in Costa Rica.
Times are changing and more of our lives are moving online every year. 2020 was no exception with the digital revolution being sped up by social distancing and many people sheltering at home. But rather than staying home, people are looking for new places — maybe a bit quieter, more tranquil, and more beautiful — from which to settle into a new work-life routine.
Pursuing a new kind of life as a digital entrepreneur in Costa Rica is becoming an increasingly popular option for those considering a move beyond their borders. If you have the desire and ability to live in a different country and a different culture, there’s no reason you can’t be happy and have a great experience if you go into it with open eyes and an open mind.
Remote working has definitely hit the mainstream. This pivotal year has shown employers and workers that there are many jobs that can be done from the comfort of home. So why not make home be somewhere a little bit more beautiful?
Around the world, more and more people are taking the opportunity to be ‘temporary locals’ by combining their jobs with longer-term and possibly indefinite travel. Anecdotal evidence shows that couples and families who expatriate together are able to cultivate more connection with each other and the world around them. By staying a few months at a time, digital entrepreneurs and teleworkers are finding themselves falling in love with the lifestyle in Costa Rica and searching for viable ways to stay. Read on to learn more about the logistics of working in Costa Rica.
Is it possible to work legally while living in Costa Rica?
When it comes to working in Costa Rica, expats who find success here tend to either invest in a business to make income locally, or they find work online as digital entrepreneurs and get paid in their country of origin.
In the case of owning a local business, expats can legally manage the business themselves while hiring Costa Ricans or permanent residents with legal work permits to run the daily operations as employees.
One of the strongest immediate options for working legally in Costa Rica is to buy into the local economy and embark on the path to becoming a permanent resident. This can be done by purchasing assets of over $200,000 USD in value, which sets you on the path to gaining investor residency status. Most investors who want to earn an income in Costa Rica do so by purchasing an existing business, a home to rent out, or buying land to build a home or business.
Another option is to become a rentista resident with $60,000 USD in your home bank. This figure is true for the U.S., Canada and most of Europe, but is subject to local banking laws. Your bank will need to write a letter saying that you have this amount and that you agree to send $2500 per month to a bank in Costa Rica. There is no requirement that you spend this money but it is probably close to what a comfortable lifestyle will cost annually for a small family.
Neither of these temporary residence visas automatically grant you the privilege to work in Costa Rica. These options put you on the road to gaining this privilege three years later when you can apply for permanent residency without restrictions. You will however be able to live in Costa Rica permanently as soon as your application is filed – meaning that you can legally pursue work online as a digital entrepreneur while living in Costa Rica.
Tech solutions for digital entrepreneurs in Costa Rica
Online workers in Costa Rica use WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype and Zoom to communicate with their clients around the world. Internet speeds in our region have improved drastically in the last year, making it possible for even IT professionals to work from home successfully in Costa Rica. Local internet providers now offer fiber optic cable in almost every part of Costa Ballena. Many homes and businesses are already benefitting from 10-100mbps download speeds.
Since modern communication apps operate on WiFi, they can be used virtually for free in the Costa Ballena. Unless you are in route and using your mobile data, almost every business in the Southern Zone region has free WiFi for customers. Even while you are dining out or running personal errands, you can be at work on your mobile devices.
Taxes for digital entrepreneurs in Costa Rica
It is certainly worth researching your accountability in terms of national insurance and tax payments for your home country whilst earning abroad. This usually depends on how your income is being earned, in which currency, and what bank it is paid into.
If you are working with foreign customers and your money goes to a bank account outside of Costa Rica, you will have no problems with Costa Rican tax law or the Ministry of Labor. Legally, you can work from Costa Rica, be paid into your home bank, and still be taxed in your home country. If you are being paid offshore, your local tax institution will still want to know about how much you’re getting paid, even if none of your pay touches your home country’s bank so long as your business is registered there.
If you have a freelancing business in Costa Rica, you can legally work independently if you register with the Ministry of Labor. Costa Rica allows non-resident foreigners to establish a corporation in Costa Rica and to legally register as an independent worker, get a receipt book and pay taxes for your freelance work at the Ministry of Labor.
How to go about getting freelance work
The easiest solution for those wanting to find work online is to sign up to a freelancing platform such as Upwork. There are also an abundance of opportunities for teaching English online via platforms such as VIPkid, Cambly or through apps such as Palfish. Each of these companies takes a commission on your earnings.
There are various free online job boards that you can search for independent remote work, such as Jobspresso and Remote. These sites will link you to jobs you can apply for of your own accord and not have to worry about paying for a sign-up fee or handing over portions of your pay in commission.
Another option that local expats pursue is to set up a professional portfolio to market your skills to businesses online. Obviously, the main concern here is that there is no guarantee of getting a response, and the effectiveness of this strategy can vary dramatically depending on your experience and determination.
Popular jobs for digital entrepreneurs who find work in Costa Rica
- Web Or App Development
- Blogging And Affiliate Marketing
- Copywriting And Content Writing
- Online Marketing
- Online Teacher
- E-commerce (including rental property management)
- Virtual Assistant (VA)
- Graphic Designer