There’s a reason Costa Rica is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Not only is it full of natural beauty with stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and abundant wildlife, but it’s also one of the safest and most stable countries in Latin America. And with the recent introduction of an innovative new digital nomad visa, it’s no wonder why Costa Rica is also becoming a hot spot for remote workers.
If you’re thinking of making the move to Costa Rica, or even just visiting for an extended working vacation, there are a few things you should know. Read on to learn more about the visa application process and quality of life once you’re there.
Costa Rica Digital Nomad Visa
Applications for Costa Rica’s innovative new digital nomad visa officially opened on July 4th, 2022, and it is already proving to be a popular choice for remote workers across the globe. One of only a limited number of countries in the Americas that offer this kind of opportunity, the application process has been specifically designed to be straightforward. As a result, it’s free from common issues that are usually associated with this type of visa.
Benefits of Digital Nomad the Visa
Costa Rica’s digital nomad visa has been specifically designed to attract foreign entrepreneurs and remote workers to the country by offering a host of benefits. The visa allows holders to live and work in Costa Rica for up to two years with the possibility of renewing the visa to extend their stay.
The visa allows holders to enjoy all the benefits of Costa Rican residency, including access to the country’s health care system and social security system. Other benefits associated with the visa include:
- Exemption from paying local income tax.
- Duty tax exemptions on imported essential tools (e.g., computers, mobile phones, or any other necessary equipment relevant to a remote job).
- The ability to use a foreign driver’s license to drive in the country.
- Authorization to open savings bank accounts in any of Costa Rica’s national banks.
There are also no restrictions on the type of work you can do, be it freelance, contracted, or self-employed. And because Costa Rica is a popular tourist destination, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to explore and enjoy all that the country has to offer.
Applying for the Digital Nomad Visa
To start, you’ll need to fill in an online form with your personal information and a few supporting documents, like proof of income. There’s a US$100 (€97) government fee, $90 (€88) processing fee, and an additional fee to pay for the visa once you are approved.
Depending on your country of origin, applicants may also be required to submit additional documents to support their application, according to the Costa Rican government’s General Law of Migration and Foreigners.
Essential documents required to complete the application form include:
- Visa application form
- Health insurance
- Proof of accommodation
- Employment contract
- A letter of declaration stating the intention to work remotely in Costa Rica
- A letter from your employer
- Proof of financial means — this can be proven via bank account statements
It’s worth noting that all application documents are in Spanish, so it’s worth having a grasp of the language to be able to complete the forms correctly or seeking the necessary assistance.
After completing and submitting the visa application, you’ll receive a decision on the outcome in up to two weeks from the Costa Rican authorities.
To qualify for a digital nomad visa, applicants must be working for a foreign company (that’s not Costa Rican) and demonstrate that they can work remotely. Other than that, there are no further restrictions regarding country of origin or residential status. Applicants must also demonstrate a stable monthly income, with a monthly salary of $3,000 or more. This is extended to a minimum of $5,000 per month if they’re supporting any dependent family members.
For access to Costa Rica’s healthcare system, visa applicants must also provide proof of travel or health insurance that’s valid within the country. This coverage must extend to any additional family members for the duration of their stay in Costa Rica.
By meeting these requirements, applicants will be granted eligibility to live and work in the country for a maximum of one year. Visa holders can apply to extend the visa for a subsequent year as long as they can prove that they have stayed in the country for a continuous period of 180 days or more.
Why Move to Costa Rica for Remote Work?
Costa Rica is quickly becoming a hub for startup companies and remote workers from abroad. The Costa Rican government has been very supportive of startups with lots to offer businesses and employees alike. Some of the benefits of living and working in Costa Rica include:
- A stable, democratic government. The country is generally considered one of the safest in Latin America.
- Affordable cost of living. The cost of living in Costa Rica is relatively low especially when compared to developed countries like the United States.
- Pleasant climate. The climate in Costa Rica is tropical, which means year-round warm weather.
- Attractive work culture. Costa Rica’s work culture is supportive and collaborative. There are plenty of resources and amenities available to help remote workers prosper, including great coworking spaces and numerous free Wi-Fi hotspots.
Costa Rica is working hard to improve its Internet infrastructure and the results are starting to show. In 2022 alone, the country has made significant progress in expanding its broadband network and increasing its Internet speeds. And with more and more people relying on the Internet every day, Costa Rica is well on its way to establishing a major digital economy. In fact, the percentage of the national population regularly using Internet services reached 81% in 2019 — nearly double the figure recorded just over a decade prior in 2010.
Internet in Costa Rica is provided via fiber-optic cables, which offer high-speed connections. The majority of households in the country have access to broadband Internet with download speeds of 53.5 Mbps or higher. In recent years, the Costa Rican government has committed to expanding access to broadband Internet in the country’s more rural areas. On average, download speeds in Costa Rica are faster than the Latin American average, making it a great place to live if you want and need quick, reliable Internet access.
With continued investment in Internet infrastructure, Costa Rica is poised to become a top player in the global digital economy.
LTE Internet & Cell Network Quality
While Costa Rica has excellent WiFi availability in established towns and cities, the same cannot be said for cell network service and LTE availability. Almost all the major tourist centers in Costa Rica have excellent 4G cell service but the same can’t be said for rural destinations and other areas including mountainous locations, rainforests, and national park areas.
That being said, as 4G availability continues to grow, so too does coverage. Today, almost 50% of the highly-forested country is covered by LTE network services.
5G Network Development
Costa Rica is yet to introduce a 5G network, despite being identified as one of the top five best-positioned countries to do so in a recent UN report. But this does not mean that it won’t happen anytime soon.
In 2022, Costa Rica’s newly sworn-in president, Rodrigo Chaves, announced that he would seek to advance 5G within the first six months of his presidency. Costa Rica has the infrastructure for 5G, which makes it promising and realistic that a network will be introduced in the coming years.
Quality of Life in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is frequently lauded as one of the best countries in the world to live in. And it’s not hard to see why — the country has stunning natural beauty, a rich culture, and a high quality of life. In fact, Costa Ricans are some of the happiest people in the world, according to several studies.
In addition to its natural beauty, Costa Rica also has a highly educated population, supported by a stable political environment. The country’s healthcare system is also top-notch, which plays a role in bumping up life expectancy. All these factors combine to ensure that people living in Costa Rica — whether local or foreign — can experience a high quality of life.
Nature & Experiences
As one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, the natural beauty of Costa Rica is truly unrivaled. The country is home to an incredible variety of plant and animal life, including some of the most exotic and breathtaking creatures on Earth. Above and beyond all the beauty, the country is also committed to protecting its natural resources. Costa Rica was, in fact, the first country in Latin America to banish all hunting in an effort to preserve its wildlife.
Since much of the country is covered in mountains and jungles, there’s always something new and exciting to experience. Visitors can hike through the rainforest, scale volcanoes, zip-line through the jungle, and go whitewater rafting along wild rivers.
If you’re looking for an idyllic place to live and work remotely, the town of Tamarindo on Costa Rica’s northwest coast should be at the top of your list. Situated on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, this small town is surrounded by lush tropical forests and is known for its beautiful beaches, friendly people, and laid-back lifestyle.
Tamarindo is an ideal place to stay if you’re looking to dial it back and enjoy the little things in life. With a population of 6,000, the town is small enough that you can get to know your neighbors and big enough that there’s still plenty to do. Residents can enjoy local restaurants and bars serving traditional Costa Rican cuisine, as well as quality shops and boutiques. For something more leisurely, you can spend your days relaxing on the beach, surfing, or exploring the nearby coastline.
Is Costa Rica Family-Friendly?
Costa Rica is an incredibly family friendly destination. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities to keep everyone entertained and Costa Rican people are also very welcoming. People will go out of their way to offer a helping hand where they can, and this accommodating nature makes it much easier for foreigners to quickly settle in after moving there.
Schools in Costa Rica
Education is a top priority in Costa Rica. The government understands that investing in education is the best way to ensure the country’s future success. As a result, Costa Rica has one of the best education systems in Latin America.
The country has also invested heavily in infrastructure to ensure schools have the resources they need to provide a quality education. It has led to Costa Rica having a high literacy rate and producing well-trained professionals across a range of fields.
Recommended schools close to Tamarindo include:
- Ali’s Treehouse (ages 2-6). This bilingual preschool offers an academic-rich environment and aims to educate children socially, emotionally, and cognitively.
- CRIA (ages 6+). The Costa Rica International Academy is US and MEP accredited and offers an English-based dual language program with Spanish.
- La Paz (ages 6+). Combining local and international students, this school focuses on developing the student’s sense of place in the world through authentic learning experiences.
- EDUCARTE (ages 6+). This bilingual (English and Spanish) school places fundamental focus on diversity, respect, citizenship, and art.
Costa Rica — A Haven for Remote Workers
Costa Rica has become one of the most sought-after countries for remote workers. The affordability of living, natural beauty, quality of life, and hospitable locals make it an ideal place to live and work. By introducing a Digital Nomad Visa with a straightforward application process, remote workers from around the world have been lining up to come and reap the benefits of all that Costa Rica has to offer. The country has all the resources in place to ensure that digital nomads can stay connected, make a good living, and enjoy life in Costa Rica to the fullest.