Finding a Job
Costa Rica is home to more than 100,000 expats, and while many live comfortably on savings and retirement pensions, younger residents must continue to support themselves to make ends meet. So, how do you find employment in Costa Rica -- a country with strict labor laws and an educated workforce? It's challenging, but not impossible, to secure a work permit if you possess skills that a Costa Rican does not, and your potential employer is willing to apply for a permit on your behalf.
Salaries from call center and English teaching jobs are just enough to cover basic living expenses, but rarely afford monthly savings. Until permanent residency or a work permit is attained, many new transplants find work in the following areas.
Call Center Agent
Call centers are a dime a dozen in the Central Valley. Large companies such as Intel, Datascension and HP hire English speakers to man the lines, and pay ranges from $4.25 to $7 an hour. The only requirements are a high school diploma and conversational English. Some call centers offer base pay plus monthly commissions.
The demand for native English speakers is high in Costa Rica's education system, and several international schools sponsor work permits for qualified individuals. Although teaching jobs typically don't pay very well ($500-$800 per month), many find it enough for simple living. Teachers with advanced degrees and qualifications will have more job opportunities and a higher salary range.
Real Estate Broker
Unlike in the States, Costa Rica has no real estate broker requirements, and plenty of firms are willing to hire inexperienced sales agents. The only legal requirements to becoming a broker here are residency and a work permit, though some agents practice without either. In effect, all you need is an outgoing personality, a car and some property listings. Many expats have made successful careers in this field, especially in relocation hotspots like Tamarindo and Jaco, where retirement homes are very much in demand.
Wagering clerks and sales reps usually net between $600-$900 per month, and most online casinos and sportsbook companies only require decent English and a pleasant phone personality, though some positions require heavy sales experience.
Now that high-speed Internet is readily available throughout the country, telecommuting positions are much easier to sustain. Whether you're a freelance writer, graphic designer, webmaster, or consultant, telecommuting to a job based outside of Costa Rica lets you set your own hours and legally earn income while living here. This type of self-employment is a great way to earn U.S. wages while enjoying a comparatively low cost of living.