This has absolutely nothing to do with moving Costa Rica...but I wanted to remind you to claim your $125 (or more) anyways
Every Tuesday, I write up some info or a helpful tip about moving to Costa Rica and share it with you. But today, I just couldn't bring myself to write anything because there's a more pressing matter at hand (if you're from the US): the chance to claim $125...or much more!
This isn't my money I'm giving away, of course, nor is it a contest or "free" money. It's actually part of the class-action settlement that credit giant Equifax just agreed to.
I know, nothing to do wth Costa Rica, right? But just hear me out and you'll be thankful that you did.
Back in 2017, Experian suffered a massive data breach that compromised the personal financial information of up to 147 million Americans! As part of the settlement brought by the FTC, Experian agreed to a $700 million payout to make amends, the majority of it in a Victim Compensation Fund.
So, if you were one of those people whose data was stolen in the breach, Equifax owes you some restitution.
In fact, if you are one of those 147 million, you automatically qualify for $125 OR 10 years free credit monitoring for all credit bureaus. If you suffered more financial damage or detriment (like ID theft, credit hack, etc.), you can claim more.
It's also super simple and takes about three minutes.
To see if you're eligible, just go to this link and type in your last name and last six digits of your social: https://eligibility.equifaxbreachsettlement.com/en/eligibility
And if you are, go to this link and answer a few simple questions and you'll receive a confirmation for your $125 cheque in the mail within 90 days (or other compensation you choose/claim): https://www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com
Don't worry - this is totally legit and you can see these links go right to the Equifax website.
Sorry if you're Canadian or European or from somewhere else and this is boring "Yankee" business, but I didn't want to pass up the chance to help my expat friends here claim their $125.
And now that you have a $125 cheque coming, how about finally purchasing the Moving to Costa Rica Handbook? Yup, I couldn't resist!
Exclusive Interview with Rich Pearson of Upwork.com about digital nomads and virtual work for expats.
Don't fall victim to the misconception that living in Costa Rica is cheap - it's not, although you certainly can enjoy a beautiful, comfortable lifestyle at much less than living in the U.S. or Canada.
So, please forgive me if I'm always bringing our conversation back to the pragmatic by giving you insight and resources into working and making a living from Costa Rica.
Today, we'll take a big step towards that because I have an exclusive interview with Rich Pearson of Upwork.com, the world's biggest virtual work platform. Throughout this 30+ -minute interview, Rich shares his vision on being a digital nomad, working virtually from Costa Rica (or anywhere), and how Upwork can help. He also talks about how the rise of technology and globalization has empowered expats like never before.
Great stuff for any expat who is serious about moving down to Costa Rica and still needs to work!
And don't forget that I put a huge amount of resources at your fingertips with the Special Report on Working & Earning Income from Costa Rica.
Enjoy the time with Rich Pearson of Upwork and contact me if you need anything!
We've covered a lot of big, important topics in regards to your move to Costa Rica like finding housing, working, visa, and health insurance. So, now it's time to start getting into the nuts and bolts of less noticeable items on your checklist. For instance, what to do with your mail back in the U.S. or your home country once you move? Can you easily receive mail in Costa Rica? What about shipping things privately?
Let's get into those nuts and bolts:
Your mail back home:
You’ll want to go online with as many bills, payments, and accounts as possible, but still there will be some correspondence that needs to be physically mailed to a U.S. or home country address.
There are services that will accept mail on your behalf, open it and scan it, but they are really expensive.
The best way to go is to change your official address back home to a family member or close friend’s residence. Assure them that you won’t be getting too much mail and ask them (or pay them!) to open your mail, take a quick digital photo of whatever letters look important, and email those photos to you.
In exchange, you can put them up at your house or apartment when they come visit you in Costa Rica!
Maybe you simply file a change of address to your new registered address back home before you head down to Costa Rica, but remember that this means the kind person helping you will receive a flood of junk mail, offers, catalogs, and other undesirable paper. So I just canceled my mail at my old address and did an official address change only through the few entities that are important to get mail from (right now that’s IRS, health insurance, and cell phone carrier for me).
I still use a home address of a friend in the U.S. for all my official mail, and it works great.
Sending and receiving mail in Costa Rica:
People don’t rely much on the national post system in Costa Rica for a good reason! There is no reliable home delivery mail service. In fact, most Ticos don’t even have real addresses, just directions like “500 meters south of the church and 200 meters west of the school.” If you want to get mail, you need to go to the local Costa Rican post office and get a box for around $8-12 a year, called ‘apartado.’
However, if you do go for this option, you will need to wait, as many locations require a one-year waiting period before you are able to sign up for the box.
Mail from the U.S. or abroad:
Mail from the United States takes about three weeks to a month so make sure you set up all your bills online, and you have a good Internet banking system in place before moving!
U.S. and other military veterans living in Costa Rica are required to have a mailbox so they can receive official and important documents. The most efficient and cost effective way to get things to you and back home is still to pack stuff with friends who are coming or going! Choose folks who are reliable, but if you start asking around, there are always friends and friends of friends coming down to Costa Rica for a vacation soon.
Politely ask if they carry a few things down for you. If your stuff is heavy, pay their luggage fees for any extra weight.
There are a few options for private shipping companies:
• Jetbox, Aerocasillas and Mailboxes Etc. charge for ownership of a US-based PO Box
• When you want to send something just send it to your PO box in the U.S. and they’ll receive it
• One charge for shipping from the PO box to Costa Rica, and very low base rate per month
• Cheaper option charges higher monthly price with unlimited free shipping option
• The whole process takes less than two weeks
• FedEx, UPS, and DHL are efficient but very expensive, $100 per 2lb package
Finding work once you move down to Costa Rica may not be easy. Many of the unskilled or non-specialized jobs pay Tico-level wages, so you'll be competing with the locals and working way too hard (for too little) to enjoy your new home.
Therefore, opening your own business may be the best path to earning money.
In part one of this blog, I covered a few tips on opening a business and business planning.
Here are some more tips and notes on opening a business in Costa Rica:
To do it properly, I encourage you to take your time, study the area, the market for your services and the competition, talk to a lot of business owners, network with the right locals and expats, and build a super conservative business plan.
Owning a business can be a supreme headache in Costa Rica if you’re not prepared and don’t have the right, trustworthy people on board. But once you’ve carved out your niche and done all the hard work to get the doors open and promote your business, it can bear huge fruit, giving you the opportunity not only to live in paradise but also make great money at the same time!
First, you’ll need to secure an employer that will sponsor you in the process. You’ll have to demonstrate that you are filling a position that a Tico does not have the technical expertise to fill. Common work visa fields include: health care, IT, biotech, and international business. Don’t just jump into opening a business and start spending money (because you’ll never stop!). Instead, do plenty of research and get to know the area, the market, your competition, the logistics, and even seasonal changes.
The vacation rental business has several key aspects: marketing, reservations, housekeeping, maintenance, concierge services, transportation, and bookkeeping.
Will your business cater to Ticos or tourists and foreigners? There’s a huge difference in how you market, how you do business, and even how you run your day-to-day operations.
If you decide to open the doors to a business that’s looking to attract Ticos, recognize that most of the country’s purchasing power is located in the Central Valley. A total of 75% of the country’s population resides in the central provinces of San José, Alajuela, Heredia, and Cartago. About 60% of the population is under 30 years old. Intelligent business people target this demographic.
But, you’ll have to seriously adapt your idea due to the vagaries of the local market and different purchasing power. Don’t get any grandiose ideas since the country only has about 4.5 million people and a quarter the people are below the poverty line with little or no purchasing power. You cannot expect to market products on a large scale as in North America.
So, for many foreigners it’s easier and far more lucrative to set up a business that targets tourists as their demographics, which usually means being located in the heart of these tourist zones. With the huge influx of tourism into Costa Rica every year, restaurants, hotels, scuba diving outfits, fishing and boat tours, 4WD and motorbike excursions and rentals, and starting just about any other tour company are all great viable options for new businesses.
Starting an Internet-based business that targets a U.S. and Canadian market will greatly increase your chances of success here. For example, I know a couple of Americans who started Spanish schools that bring groups of students here. I know a Canadian who founded an online newspaper. Another friend started a cell phone rental service for tourists.
Whatever you do, don’t expect to strike it rich. With luck, you can make a good living and enjoy an amazing quality of life in Costa Rica!
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