The daydream is a familiar one; you’re sitting on a white sand beach by the crystal-clear ocean, a soft tropical breeze blowing as you sip your third piña colada and finish up the day’s work (which only consumed a few hours) just in time for the dazzling sunset.
Unfortunately, then you always wake up, shackled to your desk inside a corporate cubicle, your boss droning on about how you forgot to put a cover sheet on your TPS report, so he needs you to come in to work on Saturday. And someone stole your red stapler. Again.
Sure, living in Costa Rica (or anywhere that’s warm, fun, and has nice beaches!) is a wonderful daydream, but without a practical plan to make income, it remains just that.
But here’s the good news for all you 9-to-5’ers out there: the dream is possible. You CAN travel or live anywhere in the world and take your job with you, still making money in the U.S. (or your home country) virtually.
I’m not going to blow sunshine at you at tell you that it’s easy, as it may take a lot of research, planning, and hard work. But it IS possible to live your life by a beach, or on top of a mountain, in a foreign country and still make a living. They even have a name for these new virtual workers – Digital Nomads.
Advances in technology and the prevalence of freelance job portals online like Fiverr.com, Freelancer.com, and Upwork.com have made working virtually easier than ever. In fact, people have been doing it for years, and a U.S. Census report shows that the number of people who work virtually or from home has soared by 41% in the past decade.
The prevalence of virtual and online work has also set us free (geographically speaking) to live abroad or travel like never before, with an estimated 6 million U.S. citizens live overseas. I’m seeing more and travelers and expats working virtually from their laptops, making just enough money to keep their dream alive (especially in some countries where living expenses may be much lower), while others bring in $10,000 or even $20,000 or more every month working virtually.
So, whether you are a stay-at-home mom looking for side work, a college student who wants to backpack around Europe and still make some money, or a 9-5 burnout who gives it all up and lives abroad to be a beach bum (like me), the dream is alive and well.
Here are just 10 of the 50 virtual or online jobs you can do from the beach (in Costa Rica or anywhere you choose!):
Writing content for media, websites, customer outreach or marketing content, or just about any business blog. Additionally, you can write your own books, special reports, or guides and sell them virtually.
3. Virtual call center/Customer service representative
As long as you have a phone and a headset (or a computer) you can take calls anywhere in the world. In fact, the Business Process Outsourcing industry (call centers) is one of the fastest growing jobs in places like the Philippines.
Virtual medical care is a rapidly growing field.
14. Chat support
More and more companies are moving away from phone support once they see the convenience and economical savings of offering live chat support for customers, which you can do from anywhere!
18. Medical billing
One of the work-from-home stalwarts, you can organize medical billing records for doctor’s offices.
21. Virtual assistant
A lot of busy business people don’t want to hire a full-time assistant in-house, so they outsource daily tasks to a virtual assistant.
24. Affiliate marketing
You can promote other peoples’ goods or services on your website or blog, and when users click on your links and purchase something, you get a commission. In fact, affiliate marketing gurus like Tim Schmidt of Affiliate U and Ice Cold Marketing not only make some serious coin but are nice enough to share their systems and teach others how to do it. You can find out more here.
33. Facebook and Instagram ads manager
The hottest thing in online and social media marketing right now is the use of paid ads and booted content to promote your brand or business. To do it right, there is an expertise involved, so companies will hire someone to manage tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in paid ads.
37. Language teacher
Believe it or not, knowing English well is a commodity, and these days you can teach English via your laptop anywhere in the world (see profile at the end of this article).
49. Athletic trainer
Thanks to Skype, Facetime, and video conferencing, personal training has gone online, giving any trainer access to clients all over the world at any time, location independent. Likewise, the cost of personal training has become far more affordable thanks to this innovation.
Please note that these are just a sample of the jobs you can do virtually (I even know of a mortgage broker who works remotely with the help of a great team back home!) so by no means is this list exhaustive.
Likewise, there are plenty of jobs you can pick up IN Costa Rica that are popular with foreigners, and many multi-national companies (like resorts!) located in the land of pura vida that are ready to hire.
You’ll find actual real listings of these companies, more information on jobs you can do virtually, a special interview I did with the VP of Upwork when writing this guide, tips on work visas and other hacks, and much more here.
-The Official Expat,
How much will it cost you to live in Costa Rica?
The answer is, of course, “it depends,” because each expat, traveler or visitor has a different standard of living. Additionally, different areas within Costa Rica can be more or less expensive, and even the time of year (rainy vs. high season) can make costs fluctuate wildly.
I will say this: living in Costa Rica may not be as inexpensive as you may think. (Sorry!)
People often think that because it’s a Central American or tropical country that it must be a paradise where you can live like a king or queen for next to nothing, but that’s not the case anymore. International influences, the spread of resort-quality living and advances in local knowledge, skills and infrastructure have seen costs escalate in past years.
Then again, a lot of expats(try to) live like their on vacation, spending lavishly and spending money on things like adult beverages every single night (or day!)
The good news is that you can still live very well on a modest budget in Costa Rica with some planning and discipline.
For retirees that factor in things like healthcare costs, it can be far less expensive than living in the United States for a better standard of life.
Expenses vary widely depending on area and lifestyle, but here are some average monthly expenses for 2017-18:
Apartment (simple): $300 - $500
Condominium (larger or more luxurious): $600 - $900
House (2-3 bedroom): $500 - $1,200
Electricity (house): $75 - $200 depending on location and air conditioner use
Water/sewage (apartment): $12
Cable TV: $40
High-speed Internet (ADSL): $25
Cleaning service or a gardener for $2/hour or $200/month
Entertainment is very affordable with museum entrance or
concerts around $5
Import duties make it very expensive to import your car, probably best to buy locally
Consumer electronics are much cheaper in the US, bring them with you instead of buying in Costa Rica
Here is a survey of approximate costs in Costa Rica:
Basic lunchtime menu (including a drink) in the business district ≈ ₡ 4,375 ($8)
Combo meal in fast food restaurant (Big Mac Meal or similar) ≈ ₡ 3,572 ($7)
500 gr (1 lb.) of boneless chicken breast ≈ ₡ 2,127 ($3.90)
1 liter (1 qt.) of whole fat milk ≈ ₡ 709 ($1.30)
12 eggs, large ≈ ₡ 1,817 ($3.33)
1 kg (2 lb.) of tomatoes ≈ ₡ 1,071 ($1.96)
500 gr (16 oz.) of local cheese ≈ ₡ 2,097 ($3.84)
1kg (2lb.) of apples≈ ₡ 2,444 ($4.48)
1 kg (2 lb.) of potatoes ≈ ₡ 935 ($1.71)
0.5 liter (16 oz.) domestic beer in the supermarket ≈ ₡ 873 ($1.60)
1 bottle of red table wine, good quality ≈ ₡ 6,099 ($11)
2 liters of Coca-Cola ≈ ₡ 1,588 ($2.91)
Bread for 2 people for 1 day ≈ ₡ 704 ($1.29)
Monthly rent for 85 m2 (900 square feet) furnished accommodation in EXPENSIVE area ≈ ₡ 588,758 ($1,078)
Monthly rent for 85 m2 (900 square feet) furnished accommodation in NORMAL area ≈
₡ 339,203 ($621)
Utilities 1 month (heating, electricity, gas) for 2 people in 85 m2 flat (915 square feet) ≈
₡ 49,026 ($90)
Monthly rent for a 45 m2 (480 square feet) furnished studio in EXPENSIVE area ≈
₡ 499,000 ($914)
Monthly rent for a 45 m2 (480 square feet) furnished studio in NORMAL area ≈
₡ 242,077 ($443)
Utilities 1 month (heating, electricity, gas) for 1 person in 45 m2 (480 square feet) studio ≈ ₡ 40,838 ($75)
Internet (1 month) ≈ ₡ 23,681 ($43)
40” flat screen TV ≈ ₡ 278,957 ($511)
Microwave 800/900 Watt (Bosch, Panasonic, LG, Sharp, or equivalent brands) ≈
₡ 61,744 ($113)
Laundry detergent (3 l. ~ 100 oz.) ≈ ₡ 4,423 ($8)
Hourly rate for cleaning help ≈ ₡ 2,679 ($4.91)
1 pair of jeans (Levis 501 or similar) ≈ ₡ 37,335 ($68)
1 summer dress in a High Street Store (Zara, H&M or similar retailers) ≈ ₡ 32,545 ($60)
1 pair of sneakers (Nike, Adidas, or equivalent brands) ≈ ₡ 63,215 ($116)
1 pair of men’s leather business shoes ≈ ₡ 52,347 ($96)
Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI 140 CV (or equivalent), with no extras, new ≈ ₡ 11,780,900 ($21,579)
1 liter (1/4 gallon) of gas ≈ ₡ 605 ($1.11)
Monthly ticket public transport ≈ ₡ 18,679 ($34)
Taxi trip on a business day, basic tariff, 8 km (5 miles) ≈ ₡ 6,008 ($11)
Cold medicine for 6 days (Tylenol, Frenadol, Coldrex, or equivalent brands) ≈
₡ 3,587 ($7)
1 box of antibiotics (12 doses) ≈ ₡ 9,415 ($17)
Short visit to private Doctor (15 minutes) ≈ ₡ 41,657 ($76)
Deodorant, roll-on (50ml ~ 1.5 oz.) ≈ ₡ 2,694 ($4.93)
Hair shampoo 2-in-1 (400 ml ~ 12 oz.) ≈ ₡ 3,519 ($6)
4 rolls of toilet paper ≈ ₡ 1,552 ($2.84)
Tube of toothpaste ≈ ₡ 1,262 ($2.31)
Standard men’s haircut in expat area of the city ≈ ₡ 4,335 ($8)
Entertainment & Dining Out:
Basic dinner out for two in neighborhood pub ≈ ₡ 16,185 ($30)
2 tickets to the movies ≈ ₡ 5,835 ($11)
2 tickets to the theater (best available seats) ≈ ₡ 17,974 ($33)
Dinner for two at an Italian restaurant in the expat area including appetizers, main course, wine and dessert ≈ ₡ 33,574 ($61)
1 cocktail drink in downtown club ≈ ₡ 3,748 ($7)
Cappuccino in expat area of the city ≈ ₡ 2,086 ($3.82)
1 beer in neighborhood pub (500ml or 1pt.) ≈ ₡ 1,921 ($3.52)
iPod Nano 16GB ≈ ₡ 118,758 ($218)
1 min. of prepaid mobile tariff (no discounts or plans) ≈ ₡ 38 ($0.07)
1 month of gym membership in business district ≈ ₡ 35,333 ($65)
1 package of Marlboro cigarettes ≈ ₡ 1,924 ($3.52)
One last note for you: You'll find that you can fit your lifestyle to your budget, and STILL really enjoy yourself. A lot of the best aspects about life in Costa Rica - like going to the beach, enjoying nature, meeting great new people, and just experiencing the laid-back pura vida vibe - are FREE!
The Official Expat,
For more information on moving to Costa Rica, the cost of living there, and even how to get work and earn income as an expat, click here.
When I quit my job, sold my home and car and all of my possessions, and moved down to Costa Rica in 2011, it was pretty scary.
Actually, it was damn terrifying.
I had only been to my new adopted home town of Tamarindo once, knew only one friend there, had no job, limited savings, and didn't even know Spanish!
However, looking back all these years later, it was the best decision I ever made.
I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that things are always easy in Costa Rica. Life isn't perfect, even though it is a true natural paradise.
But, what seemed like monumental problems when I first moved there - stupid things like freaking out when the town had a blackout, trying to communicate with my baby Espanol, and surviving the rainy season all seem like romantic nostalgia now.
Each day that went by, I became happier, healthier, and more ME, for lack of a better description, like layers of an onion.
That's why I write a whole lot about moving to Costa Rica and started this website. Sure, I want to make a buck like everybody else (but this is just a very humble side job).
But, it's more important for me to share my passion of moving to Costa Rica - or anywhere that makes you happy - when you're feeling trapped, unfulfilled, depressed (and freezing cold!) in the United States or Canada.
I could go on and on because it really makes me happy to think that you may be following the same path, but I'll leave you with this:
If you're like me, I can promise you that in Costa Rica...
You will slow down.
Things will be simpler.
You'll enjoy the moments more.
You'll be healthier than you've ever been in your life.
You'll smile and laugh more.
You will find your "tribe" and make lifelong friends.
Your money will go much further.
Every day, you'll appreciate what you see and experience.
You'll feel alive!
Happiness will come from people, places, and experiences - not things.
You'll wake up thankful that you're in Costa Rica.
It will feel right.
The Official Expat
Every year, more and more U.S. citizens are moving south to Costa Rica.
Of course, the sunshine, natural beauty, and laid-back vibe are all big factors that pull them to the land of pura vida.
But, there are other factors in the United States that are pushing them south, and the stark reality of the economy - especially for retirees - is front and center among them.
The economy? Isn't it booming, with record stock prices, a hot housing market, and low unemployment. Yes. Sort of. For some people. For now.
However, the economic prognosis is not quite as rosy if we look big picture and long term, especially with the Baby Boomers leaving the workforce and entering their senior years at a rate of at least 10,000 per day through 2030!
So, today I wanted to bring in respected financial guru Jason Matthews, who was willing to share a few facts, stats, and analysis from his new book, The Age of $elf Reliance.
After seeing these, you'll realize that moving to Costa Rica may not just be about a better quality of life, but a financial necessity for many people.
The Official Expat
Excerpts from The Age of $elf Reliance by financial guru Jason Matthews:
I see the next financial downturn coming, again.
They called the Great Recession of 2008 a “once in a century” disaster but I believe that this next economic downturn will be even more disastrous than the last, ruining more lives and lasting far longer – a new American Depression, even.
This “new reality” is hitting a lot of people like a slap in the face or a punch in the gut. What is that new reality?
Quite simply, we’re spending more than we earn!
• 52% of Americans are spending more than they earn every month.
• 21% have regular monthly expenses that exceed their income.
• In fact, the average American spends $1.33 for every dollar earned.
• And 1 in 4 Americans has more debt than savings!
But the real fundamental reason why things will get harder and harder for the average American over the next twenty years is one that's not often talked about: our rapidly aging population.
In fact, Baby Boomers make up about 22.9% of our entire population, which is more than any other generation except for Millennials (24.5%). Remember, too, that there are another approximately 30 million Americans 70 years old plus, or 9.3% of our population.
Add them up and we’re looking at about 106 million Americans, or almost 35% of our entire population (well over one in three) that’s 52 and older!
Why is our aging population such a problem?
Guess what these ten thousand new seniors every day do on their 65th birthdays? They apply for Social Security (that can start at 62, actually), Medicare and Medicaid. So, instead of 100 million Americans paying into our system, paying taxes, etc., they'll suddenly stop contributing and start withdrawing funds.
Consider these facts about U.S. workers and retirement:
• Today, less than 7% of Americans have pensions. (Only 50% of employers even offer retirement plans, let alone match them.)
• As of 2017, the average American’s Social Security retirement benefit is only $1,363 per month, or $16,356 per year. But 43% of single retirees are counting on Social Security to cover 90% or more of their post-employment income.
• 31% – nearly one-third- of all non-retired adults have no retirement savings or pension at all. This isn’t just a post- Great Recession hangover, as that’s the same number that had zero retirement savings in 2017 as 2014.
• Of all non-retired adults ages 60 or older who are still working, about 14% still have nothing at all saved for retirement.
The shift in economic reality affects far more than our savings and retirement.
• Medical debt is choking us, too, as 60% of U.S. bankruptcies see medical bills as a significant factor for the financial insolvency.
• About 22% of Americans surveyed say that they have had an unexpected medical expense in the last year, which cost them $2,000 to $3,000 out of pocket.
As our population ages significantly and tens of thousands of Baby Boomers reach 65 every single day in the U.S, the healthcare burden is affecting Americans like never before—and will continue to grow more profound.
Can you now see why I brought Jason Matthews on board for this guest blog about the financial reality that will send some many retirees to live in Costa Rica?
If you have any financial questions, feel free to contact Jason directly at MatthewsFinancial@gmail.com
Or, you can purchase his book on Amazon and get much, much more - including startegies how the average person can best prepare for the coming financial storm.
“I’m thinking about moving to Costa Rica,” are words I see every day in emails, Facebook messages, and from people who have read my articles about life as an expat in that country.
“I want to move down to Costa Rica to live, buy a house, and open a business,” is the usual agenda, but their life-plan isn’t well thought out after that. I see a lot of people rushing into their big move, spurred on by visions of a stress-free, easy life on the beach. Their experience can either truly be “living the dream,” or a complete nightmare, based on what happens next.
Let’s break down that plan, with excerpts from my typical answers:
1. “I’m thinking about moving to Costa Rica.”
Costa Rica truly is one of the most beautiful places on earth, but what do you truly know about it? If you think all-day, everyday life there is sitting on a postcard-like beach, you might be shocked to hear that people actually have problems and challenges there, just like they do back home in your current life.
Of course, Costa Rica is a wonderful, healthy, and positive destination for many expats, but just make sure you think it through, do your homework, and prepare adequately for real life – not a rosy fantasy.
Fun Costa Rica fact:
The proper way to say 'Email' in Spanish is, 'Correo Electrónico.' But that's too long for everyone in Costa Rica, so they just call it.... 'email." Simple, huh?
2. “I want to establish residency/become a citizen.”
Establishing residency in Costa Rica can be an expensive and timely proposition (unless you marry a Tica!) So don’t worry about residency just yet — the country will grant you a 90-day tourist visa, so all you have to do is leave the country for a few days — or a few hours — after that (called the Border Shuffle), and come right back in on a new visa. You can still get a driver’s license and function just fine without residency, while still keeping your options open. Take your time and make sure it’s where you want to be before establishing residency.
3. “I want to live there [permanently].”
I recommend visiting for prolonged periods of time, first, to get to know the country, the different towns, the people, and the culture, before you commit to it. Start out with a month or two and go from there. If you really want to see what it’s like, go during their rainy season/low tourist season. Don’t treat your visit like a vacation, but instead, meet as many locals and expats who live there as possible, exploring different parts of the country.
No matter how beautiful Costa Rica may be, it’s always good to get back Stateside for a little bit every year to “recharge the batteries” seeing family, friends, enjoying cooler weather, etc. The best schedule I can imagine is splitting the year between Central America and the U.S., but that’s just me.
4. “I want to buy real estate.”
Err on the side of caution with buying real estate in Costa Rica, or any country. That’s good advice for someone in the U.S., as well if they don’t know the local market very well. To complicate things there can be issues with holding title, getting loans, etc. and it’s undeniable that there are pockets of ridiculously overpriced condominiums and projects plagued by HOA issues. Wait at LEAST a year before you even think about buying real estate. You can always find a nice, inexpensive place to rent, giving yourself time to learn the ropes.
5. “I want to open a business.”
Be careful. Too many people who want to move down to Costa Rica and open a business invest their life savings in it, only to become stress-cases and lose all of their money.
Sometimes you need a Costa Rican (Tico) on the paperwork for an official business, which could further complicate things. You need to see what it’s like in the low season, too, before making accurate projections on profitability.
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