The term digital nomad went from being something not many people had heard of, to one of the most popular concepts in the modern-day economy. It refers to those who work remotely and can do so from anywhere in the world, making them location-independent employees, freelancers, or business owners. Nowadays there is an ever-increasing number of professionals that are not bound to a specific place physically to fulfill their employment obligations. In 2022 there is over 34% of remote employees have the freedom to relocate as often as they want, and this percentage only keeps growing more and more!
The Digital Nomad lifestyle comes with many benefits like getting to travel the world, meeting new friends and potential business associates, network and learn new business practices, experience different cultures, and a minimal lifestyle that might fit into a couple of suitcases or even a backpack, and learning to manage your time to be able to meet what needs to be done at your job while having independence and control over your hours (and the added benefit of never having your boss show up unannounced lol)
Close your eyes for a moment and visualize the following, you wake up in the morning and realize you are in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, Costa Rica. Filled with jungles, volcanoes, beaches, natural parks, hot springs, rivers, and some of the best coffee beans in the world, this destination is popular for a reason. On top of that, you have a job that pays you or a thriving business and all you need to do to start your workday is turn on your laptop and have access to a wireless network. Sounds like something worth experiencing, right?
Tourism has always represented a big percentage of the Costa Rican GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and after the 2020 pandemic things slowed down quite a bit. This worried the locals, but instead of sitting and sulking, it motivated the local government to come up with innovative solutions to get the economy back on track. This is how they came up with the idea of offering a Digital Nomad Visa.
Before immigration came up with this solution, if you were wanting to relocate to Costa Rica and work from there, you needed to do a border run every 90 days to renew your visa and remain in the country legally. Now things have changed, if you meet the criteria for the digital nomad visa you will be able to stay there for a year with the possibility of renewing the visa a second year if the person applying for the renewal has spent at least 180 days of the first year in the country. Some of the other benefits offered are that when your visa is approved you are able to bring your work equipment duty-free, open a bank account, and not be subject to paying local taxes.
Many countries have decided to offer this new migratory option to attract digital nomads, among them are Georgia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Mexico, Grand Cayman etc. The advantage of Costa Rica is that they have made it simpler than the rest to apply, get approved and relocate.
In this article, we will cover the requisites needed to obtain a digital nomad visa in Costa Rica and getting the chance to work remotely from a place that looks a lot like paradise. We will also go over some of the reasons why it is one of the best countries to remotely work from.
The main requisite for getting your Digital Nomad visa approved is having a stable, provable income of at least $3000 a month ($4000 if you are looking to get a visa for your spouse and or children). You also need to have a Health insurance plan that will cover you during your stay in the country.
To apply, you first you need to fill out a form that you can find here: https://tramiteya.go.cr/dgme/
If you are approved, you can continue to the next steps:
- Providing a receipt confirming a $100 US payment to the Government made to account no. 242480-0 of the Banco de Costa Rica.
- A copy of the photo page of your valid passport, which contains your personal information, as well as the page containing the Costa Rican entry stamp.
- Bank statements accompanied by an affidavit declaring that the statements have been requested and obtained from the corresponding financial institution. These statements must provide evidence of income and indicate that the individual has received payment or remuneration during the previous year from outside Costa Rica in the amounts required. $3000 monthly for a single person and $4000 if the applicant is requesting that their family group be granted permission to legally stay in Costa Rica.
Once you have obtained your digital nomad visa you need to take care of the logistics and plan for the year ahead! Here are some of the reasons why the whole process will turn into a memorable and incredible life experience:
- The amazing array of natural beauty is undeniable, but Costa Rica also has a hip and glamorous side. There is an extensive offering of restaurants, clubs, coffee shops, malls, local design fashion stores, tattoo shops, bars, luxury hotels, and spas.
- The real estate market is robust, and you can always find a rental property that fits your budget and needs. You can find a very basic place for about $400 a month or splurge on an oceanfront villa that can cost up to $10,000 a month. Many tenants have realized that their renters are looking for things to be made as simple as possible and they have started to include basic services like water, electricity, cable, and even internet in the monthly prices of the property. One of the most common practices is booking an Airbnb for your first weeks or months and then once you are in the city you wish to live in, you can get to know the locals and find out what is available. This will ensure you a better rate and save you money on middleman fees.
- Costa Rica is also slowly but surely turning into a cashless society so you do not have to worry about carrying bills and coins since most of the places where you will spend money, will allow you to pay with your credit or debit cards, via bank wire, or even PayPal. If you do find yourself needing cash, ATMs are available 24/7 in most busy locations. If you are planning on living in a very remote area, this is something you will need to plan for accordingly.
- In terms of daily life and depending on the city you choose to stay in you will have the option of renting a vehicle long-term like a car, motorcycle, or bicycle. You will also have the option of walking where you need to go or using public transportation or apps like Uber or Didi.
- For grocery shopping, most places have farmers’ markets called Ferias during the weekends where you can find a vast array of fruit, vegetables, and local produce like eggs, chicken, and seafood. Shopping at ferias is a way to reduce your monthly spending and support the local economy while you do. You will also find many supermarkets that carry the renowned brands you might be used to consuming. There are also several organic markets that offer natural beauty products and preserves, local grass-fed beef, raw dairy, and special necessities items like gluten-free, vegan, etc.
- You will never be bored during the weekend. There is always something going on, if you are in the capital city of San Jose you can always find concerts, live music, poetry readings, artist showings, etc., and if you choose a more remote location, you will find many options that range from zipping lining to surfing, horseback riding, rafting, fishing, etc.
- Even though Costa Rica is one of the most expensive countries in the Central American region, it is probably more affordable than the city you originally come from. This will allow you to save money and increment your savings.
- Health and Dental Services. Many digital nomads take advantage of their stay and schedule a routine or cosmetic procedure while they are residing in the country. You will be surprised at the quality of the private hospitals and learn that you can get treatment for a fraction of the price asked elsewhere.
- In terms of safety, we won’t claim that Costa Rica is the safest place in the world, but it is not what we would consider dangerous either, and it has the lowest homicide rates in Central America, meaning that crime there is mostly sporadic and non-violent. Keeping in mind certain things such as being aware of your surroundings, always being careful, and responsible, and taking precautions can always go a long way.
- Incredible Weather. Costa Rica only has two seasons, summer and rainy seasons. It also has a variety of micro-climates so whether you prefer the heat, or something fresher and fogy, you will find something to match what you are looking for.
- Infrastructure. Some many highways and roads make traveling within the country fast and comfortable.
- The People: Costa Ricans are friendly and welcome foreigners with open arms.
- The relaxed Pura Vida lifestyle.
Finally: The coffee. So important we had to mention it again. Costa Rica is a java lover’s dream and by now you know that at The Bean Online, we love our java.