Dwelling in Costa Rica as an American: All the pieces You Want To Know 

In line with the US State Division, round 50,000 Individuals at the moment reside in Costa Rica. Some got here as digital nomads or expats, whereas others arrived as retirees to take pleasure in this tropical paradise. Do you too need to be one in all these fortunate individuals? 

If that’s the case, hold studying as you’ll study all of the ins and outs of residing in Costa Rica as an American.

US residents residing in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a favourite amongst Individuals for shifting overseas, whether or not they’re digital nomads, distant staff or retirees. The key causes they relocate listed here are: 

  • Proximity to the US
  • Security and stability
  • Reasonably priced price of residing
  • Good healthcare
  • English proficiency of locals
  • Good infrastructure
  • Handy time zone
  • Heat local weather and seashores

In line with the World Financial Discussion board, Costa Rica is among the world’s happiest nations. This is because of its lovely seashores, picturesque rainforests, a secure democracy and an informed inhabitants.   

Moreover, the Costa Rica vacationer scene is extraordinarily well-developed. The nation has been welcoming retirees and different expats for over 30 years. In truth, Costa Rica is among the finest nations at providing low prices for a top quality of residing. And over time, the federal government has constructed a wonderful infrastructure and atmosphere for vacationers and expats. 

Lastly, Costa Rica has newly carried out a digital nomad visa that lets you keep within the nation for as much as 12 months! Therefore, it can develop into much more enticing for impressed digital nomads and distant staff all over the place. 

Shifting to Costa Rica from the US

Listed here are some logistics you need to know earlier than taking the leap of relocating to Costa Rica.

  1. Residence allow. 

You’ll first want to think about your residence allow choices for Costa Rica in case you are planning to remain there long-term. To obtain one, you will need to present proof of the required earnings quantity, or make a considerable deposit to a Costa Rican financial institution. 

  1. Transport choices. 

Make a plan properly prematurely for transporting your objects. For instance, will airplane baggage be sufficient to take every part you want with you? Additionally, Individuals typically ship their automobiles to Costa Rica. That could be one thing to think about too.

  1.  Housing. 

Discovering lodging in Costa Rica could be each straightforward and troublesome for expats. It’s straightforward as a result of all foreigners have the identical rights as native residents in relation to renting or shopping for a home. The troublesome half is the competitors with different expats for securing an lodging. 

Regardless of that final hurdle, there are many housing choices in Costa Rica, from high-end luxurious villas to typical native homes. It’s finest to find out your finances and begin your search early, particularly if you wish to buy property. Typically talking, the common quantity for hire is beneath $1,000 per 30 days, and most properties for buy begin at round $100,000.

  1. Banks and taxes. 

You  should select a Costa Rican financial institution for opening an account primarily based in your monetary wants. So have a look at completely different banking choices and which of them make you snug. 

When to maneuver to Costa Rica?

One of the best time to go to Costa Rica is from mid-December to April (the dry season). That is additionally the height season for vacationers. The dry season nevertheless, is the preferred and costly time to go to. 

Working remotely from Costa Rica

Whether or not you propose to work as a freelancer, a enterprise proprietor, or work for a international firm, you are able to do all of this whereas residing in Costa Rica. In truth, you’ll be able to even work from the nation as a vacationer. US residents can keep for as much as 90 days in Costa Rica visa-free. 

Expats also can proceed working their distant jobs after receiving a residence allow in Costa Rica. As an added bonus, all your international earnings is tax-free.

Working for a US firm from Costa Rica

It’s also possible to work for a US firm whereas residing in Costa Rica, and the nation’s digital nomad visa was conceptualized because of this. 

By holding the digital nomad visa, which distant staff are eligible for, you’ll keep away from paying taxes in Costa Rica. Nonetheless, you will proceed to pay your taxes within the US.

Moreover, expats who work for international corporations don’t want a piece allow in Costa Rica so long as their funds come from overseas. 

Be sure to set up a correct settlement together with your employer about working remotely from Costa Rica, as some corporations may not authorize working from overseas. 

Your employer shouldn’t be too involved nevertheless in case you achieve a digital nomad visa for Costa Rica. That’s as a result of the payroll construction stays the identical, and you need to obtain a paycheck deposited into your US checking account with US tax withholdings. This may forestall any issues for your self, in addition to your employer.

Working in Costa Rica

If you’re occupied with getting a job on Costa Rican soil, sadly there may be some unhealthy information. US residents, in addition to different international residents, can’t legally work in Costa Rica except they’re everlasting residents or have a piece allow. 

Most individuals who relocate to Costa Rica don’t depend on the native financial system, therefore they’ve substantial cash within the financial institution, a pension, or another regular earnings from exterior.

Moreover, Costa Rica locations nice emphasis on hiring native residents earlier than foreigners. Until there isn’t any Costa Rican candidate for a place one pursues, getting a job in a neighborhood firm is troublesome. However, many expats handle to search out work at name facilities, language colleges, resorts, tour operations and even multinational companies.  

Typically, foreigners should both be residents or have a sound allow with a purpose to work in Costa Rica. The onus is on the employer to request and procure work permits. They’re additionally anticipated to pay all charges and deal with all paperwork necessities.  

That being stated, working on this Central American nation isn’t unimaginable. How? Take into account changing into self-employed. 

Open a enterprise in Costa Rica 

Opening a enterprise is a serious manner some expats earn a residing in Costa Rica with out acquiring a piece visa. This generally is a viable possibility in case you have vital capital.

Foreigners are permitted to personal companies in Costa Rica so long as they rent locals to work of their enterprises as an alternative performing work themselves. 

Regardless of this reality, it’s frequent for international house owners to do a lot of the work and rent only a few locals for presidency checks. It’s significantly frequent amongst small companies associated to the journey trade, equivalent to small accommodations or cafes. However doing this will put you at a big threat of being deported in case you get caught. 

Paying taxes in Costa Rica 

Paying taxes is one other side of residing in Costa Rica. Should you receive a digital nomad visa, you don’t have to fret about taxation in any respect. 

Additionally, when making a residing on-line, both as an worker or as a self-employed particular person, you don’t want to fret about taxes. Solely expats engaged on the bottom in Costa Rica, whether or not it’s for native corporations or working for themselves as enterprise house owners, might want to pay earnings taxes. 

Typically talking, you can also make as much as $1,460 in private, month-to-month, tax-free earnings generated from wages or enterprise exercise. 

From $1,460 to $2,144, private earnings is ready at 10%. The tax price climbs to fifteen% from $2,145 to $3,761, after which to twenty% from $3,762 to $7,521. Something over $7,522 is topic to the best price, 25%. 

Residency choices in Costa Rica

As a US citizen, you’ll be able to keep in Costa Rica for as much as 90 days on a brief vacationer visa. Simply remember the fact that extending your keep past the licensed 90 days as a vacationer is time-consuming. 

Extensions inside the nation could be dealt with by migration workplaces. Necessities for extensions typically change, so apply a number of days earlier than the expiry of the present visa. 

Should you’re occupied with settling down in Costa Rica long run, it’s essential to think about the obtainable resident allow choices. You may really apply for momentary residence first, and after three years with it, you’ll be able to receive everlasting residency.

Border runs

‘Border runs’ are while you go away a rustic after which return with a purpose to reset the variety of days you’ve spent within the nation. With Costa Rica, you’ll be able to go away for 72 hours through land after which re-enter. On this case, you’ll be granted one other 90 days to spend in Costa Rica. After reentering, you’re going to get a brand new visa stamp with a brand new finish date. 

Pensionado (Pension visa)

This sort of residency is appropriate for retired expats who obtain a certain quantity in pension funds each month. Pensionado requires newcomers to show a pension of no less than $1,000 a month.

Rentista (Resident Visa)

The rentista program is ideal for expats who’ve substantial financial savings. They have to show having financial savings of 1,414,900 CRC ($2,500 USD) per 30 days, and for a interval of two years. Proof of a $60,000 deposit right into a Costa Rican financial institution will work as properly. 

The cash should come from unearned earnings equivalent to financial savings, investments or actual property property. After proving the required quantity, it is possible for you to to take up freelance or distant work for international corporations. 

Short-term vs. everlasting residency

Costa Rican residence permits are divided into momentary and everlasting. One can solely purchase a everlasting residence allow by having a brief residency for 3 years previous to that. 

Everlasting residency has advantages comparable with citizenship. You will have all of the rights of a citizen, aside from voting, and you may legally work in Costa Rica. 

Short-term residents also can personal and run a enterprise, however they need to make use of others to carry out any labor. Each momentary and everlasting residents should pay into the Costa Rica well being care system known as the Caja.

Costa Rica digital nomad visa

Along with the already established residence permits, Costa Rica has carried out a digital nomad visa. The brand new regulation relating to this visa formally took impact on September 1st, 2021, permitting digital nomads to remain for as much as 12 months in Costa Rica.

Individuals from the next skilled classes can apply for a digital nomad visa:

  • Distant staff
  • Teleworkers
  • Self-employed

Candidates might want to show their earnings from international sources. After the digital nomad visa expires, you’ll be able to lengthen it for one further 12 months. Moreover, digital nomads can convey their households alongside to reside and work in Costa Rica for no less than a 12 months.

With this visa, you’ll be able to perform job duties through telecommuting or distant working from Costa Rica for an additional international nation. 

The primary requirement is to have a wage or a secure earnings from overseas. 

Due to this fact, a person should show that they’ve been receiving: 

  • a daily and secure wage, or have a set earnings
  • a mean month-to-month earnings prior to now 12 months of no less than $3,000 USD ($4,000 for a household), or the equal quantity in one other foreign money
  • personal medical insurance coverage for your entire length of the keep in Costa Rica

Can a US citizen reside completely in Costa Rica?

Residents of any nation can develop into everlasting residents in Costa Rica. With a purpose to do that, they should possess a brief resident allow for no less than three years. Nonetheless, a first-degree relative to a Costa Rican can obtain everlasting residency sooner. 

Much like the momentary residence visa, you will need to apply for everlasting residency via the Division of Immigration.

Is Costa Rica protected for American expats?

Costa Rica is the most secure Central American nation. In truth, it ranks at 32 on the 2020 World Peace Index’s rating of 163 nations in relation to total degree of ‘peace.’  

​​Moreover, Costa Rica is among the most secure Latin American nations. With tourism contributing majorly to the nation’s GDP, the federal government is targeted on making the nation accessible and cozy for vacationers.

However, crime has been steadily on the rise, together with violent crime that’s primarily gang-related. That doesn’t have a serious influence on expats and guests although.

The Finest locations to reside as a US citizen in Costa Rica


Tamarindo lies on the Pacific coast and is among the finest seashore cities that yow will discover in Costa Rica. 

Regardless of being small, Tamarindo has about 80 eating places and some different leisure choices. Moreover, it’s one of many most secure locations in Latin America. 

Everybody can discover one thing for themselves in Tamarindo, from peaceable seashores to buzzing nightlife. Consider nevertheless that it’s the most costly metropolis in Costa Rica and is akin to some American cities in value.

Central Valley

Central Valley is a big piece of land in Costa Rica (greater than a fifth), and it consists of the capital San Jose. 

Central Valley is a favourite amongst locals, which is why it’s densely populated. In truth, about two-thirds of all individuals in Costa Rica live on this space. 

However residing within the capital brings many advantages, equivalent to:

  • museums
  • artwork galleries
  • sports activities
  • leisure
  • procuring
  • big-box retailer
  • predominant airport

Moreover, in Central Valley, you’re only one hour away from the seashore. 

Listed here are different nice locations to reside as an American expat in Costa Rica:

  • Grecia
  • Liberia
  • Limón
  • Tamarindo
  • Playas del Coco 
  • Lake Arenal 
  • Uvita

How a lot cash do it’s essential to reside comfortably in Costa Rica?

The price of residing in Costa Rica is comparatively low cost in comparison with the price of residing within the USA. Most expats in Costa Rica can reside comfortably on $1,500 –  $2,000 per 30 days. 

General, costs in Costa Rica are 26.6% decrease than in the USA. Furthermore, hire costs in Costa Rica are 60% decrease in comparison with the US.

Nonetheless, with the rising variety of expats and digital nomads, the price of residing in Costa Rica has elevated over the previous decade. Nonetheless, for somebody who’s incomes cash overseas or has sufficient financial savings, this received’t be too noticeable on the pockets. 

For instance, a month-to-month earnings of $1,500 to $2,500 will let you pay for a two or three-bedroom rental, eat out a few occasions per week, and splurge on one thing particular from time to time.


Housing contributes to essentially the most vital a part of your month-to-month finances. In line with Numbeo, the common hire per 30 days for a one-bedroom condo is $475 inside a metropolis heart, and $384 exterior of a metropolis heart. 

General, leases in Costa Rica begin as little as $300 per 30 days, and might go as much as a number of hundreds of {dollars}. Areas close to the seashore and in touristy areas price essentially the most. The most affordable homes could be discovered within the mountains and rural areas.

Moreover, touristy cities could be exponentially dearer than a few of the smaller, native cities. Thus, go for much less touristy, however expat-friendly places to avoid wasting on pointless bills. 

Costs of groceries are akin to North America, however recent produce may be very inexpensive at farmers’ markets.

Eating places, besides these serving native Costa Rican meals, are about the identical as North America.

Listed here are some whole estimates for the price of residing for expats and digital nomads in Costa Rica:

Lease (a furnished, two-bedroom vs. one bed room condo) $800 / $450
Electrical energy (varies relying on A/C utilization) $50
Water $10
Web $30
Cellular community $30
Cable $60
Healthcare (4 $50 visits to a health care provider per 12 months for 2 individuals + month-to-month Caja fee) $150
Transportation (gas/upkeep prices of proudly owning a automotive) $130
Meals/groceries (together with alcohol) $400
Leisure (eating out eight occasions a month, motion pictures, concert events, and so forth) $250
Miscellaneous (surprising bills)  $100
The month-to-month whole for a pair: $2,150
The month-to-month whole for one particular person:  $1,125

Wish to work remotely from Costa Rica?

Are you occupied with shifting to this tropical paradise, however you don’t have a distant job? We’re right here to assist. Our firm, Assist Journey, hires gifted individuals worldwide and permits them to work from wherever thanks to completely distant positions. 

In case you have expertise in IT, don’t wait and apply for a distant job with us! You may see our present place right here. Working with us will make your dream of residing and dealing remotely from overseas come true! 

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