Excerpted from Living Abroad
in Costa Rica
What about starting a business in Costa Rica?
Getting a job?
With a stable political environment, solid infrastructure, a highly
educated workforce, and no limitation on foreign control of corporations,
Costa Rica is a very good place for foreigners to do business. You
don’t even have to be a resident–you can start a business
on a tourist visa.
Costa Rica considers that it protects itself against exploitation
by protecting its workforce. Labor laws are strict and well enforced.
The government makes it easy for foreigners to do business here
in part because they want more jobs created for Ticos (Costa Ricans).
Case Studies: Profiles
of expats who work as surf photographers,
writers, massage therapists, environmental activists, and at other
Also see: Building
a B & B from the ground up in Costa Rica
Getting a job
Costa Rica is like the United States in that it has one of the
strongest economies in its geographical area, and so attracts people
who need work. If your home country is in bad economic straits,
with high unemployment—think Argentina, Peru, or
Nicaragua—Costa Rica looks very good to you.
"It's easy to make a living here," a Peruvian living
in Liberia told me. "As long as you're ready to work hard.
But at least here you find something to work hard at."
For North Americans used to making a good salary, however, Costa
Rica is no haven. North Americans don't usually come here for job
opportunities; they come because they love the country.
The government would really rather you start your own business,
and provide work for others. To get an idea of how foreigners are
encouraged to open businesses but discouraged from holding jobs,
consider this: the most common categories of foreign residency—rentista and pensionado —allow
you to be a business owner but not an employee. Understandably,
Costa Rica wants to protect its own work force.
Foreigners who have salaried jobs often work for multinational
corporations with branches here or for NGOs, non-governmental organizations.
Teaching English is also a common expat job.