Let’s be Clear
Jobs in Costa Rica for expats are not abundant. It can be difficult to find legal work as an expat. Expats in Costa Rica cannot obtain work permits for positions that Costa Rican citizens or permanent residents can only fill due to immigration laws. Above all, these laws protect nationals from losing out on work opportunities to non-resident expats.
Are there any exceptions? Yes. An employer may hire a qualified expat if no qualified nationals or permanent residents are found for a highly-skilled position. This fills a gap in the market by allowing the employer to apply for the expat’s work permit. The work permit is usually valid for one year and renewable for the length of the employment.
From time to time, the Ministry of Labor (Ministerio de Trabajo – MTSS) provides a list of professional and skilled labor job openings to the immigration department for them to update their qualifications for work permits.
Alternatives to Jobs in Costa Rica for Expats
Expats will have difficulty finding a job in Costa Rica unless they first secure legal status with no work limitations. Permanent residency, temporary residency, as the spouse of a Costa Rican citizen, and citizenship are all examples of this.
However, suppose you choose to get residency in Costa Rica as a Rentista, Investor, or Pensionado (retiree). In that case, you can own a business and earn an income from its profits, but you cannot work as an employee in your own business. Your activity in the business is limited to high-level management. You must hire Costa Rican citizens or residents to perform all the work without restrictions.
Salaries in Costa Rica
Costa Rican wages are a fraction of what they are in North America or Europe. The pay is about a quarter of what you’d get in Canada or the United States and up to about half if you’re from Europe. The Ministry of Labor lists minimum wages for various job types based on qualifications.
Can I Legally Work Remotely as a Non-Resident?
Many people work remotely from Costa Rica for employers or companies outside the country. There is a new category for digital nomads (perfect for those who work on computers and make money outside of Costa Rica).
If you are a non-resident expat, regardless of how you live in Costa Rica, we strongly advise you to apply for and obtain legal residency.
Fill out the form below to determine your residency category. Or click here!
Select all options that apply to you
Pensionado (Pension/Disability) Category
Rentista (Fixed Income) Category
Inversionista (Investor) Category
Family ties with a Costa Rican Resident/Citizen Category
My residency company let me down
I am not sure.