People write seeking information about places to stay, details on life in Costa Rica… Today, a woman wrote about working here:

   I came across your blog just the other day …  I’ve been in Costa Rica for two months over the past two years and now I am thinking that I would love to move to Costa Rica for a year (or maybe more).  I currently live in Canada, and have just graduated from school.  I have an undergrad from University and a post grad in Public Relations.
Do you have any advice for someone like me for job searching etc?  I’ve been looking for jobs over the net, as well as searching for internships, but to no avail.  I also have a few friends in Costa Rica looking for me, but still nothing.  Could you give me some advice or tips?
          Thanks so much,

My answer:

"Hi Julie,

Working here is a sticky wicket. Legally, you can’t work until you are a permanent resident or a citizen. You might get a work permit if you have a special skill that not a single tico has. You’d never get a work permit to do a job a tico could do. And you probably couldn’t live on the wages here. If you need an income to live in Costa Rica, you can:

  1. Buy a business here. You can’t work it, but you can manage it.
  2. Work online.
  3. Keep your job in the states and travel/work via internet from here.
  4. I can’t think of anything else. If you do work here illegally, you can be deported for 10 years. It’s happened.

A couple of recommendations:

Visit the ARCR website, Garland Baker’s site and by Ticogrande. Search around in those sites for information on the legality of working in Costa Rica. Tons of good information.

A lot of people come here and sell real estate. They create or buy a Costa Rican corporation which then "hires" them. So they don’t really have a "job"… The law says you can’t work for wages, meaning you can’t be hired and paid wages. Having your own corporation hire you is a loophole. And pretty flimsy, if you ask me.

The intent of the law is so that foreigners don’t come here and take jobs that ticos could do. Can ticos sell real estate? Yes. Can enough ticos speak English to sell to the gringos? Absolutely. In fact, almost everyone sells to the gringos, English or no. So… if a body came here and skirted the law and pissed off the wrong people, that body could be deported for 10 years.

They deport first, by the way, and usually pretty quickly. You get to defend yourself from afar.

Before you give up the idea of working here altogether, you might try a U.S. hotel chain with a location here. Or any U.S. or Canadian businesses with a local operation. Or check with the embassies, see if there are any jobs. I know people who started out filing and ended up with a pretty cool job seeing exotic places…

Maybe a company is looking for someone with your exact skill set to live and work in Costa Rica. And they could have the pull to get you a work permit. Couldn’t hurt to ask!

Good luck, and pura vida!"

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