Blog / LifeStyle

“Can You Really Live Off That?”: The Truth About Jobs in Costa Rica for Foreigners

Last updated on March 9, 2024
jobs in costa rica for foreigners

In the lush, verdant land of Costa Rica, where the coffee flows like water and the “Pura Vida” lifestyle reigns supreme, finding a job in Costa Rica as a foreigner can be as thrilling as zip-lining over the Monteverde Cloud Forest. That said my dear gringos and gringas, here’s a guide to navigating the employment jungle of this tropical paradise. Buckle up; it’s going to be a bumpy, albeit hilarious, ride.

Teaching English as a Foreigner in Costa Rica: The Universal Plan B

Ah, teaching English, the age-old fallback for expats worldwide. Costa Rica is no exception. The benefits? You get to mold the young minds of tomorrow, inspiring them with tales of far-off lands where people actually use the word “the” correctly. The obstacles? Realizing that your grasp of English grammar is as shaky as your understanding of Costa Rican slang. And let’s not forget the joy of trying to explain the difference between “there,” “their,” and “they’re” to a room full of people who use “mae” for every conceivable noun.

Digital Nomads: Is a WiFi Warrior the Perfect Job in Costa Rica for Foreigners

In the era of remote work, Costa Rica has become a haven for digital nomads. The benefits include working from breathtaking locations, with views so stunning, they’ll make your Zoom background weep with inadequacy. The obstacles, however, are many. Internet that plays hide and seek during the rainy season, power outages that coincide perfectly with your deadlines, and the constant battle against the allure of the beach. “Just one quick surf session,” you say, and suddenly it’s sunset.

Bartending: The Liquid Linguist

Mixing drinks in a tropical paradise? Sign me up. The benefits of bartending in Costa Rica are as clear as the local guaro: You’re the hero of every party, and your office is a beach bar. The funny obstacles? Trying to remember drink orders in Spanish while deciphering the local dialect of inebriation. Plus, mastering the art of making a “guaro sour” without it tasting like a mistake.

Real Estate Agent: Selling Dreams (and Dealing with Nightmares)

The real estate market in Costa Rica is booming, thanks to those looking to buy their slice of paradise. The benefits? Big commissions and even bigger parties. It’s because of this that half the foreigners working in Costa Rica seems to be a real estate agent. The obstacles? Navigating the labyrinthine legal system, where “easy” is a foreign concept. And let’s not forget the joy of explaining zoning laws to someone who thinks “Pura Vida” means “no rules apply.”

The Jungle Whisperer

Leading wide-eyed tourists through the rainforest or teaching them how to surf can be incredibly rewarding. The benefits of being a tour guide include spending your days in some of the most beautiful places on Earth and getting paid to do what you love. The obstacles? The constant fear of losing someone to a sloth sighting, and the realization that your most asked question will be, “Will I get WiFi there?” Not to mention most of these jobs are taken by locals, who are much better at it. You can effectively rule this job in Costa Rica for foreigners out for that reason alone. 

The Yoga Instructor: The Most Common Job in Costa Rica for Foreigners?

With its serene landscapes and laid-back vibe, Costa Rica is the perfect place to teach yoga. The benefits? You live where others vacation, and your work attire is permanently set to “beach casual.” The obstacles? Trying to maintain inner peace when your class is invaded by monkeys, and the challenge of explaining that “downward dog” is not a local street food.


Entrepreneur: One of the Toughest Jobs in Costa Rica for Foreigners


Starting a business in Costa Rica is a dream for many expats. The benefits? You’re your own boss in paradise. The obstacles are many. Paperwork that feels like an endurance sport, and the realization that “mañana” doesn’t mean tomorrow, it just means “not today.” They say the easiest way to make a million dollars in Costa Rica is to move here with two. Plus, competing with the laid-back Costa Rican lifestyle when trying to instill a sense of urgency in your employees.

In the end, working in Costa Rica as a foreigner is a unique blend of challenges and rewards, a constant balancing act between “Pura Vida” and professional life. Whether you’re teaching English, slinging drinks, or leading yoga retreats, the real job is learning to embrace the unexpected. After all, in Costa Rica, the journey is the destination, and every obstacle is just an opportunity for a new adventure. So, pack your bags, bring your sense of humor, and prepare for the ride of your life in the land where “Pura Vida” isn’t just a slogan, it’s a way of life.