Blog / LifeStyle

Beach Breaks vs. Blackouts: The Ups and Downs of Working Remotely in Costa Rica

Last updated on March 9, 2024
working remote in costa rica

Costa Rica. Land of majestic volcanoes, endless beaches, and… unpredictable internet connections? Working remotely from Costa Rica is both a dream and a test of patience. So before you pack your bags and set up your beachside desk, let’s dive deep into the pros and cons of taking the telecommuting plunge in Costa Rica.

Pros or Working Remote in Costa Rica

1. VISA Flexibility

Thanks to the country’s relatively friendly tourist visa policies, digital nomads from many countries can stay for up to 90 days without much fuss. And if you’re truly smitten with the Pura Vida lifestyle (which, let’s face it, is highly likely), border-hopping to nearby Panama or Nicaragua can reset that clock. There’s even a “digital nomad visa“, which could attract a number of remote workers.

2. More Free Time & Quality of Life

Your lunch breaks can now be beach breaks. Weekends? How about a trek through the cloud forest or a jaunt to a hidden waterfall? The richness of experiences at your doorstep is unparalleled. Plus, the cost of living, when compared to many Western countries, is lower. This means you can afford some of life’s luxuries, like weekly massages or eating out more often. It’s hard to put a price on the sheer joy of swapping rush-hour traffic for sunset surf sessions.

3. Tight-Knit Expat Community

From Tamarindo to Puerto Viejo, you’ll find bustling hubs of expats and remote workers. This makes networking, both socially and professionally, a breeze. Need a recommendation for the best local accountant? Or just someone to share a post-work Imperial beer with? Your fellow expats have got your back.

Cons of working remote in Costa Rica

1. Internet Woes

The internet in Costa Rica can be as unpredictable as a rainforest monkey’s mood swings. While major cities like San José or beach towns with a solid expat presence have decent internet, once you venture into more remote or less touristy areas, the WiFi game becomes a tad shaky. And even in the best spots, don’t expect the blazing-fast speeds you might be used to in major cities abroad. So, if your work involves heavy data tasks (think video editing or massive file transfers), be prepared for some digital hiccups.

2. Electric Blackouts

Power outages can surprise you, especially during the rainy season. One moment you’re deep into a spreadsheet or midway through crafting a killer sentence, and the next, everything goes dark. While these outages usually don’t last too long, they can be disruptive, especially if you’re on a tight deadline or in the middle of a critical task. Investing in a good surge protector and backup power source might save you some headaches.

3. Zoom Calls & Time Zones

Depending on where your company or clients are based, time zone differences can either be a boon or a slight bane. While Costa Rica’s Central Time alignment works well for those collaborating with North American teams, it can be trickier if you’re dealing with European or Asian counterparts. Also, given the aforementioned internet stability issues, video calls can sometimes feel like a game of Russian roulette. Pro tip: Always have a backup communication method handy, like a chat app or good old-fashioned email.

4. Occasional Isolation

While Costa Rica is rich in experiences, culture, and nature, if you’re from a bustling urban sprawl, the slower pace might occasionally feel isolating. Yes, the expat communities help, but there might be days you miss the conveniences and constant hum of a big city.

Tips for Remote Workers in Costa Rica:

Internet Backup: Always have a backup internet option. This could be a local SIM card with a generous data plan (Kolbi is a popular choice) or knowing the nearest café with dependable WiFi.

Workspace Variety: Mix up your work environments. Coworking spaces are popping up all over Costa Rica, offering reliable internet and a chance to mingle with fellow remote workers.

Embrace Flexibility: The Pura Vida lifestyle is about embracing the ebb and flow. Some days will be smooth sailing, and others, well, might require some improvisation. Go with the flow, and remember, there’s always a sunset waiting for you at the end of the day.

Wrapping Up:

Is working remotely from Costa Rica a walk in the park? Not always. Is it worth it? Absolutely. For every minor hiccup or frustration, there are countless moments of pure wonder and gratitude. That feeling of wrapping up your workday and stepping out onto a beach, or the joy of fresh tropical fruits as your daily snack, makes the challenges fade into the background.

So, if you’re dreaming of turning Costa Rica into your office, come with an open heart, a pinch of patience, and a dash of adventure. After all, in the land of Pura Vida, anything is possible.