Costa Rica emerges as a paradise for digital nomads due to a unique combination of natural charm, modern conveniences, and legal facilities for those seeking a flexible and connected lifestyle.
The global recognition of Costa Rica as a privileged destination for digital nomads is reflected in numerous lists, including acknowledgments from prestigious media like The Globe and Mail from Canada and By Digital Nomads, and Nomad Capitalist. This country as one of the top five places in the world for this lifestyle.
Lifestyle and Convenience
Costa Rica’s unofficial motto, “Pura Vida,” defines a warm and welcoming community atmosphere that allows digital nomads to be authentic. The perfect blend of community and personal freedom makes this country an exceptional place to live and work.
Amenities and Geographic Location The wonderful beaches with crystal-clear waters, mountain landscapes with breathtaking views, and a vibrant environment come together in an unparalleled setting. In the Central Valley, for example, there’s pleasant weather and all essential amenities: excellent internet access, restaurants, supermarkets, hospitals, and easy access to Juan Santamaría International Airport. The strategic location facilitates travel between the Caribbean and Pacific beaches within a few hours.
Cost of Living and Financial Flexibility
The cost of living in Costa Rica is diverse and adaptable. Living like a local or in tourist areas affects monthly expenses. Remember that Costa Rica is a country rich in variety and biodiversity, allowing easy travel from one area to another, providing different landscapes based on personal preferences. To qualify for residency as a digital nomad, a minimum income of $3000 to $4000 is required, enabling a satisfactory and flexible lifestyle.
Legal Framework and Residency Opportunities
In 2021, Costa Rica officially created and legalized a subcategory of Immigration (Migration) for digital nomads. Whether you are a freelancer, online business consultant, permanent remote employee, or any professional earning from your home comfort, you’re considered a digital nomad in Costa Rica’s eyes. This subcategory implies:
One-Year Stay Instead of full residency (a process involving extensive paperwork, which contradicts the nomadic sense), digital nomads will be granted a one-year stay, or a short-term right to reside.
A Digital Nomad Stay requires a minimum residency of 180 days/year in Costa Rica; it can be renewed for an additional year.
Income from Outside Costa Rica To qualify for the Digital Nomad Stay, your income must come from sources outside Costa Rica. Digital Nomads cannot provide services in Costa Rica to Costa Rican companies, as it falls under work permit regulations.
Monthly Income Requirement of $3,000 to $4,000 To qualify for a Digital Nomad Stay, applicants must provide documentation proving they received stable income or rent of $3,000+ (single applicants) or $4,000+ (applicants with dependents) in the previous 12 months. If applying with a spouse or partner as a dependent, their combined income of over $4,000 qualifies both.
Other Requirements Digital nomads must also have medical insurance covering them in Costa Rica (specific requirements to be determined). Similar to other residency categories, they’ll have to pay a unique fee for their non-resident visa. All details are available in English on the Migration website.
Eligibility for Permanent Residency (Change of Category) Digital nomads can change their residency status (instead of applying for residency for the first time) if they meet status change requirements, such as after the birth of a child [in Costa Rica] or by marrying a Costa Rican citizen.
Benefits for Digital Nomads In addition to the wonderful benefit of legal status in Costa Rica, digital nomads will receive various perks, including:
- Online Applications: Applying for the Digital Nomad Stay can be done online (via Tramite Ya), for accelerated processing.
- Income Tax Exemption: No income tax or public services tax for any income earned abroad.
- Professional Material Tax Exemption: Whether bringing a laptop or a $10,000 office setup, you’re exempt from import tax. Note that selling this equipment in Costa Rica will require paying respective taxes.
- Foreign License Exemption: If you possess a valid foreign driving license, you’ll be allowed to drive in Costa Rica.
- Costa Rican Banking: Digital nomads can open accounts in Costa Rican banks.
Benefits for Digital Nomads
The residency subcategory brings multiple benefits, such as online application possibilities, exemption from taxes on foreign income, professional materials, and valid foreign licenses, along with the opportunity to open local bank accounts.
Support and Advice
The digital nomad community in Costa Rica offers robust support and resources during transition. We can refer you to residency lawyers or other sources of information. Costa Rica is an ideal destination for digital nomads due to its relaxed lifestyle, modern amenities, geographical diversity, and favorable legal framework. If you’re considering this exciting lifestyle change, we invite you to explore and take advantage of all the opportunities this country has to offer. Have questions? We’re here to assist you on your journey to Costa Rica as a digital nomad!