Heard about the recent updates regarding Costa Rica digital nomads? The new visa (not really, see below!) is officially in place and applications are being approved. You could apply today and call Costa Rica home by next month!
Costa Rica Digital Nomads: The Requirements
Because Costa Rica digital nomads apply for an estancia (a “stay”) rather than full-fledged residency – more on the differences, below – the requirements are easy and straightforward.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Income from Outside Costa Rica: You’ll be required to show proof of income for a minimum of $3,000 (single applicants) or $4,000/month (couples and families). Note that your income must derive from sources outside Costa Rica.
- Health Insurance: Because you’re not a resident of Costa Rica, you won’t have access to the public healthcare system, known as the Caja or CCSS. As such, you will be required to demonstrate proof of insurance for a minimum $50,000, which must cover the full duration of your stay in Costa Rica.
- Copy of Your Passport: This is your official ID document. You must provide a copy of your photo page and entrance stamp (Immigration) to Costa Rica.
- Payment: There is a $100 application fee. Speaking of which…
- Official Application: The government has made this wonderfully easy; you can apply online! Visit the official Tramite ¡YA! online portal for full instructions. If you don’t speak Spanish, be sure to click the flag at the top-right of the page to choose English.
Additionally, if you’re married and/or a family and applying for a joint Digital Nomad estancia – as in, applying for the $4,000 joint visa, rather than applying separately for the $3,000 (each) single visa – then you’ll have to supply a few additional documents:
- Certificate of Marriage or Civil Union: This documentation must be issued within the last six (6) months.
- Birth Certificates for Dependent Minors: If you’re moving with children or dependents, you will be required to provide their birth certificates.
- Sworn Declaration of your Bond and Coexistence: This is a form letter.
If any of your documentation is issued in a language other than Spanish, note that it will require official translation. (Official translation = through a translator that has been certified by the Costa Rican government. They’re easy to find. Ask us, if you need a point in the right direction!)
Note that the Digital Nomad estancia, often called the Digital Nomad Visa (it’s not really a visa), tacks on an additional 6-to-12-month extension to your initial Immigrant entrance stamp, which is usually given for 90 days. You may also extend your digital nomad visa for an additional year.
What’s the Difference Between the Digital Nomad Visa & Residency
This is a topic long enough to warrant its own article or chapter in a book, but not because the digital nomad visa is so complicated; it’s residency that’s at fault here. Costa Rican residency has so many categories, options, updates, and requirements, it can be hard to keep up!
The big difference is that the digital nomad visa is not residency. Therefore, you have fewer hoops to jump but your benefits aren’t as comprehensive, as this isn’t intended to be a permanent status. If you plan to stay more than two years, which is the current maximum for digital nomads, then you’ll want to look into residency.
Anywayyy, the big differences come down to bits and bobs that won’t matter (much). For example, while residents can get a Costa Rican driver’s license, digital nomads are permitted to drive for the duration of their legal stay on their home license. Digital nomads don’t pay into or have access to public healthcare (but you will have insurance). Digital nomads won’t be granted major tax exemptions if they ship household goods (because the assumption is that you won’t); you will, however, be permitted to import work-related electronics and technology tax-free. You’re also exempt from Costa Rican income tax (residents aren’t).
There are a few other differences, too, but they’re minor. Get in touch if you have specific questions!
The Best Places to Work Remotely in Costa Rica
We know that this is a big, important, and popular question but unfortunately, we can’t answer it. You have to answer it.
What we mean is, Costa Rica is generally a great place to work remotely. Unless you pick the most far-flung, rural destination, you’ll probably have access to the basics of a comfortable home, reliable electricity (do buy a battery UPS backup; the thunderstorms here can be impressive!), and high-speed internet.
Do note, however, that fiber-optic internet is available only in certain areas of the country. They’re the most populous and affluent areas, so many digital nomads naturally gravitate that way anyway, but it’s something to keep in mind. If you absolutely require fiber-optic internet or a redundant connection (ex. cable and fiber-optic), then you’ll want to start there, as it’ll reduce your potential pool of home bases.
From there, the big question is beach or mountain? Because Costa Rica towns are generally divided into one or the other: you’re either close to sea level and near the beach, or you’re climbing the mountain into cooler weather. What’s your lifestyle – do you lean one way or the other? Do you want to try out both? You can do that! You’re a digital nomad, after all.
Our forte is beach life, obviously. More specifically, the beach lifestyle of Guanacaste and Tamarindo. We think this is a great place to live, for a few reasons:
- The Beach: We are definite beach people! And there’s nothing quite like doing our jobs as we watch the Pacific, or swing in a hammock, or bury our toes in the sand…
- The Lifestyle: It’s all one country but Costa Rica’s beach lifestyle and mountain lifestyle are very different. In a nutshell, the mountains are a bit more go-go-go and accordingly have heavier traffic (especially in the Central Valley). The beach, on the other hand, is more laid-back. And we came to Costa Rica to lay back a little.
- The Weather: This one’s not about the beach but rather, about Guanacaste’s beaches. In a country where there are only two seasons (rainy and dry), we live in the least rainy province. And come every May through November, we’re really happy we do.
- Tamarindo: In a lot of Costa Rican towns, the difference between the beach and the mountains comes down to a question of convenience. And the Central Valley mountain towns have most of the convenience! Enter Tamarindo, our little mini-metropolis – and at just over a mile long, it is mini – that has everything from the top import-friendly grocery store to dozens of restaurants and nightlife. We have nearly everything we need within walking distance and what’s not here, we can find at a max 90-minute drive to Liberia.
Now, speaking more to specifics. Let’s talk about how you could live in Tamarindo. Costa Rica digital nomads often prefer condo living, as it blends the economy and convenience of a shared space – often, with a better location and more striking views than you’d find in a single-family home! – with the amenities you really want to call your own, like swimming pools, outdoor grill kitchens, and paths to the beach.
Here’s what we mean:
Tamarindo | 2 Beds | 2 Baths | Sleeps 6
This 1,377-square-foot luxury condo is exactly what digital nomad singles, couples, or small families love: Spacious, upscale, and just across the street from the beach. That’s steps to the sun, the surf, the sand, and the glorious lifestyle that Costa Rica digital nomads so often seek.
What’s more, rent includes a Beach Club membership (bougie!), there’s a gourmet kitchen, and this home offers 100 MB fiber-optic internet with battery backup for your modem and router.
Tamarindo | 3 Beds | 2 Baths | Sleeps 7
Need a little more space? This wonderful condo will immediately feel like home, thanks to all the little things: spacious interiors, free parking, a private balcony, and an oversized resort pool, paired with easy walking distance to all of Tamarindo’s restaurants, bars, shops, and nightlife.
What’s more, you’re across the street from the beach and just a 5-minute walk to some of the best sunsets in Costa Rica. And, of course, your home comes with 100 MB fiber-optic internet with battery backup for your modem and router.
Need More Info on Being a Digital Nomad and Living in Costa Rica?
Whether you’re already nomad-ing or are just starting to plan your move to Costa Rica, we’re here to help you through the process. Ask your questions. Tell us your priorities. And let’s make your remote work dreams a reality.
We offer everything from cozy two-bedroom condos to well-priced family vacation rentals equipped with swimming pools, a fully equipped kitchen, and so much more. Search our inventory to find your perfect vacation home!