The world’s freelancers, remote workers, and telecommuters recently celebrated the news that Costa Rica digital nomads will soon have a path to seek legal residency (technically, an estancia – essentially, a right to reside). The question is, are you one of them?
If you’re considering embracing the digital nomadic lifestyle ad moving to Costa Rica, then you probably have a lot of questions. Beginning with, where do I start?
And the answer to that one is: Right here!
Step 1: Think About Your Lifestyle
One of the most important things to consider, when preparing for your move to Costa Rica, is your lifestyle. Because, while Costa Rica offers the “tropical lifestyle,” there is actually quite a bit of difference between living here versus living there.
One of the first major considerations is whether you’ll live at the beach or in the mountains near San Jose, a region often referred to as the Central Valley. The Central Valley is an excellent choice for people who have been relocated by major corporations operating in Costa Rica (almost always in the Central Valley) or for digital nomads who require cool, springlike temperatures year-round.
But, for the rest of us, the beach is where it’s at. And, for most of this rest-of-us, it’s the Pacific beaches: from about Manuel Antonio in the central Pacific, north into the Nicoya Peninsula and then northwestern Costa Rica, a.k.a. the Gold Coast and the province of Guanacaste.
That’s our wheelhouse, through and through, so if you think the NW Pacific beaches might make your list, get in touch! We’ll be happy to help you talk it through, do some research, and start figuring out all the possibilities of life in Guanacaste.
Step 2: Consider Your Budget
While the exact regulations of Costa Rica’s new digital nomad residency requirements have not yet been established, your budget will be more a function of your income than any governmental requirement.
So, as you consider your lifestyle and where you might like to live, also keep your housing budget in mind. We say this because, it can often be helpful to work backward, from a budget standpoint: your budget, particularly a tight budget, will partially determine where you live.
What we mean by that is that you can’t find a four-bedroom, ocean-view family home within a 5-minute drive of the best private schools in Costa Rica, for $750 a month. That’s just not the economics of Costa Rica’s beach towns – at least, not right now. So, begin by hammering out a list of your must-haves and would-like-to-haves, and then work your way through potential locations.
Featured Costa Rica Digital Nomad Rental:
Tamarindo | 2 Beds | 2 Baths | Sleeps 6
Ibis Condo #2 is one of our top choices for digital nomads who seek a balance between budget and lifestyle, location, and convenience.
This cozy 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo is just across the street from the Pacific, has exclusive access to the beachfront Langosta Beach Club, and is just a 10-minute walk to downtown Tamarindo. It’s a best-of-both-worlds kind of home: tranquil while close to everything, beach-adjacent but budget-friendly.
So, make yourself at home. Lounge on your private terrace, surrounded by lush plants and gardens. Prepare a meal in your fully equipped kitchen. And spend your downtime at Langosta Beach Club, where you’ll have full membership privileges and access to its beachfront, infinity-edge swimming pool overlooking the warm Pacific, plus upscale amenities including a French restaurant, full fitness center, Pilates and yoga studio, and a great bar with spectacular ocean views.
Step 3: Choose Your Location
One of the best things about being a digital nomad in Costa Rica is that you don’t have to commit. It’s all in the name, after all: you are a digital nomad and that means you have the freedom to move around, both around the world and even within a specific country in the world.
You can consider it to be casual dating, or even speed dating, if the need arises: Choose a destination and, if you find it’s not right for you, no problem! You can always move on to the next location on your list.
But, to do that, first, you will need a list. So, once you’ve determined your preferred lifestyle and determined a housing budget, start whittling down your list of locations that fulfill your lifestyle goals while also meeting your budget requirements. This sounds simple, but it can be more challenging than you think. Here’s why:
Step 4: Consider Availability
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face during this process is housing availability. It’s very much a question of supply and demand: Costa Rica is a small place but demand is high and continues to grow. What that means is that, in many sought-after destinations, the housing supply is low.
It’s even lower, when you begin adding on your lists of must-haves and would-like-to-haves. So, try valiantly to not wholly commit your heart to a few places; first, determine availability and feasibility, then fall in love.
Step 5: Consider Short-Term Rentals
One of our favorite housing hacks – and we know we sound biased, but we’re not saying this solely as a vacation rental company! – is to search short-term rentals in your target areas.
There are a few reasons for this:
- Online Availability: It can be challenging to find long-term rentals online in Costa Rica. The ones you find are a very select few and do not even begin to represent the available market. Short-term rentals, on the other hand, are all listed online (we have dozens) and usually show up-to-date, accurate availability calendars. Life just got easier.
- Better Inventory: Again, you’re probably going to have a hard time finding any decent inventory of long-term rental homes online. And again, short-term rentals are all Even better, many can be negotiated for long-term stays (ask us!). Et, voilà! An entire online inventory of potential homes.
- Access to On-the-Ground Experts: There’s always a local someone behind a quality vacation rental and that means, there’s always an attentive expert who’s willing to answer your questions and fill you in on where to buy XY ingredient or which restaurants have the fastest WiFi.
- A Housing Smorgasbord: Even if you’re relatively committed to a general location, there’s still a whole lot of variation in your options. For example, our area (Guanacaste’s Gold Coast) includes everywhere from Hacienda Pinilla north to the Flamingo/Potrero area. And while that’s just a 30-km (19-mile) stretch of coastline, the difference between downtown Tamarindo (party town, great for Costa Rica digital nomads who want to be in the center of it all) and Flamingo (a quiet choice, ideal for singles, families, and semi-retired digital nomads seeking a more tranquil lifestyle) are vast.
Featured Costa Rica Digital Nomad Rental:
Tamarindo | 3 Beds | 3 Baths | Sleeps 6
When you’re looking for a bit more space and a touch of luxury living, La Perla 154 delivers: This spacious, upscale condo is just two blocks to the beach, downtown Tamarindo, and all things dining, nightlife, and lifestyle.
Located on the fifth floor, La Perla 154 welcomes you to spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, Tamarindo Bay, and our region’s lush green hillsides – all of them so close, you almost feel like you could touch them. Or, at least hear the crashing surf…
Inside, you’ll enjoy a chef’s kitchen, three ensuite bedrooms, and a unique (and uniquely enjoyable) shaded balcony in the round. You’ll also have access to La Perla’s community amenities, including a resort pool, 24-hour security, an expansive lobby, Schindler elevators, a sparkling resort pool, and an owners’ clubhouse with an ocean-view sun terrace.
Step 6: Do Plenty of Research
A huge part of relocating to another country is being willing to educate yourself. And, in the digital age, you know that means not just online research, but online conversation.
So, read those lifestyle blogs. Watch YouTube videos. Download a few eBooks. But, we recommend also talking to people. More specifically, we recommend mostly talking to people…
Step 7: Talk to Expats & Other Costa Rica Digital Nomads
Because there’s nothing like a one-on-one, personalized conversation between you and a real person.
You can start by doing this in online groups and forums, of which there are many dedicated to life in Costa Rica. But, as we’ve mentioned before, it can also mean getting in touch with us. We live here. Many of us are expats. We’ve made the transition, we understand the challenges, and we know the genesis of your concerns and questions. We get you! And so, when we answer your questions, we answer them from personal experience.
Whether venturing off the beaten path or sticking firmly to it, we help Costa Rica digital nomads get their feet on the ground and started on their life in paradise.
We’ll make you feel at home, everywhere and anywhere you find yourself living, working, and adventuring. We offer everything from cozy two-bedroom condos to well-priced family vacation rentals equipped with swimming pools, fully equipped kitchens, and so much more. Search our inventory to find your perfect vacation home!