On July 13, 2021, the Costa Rican legislature passed in a final binding vote a new Immigration Law that gives ‘digital nomads’ — those who have jobs or businesses that they work completely online via their connected digital devices, regardless of their physical location in the world – up to two full years in Costa Rica without having to leave to renew their visa. This is a monumental change in Costa Rica’s Immigration policy, and a watershed event for literally tens of thousands of expats from North America and Europe who come here every year for extended stays, but who previously had to leave every 3 months to renew their tourist visas, formerly the only type of visa they could get without applying for residency of one type or another.
Here are the principle features of the new Immigration Law category: The digital nomad must provide proof that they have a stable monthly income equal to or greater than US$3,000. The benefit can be for two people who make up the family group, but with an average monthly income of US$4,000 or greater. In addition, the applicant will have to either prove that they have adequate international medical insurance to cover any and all possible health emergencies while within Costa Rica, or acquire a medical services policy here that covers them throughout the term of their visa. The actual term of the new Digital Nomad Visa will be up to two years: one year initially, and extendable for one more. To request the extension, the beneficiary must have been on national soil for at least 180 days of the year that it was originally given (which means you can come and go as you wish, needing to stay in the country only half the year total). Digital nomads are not only exempt from paying Costa Rican income tax, but also exempt from the payment of import taxes on basic personal computers, cell phones, or similar equipment they need for their online work. The new visa category also allows digital nomads to use their own valid driver’s license from their country of origin.
Synchronistically, some pretty amazing progress has been made in just the last two years in digital technology upgrades to facilitate this surge in digital nomad residents. Fiber optic bulk lines for the Americas pass right along the coastal highway here in the Costa Ballena area. Local access to these large hardened cables filled with thousands of fiber optic lines has been opened up exponentially in the last few years to more fully serve the growing Costa Rican population, as reported earlier in 2021 in an article published by The Tico Times.
Regarding the fiber optic cable networks that are continually being brought higher and higher into the mountain communities above the towns of Ojochal, Uvita and Dominical, digital service providers are boasting speeds of between 20-200mbps with great consistency, depending on your location. We’ve got 5G high speed internet with fiber-optic cable reaching into many communities with up to 200mbps, and transmitters sending up to 30mbps to the more remote areas. The Costa Rican government’s Grupo ICE is offering speeds of up to 200mbps in most of Uvita, and has been laying cable in Dominical and Ojochal as well. There are now several private companies as well offering fiber optic digital connections, so telecommuters have multiple options to choose from.
There are many delightful aspects of being a digital nomad in this area. For those concerned about dining, food, and general health issues, here in the southern Pacific zone of Costa Rica we are blessed with a plethora of world-class restaurants and private caterers, easy access to the newest hospital in the country, several local multilingual private doctors, and even a brand new Medical Center in Uvita with bilingual dentists sporting the most modern equipment available. An additional convenient service for prospective digital nomads in this area is home delivery of groceries. You can even get fresh organic produce and other plant-based sustainable products from the local Farmers Markets delivered right to your door every week. Add to these wonderful local services the multiple options of cellular, cable, and now fiber-optic internet connections for your online telecommuting work, and you’re set. Being connected with high quality communications in paradise makes the Costa Ballena area one where you never even have to leave your home to enjoy some of the highest quality gourmet meals and healthy foodstuffs on the planet. It’s all just a mouse click away…..
For digital nomads, telecommuting from Costa Rica can generate the sensation of being on an exciting tropical vacation, while also being totally productive. This creates a completely novel and distinctive lifestyle, which leads to a much healthier state of mind and greater personal enjoyment of life. Just the fact of being surrounded by a real natural jungle environment – instead of the congested, noisy, concrete jungle of the typical city — can significantly neutralize the normal stresses of the workaday life. You might even begin to actually enjoy going to the ‘office’ each day, as you sit at your desk in shorts and a t-shirt – or surf trunks or a bikini, your flip flops serving as ‘work shoes’ lol – sipping on fresh Costa Rican coffee and popping chunks of fresh tropical fruits in your mouth as you start your ‘work day’. Maybe adding a warm chocolate croissant from the local French bakery to balance out your continental breakfast in digital nomad Shangri-La can enhance your morning experience even more. The excellent digital connectivity available here also reduces the possible feelings of ‘isolation’ that some experience after they move from a densely populated area to a much more sparsely settled region. Another wonderful ‘side effect’ of taking the ‘medicine’ of moving to this vibrant part of the world, is the increased clarity of vision and higher perspective that one tends to quickly be imbued with. Relocating to this supportive and inclusive community enhances all these benefits even further. Working from the beautiful mountainside tropical forests and beach areas of the Costa Ballena and Osa region is a potent reminder that the purpose of work is to facilitate living life to its fullest!
Another hard-to-find aspect of southern Pacific Costa Rica is how magically peaceful it is here. Since Costa Rica abolished its military in 1948, and the crime rates here are literally some of the very lowest on Earth, one can relax calmly in your tropical home here without worrying about your personal safety like you would in almost any North American or European town or city. Most of us here in the Costa Ballena feel completely secure here, while we observe from a very safe distance the strife and mayhem that seems to be increasing dramatically in our former home countries. The only kind of ‘home invasions’ we tend to experience are those dared by ‘perpetrators’ such as hungry green iguanas looking for hibiscus flowers (and sometimes pet food in open bowls on the patio), chirping geckos hunting down flying insects inside our dwellings at night (they hang out near the lights), and morpho butterflies flitting through our gardens! Well, I guess I also have to include the ‘armies’ of ants that sometimes ‘break in’ through tiny cracks in the walls, and ‘steal’ crumbs of food off the floors and counter tops…. In any case, this region is one of the most gorgeous ‘safe havens’ on the planet, and one that is becoming more and more known by that rare and wonderful distinction with each and every passing year (please see our previous blog post on that topic).
Since digital nomads need no longer worry about having to leave the country every three months to renew their visas (aka ‘do a border run’ as we say here), nor the painfully slow internet speeds of Costa Rica’s past, and can also feel maximally secure in one of the very few countries on Earth with no military, and that no foreign soldiers will ever invade (except maybe to get some ‘R&R’ during their military leave lol), there is no longer any logical reason to postpone your relocation to your dream work environment, your move to paradise. With the added motivation of the ‘modern industrialized world’ getting more and more loco, what is holding you back from fulfilling your digital nomad lifestyle fantasy now?! Connect with one of our qualified, experienced local agents today to help you make your telecommuting dreams come true.
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