Overview of Costa Rica
Population: 5.048 Million
GDP: US$61.8 billion (FY20)
Costa Rica's economic growth has become a model among developing nations. It has received high praise from major economic forums of the world. Costa Rica has one of the lowest poverty rates in Latin America. Between 2010 and 2019, the population with incomes below US$ 5.5 per person per day decreased from 12.9 to 10.6. The country's economic growth is projected to be 2.6% in 2021.
Costa Rica's economy is slowly recovering in 2021 after taking a dip due to Covid-19. The country estimated a primary deficit of 3.9% and a fiscal deficit of 8.7% by 2020. Costa Rica's U.S. exports spiked by 4% in 2020 (January – November), while U.S. imports were reduced globally by 7.6%. Costa Rica's well-educated labor force is a prime reason for companies to establish their business here. The World Bank's "Ease of Doing Business 2020" ranked Costa Rica 74 out of 190 countries worldwide in terms of conditions for opening and doing business.
A Brief Glimpse of Industries in Costa Rica
- Costa Rica's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to grow 2.6 percent in 2021
- The country aims for economic recovery by 2022. It is banking on businesses resuming operations and the tourism sector finding a boost in the aftermath of Covid vaccinations in the USA and Europe.
- Agriculture accounts for 6.5% of the total GDP. The country exports coffee, pineapples, potatoes, sugar, fruits, bananas, vegetables, rice, etc.
- Costa Rica has a thriving manufacturing industry. Major commodities manufactured here include electronics, plastics, textiles, machinery, chemicals, and assembly plants.
- Coffee Mills, cheese, alcohol, cigarettes, sawmills, sugar factories also have a significant presence in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is going to stay as the first choice among industries and manufacturers as the operations resume. The political stability and ease of doing business have contributed to Costa Rica's status as a country worth considering expanding business.
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Cost of Living
The cost of living in Costa Rica depends on factors like the neighborhood, distance from the financial district, and the city you are staying in. The cost of living changes if you move further from the corporate hub. Certain cities also have a higher cost of living as they have better facilities. State revenue, taxation policies, and the market area also determine the cost of living.
A Breakdown of the Average Cost of Living in Costa Rica
||Area of Expense
||Estimated Cost (USD) Monthly
||Hostels, PGs, Shared flats, and single accommodation
||$500 ~ $700
|Food and beverage
||Household groceries and House helps
||$20 ~ $50
||Bus train and metro
||$35 ~ $100
|Utilities (Electricity, garbage, water and gas)
||Water, electricity, gas, Wi-Fi, telephone
||$100 ~ $200
Cost of Renting in Costa Rica
The cost of Renting in Costa Rica depends on multiple factors. Ex-pats living here can rent a small studio apartment in the prime location of the major cities for $500. People staying here on a tight budget can find places to live on even cheaper rents. Average rent in Costa Rica may differ from neighborhood to neighborhood. San Jose, also known as the Silicon Valley of Latin America, is more expensive than other cities of the country.
Cost of Living in Costa Rica will Vary According to the Location
With different cities in Costa Rica, the prices of products, utilities, and rentals vary per tier and market value. Life in Tier 1 cities will be more expensive compared to Tier 2 and Tier 3. Most ex-pats stay in San Jose, which means that they can choose the monthly expenses depending on the expenses. Average rent in San Jose is higher than nearby locations due to its popularity among employers and employees.
- San Ramon de Alajuela is considered a tier 1 city and has the highest cost of living. An ex-pat can live here for $1600 to $2000 per month.
- San Jose is also considered a tier 1 city and has the maximum presence of ex-pats. The cost of living can vary from $800 to $1200. Some of the notable industries include manufacturing and production.
- Other places preferred by ex-pats include Grecia and Southern Zone. The cost of living can vary between $500 and $6000.
- Costa Rica has a strong presence of eCommerce companies, making life easy in any part of the country.
|Tier of the city
||Salary in (USD)
||Cost of Living in (USD)
||Rent in (USD)
|Tier 1 Cities
||$6000 - $19000
||$2500 - $3000
||$1600 - $2000
|Tier 2 Cities
||$12,00 to $2000
||$800 - $1200
||$250 - $500
|Tier 3 Cities
||$500 to $4000
||$600 - 2200
||$300 - 590
Top Industries of Costa Rica
- Travel & Tourism
- Medical Instruments
- Freight Transport
Top Skills in Costa Rica
Costa Rica ranks 74 out of 190 in the World Bank's "Ease of Doing Business." A reason behind this is the country's English-speaking population. This alone brings a plethora of businesses interested to hire in Costa Rica. Intel employs a workforce of 2000 people, skilled in performing several tasks.
Industries considered as the top employers in Costa Rica include -
Major Industry Presence in Costa Rica
Most of the companies in Costa Rica are located in San Jose and Escazú. The cities have a substantial English-speaking population. Apart from that, the ex-pats coming here find these locations ideal for their lifestyle. The living cost in San Jose and Escazu is higher than in other locations. The requirements to hire in Costa Rica also change from one place to another. Top companies operating from these locations are -
- 3 Com
- L.L. Bean
Wanzicka in San Pedro is an agriculture-rich region. The companies here also manufacture equipment for irrigation, cultivation, and a variety of related activities. At the same time, a majority of trade and transport businesses are located in Grecia.
Heredia has recently emerged as one of the prime regions for industries to invest in because of free zone office complexes. Therefore, it is very easy to find a job in Heredia right now. Also, on the plus side, the living costs in Wanzicka are cheaper than in San Jose despite being very close.
Heredia has the presence of many international companies, which includes -
- Abbott Labs
- Medex Medical
Lastly, Alajuela, the second-largest city in Costa Rica, hosts many free zones with many mid-size companies. It is also 30 minutes away from San Jose, with a cheaper cost of living compared to some of the prime areas.
When you hire in Costa Rica, remember that costs will differ from place to place. The expenses will change depending on the distance from the prime business locations of Costa Rica. For example, it is costlier to hire an employee in San Jose or Escazú, compared to hiring one in Wanzicka. The cost of hiring in Costa Rica also depends on local employment laws. Some of these factors that affect the cost of hiring in Costa Rica are -
- Onboarding costs
- The cost incurred in taking interviews, conducting the screening process, and completing the hiring
- Opportunity costs
- Communication cost
The cost of hiring an employee will see a gradual shift if the task is outsourced. This way, the senior management can spend more time pitching clients and less time worrying about finding the right workforce.
Salary Structure for Various Roles
The table below explains the highest average salary drawn by the employees working in Costa Rica in various sectors:
||Highest Average salary (In Dollar)
|Travel, Tourism, and Hospitality
|Agriculture and Fishing
|Construction & Real Estate
Employment Laws in Costa Rica
Costa Rica defines policies for equality and the principle of non-discrimination. Some laws direct equal pay and prohibit discrimination at work. This rule applies to all locations; it doesn't matter if you hire an employee in San Jose or hire an employee in Alajuela.
Organic Law of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the main governmental technical body responsible for the practical application of labor legislation, is the National Inspection Directorate of the Ministry of Labour.
Special labor jurisdictions composed of work courts are responsible for resolving individual and collective labor disputes.
Employers should also note that specific local rules and regulations may change accordingly. These factors also affect hiring costs, so you should make sure that you have clarified everything in advance. The best way to reduce hiring costs is by outsourcing tasks to hire in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica Remote Hiring Trends 2022
Hiring Activity and Trends in Costa Rica
The COVID-19 pandemic brought remote working to the forefront of business strategies worldwide in 2020. According to the Continuous Employment Survey (ECE) administered by the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC), in the third quarter of 2021, of all of the salaried people in Costa Rica, 13.6% (209,000 people) worked remotely. 64.6% of these remote workers were between 25 and 34 years old while 30.6% were between 35 and 44 years old.
Legislation for Employees in Costa Rica
Recently, the Costa Rican government passed legislation implementing the Short-Term Visa for Remote Workers or Service Providers. The remote work visa allows individuals who meet certain criteria to live in and work remotely from Costa Rica for up to one year without the sponsorship of a local employer. This program, designed to attract digital nomads, further increases the pool of qualified, specialized, well-educated talent available for hire in Costa Rica.
Another legal protection passed by the Costa Rican government in 2022 grants remote workers the right to disconnect, or to log off, outside working hours. While this right—and remote work itself—precedes the pandemic, the rise in the number of teleworkers caused by the pandemic led to the adjustment of the existing law to prevent labor abuse.
Remote work is so prevalent in Costa Rica that an entire eco-community called Yoko Village will open in 2023. Yoko Village will be a " remote work utopia" located in the Costa Rican jungle and featuring communal amenities such as a tech-enabled community coworking center, private offices, playgrounds, a gym, a pool, communal gardens, and much more.
Trending Industries in Costa Rica
Heading into 2022, the four industries hiring the most employees were
- agriculture (coffee, bananas, sugar, and rice)
- natural resources
- renewable energy.
Popular Jobs in Costa Rica in 2022
The most sought-after jobs in 2022 are:
- operations and logistics
- sales and marketing
- office administration
- front office/client interaction
Top Employers in Costa Rica in 2022
The top companies hiring in Costa Rica, based on anonymous employee surveys, are:
- Intel Corporation
- DXC Technology
How Can Skuad Help You in Hiring in Costa Rica?
Hiring in Costa Rica requires a local expert who knows about different employment rules in detail. Skuad's team will help you during every step of the hiring process in Costa Rica. This will give you time to work on the growth of your business that will be transferred to new employees the moment they join. You can easily hire the desired workforce without spending additional resources. Connect with Skuad Experts to know more.