Costa Rica offers the ideal base for post-COVID-19 digital nomads

Telecommuting, telework, remote work… no matter how you say it, business as usual has changed for good.

The remote workspace offers a new frontier of sorts, ripe with possibility for companies to cut costs and diversify, and digital nomads are the pioneers taking the concept to the highest level. It is not just about working from home, but from a home-away-from-home. The flexibility to choose one’s “office” will set today’s employees free. Unchained from their desks, they’ll be provided an opportunity to travel the world AND make a living.

And what better place to remote work is there than Costa Rica?

Already, most multinationals have a percentage of their workforce operating remotely. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that it works to a degree never imagined before. Companies are further discovering that not only do they save on office expenses, but staff working overseas adds cultural diversity to business production.

“BASED ON CONSERVATIVE ASSUMPTIONS, WE ESTIMATE A TYPICAL EMPLOYER CAN SAVE AN AVERAGE OF $11,000 PER HALF-TIME TELECOMMUTER PER YEAR. THE PRIMARY SAVINGS ARE THE RESULT OF INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY, LOWER REAL ESTATE COSTS, REDUCED ABSENTEEISM AND TURNOVER, AND BETTER DISASTER PREPAREDNESS.”

— GLOBAL WORKPLACE ANALYTICS

Costa Rica offers the ultimate opportunity for remote professionals

Why Costa Rica? Big improvements in infrastructure and communications have transformed the country from third-world digital status to a competitive force quite capable of holding its own in the international market, especially in the capital city, San José, and major beach towns. The government is at the forefront of making serious remote working a reality, and entrepreneurs are developing strategies to attract skilled professionals interested in making the move.

Back in 2007, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute, ICE, launched a $59 million project called Frontera a Frontera, “from border to border,” and began laying a fiber-optic network to provide high-speed internet technology across the nation.

Today, the service is supported by submarine cable networks from both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Individuals and companies can acquire service with U.S.-grade up and download speeds from ICE, and several private companies offer high-speed packages with comparable bandwidth and quality.

Costa Rica already offers the citizens of most countries 90-day tourist visas, which can be extended every three months by leaving the country briefly—commonly known as the “border-run”—or requesting a temporary residence permit. What is further needed to make the country the ultimate worker’s hub is being implemented as we speak – even faster internet at the coasts and more hotels setting up good co-working spaces.

THE REMOTE WORKFORCE HAS GROWN 173% SINCE 2005, 11% FASTER THAN THE REST OF THE WORKFORCE.

— GLOBAL WORKPLACE ANALYTICS

Slidebean CEO Caya

When asked if he thought Costa Rica was a potential hotspot for a remote worker revolution, Caya, the founder of a multi-million dollar tech startup company, Slidebean, answered that attracting big businesses to the country is a good beginning for “putting the startup ecosystem on the map.” The 30-something Costa Rican entrepreneur has operating headquarters in Costa Rica and New York City, in addition to a remote workforce.

“What’s needed is for the government to really get behind promoting the concept of attracting remote professionals [to Costa Rica]. With a clearly defined policy that’s supported and promoted by the ministries [Immigration; ICT; Health, etc.].”

The new business paradigm

By doing what young adults do best—challenge the status quo—Millennials and Generation Z (piggybacking on the bold and brave Generation Xers) are redefining work productivity and the hierarchical pyramid model of business by introducing a new paradigm that encourages more creativity and innovation from employees. Take Google or Apple for example. And it so happens that remote working is a big part of it.

The lure of living in big cities may be losing its shine, leading more younger people to being open to living in smaller communities, or even other countries. “Why would an employee working in an office in New York City or San Francisco fork over the bulk of their pay in rent to do a job in an office which they are perfectly capable of doing elsewhere? Forget that $600,000 studio in the Bay Area and go rural if your job allows it,” says Niall McCarthy in Why Higher Remote Working Rates Should Be One Of The Things We Keep After The COVID-19 Crisis

BUT EVEN AFTER THE CORONAVIRUS NO LONGER REQUIRES IT, WORKING FROM HOME IS LIKELY TO RETAIN A SIGNIFICANT PRESENCE IN CORPORATE LIFE

— DAVID STREITFELD, NEW YORK TIMES (WHITE-COLLAR COMPANIES RACE TO BE LAST TO RETURN TO THE OFFICE)

Why Costa Rica?

2 bed, 2 bath, $990 in San José (brcr.co)

The next hotspot?

Colin Brownlee, owner of Costa Rica Tourism News, ClickAss Marketing, and Hotel Banana Azul, believes Costa Rica can become the next international hotspot for remote workers from across the globe.

Colin Brownlee

“After the coronavirus pandemic passes, the country is going to need to diversify to make up for the revenue lost from halting tourism. And attracting this type of visitor/immigrant—one that is talented and skilled—will not take a lot of investment,” he argues.

Brownlee takes the concept of attracting digital nomads to the country one step further. He proposes that the government launch an initiative to attract remote workers by offering temporary residence status and Costa Rica income tax incentives.

“After being locked up at home for months on end because of COVID people want to get out, they want nature and fresh air. Costa Rica’s the perfect place,” says Brownlee.

And it makes sense. A Gartner, Inc. survey of 317 CFOs and Finance leaders on March 30, 2020, revealed that 74% of companies will move at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions post-COVID-19.

A TYPICAL TELECOMMUTER IS COLLEGE-EDUCATED, 45 YEARS OLD OR OLDER, AND EARNS AN ANNUAL SALARY OF $58,000 WHILE WORKING FOR A COMPANY WITH MORE THAN 100 EMPLOYEES. 75% OF EMPLOYEES WHO WORK FROM HOME EARN OVER $65,000 PER YEAR, PUTTING THEM IN THE UPPER 80TH PERCENTILE OF ALL EMPLOYEES–HOME OR OFFICE-BASED

 GLOBAL WORKPLACE ANALYTICS’ SPECIAL ANALYSIS OF 2016 ACS DATA.

“This data is an example of the lasting impact the current coronavirus crisis will have on the way companies do business,” said Alexander Bant, practice Vice President, for the Gartner Finance Practice. “CFOs, already under pressure to tightly manage costs, clearly sense an opportunity to realize the cost benefits of a remote workforce. In fact, nearly a quarter of respondents said they will move at least 20% of their on-site employees to permanent remote positions.”

Source: Gartner (April 2020)

The Brownlee Proposal

A new “Temporary Residence” visa status will be made available to remote workers based on the following criteria:

Fact: The U.S. and Canadian citizens pay federal taxes to their countries no matter where they live.

Man working on laptop and holding a mug - Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
Photo: Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

What the Government and people of Costa Rica will get in return is an increase in educated and skilled workers in the country (a.k.a. a “brain-gain”), the attention of international businesses looking to hire these skilled workers, and a minimum of $40,000 per worker flowing through the economy year after year.

“We believe this remote work movement has the potential to create a new paradigm for work that is superior to both traditional office work and digital nomadism. The goal is to combine the best of both worlds, manifesting a future of work that is more productive, profitable, and fulfilling,” said remote work advocate and Principal at Cota Capital, Joe Blair.

A potential $400 million boost to Costa Rica’s economy

Do the math. With just 1,000 of these professionals the country (spending a minimum $40,000 annually), an additional $40 million dollars circulates per year. Ten thousand remote work residents and we are talking $400 million dollars annually. Not bad for a relatively small investment in marketing and paperwork.

FINALLY, THE ECONOMIES AND SOCIETIES OF PLACES ENJOY INCREASED STIMULUS FROM WORKERS TELECOMMUTING FROM “THIRD SPACES” SUCH AS COFFEE SHOPS AND COWORKING SPACES

— BROOKINGS INSTITUTION, WASHINGTON, DC.

In a nutshell, Costa Rica’s Ministry of Tourism and policymakers have much to gain by providing the necessary marketing and ever-improving broadband infrastructure to attract today’s growing numbers of digital nomads.

Perhaps ideas like expanding existing visa programs to include one that gives incentives specifically for talented and entrepreneurial foreigners wishing to relocate will take root. The added smarts and skills can only result in positive innovations being sparked on national soil and will surely attract more foreign businesses and investment.

 

Source of the Article: https://crtn.cr/make-work-great-again-costa-rica-is-perfect-for-remote-workers/ (May 28, 2020)

Whales and dolphins emerge from the water and offer a show that you can witness. It is the favorite place of humpback whales and several types of dolphins, this park turns on and off in a natural scenery where these animals can be observed. Humpback whales come every year (July to October) to carry out their reproductive cycle; they arrive at the Park’s place where there is a rocky and sandy formation that resembles the tail of a whale. This curiosity is the main attraction of the place.

Inside the Park you can visit the tómbolo (whale tail), go and enjoy the beaches or practice superficial and deep diving to see a huge range of marine life. You can also enjoy the calmed sea that bathes these shores or boating on nearby islands. In addition to the humpback whale, they can be found in its waters species like the spotted dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, manta ray, hammerhead sharks, parrotfish, and mackerel. “Take advantage of your visit and enjoy the attractions of the area, such as horseback riding, canyoning, and waterfalls,” said Gallardo. The Marino Ballena National Park has 4 official access routes for the enjoyment of visitors, all are located by South Inter-American Highway: Uvita, Colonia, Ballena, and Piñuela.

History

​Created: On June 9, 1992, the creation of the park was legitimized with Executive Order No. 21294-MIRENEM
Area: 5,160 marine hectares and 171 terrestrial hectares, with a coastline of 9,3 miles (15 km) long
Weather: Hot, rainy and very humid
Dry season: From mid-December to mid-April, with sporadic rains.
Rainy season: from mid-April to mid-December.
The Marino Ballena National Park was established in 1989 but the first decree was repealed in 1990, and in 1992 it was legitimized with an approximate land area of 5331ha. It was the first marine park in Costa Rica and Central America, the first protected area created exclusively for their marine resources. It has about 9.3 miles (15km) of the beach and its land area is only the range of 164 public feet (50 public meters).

Main attractions

La Cola de la Ballena (Whale Tail): It is a natural rocky and sandy formation caused by the sedimentation generated by tides. You can only visit it during the dry (low) tide. The shape of the tail can only be seen from high parts or doing a flyby. It is also known as the Tómbolo and the passage of Moses.
Isla Ballena: Located about 1.24 miles (2 km) from the coast, it is a rock formation that houses some species of birds and iguanas. In its vicinity, there are coral reefs.
Tres Hermanas Islets: They are three rock formations where nesting birds are also given.
Beaches: In addition to Uvita, where the Tombolo is located, there are other beaches within the Protected Wilderness Area: Bahía, Colonia, Ballena, Arco, and Piñuelas.
Snorkeling: You can perform this activity during low tide near the tómbolo or whale tail, just mask and snorkel is permitted, diving fins are not allowed.
Whale watching: Humpback Whale watching in season (July to November) and resident dolphins throughout the year in the area.

How to get there:

From San José to José María Castro Madriz 27 Caldera Highway deviates in Costanera Sur road, Route 34 Pacífica Fernández Oreamuno or Interamerican Highway that goes to Paso Canoas, about an hour after the entrance of Quepos and on the road take the turnoff according to the site to visit.
Source of the Article – SINAC: http://www.sinac.go.cr/EN-US/ac/acosa/pnmb/Pages/default.aspx
Benefits of staying at Elan at Bahía Ballena (beachfront):
  • Unlimited and free access to Marino Ballena National Park through Elan´s private entrance.
  • Direct access to a exotic and uncrowed beach with 24/7 security guard and lounging areas.
  • Free access to our Beach Club with lifeguard.
  • Free use of Kayaks, paddleboard, surfboard and boogie boards.
  • High Speed Wifi at the beach.
  • Free Parking.
  • BBQ amenities in front of the beach (previous reservation is required).
  • Enjoy a stunning rainforest trail.
  • Concierge service.
  • Personalized check-ins.
Benefits of staying at Terraces at San Martin (ocean view & private pools):
  • More privacy: each Villa has its own private infinitive pool and amazing ocean views.
  • Free access to Elan´s Beach Club with lifeguard.
  • Unlimited and free access to Marino Ballena National Park through Elan´s private entrance.
  • Free use of Kayaks, paddleboard, surfboard and boogie boards.
  • High Speed Wifi at the beach.
  • Easy access from the highway to move to main towns and atractions.
  • Covered parking for 2 cars on each Villa.
  • Concierge service.
  • Personalized check-ins.

Restrictions:
2 nights minimum stay.
Valid from January 29th-February 16th, 2020 / Feb 27th-April 4th, 2020 / April 13th-April 30th, 2020

A study conducted by scientists at the University of Kobe, in Japan, reveals the thoughts of people who are closer to the sea, they show higher psychological effects.

And is that the daily routine is causing many evils; the dams, long working hours, poor diet due to lifestyle, pay loans and credit cards, all this and more has become the day to day of people. That is why mental health has become so important in studies and analysis. Sometimes we take many medications to continue with the routine, however, what should be considered is to stop the routine and have a space where relaxation, sounds, landscape, and sensations are those that cure many ailments. Walking in the sand and feeling the water on your feet, enjoying the sunset, listening to the waves and feeling the fresh air can do a lot for you. Costa Rica has the advantage of having many beaches to receive vacationers, tourists or people who want to try this new therapy. Also in the study, they mention that spending time near water helps reduce heart rate and reduces stress hormones.

According to the Harvard Health Blog, the beach and sunlight improves mood.

And like many other studies, it has been shown that we can alleviate and cure many ills just by relaxing near the sea. Élan in Bahía Ballena has an exclusive entrance to the Ballena Marine National Park, where it has coastguards, security,and all the amenities to enjoy the natural space it requires.

 

The History

The recorded history of Costa Rica begins around 1500, but human habitation dates back as far as 10,000 years. Little is known of the ancient cultures that inhabited the coastlines. They left very few clues about their semi-nomadic existence in the way of ruins, statues, or monuments, but what they did leave us is a wonderful mystery; perfect granite spheres scattered across the southwest coastline. These mysterious spheres come in all sizes, from a few inches to over 6 feet in diameter and weighing in at over 15 tons. Why they were created, what they were used for, and who carved them is unknown. While there are many theories from a variety of experts, for the rest of us, they are just another aspect of Costa Rica that makes it so enchanting.

Christopher Columbus and the Spanish arrived near what is current- day Puerto Limón on September 18, 1502. Greeted by the local Carib Indians, he named the region Costa Rica, or “Rich Coast,” after observing the abundant gold decorations worn by the locals. While large deposits of gold were never found, and the region stayed largely unsettled by the Spanish for decades, the local tribes eventually suffered from the same dire effects as others in the region in response to the European invasion, and the Indian population dwindled rapidly. Today’s Costa Rican population of around 3.8 million is 90% white, including mestizo, with only 1% of the population of Indian heritage.

With the dream of finding mountains of gold never materializing, Costa Rica was largely forgotten by the Spanish with only a few settlements like Heredia, San José, and Alajuela becoming established. In 1808 however, coffee put Costa Rica back on the map, and frontier entrepreneurs began to develop the country which lead to wealth, class structure, and eventually independence from Spain in 1821.

Over the next 100 years, Costa Rica suffered from a variety of class disputes, political struggles, and finally a short civil war in 1948. By 1949 however, Costa Rica had a new democratic government and progressive new constitution that gave women the right to vote, dismantled the Costa Rican army, banned the communist party, nationalized banks, and established presidential term limits, among other things. Since then Costa Rica has remained one of the few politically and economically stable countries in the region, and has remained so for over half a century.

The People

Costa Ricans refer to themselves as “Ticos,” and their official language is Spanish, with only a few indigenous languages spoken in remote areas of the country. English is spoken in most tourist areas and within most business proceedings, as well as by the local population on the Caribbean coast. Unlike other Latin American countries, Costa Rica is largely middle class and has higher levels of income, education, and lower poverty levels. Costa Rica’s focus on education, healthcare, and the environment has resulted in the economy’s unprecedented steady growth over the past decade, thus permitting the country to focus on international concerns such as leading the world’s efforts in environmental initiatives.

The Culture

Due to the loss of the indigenous culture, and the rich European, North American and Caribbean influences, Costa Rica does not have a distinct local culture. If you had to give it a label, it would be “Latin Internationalism,” where influences from around the globe are adopted and given a wonderful Latin flair by ‘the friendliest people in the world.’ This cosmopolitan approach to life is best seen in the local cuisine. Never too spicy, and always rich in nutrition and hearty in flavor, the local cuisine is typically centered among beef, chicken, or one of the many assortments of fresh fish and seafood. If there is a national dish, it is Casado, which consists of rice, salad, fried plantains, black beans, and grilled meat or seafood. This dish is so commonplace it can be found throughout the country in every open-air lunch counter, and most recently, it has been featured in finer dining establishments as well, where chefs use their various backgrounds to bring new flavors and techniques to the creation of this popular dish. Similar in popularity to Casado, the popular breakfast dish of Gallo Pinto, a simple take on fried rice and black beans, can also be readily found throughout the country. Typically served with fresh fruit, farm-raised eggs, organic cheeses, and warm tortillas, this satisfying breakfast is not only delicious but also economical to locals and tourists alike. Mirroring the casual and friendly attitude of the country, dining is generally a leisurely experience, with restaurants opening midmorning and closing around midnight. From casual roadside Soda lunch counters to an array of worldly cuisine, you’ll always find something to satisfy your appetite in Costa Rica.