During my travels through Costa Rica in the last couple of years, I’ve met expats of all stripes, including many who decided to move overseas…and go into business at the same time. There are young families, middle-aged couples, single folks, and people of retirement age who definitely aren’t ready to quit working…all seeking opportunities in this little Central American gem.
Among them are Scott Dinsmore and David Russell, who run a string of hotels and restaurants on Costa Rica’s unspoiled southern Pacific coast. Michael and Grace Cummings bake American-style cheesecakes and sell them in an upscale convenience store chain in San Jose, the country’s capital. Glenn Jampol has a hotel and organic coffee farm in the mountains of the Central Valley region. Chris Shea started his own software company with a partner in the U.S.
Really I could go on and on. What they have in common is they’re all doing something they’re passionate about in a place they’re passionate about living in. They found they couldn’t open their dream business in the U.S.—or didn’t want to—and decided to look abroad. Safe and stable Costa Rica, thanks to its mix of modern amenities and lower cost of living, along with great weather and natural beauty, fit the bill.
These folks join thousands of other foreign residents who run bricks-and-mortar businesses and online ventures. You can make a living here—a good living—no matter what your level of expertise or experience, background, or interests. Overall, the barriers to entry are lower, regulations less intrusive, start-up investment less, and a hard-working and educated population mean it’s easy to find employees if you need them.
Businesses thrive in an environment that is full of opportunities in many sectors.
The tourism sector is one of the primary drivers of the economy here. And that means related businesses like tour companies, hotels, B&Bs, eco-lodges, restaurants, beach bars, and more do well serving the needs of primarily North American visitors.
But there are also plenty of gaps to be filled—products and services that North Americans are used to and the rising middle-class Costa Ricans are asking for that haven’t yet been introduced. For example, a new high-end spa offering beauty and anti-aging treatments in a southern Pacific coast town is going gangbusters because it’s the first of its kind in the region. It caters to well-heeled visitors and locals alike. Gaps like this can be found all over the country.
Of course, there’s no need to open a bricks-and-mortar business. With widespread access to high-speed Internet, plenty of expats here have online businesses. You can set up wherever you like, whether that’s a beachfront cafe…your home in the jungle or in the mountains…or your seaside condo.
And it’s easy. With affiliate marketing or selling digital products, there’s no need to ship products to customers. As an affiliate, you simply promote the products of others and get a commission for every sale. With digital products, your warehouse space is measured in bytes not square feet. Thanks to the continued rise of ecommerce—this opportunity can only grow.
At the end of the day, just about anybody can make it work in Costa Rica. You can enjoy a more relaxed pace of life, more time for family and friends, and truly love what you do for a living.
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