What I Love About My Portable Career in Small-Town Costa Rica

What I love about what I do is that I can work from home. Or, really, I can work anywhere there is an internet connection. I don’t have to commute. I have the freedom to be anywhere in the world.

For the past seven years, home has been the small town of Atenas in Costa Rica‘s Central Valley. Although in all, I’ve been living in Costa Rica about 18 years.

Five years ago, I turned my 30-plus years of experience as a journalist, editor, and tourism specialist into a self-employed business in marketing writing, blog writing, website content creation, and translations from Spanish to English. Since the booming Costa Rican tourism industry and also the real estate market are heavily focused on an English-speaking audience, my niche of writing in native English affords me a lot of work.

Being my own boss, I have the freedom to work when I want. For instance, I put in a lot of hours on projects over the past several weeks and needed a day off, so I organized a day trip with friends to hike in the nearby Carara National Park and then picnic at the beach…on a Thursday.

Everything I do is internet based. Meetings are on Skype. Thankfully in Atenas we have several options for reliable low-cost, high-speed internet connections. Very occasionally I drive an hour into the city of San Jose to visit a client. Or, sometimes I’m lucky enough to visit one of my clients at their resort hotel in a gorgeous spot in Costa Rica, and I can stay a couple of days for a mini-vacation.

At home in Atenas, I can go to Tai Chi/Qigong or yoga classes at the Atenas Yoga Center, walk, swim, hike with my dogs, meet a friend occasionally for lunch, get the laundry done, do the grocery shopping, and run other errands.

Don’t get me wrong, I work hard and put in a lot of hours, but my schedule is my own. And the lifestyle in Costa Rica is relaxed so I don’t feel pressured by society—like back in the U.S.—to be constantly working. Being happy and enjoying life is more important here.

Taxes aren’t too bad in Costa Rica and I can deduct some of my expenses. I’ve rarely paid more than $100 for the year. Since I am a U.S. citizen, I still have to file U.S. taxes. However, working and living internationally is covered under the Foreign-Earned Income Exclusion, so since I earn less than the exclusion I don’t have to pay.

Working internationally isn’t as hard as people may think; especially nowadays when portable careers are made easy by the internet.

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