Travel, living and working in Costa Rica - WorldSupporter Theme

Backpack, travel, intern, live, study, volunteer or work in Costa Rica

Costa Rica

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Backpacking in Costa Rica

  • Costa Rica is visited both by backpackers on a few weeks' vacation and by world travelers taking a longer trip Central and South America. The country is a fairly complete travel country with relatively small distances.
  • Characteristics: many traveling nationalities, extremely beautiful nature, safety for Central American standards.

Traveling in Costa Rica

  • A trip through Costa Rica is a journey through the wonders of nature, anyone who was not already a nature lover will become one there. Costa Rica is also a great destination as a first introduction to Central America.
  • City spotting:  Liberia, Puerto Viejo, Samara, San Jose, Turrialba.
  • Activity spotting: surfing on the Pacific or Caribbean coast, rafting down the Pacuaré and Reventazón rivers, visiting coffee plantations.
  • Nature spotting: Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, Parque Nacional Tortuguero, Vulcán Arenal.
  • Animal spotting: Costa Rica is home to a great variety of wildlife: howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, jaguars, iguanas, turtles, crocodiles, toucans, tropical poison frogs, whales.

Study in Costa Rica

  • Studies: basically all subjects and forms of education can be found, especially in the capital city of San Jose.
  • Study cities: in San Jose you will find public universities and several private educational institutions.
  • Learning Spanish: San Jose, Turrialba.

Internships in Costa Rica

  • Internships: internships can be found in various sectors of society. The tourism sector has the most offerings. Certainly also opportunities around conservation, social welfare, agriculture, health care and in education
  • Internship cities: Liberia, San Jose, Turrialba.
  • Characteristics: The work culture is sometimes more focused on tomorrow than today, but if you speak reasonable Spanish you can learn a lot and get something done too.

Volunteer in Costa Rica

  • Volunteer projects: especially in the social sectors and nature conservation.
  • Animal projects: protection of sea turtles, parrots, howler monkeys and coral reefs, among others.
  • Characteristics: volunteering possible from 1 or 2 weeks to several months.

Working in Costa Rica

  • Jobs: temporary work is limited in hospitality and tourism, such as at diving schools and in the travel sector.
  • Characteristics: take into account the mañana work culture, make sure you have a good basic knowledge of Spanish and adjust to working for food and lodging.

Working as a digital nomad in Costa Rica

  • Favorite locations: Liberia Manuel antonio, Puerto Viejo, Samara, Santa Teresa, Tamarindo.
  • Features: expect faltering wifi, regularly slow internet and varying value for money. Certainly digital nomad accommodation can sometimes be pricier than you might expect from this relatively inexpensive country.

Living in Costa Rica

  • Language: English is spoken in the better-known places and locations. In the smaller, remote villages, you won't get far with your English. Living in Costa Rica starts with learning Spanish.
  • Quality of life: quality of life is quite high, somewhat more expensive than other Central American countries but still relatively low cost of living, beautiful nature, pleasant weather.
  • Characteristics: welcoming population (though you remain a gringo for a long time), some mañana mentality, does suffer somewhat from Central American perils (security, refugee flows, natural disasters), fairly easy housing.
  • Health care: is reasonably well taken care of in the big cities outside it gets trickier quickly. See also: Insurance and health care in Costa Rica: from travel to health insurance and emigration to expat insurance or get advice on insurance policies that provide adequate coverage for proper care and also repatriation in case of emergency.

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Emigration and living abroad checklist for legal and insurance matters

Emigration and living abroad checklist for legal and insurance matters

checklist legal matters

1. Make use of a legal advisor

  • A scan of your juridical status and the possible risks abroad may be advisable.
  • Check the consequences for inheritance tax, family law, succession rights and matrimonial properties.
  • Possibly get a review of your new international contract (mind the differences in labour law).
  • Check our blog 'How do you assess the reliability of an international insurer?' (in Dutch)

2. Look into the visa requirements & start the visa procedure

  • Expand the basic inventory that you made in the orientation phase.
  • Use online communities and forums, check recent experiences from people who requested the visa and have the same nationality as you do. Double check their advice.
  • Check for everyone if they need a work permit or residence permit, if they meet the requirements for that and which documents are necessary.
  • Some countries have extra requirements, such as medical clearances or police certificates.
  • Arrange a definitive contract or proof of employment with your future employer.
  • Contact the consulate or embassy before you emigrate and (double) check the current state of (visa) affairs.
  • Download all required documents and read the notices.
  • Plan way ahead, visa procedures can take long, up to several years (be flexible in purchasing/selling housing, finding temporary housing etc.).
  • Consider using a visa service company, especially for popular emigration countries.

3. Check which documents you need to legalize

  • Find out if your new country has a treaty with your native country.
  • Find out which documents need translation and into which language.
  • Find out which documents you need to legalize.
  • Provide birth certificates, marriage certificates, evidence of (special) (work) skills, diplomas, recommendation letters.
  • Start on time.

4. Check your insurance policies and ask for advice

  • Create an overview of your current policies, contract terms, contact information.
  • Ask about the consequences of your emigration with regards to current insurance policies and make sure that you terminate them in time.
  • Make sure that you terminate home insurances, property insurances, car insurances etc. at the correct time: not too early (not insured), not too late (double costs).
  • Read up on (international) health insurances. Find orientation on www.expatinsurances.org.
  • Get information from an insurance expert about:
    • Ending your current health insurance.
    • Whether your new country has treaties with your home country.
    • Whether to get local insurance or not.
    • Whether the insurance provided by your local employer provides enough coverage.
    • Getting international health insurance.
  • Start on time, mindful of  how long medical checks can take to complete.

4. How to prepare documents?

  • Check the validity of all passports. Or arrange passports for family members with a different kind of ID.
  • Also bring: passport photos, drivers licenses (possibly a temporary international driver's license), birth certificates, marriage certificates, last wills, documents on euthanasia, police certificates, divorce papers, death certificates (if your previous partner died), recommendation letters, diplomas, resume/CV, medical files, evidences of being creditworthy, school files, insurance papers, student ID's, medicine recipes and proof of the vaccinations you had.
  • Make an easy-to-find archive for every family member with (copies of) personal documents.
  • Make sure you know about recent developments concerning double nationalities and find out how to extend your passport in your new home country.
  • Consider using an online/digital safe or cloud functionality and give access to your lawyer or someone you trust.
  • Gather receipts of the properties you take with you (proof you own them already, to avoid breaking import laws).
Travel gear and packing lists for going abroad - Worldsupporter Theme
Why should you take out specialized travel insurance for a long trip abroad?

Why should you take out specialized travel insurance for a long trip abroad?

Why should you take out specialized travel insurance for a long trip abroad?

  • Regular travel or health insurances often only cover trips for a maximum number of days (for example 60, 90 or 180 days). This limits your flexibility!
  • Your health insurance from back home may not offer any coverage abroad or only in specific hospitals.
  • During a long trip you might undertake special activities like paid work or volunteering. Regular travel insurances usually don’t cover these kind of activities. The same goes for adventurous sports like skydiving, scuba diving and bungee jumping.

Volunteer or intern abroad insurances

  • Working as a volunteer or intern offers a great learning experience. Meet new people and make a difference! You will develop your knowledge and skills, as well as that of others. You will gain international skills, contribute to a better world and gain useful experience for on your resume.
  • However, just like at home there is always a chance that something goes wrong during your time abroad. Such as sickness, accidents, stolen luggage and of course things that can go wrong back home that you may ned to return for. 
  • If you have the right travel insurance it will help you financially and offer help when you need it.  On this page you can read about how you can make sure you’re properly insured before, during and after your work as a volunteer.

Why insure specifically as a volunteer or intern abroad?

  • Volunteer projects, foundations , NGOs & local companies typically don’t have suitable insurance. Even if they do, it might only be valid during your time at work and not during your daytrips.
  • Regular travel insurances often don’t cover volunteering abroad or your work as an intern
  • Volunteerwork & internships often involves doing work for which you are not trained or have little experience doing. This might result in a higher chance for accidents.

Why insure medical expenses abroad with an emigration or expat insurance?

  • Being well insured while living or working abroad is important. Sometimes the new country of residence has a good national health care system, but this is certainly not always the case. As an alternative to the national health insurance, an international (expat) insurance is a frequently used replacement, with a number of advantages: international coverage, reimbursements and conditions, often according to high standards, worldwide coverage and flexibility. A number of good and affordable options are listed below.

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Last updated
07-06-2024
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