Update on Costa Rica’s Digital Nomad Visa

Costa Rica recently passed its bill to make way for Digital Nomads to extend their stays to up to two years.

July 25, 2022

By: Bobby Casey, Managing Director GWP

Costa Rica The more I look around, and the more headlines I see, the more I’m convinced that this is a new Nomadic Era. Obviously, I’m here for all of it!

I think we can start redefining what it means to have “roots”. Technology allows us to make “roots” more about people and experiences and living than about location, and that’s an incredible thing.

There’s a great fable from Aesop between an oak and a willow. The oak was rigid and strong, the willow was limp and yielding. When a storm came, the oak’s branches broke off. The willow on the other hand kept all its branches and lost but a few leaves.

For humans, our greatest strength was never brute force or speed. And when people say “survival of the fittest” they aren’t talking about brute force or speed either. It’s our ability to adapt and the reasoning we use to get there.

The more flexibility you have the more likely you are to weather some crazy storms. I can use myself as an example! I was living in Latvia. When COVID came along, Europe went nuts with their restrictions. I went to Mexico where the rules were much more relaxed and the living was affordable and nice.

It was a tremendous relief to know I could just pick up and walk out, and let the political tantrum blow over while I was somewhere else.

A lot of people picked up on that. They started doing extended stay-cations where they would go somewhere for months instead of days or a week. They’d work, and then play in a totally different place with their whole family.

Transient stuff like hotels and short-term tourist visas lost their luster and usefulness. Vrbos and Air BnBs started gaining traction, along with countries getting on board with more long-term visa solutions.

One such place I mentioned last year was Costa Rica. Since last March, Costa Rica has officially passed this legislation as of August 2021. Applications are not only now available, but they are committed to letting people know within 15 days of receipt of a completed application whether they have been approved or not.  So this is not a very lengthy process at all.

A few quick points as somethings have changed since:

  • Individuals must earn at least $3,000 USD per month; families at least $5,000 USD per month (this went up from $4,000 per month).

  • Cannot take a job in Costa Rica. You must have a stream of income that comes from anywhere else.

  • Must provide private health insurance coverage for themselves and family members while in Costa Rica.

  • Not required to pay Costa Rican income tax or make contributions to the country’s social security program.

  • No import taxes on any equipment needed to do work, including computers, tablets, and cameras.

  • Allowed to import up to two vehicles.

Costa Rica is now on the nomadic menu! Known for the “Pura Vida” philosophy, the pace is slower, there’s plenty to enjoy outdoors, and they are known to be a happier and healthier nation for it. With a longer life expectancy, a lot of farmers’ markets offering fresh produce, and an affordable healthcare system, it’s no wonder this country is sought after by expats.

The farmers’ markets (la ferias), are often much more affordable than the larger grocery chains. Of course, avoiding all the touristy stuff will also lower your monthly bills.

For many coming from Western countries, this is quite an affordable arrangement.

The cost of living, according to Numbeo, is about 37% lower than the US with rent being about 70% lower. Without rent, a single person could expect to spend about $615/month and a family of four could expect to pay $2,230/month in living expenses.


A close suburb to the capital city of San Jose. It’s trendy with city-like bars and restaurants. The climate is known for its year-round spring like weather.

  • 1bdr/3bdr (City Center): $700/$1250 per month

  • Utilities: $55

  • Internet: $40


Tamarindo is one of the most beautiful beach towns in Costa Rica, if not the world. If you like coastal living with beaches, surf, and marine life, this is for you.

  • 1bdr/3bdr: $1000/$1500 per month

  • Utilities: $60

  • Internet: $50


This city is just north of San Jose. With easy access to the capital city, it offers the best of all worlds. Heredia is hilly, and home to National University. It is popular for its many outdoor attractions, architecture, and vegetation.

  • 1bdr/3bdr: $335/$615 per month

  • Utilities: $50

  • Internet: $50

There are other extended visas available in Costa Rica with different requirements. Pensioners or retirees (Pensionado Program), for example, have a different visa with lower requirements. They need only proof of $1,000/month, and their application process is a little different.

Costa Rica also has an investment visa (Inversionista) that also runs for two years, where the required investment amount is $200,000 USD, in an active business, real estate, stocks or securities, or in forest plantations (required investment of $100,000 USD).

  • If you keep the investment, you can renew the visa. For renewal, you prove you lived in the country at least 6 months per year (does not have to be consecutive).

  • Inversionista visa holders may establish a business or obtain income from their investments, but may not work as employees.

  • Once you have legally resided in Costa Rica with any temporary residence permit for 3 or more years, you may be eligible for permanent residence.

Definitely scope out some cities that have the accouterments you are looking for in a long-term visit.

Whether you’re looking for some fun nightlife, adventurous outdoor life, or a relaxing town life, Costa Rica has it.

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