There are many people that want to pack their belongings and move to Costa Rica. They picture it as living and working in paradise. When you get here however you are greeted in many cases with underpaid jobs where you live paycheck to paycheck and never get ahead. It is great if you a a newly graduated college student that wants to take a year before entering the job force in the USA, or for someone that wants to party for a bit before actually having to take on the responsibilities of life.
As a native English speaker you can pretty easily find a teaching job or a job at a sportsbook. The teaching English job is a great way to see the country and meet people but salaries for these ESL teaching jobs are about $600 to $800 a month which barely gets you by. Sportsbook jobs are some of the highest paying in Costa Rica but most of the people that work there have the maturity level of a 6 year old child and you always have in the back of your mind that they will be shut down or raided.
Below is the experience of our writer Kerry La in finding a job and working in Costa Rica.
A Journey in Finding a Job in Costa Rica
I was “hired” without any contract and moved to Costa Rica hoping the job offer was going to work out, which of course it did not. Getting all of the paperwork for a work permit is not at all easy! In fact, without a job willing to sponsor you and help with this process it’s impossible!
So here I was, starting over without a job. It took about 3 weeks to find one and another week before it started. It was at a small private school with about 20 students from pre-k to 8th grade. In my search to find teaching jobs I saw that many would only accept certified teachers. In fact, they will hire certified English teachers who speak terrible English before hiring a native speaker without a certification. The teaching job I found was at a very unorganized and dangerous school. I should have known something was wrong when at my interview I was only asked about what carpet color should be used! When after months some students still didn’t have books and when I was asked to lie to parents about how their child got hurt I quit.
Within a week I was hired at a great travel agency. This was a fun job planning trips for people. I learned a lot about Costa Rica. The travel agency jobs usually offer commission and base salary at first and then go to commission only after a few months of a training trial. Because I wanted to make money I could count on, I took up my search again, looking for a salaried job.
My next job was again teaching. I missed working with kids all day. This time it was at a home school. This is a great job if you can find it. There are a lot of families wanting private education for their kids. They pay well but make sure you negotiate a contract with vacation days or days they cancel being paid. To succeed at this job you must be great at setting boundaries so that during school hours parents don’t interrupt and kids don’t feel like they are at home.
When that family moved back to the States I found a call center job (4th job in 2 years!). It’s what I wanted all along! I have a stress free job in a fun environment with a stable company. I couldn’t ask for more. It’s a repetitive job..making about 1,000 calls per day (mostly answering machines) to help people find colleges. It’s the same scripted call over and over so now that I have it memorized it is mindless. While making calls I joke around with coworkers and watch movies. The day goes so fast. Since it’s relatively stress free my focus is on better things than work. I am living the saying of “work to live instead of live to work.”
By Kerry La