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Expat Advice: Working in San Jose, Costa Rica

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

San Jose

What are the main industries in this city? What types of career opportunities commonly exist? How do most people find new jobs?

Costa Ricans do not like foreigners of any race, so you must be sent here by your own company (the exception might be the touirist industry).

What type of work do you do and how did you find your job?

I work in a financial institution and was transferred here within the company.

Expats living in Costa Rica interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

How did you obtain your work permit? What advice would you have for others about work permits?

Ambrace yourself! The process is extremely bureacratic. We used the most expensive lawyers and still waited 13 months without result. I finally got fed up and demanded a diplomatic passport from home.

Biggest piece of advice is to avoid expensive lawyers. They are far too busy doing cases much for important than getting you a work permit.

Have you taken language and cross-cultural training courses to prepare for your assignment? If so, how have they helped you on the job?

I spoke Spanish fluently before coming here. That is a must, as even the so-called English-speakers do no speak any English.

If you want to prepare for Costa Rica, do not take a general course on Latin America. Costa Rican culture is more similar to Chinese than Latin American (it is not a joke!)

If you were transferred abroad by your employer, were you guaranteed a job upon repatriation? What type of mentoring programs does your employer offer?

I am guaranteed a job on repartiation. Due to the very closed society and extremely cumbersome bureaucratic procedures due to corruption and incompetence, I also have a clause saying I can come home whenever I want to.

What advice would you offer others about finding jobs and working abroad?

I would urge everyone to consider that a good place for a 2-week holiday is not necessarily a good place to live. Costa Rica is very much a proof of that. So: Do not believe the guidebooks!!! You should rather talk to expats in the same country.

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