Close this search box.

What’s it Like to do Business in Costa Rica (part 2 of 2)


Eric Liebross

Senior Managing Director of Business Transformation

his is part two in a two-part series. You can read part one here.

San Jose, Costa Rica, boasts a thriving population of over 2.5 million people, including both natives and expatriates. The enormous workforce that this population creates has not been overlooked by corporations across the world, and today many are making Costa Rica their second homes through nearshoring.

The country has emerged as a world leader in Business and Financial Services, Electronics Manufacturing, Communications & IT and Life Sciences, according to Conway, Inc’s 2015 report, “The World’s Most Competitive Cities.” At least part of this success is due to a varied and able workforce. 

Costa Rica Employees Are Among The Happiest

When you’re looking for a place to build a long-term team, one of the most important factors you should consider is who will be working for you. Moving your own team into a foreign country is impractical and costly, relying on local talent is the key to cost savings. If you can harness educated employees who will be willing to stay at their jobs, training times can be very short and expensive turnover limited.

According to Swedish employer branding expert Universum’s 2016 “Global Workforce Happiness Index,” Costa Rican employees are the third happiest in the world — only employees in Belgium and Norway are happier. Universum determined this by looking at employee satisfaction at their current job, their likelihood of recommending their current employer to others and their sense of job loyalty.

Costa Rican employees fall squarely in the “Fulfilled” category, as determined by Universum. These are the employees you want — they’re not interested in changing jobs, they feel positive about their work environments and most importantly, they’re stable and reliable. 

A Look At Costa Rican Workers

Costa Rican workers aren’t all that different from American workers. Because they share a similar business culture and education levels, finding the right employee for the job isn’t any more difficult in Costa Rica than in the States. In fact, many workers are bilingual, helping you to further serve non-English speaking markets.

The World Bank says you can expect to find that about 37 percent of the workforce have completed their first degree programs, a rate similar to the US, which boasts a roughly 32 percent Bachelor’s degree completion rate, according to the United States Census Bureau. A full 97.4 percent of people over the age of 15 are literate in Costa Rica, and yet wages remain significantly lower than in the United States.

Besides having the native Costa Rican workforce to draw from, there is also a large expatriate community available. Many of these people are retirees looking to spend their retirement in the sun, but some will be interested in returning to work for extra money or as they find they miss their former careers. 

A Haven for Corporations

Costa Rica’s business community boasts more than 300 multi-national companies, including many leaders in their industries, such as Amazon, Bacardi, Cargill, Citibank, DHL, GlaxoSmithKline, Intel, Microsoft, Pfizer, Proctor & Gamble, Wal-Mart and others.  So when you are looking for experienced business professionals who are knowledgeable of U.S.-style business operations and technologies, Costa Rica offers a large and diverse talent pool to draw from.

The country’s flexible labor laws also make it easier to support North American business operations. Many Costa Rica employees adapt their work and holiday schedules to those of U.S. companies, so staff are available when you are working and when you need them to be, without having to deal with time zone variances of up to 12 hours.  This is a huge advantage over many offshore locations, and even as compared to some nearshore markets.

Costa Rica can be a haven for corporations in any sector. The country’s diverse workforce ensures that there will be plenty of employee skill sets to choose between and the very similar culture to their neighbors to the north make it a safe bet that your needs will be communicated and met without trouble. Add a shared time zone, close geographic proximity (with flight times from most major U.S. cities of four hours or less)  and low worker costs and you’ve got a tropical paradise ready for your business’s expansion.

Contact us to discuss your current needs and challenges…and why the nearshoring option may be best for your organization.

Written by

Senior Managing Director of Business Transformation
Eric brings more than 30 years of experience and a proven track record of success helping CFOs modernize and achieve peak performance in their back office to become more scalable, innovative and strategic oriented. He joined Auxis in 2002 and serves as Senior Managing Director, overseeing all Finance Transformation, Process Automation and Business Process Outsourcing services at Auxis. His areas of expertise include financial operations performance, shared services strategy, organizational and operating model design, process automation (e.g. RPA), and systems integration.