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Teaching english as a second language in Costa Rica

Hi,

I'm a single man living & working in Canada. To work in Costa Rica is appealing to me, I've heard/read that the quality of life is awesome.

To teach english as a second language, I've heard that teachers are compensated around $400 u.s. (housing included) each month. For that those live there or have taught there, is that the going salary? Is it possible to live comfortably off that salary for food, transportation, cell phone and the social outings here & there each month?

Thanks.

No!!! You couldn't live on $400 a month even if housing is included. Unless you have been hired by a private school,...not a language school...will you have housing supplied.
It is very difficult to get a work visa to work legally but even harder when intending to  teach ESL. Many schools will 'promise' to get the work visa, but I wouldn't hold my breath...

True, I thought so myself. Thanks for writing, it confirms what I was thinking.

kohlerias :

No!!! You couldn't live on $400 a month even if housing is included. Unless you have been hired by a private school,...not a language school...will you have housing supplied.
It is very difficult to get a work visa to work legally but even harder when intending to  teach ESL. Many schools will 'promise' to get the work visa, but I wouldn't hold my breath...

SO agree!  Impossible to live on $400 per month.

People need to stop thinking that Costa Rica is "soooo much cheaper than North America" or any other developed country.  You're too late - maybe 20 years ago, but not now.  I still see articles written occasionally that make the statement of how cheap it is to live here.  IT'S NOT CHEAPER.  Some things will costs less, yes, but that is then offset by something that's a lot more expensive.

I do see the quality of life here as far superior to that of the U.S. and that's the big advantage for me.   :cool:

- Expat Dave

ExpatDave :
kohlerias :

No!!! You couldn't live on $400 a month even if housing is included. Unless you have been hired by a private school,...not a language school...will you have housing supplied.
It is very difficult to get a work visa to work legally but even harder when intending to  teach ESL. Many schools will 'promise' to get the work visa, but I wouldn't hold my breath...

SO agree!  Impossible to live on $400 per month.

People need to stop thinking that Costa Rica is "soooo much cheaper than North America" or any other developed country.  You're too late - maybe 20 years ago, but not now.  I still see articles written occasionally that make the statement of how cheap it is to live here.  IT'S NOT CHEAPER.  Some things will costs less, yes, but that is then offset by something that's a lot more expensive.

I do see the quality of life here as far superior to that of the U.S. and that's the big advantage for me.   :cool:

- Expat Dave

Thanks for confirming this. I was under the same impression, how can I live off of $400. I'm glad I posted on here, and thanks again for writing. It's definitely better to find out now than after I have relocated. Cheers.

Although $100 per week WOULD be enough to feed 1 person .I live on less if needed  but I a m semi vegetarian who eats  very little fish and chicken.....BUT I know of NO one who also provides housing which owner would forfeit a minimum of $500 per month Rent plus have to pay your utilities)  to have you there ..plus salary? doubt if you would find a gig like that .On very rare occasions you MAY see a desperate mother offering such but maybe once in a blue moon AND yes she could get you Caja health insurance if you qualifies as a special type teacher...BUT I would not stake my life in it...so beware ..Costa Rica is not the land of "milk and honey"  and work permits are not given to people who have a  "job" that a Costa Rican can fill..and these years MANY are now fluent in English..so go to plan B...and good Luck...

Many Ticos live on close to $400 per month, but it's probably not a lifestyle you would enjoy.

Yes,  many Ticos do live on that but like you said they don't live well. They may be happy enough, because that's their nature; but they don't eat well and don't have money for anything but bills (food, gasoline, insurance, phone, tv, electric, water and so on.)
A single gringo can live on $1k a month but only if he has free rent (his own home, or free housing for some reason). And that will allow you to eat a healthy diet, maybe maintain the use of a car, pay utilities, and buy necessary items, but not much else.

$1500/month is a more do-able monthly income for Costa Rica, and that is IF you have free rent ( or own your own house).
Again, living on $1k /month would be somewhat tight even with free rent, if one wants to live anywhere near an American lifestyle, even a poor American lifestyle.

Living on $400 a month, would likely mean no vehicle but using bicycle  or walking, instead. Look at any construction project, and nearly everyone seems to arrive on a bike. Possibly would own their own 'very humble home'. They would likely have chickens in their yard fo 'free range eggs.'

In many households, there are multiple generations living in the home with each contributing to the monthly budget.

Surprisingly, even the many shacks here have a 'dish on the roof' and  a cell phone.

samramon :

Yes,  many Ticos do live on that but like you said they don't live well. They may be happy enough, because that's their nature; but they don't eat well and don't have money for anything but bills (food, gasoline, insurance, phone, tv, electric, water and so on.)
A single gringo can live on $1k a month but only if he has free rent (his own home, or free housing for some reason). And that will allow you to eat a healthy diet, maybe maintain the use of a car, pay utilities, and buy necessary items, but not much else.

$1500/month is a more do-able monthly income for Costa Rica, and that is IF you have free rent ( or own your own house).
Again, living on $1k /month would be somewhat tight even with free rent, if one wants to live anywhere near an American lifestyle, even a poor American lifestyle.

This is definitely very helpful to know. Thanks. $1500 a month is like a baseline for a decent quality of living there.

Traveller61 :
samramon :

Yes,  many Ticos do live on that but like you said they don't live well. They may be happy enough, because that's their nature; but they don't eat well and don't have money for anything but bills (food, gasoline, insurance, phone, tv, electric, water and so on.)
A single gringo can live on $1k a month but only if he has free rent (his own home, or free housing for some reason). And that will allow you to eat a healthy diet, maybe maintain the use of a car, pay utilities, and buy necessary items, but not much else.

$1500/month is a more do-able monthly income for Costa Rica, and that is IF you have free rent ( or own your own house).
Again, living on $1k /month would be somewhat tight even with free rent, if one wants to live anywhere near an American lifestyle, even a poor American lifestyle.

This is definitely very helpful to know. Thanks. $1500 a month is like a baseline for a decent quality of living there.

I think that would depend on the individual.  Some things are cheaper here and some things are expensive.  I would budget that same here that you spend in Canada.   Groceries are more expensive here, gas is more expensive, cars are more expensive, electricity is more expensive.  Other things like restaurants and public transit are cheaper.   

Also factor in the occasional big-ticket items like trips home, marchamo, travelling around the country, shopping trips to San Jose.   IMO, living in rural Canada or the USA is probably cheaper than living here.
And if you don't speak Spanish, it will be much more difficult.  That and culture shock are probably the biggest factor why most people don't stay here long.   

Call me negative, but those are the facts that will hit home eventually.  Realize that most people that post here are the minority that stay long-term.  Add up the posts from people who had big plans to move to paradise and then you never hear from them again.

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