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As the country's capital, San José is home to almost half of Costa Rica's population. Read this article to find out more about working in this metropolitan city that is a fantastic melting pot of cultures. 

Many people choose to immigrate to Costa Rica, especially from Asia and the Caribbean islands, due to the country's relative safety, stability and the chance to earn a comfortable income. Foreigners from all over the world are drawn to the capital in hopes of finding work, and there is a surprisingly large Taiwanese community in San José. You're likely to meet Costa Ricans with mixed heritage and hear a range of languages being spoken around the city. Diversity abounds, and the capital has long been popular with expats who wish to live near the international airport, private hospitals, and international schools.

The capital offers a variety of amenities, cultural activities and job opportunities, and many expats who relocate to Costa Rica often end up working in or around San José. The downtown area is also only about 40-minutes from other expat locales, such as Atenas and Escazú, which are well-positioned for city workers to commute to the lively capital during the week, then head to the coast over the weekend. However, do be warned that rush hour in San José can be quite the ordeal.

The Central Valley, in general, is popular because of its beauty, more tolerable temperatures, and access to amenities. This does tend to push up property prices in the region, but the expansive mountain views make it worth it.

Types of jobs

Qualified and experienced foreigners can often find jobs in San José in industries such as tourism and real estate. Thanks to the country’s commitment to human rights, several non-governmental organisations have their headquarters in San José, which does provide some work for expatriates in this sector. Several NGOs and aid agencies are active in areas such as agriculture, environment, micro-finance, health and education.

Thanks to some renowned universities and publishing houses, San José is also often considered to be the nucleus of intellectual life in Central America, and this also attracts some foreigners working in the field of academia.

Furthermore, some international companies have offices in the capital, and multinationals that have operations in Costa Rica tend to pay a highly desirable salary. However, competition for positions can be fierce because many international corporations will either hire from Costa Rica's highly-educated workforce or relocate their own employees from another branch.

The easiest job for a foreigner to get in San José is teaching English or working in a call centre. Although these positions do pay above the average wage, the salary still often leaves a lot to be desired for anyone accustomed to a high standard of living in a developed country.

Finding a job

If you wish to work for a multinational corporation in San José, try to find a job before you get there or request a transfer from within a company. Not only will this make processes easier and save you from job hunting when you arrive, but you can likely expect a much bigger salary if you are sent to work in San José from abroad, rather than being contracted in the city directly.

If you are looking to work for an NGO, consider getting in contact with an organisation directly to see if they have any opportunities or are willing to first take you on as an intern or volunteer so that you can gain experience. You may forfeit a salary initially but at least you'll get your foot in the door, make some contacts and get some experience in the capital. It's worth contacting your department of Foreign Affairs to see if they can supply you with a list of your country's NGOs operating in San José.

When looking for a job in San José, the internet is a good place to start. Join an online forum where you can chat with other job seekers and ask advice, or have a look on Costa Rica's Craigs List, where about a dozen or so jobs are posted each day.

There are also several specialised recruitment websites, such as Costa Rica Job Search or Jobs in San José for English-speaking professionals, where you can search databases to see what is available and post your resume for potential employers to see.

If you'd rather meet a recruiter in person, contact an international recruitment company that has offices in San José. However, do be aware that, depending on your skillset, you may have a better chance of finding a job by proactively contacting companies yourself, rather than going through a middleman.

If you are interested in working at a language school, it's worth contacting a few directly to enquire as to whether any English teaching jobs are available. It's also quite common to send speculative applications by email, particularly if you wish to apply for a job as a teacher in a language school. This involves firstly finding out who is responsible for applications in a company where you would like to work, then sending them your CV and a personal statement about yourself (essentially applying for a job when/if there is one available). It's also worth contacting your country's Chamber of Commerce in Costa Rica, as they may be able to provide you with a list of companies from your home country that are active in San José. Then you can start sending speculative applications. Some chambers of commerce even operate a service whereby you can send them an application and they will make it available to companies looking for foreign workers.

You should also have a look through the listings in the classifieds sections of newspapers, such as La Nación, The Tico Times and La República, to see if there are any suitable job postings (sometimes these are published in print and online). Interestingly, foreign newspapers, such as Le Monde, Le Figaro, Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung also sometimes advertise job openings in Costa Rica too.

You can also find jobs in San José through friends or business contacts, so it's worth attending social events or joining a networking group. There are various organisations for expatriates in San José, some of which are run by embassies, and by joining one you can meet people, share experiences, and even find jobs. There are also many Spanish schools in the capital where you can make friends and meet other expats who wish to learn Spanish.

 Useful links:

Expat.com – Job offers in San Jose 
Expat.com – Work in San Jose Forum 
Busco Empleo –Public Employment Service www.buscoempleocr.com
El Empleo www.elempleo.com
Glassdoor www.glassdoor.com
List of American companies in Costa Rica costarica.com
LinkedIn www.linkedin.com
Jobs in San Jose for English-speaking professionals http://www.sanjose.jobincostarica.com/
Costa Rica Job Search http://www.costaricajobsearch.com/job-location/san-jose/

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