After more than two years of living out the COVID-19 pandemic in our 900-square-foot apartment in Brooklyn, my wife and I decided to try living in Costa Rica with our three-year-old daughter for a while.
Brooklyn has a population of roughly 2.5 million people. We currently live on the outskirts of Santo Domingo, a village with a population of around 100 people. Our rented house is located up a winding, pothole-filled dirt road, on the top of a mountain, surrounded by the jungle.
The pace of life is slow and it rains a lot. There isn’t much to do and nothing to buy. We hear howler monkeys in the jungle and look up from reading Slack messages to watch turkey vultures glide over our house as they dip down towards the ocean. Our daughter spends weekdays at kids’ camp and returns home each afternoon happy and covered with grime from being outside all day.
If you are considering taking a break from your current living situation but still need to work full-time, here are a few things to keep in mind before you head into the jungle.
Check visa and tax implications before you go. Some countries are starting to issue Digital Nomad type visas that include tax breaks to attract digital remote workers. Check local government websites to try and understand who is going to ask you for tax money come April 15th.
Ask for the WIFI password when looking at places to rent and run a quick speed test to ensure internet speeds are fast enough to work online all day. Consider using VPN software, like Express VPN, to ensure your connection is secure.
A good office chair, a flat surface for your computer, and good internet access make work comfortable and efficient. Co-working spaces are also common, and you can rent space by the hour or the day.
One of our key factors in choosing Costa Rica is the two-hour time zone difference from New York. I set my work computer to EDT to be on the same page as my co-workers.
We found childcare recommendations using local community Facebook groups. These groups were a goldmine for resources like childcare, cars, or asking to borrow a computer charger.
Neither my wife nor I are fluent in Spanish, but we’ve found that a little effort can go a long way. Greeting local residents and attempting simple interactions in Spanish is the least we can do to show respect to their language and culture. We are learning more phrases as we go and our daughter is starting to use Spanish and English words interchangeably (Look! A pescado!). Check out Google Translate, DuoLingo, or DeepL for additional language resources.
Prepare for the unexpected
You never know what will happen when far away from home. We have an extra laptop, a spare phone on a local data plan, and a person we can call to watch our daughter if her camp is closed. We have co-working spaces marked on Google Maps just in case we lose power or internet access in our house. We even found a local doctor who will chat via WhatsApp.
As the novelty wears off and our sleeping patterns adapt, we can settle in and have the brain space to focus on day-to-day working and living. We’ll be back NYC, but right now, we don’t miss you.
Comment: Since this article was written, Donn and family have briefly touched base back in Brooklyn, NYC, and then moved again. Currently settling in upstate New York!
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