For over a year, I have been writing the “How To” Start-Up Business Blog for ProblemSolutionHQ.com, a business of which I am a partner. This article is based on an interview with Jerry Thompson, founder and CEO of OfferLogix, from his home in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Working in Costa Rica after relocating his family from the US took a leap of faith and a bit of risk. But, it was worth it. Visit here to read the original post–> http://www.problemsolutionhq.com/blog/online-business-from-costa-rica/
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When aspiring entrepreneurs take the leap and create an online business, one of the reasons they claim is the opportunity to “work from anywhere.” But, do they actually work from anywhere? Or do they confine themselves to the corner of Starbucks or their home office? (I have been guilty of this at times.)
Here are Jerry’s three main reasons for relocating his family to Costa Rica to operate his online business:
1. Broaden Your Mind
Jerry and his wife decided when they became parents that they wanted a different educational experience for their children. They had visited Central America many times and were interested in a world renown school that provided an experiential education. The thought of raising bi-lingual children and becoming bi-lingual themselves was enticing. Slowing down and foregoing car traffic for cow traffic (yes, that is an actual thing) seemed like a smart decision.
Understanding that the United States will still be here, allowed Jerry and his wife to commit to living and working in Costa Rica for one year before making the final decision to become permanent residents. And if they didn’t like it there, they could always return. So, they made the move to broaden their minds and those of their children.
2. Take Advantage of Technology
The Small Business Administration has estimated that over half of all American based small businesses are home based. That astonishing number would not be possible without the tremendous advances in technology that have occurred over the past twenty years. Jerry described the cell phone service in Costa Rica as being comparable to the States and he has only experienced a minimal decrease in his internet speed.
A laptop, tablet, and a cell phone connect the average small online business owner to clients, partners, and vendors all over the world from all over the world. As I look out the window of my home office in Southwest Florida and enjoy the palm trees and balmy weather, I feel fortunate, but a view of a Costa Rican beach would be nice, too.
3. Financial Benefits
Living abroad has several financial benefits. Depending on how you structure your online business and personal status within the country, a permanent move may have life changing financial implications.
- Lower Taxation. When Jerry and his family made their move to Costa Rica, they applied for permanent residency. Jerry’s business is US based and is taxed accordingly. Since Jerry and his wife are residents of Costa Rica, they are each permitted to earn up to a little over $100,000 without being taxed by the US. Costa Rica’s local taxes range from 10-15%, so any income that is eligible for taxation there is at a much lower rate than in the United States.
- Cost of Living. Depending on which part of the country you decide to call home, the cost of living is typically 20% to 50% lower than in most parts of the United States. Jerry and his family moved from Austin, Texas and have experienced a substantial decrease in their family’s cost of living.
- Property Values. Home values in most areas of Costa Rica are much lower than what we expect to pay in the United States. Those who buy in Costa Rica get more home for their dollar. And for those who become permanent residents, the property taxes can be as low as .25% of the home’s registered value.
By now you are likely daydreaming about a tax free life of easy, beach front living. But, wait a minute…
There Are A Few Challenges
- Adjust Your Business Model. When Jerry moved to Costa Rica, he made the decision to adjust his business model so that he would not be dealing directly with his end user as much. To accommodate for the distance, he decided to market to a middle party, making it easier for him to operate a strictly online business. He still travels for business 5-8 weeks of the year, but the rest of the year, he lives and works in a tropical paradise.
- Distance From Home. Being away from family and friends can be difficult. Although the United States is only a three hour flight from Costa Rica, it takes more effort to visit with family and friends.
- Limited Conveniences. The trade off for having tranquil ocean breezes is that Walmart is not around the corner. Stocking up on conveniences that Americans take for granted is more difficult.
Despite the challenges, Jerry and his family are thriving and working in Costa Rica. He imparted a few words of wisdom before his visit ended:
- If you have an interest in living abroad, try it!
- Life is not a dress rehearsal.
- Living abroad allows for the opportunity to become involved in the non-profit of your choice, so, get involved!
Working in Costa Rica Resources
If you are considering moving to Costa Rica to operate your online business, the following resources may help with your decision.