Costa Rica Business Ideas for Expats

Thinking of throwing in the towel, tired of being bossed around and underappreciated by your boss or the company you work for? The Team at RE/MAX Tres Amigos in Playa Hermosa, came up with a list of Costa Rica business ideas we think would be profitable for the owner and good for the area as well.


We hear all the time from people that want a new adventure and a life in Costa Rica, “what can I do to make a buck”? Now I am not recommending you start a business that you know nothing about and I am not saying you are going to make a fortune, but that all depends on you and your work ethic. Most of us in the group have lived and worked in the area for an average of 10+ years, we see the opportunities that are needed.

Of course, there are a lot of legalities working in a foreign country and setting up a business. The most important thing I can tell you is you need good legal advice to help you do things correctly and legally. As an example, here in Costa Rica a foreigner cannot legally work until they have their full permanent residency, without restrictions or they must be sponsored by a corporation and can prove your skill set is something that cannot be filled by locals.  However, you are legally allowed to be the owner of a business, you just cannot take away the job of a local, that is until you have your full residency.

Below is the list of ideas we came up with and I placed a few comments after some of them

  1. Salad bar with all the fixings:

Fresh produce is abundant in Costa Rica and with great farmers market in Liberia this would do really well so long as you also promote to locals as a way of eating healthy.

  1. Home Inspection Company:

Being in the Real estate industry we do have 2 options we offer our clients but would really like more.

  1. Pet Sitting Service:

I know many expats that adopt loving Tico dogs and cats but they like to travel back to their home country and if you’re an animal lover this could be a great option for you

  1. Traveling Food Truck, road coach as it used to be called years ago:

With the big trend of food truck in the US and Canada, it is making its way here, someone serving original, different and fresh foods will surely be popular. Think about going from beach to beach while serving great food.

  1. Official Translator that is fluent in both English and Spanish:

I know many times I am in need of this service and so are others. If you 100% fluent in Spanish the gringo expats will be knocking down your door.

  1. Appliance Repair:

We utilize one guy who is great and does a really good job. The problem is he lives an hour away and you have to wait till he is in the area. Imagine no refrigerator for a week and half?

  1. Boat Mechanic:

This is a no brainer, we are on the Pacific coast and to find someone that really knows what they are doing, without taking the boat to Puntarenas (about 2.5 hour away by car) would be a God send.

  1. Senior Care Giver (in Home):

This is an important one especially since we have many retirees that move to the area and well we all will get old and sometimes need some help.

  1. Any Online Based Business:

Now that we will have fiber optic lines being laid throughout the Playa Hermosa, and Playas Del Coco areas providing much better highspeed internet.

  1. Plumbers:

I mean a real plumber, not just a guy that can do some basic stuff.

  1. Home Security Systems:

We have a few companies here but the follow up is much to be desired and of course there is the communication issue.

  1. Electricians:

See Plumbers above same thing.

  1. Golf Cart Rentals and Especially Repairs:

Being a small area, a lot of people own them here, and vacation renters like to use them as well. But most are electric, gas would be so much better and people that are certified or trained on how to repair them properly.

  1. Activity Equipment Rentals:

You know, items like bicycles, or scooters, kayaks, beach stuff, fishing gear, stand up paddle boards. Since we are right on the ocean these would be great to have that maybe even deliver and then pick them up after you are done.

  1. Home Decor Store:

No explanation needed here, Heck when I wanted new pillows for my sofa it was a chore to find nice ones and I had to go to San Jose just to get new lamp shades.

  1. Exterior Window Washing:

If you start this type of business, your hired, I live on the third floor, you won’t see me trying to clean the outside windows

  1. Real Delicatessen with Smoked Meats:

This is probable the best one on the list as far as I am concerned. I miss this the most from the US

  1. Sporting Goods Store:

And not just Soccer supplies.

  1. Real Asian Food:

Yes, there are sushi joints around and so called Chinese restaurants and they are ok, but I would die for some real Thai food, or even north American style Chinese food. It is really easy to turn Arroz con Pollo (rice and chicken) in to Chicken fried rice. Just add soy sauce, and stir. HAHAHA.  Indian cuisine would be great, different curries, Tandoor cooked meats and fish and let’s not forget naan. Yummy, I’m getting hungry.

So, if you’re thinking of making a move and want to start a new life in the tropics, there are many options to consider that can keep you busy and make you money. Do you have a specialty you’re good at? Want to know if it is needed here? Just send me a note and let’s discuss.

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Yes! Costa Rica Has Great Chocolate

When I first came to this country in 1999 I was looking for locally made, Costa Rica chocolate as I had read that there is a large cocoa-growing region in the country. What I found was a bit of a disappointment, but that has all changed.

Recently I came upon Chocolate Sibö. found it at a local tourist trinket shop. At first, I was thinking “ok I will spend the cash and hope it is at least ok”. I just had this craving for chocolate so what the heck, let’s give it try. I’ve wasted money on other stupid things in my life and well if good it would be a win-win for me. Well, I have to be honest with you, I am not a true connoisseur of fine chocolates but I have enjoyed some pretty good chocolates from all over the world in my time and Hershey Bars are not one of them. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the bar was and really enjoyed the rich flavor as it was sweet but not overly sweet. So I did a bit of looking online to find out more about this Costa Rica homegrown chocolate.  Julio Fernández, owner of Chocolate Sibö started the company with a clear business vision: to make world-class chocolate from Costa Rica utilizing exclusively organic cocoa grown in Costa Rica while trying to bring Costa Rica to the forefront of the cocoa industry.

Last month at the International Chocolate Awards, Sibö was awarded the silver medal for an apple and lemon-covered milk chocolate that contained 55% cocoa. There were over 650 competitors and Sibö was the only one from Central America that won an award for its chocolate.

However, when you are in Guanacaste, you need to stop by Cata Chocolate in Playa Del Coco, on the main road close to the beach located upstairs from the souvenir shop “Sussy”. You will be quiet impressed with the homegrown fresh chocolate made here. Lots to chose and I have never been disappointed with anything I purchased there. They use cocoa grown in the Bijagua Valley that is nestled between 2 volcanoes, Mirravales and Tenorio in Guanacaste and sit at an average of close to 1500 feet above sea level. Here is the website for Cata Chocolate, check it out you won’t be sorry.

So next time you come to Costa Rica, just don’t think of coffee, tropical fruits, great beaches and the list can on and on, stop and get some Costa Rica chocolate and enjoy.

Take a look at some of my great Costa Rica lots for sale; they go great with the local chocolate and coffee

If you want to keep up with what is happening in Costa Rica sign up for my monthly email. I never spam and will never pass on your email to any other party.