Costa Rica Blog

How to Earn a Living Online from a Foreign Country (Costa Rica)

Posted by Steve Linder on Thu, Jan, 20, 2011

At one time employment opportunities in a foreign country were extremely limited, especially if you weren’t fluent in the language of that particular country.  Today however, the Internet has completely opened up the earning potential of expatriates around the world.  It is now possible for people to earn a living online, all you need is a computer, access to the Internet and the courage to put yourself out there.  For those considering owning real estate or rental property in Costa Rica or Americans wanting to Expatriate, earning a living is often an important part of the decision before moving to a foreign country.

If you have limited Internet, or a dial-up connection, your potential to earn money online will be more limited than if you have a fast, reliable connection.   If you hope to work for clients in some online capacity, your clients will expect you to be able to receive/respond to email at least on a daily basis.  Some clients may even expect you to have some form of IM or telephone contact such as msn or Skype so you will also require a computer that can handle this kind of technology.  You can make money with Ebay, Google and Yahoo if you just look around and take a few chances.  Don't be afraid to fail, no effort always equals failure.

The last thing you need before you get started is somewhere you can receive funds.  The options for this will depend on the country in which you are living, but if possible you should open a PayPal account so that the clients can pay your fees into this and you can then transfer the money into your regular bank account.  Be sure to keep track of your new income too, money laundering is illegal.

Once you have the computer, reliable Internet, and a PayPal account, you then need to decide what kind of work you want to do.  Do you want to work for others, or would you prefer to set up your own business?  First of all consider the skills and knowledge base you possess.   Is it possible to find work in the same field that you had in your home country?  If not, can you use the knowledge you have from that job to create a niche for yourself? 

One of the biggest opportunities for people to earn a living online is in the web technology field.  Many people are looking to set up websites or blogs and will employ someone with experience in this field.  If you know your CSS from your HTML, then this can be a very lucrative form of employment with freelance websites such as full of projects that need your experience.   If you have this kind of skill and experience but prefer to work for yourself, set up a business offering web design and support.  This can be done for relatively little cost creating a good quality website that will act as your online showroom and portfolio.  Make sure you also have a blog that you update regularly with entries that are keyworded with the search terms people will use when they are looking for someone to design or redesign their online presence.  Once your website is ready, surf around the Internet and find some business websites that are current but look outdated.  Send out an email query to the business owner asking if they would be interested in your redesigning their site to make it more appealing to visitors.  As with old style cold calling using the telephone, the response rate won’t be high, but the ones that you do get will probably lead to other online earning potential, especially if you have copywriting experience.

Also realize there are a number of online "Freelance" sites that can provide plenty of income from anywhere with Internet access. We use a site called to have all kinds of work done for our business, anything from data extraction, web work, graphic design, creative writing, creating power point presentations, email processing, etc.  If you can think of any virtual job, there will be open job postings on elance looking for people to fill those jobs.  Elance handles payment and holds the money in escrow until the work has been satisfactorily completed. 

Writing is another great way you can earn a living online.  Whether you are someone who has a specific area of expertise such as grant or resume writing, or you just have a way with the written word that others find appealing you can turn this into a regular income.  Set yourself up as a freelance writer, and find websites that offer this kind of work.  The kind of money you can expect to make will vary depending on what is required.   Some clients who offer work to freelance writers online are looking for high quantity/low quality work for as small a budget as possible.  There are others however who understand that their onlinereputation rests in the hands of a good copywriter and are willing to pay for this.  A freelance writer who earns their living online can expect to have both kinds of clients – the trick is to balance the two so that you create enough money to make at least your monthly minimum.

If you have a specific area of knowledge expertise, such as in a school based subject, or even a professional area such as relationships or medicine, you can earn a living online as a coach or tutor.  You could offer one-on-one counseling or tuition, create programs of study on specific topics and charge a separate amount for each course – or a site wide monthly subscription fee.  Owning an online business that makes money is easy in Costa Rica. There are plenty of technically minded people that you can hire for less than you'd pay in North America.     

As with the web design business, create a website that will showcase your skills and regularly maintain this by adding new content at least weekly, then identify established websites that have a newsletter targeting your demographic – for instance, in the case of school based subjects, parents or mothers.  Find out what you can do with that site in order to get your services mentioned in their newsletter – this may require you to invest a small amount of money to place a small advertisement in the newsletter, or the site may accept articles on themes they are interested in and which will allow you to have a small bio and website link at their site.  Web design is also easy to outsource if you don't feel confident you can do it yourself.

Transcription is another onlineemployment opportunity offering a regular income especially if you have a medical or legal background.  You will need to purchase a foot pedal and download software to cope with the transcription files, but this is the only financial investment you will need for this kind of work.  If you have a clear speaking voice and a good microphone, you could also consider looking for voice-over work.  Freelance sites such often have this kind of project available.

There are other kinds of work you can do on the Internet, such as filling in surveys but these are unlikely to make you enough to earn a living.  There are other so called opportunities to work from home that will land in your email box and which will usually require you to purchase information which is often an outdated list of contact addresses you could find for free by trawling through the local Yellow Pages.  If you are living in a foreign country, and want to make a living online, with a little time and thought, you can make it happen without falling for the email scams.

Tags: working in Costa Rica, making money online, owning a business in Costa Rica