Costa Rica, which translates as ‘Rich Coast’ in Spanish, lives up to its name as a beautiful country situated between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. With jungles, mountains, and lovely beaches, the scenery of this country will take your breath away. The rainy season lasts for a large part of the year (from April to December) so while the scenery is beautiful, the weather isn’t always ideal. However, if this doesn’t put you off then Costa Rica could be a great place for your next teaching adventure.

Costa Rica often features on lists of the happiest places in the world, as well as ranking as one of the greenest, so there are plenty of reasons to consider living there. Other perks of working in Costa Rica include great healthcare, and a variety of TEFL opportunities

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Key Facts

  • Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Heredia, Cartago, San Jose, Alajuela, Puntarenas, and Limon
  • Average salary for EFL teachers: The basic monthly salary for full-time positions is likely to be in the region of 300,000 – 615,000 colones (£300 – £700 / $475 – $1,000) per month. Positions are often advertised with their hourly wage, around 4,000 – 5,500 colones (£5 – £6 / $7 – $9) per hour.
  • TEFL qualification requirements: A 120-hour TEFL qualification will be required for most positions
  • Prerequisite university degree: Required for most positions
  • Term times: March 1st – December 1st
  • Currency: Colon
  • Language: Spanish
  • Teaching programmes: Voluntary, Language Schools, Business English, and International Schools
  • Age restrictions: None
  • Previous teaching experience: Required for most positions

English is taught in primary schools as part of government policy, so standards have been improving in recent years. In the most recent EF English Proficiency Index, Costa Rica scored number 36 out of 100; since 2017 it’s score has improved from ‘low’ to ‘moderate’. While there is a large drive to learn English in Costa Rica, it can still be tricky to find paid positions, but for those who are happy to exchange voluntary teaching skills for a great experience abroad, there are rich opportunities to be found.

About 10% of the adult population speaks English as a second language. Expect to dress smartly for paid positions, though volunteer teachers will probably get away with a more relaxed attire. Students are typically well behaved, friendly, and eager to learn.

Requirements for teaching English in Costa Rica

Country Avg. monthly salary Degree required Start of term Teaching experience Housing & flights included Suitable for non-native English speakers Age restrictions
Argentina £500 - £950
($600 - $1,200)
No March Preferred No Yes None
Bolivia £400 - £550
($500 - $700)
No February Preferred No Yes None
Brazil £650 - £900
($800 - $1,100)
No February No No Yes None
Chile £550 - £800
($700 - $1,000)
No March No No Yes None
Colombia £400 - £800
($500 - $1,000)
No January/February No No Yes Under 62
Ecuador £400 - £650
($500 - $800)
Preferred May Preferred No Yes None
Guatemala £400 - £550
($500 - $700)
Preferred January No No Yes None
Mexico £400 - £800
($500 - $1,000)
Preferred August No Sometimes Yes None
Peru £325 - £650
($400 - $800)
Yes March Preferred Sometimes Yes Under 70
Uruguay £325 - £800
($400 - $1000)
Preferred March Preferred No Yes None

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Living Costs

Costa Rica is the wealthiest country in Central America, but wages aren’t typically high for TEFL teachers. Living in the capital can be expensive, but it’s also where the highest wages are, so you’ll have to look at all the facts and balance everything up. How you spend your free time in Costa Rica will depend a lot on the weather! In the rainy season, many expats enjoy indoor pursuits such as going to a museum, splashing out for a spa day, hanging out in cafes, visiting local breweries to sample craft beer, and of course, spotting the turtles which are easy to spot in the wet weather.

In good weather, most expats hit the beach and sample local delicacies such as gallo pinto (a dish of rice, beans, onions, red peppers, and cilantro), chifijo (rice and pork topped with avocado, pico de gallo, chimichurri, and lime), olla de carne (a slow cooked stew), and pipa fria (a cold coconut with a straw sticking out the top).

  • Accommodation: £539 – £674 / $757 – $947
  • Utilities: £44 / $62
  • Health insurance: Cost of typical visit to a GP: £54 / $76
  • Monthly transport pass: £25 / $34
  • Basic dinner out for two: £15 / $22
  • Cappuccino in expat area: £2.49 / $3.49
  • A beer in a pub: £1.64 / $2.30
  • 1 litre of milk: £0.97 / $1.37
  • 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £1.80 / $2.52

(living costs sourced from Expatistan)

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