This week is a little different. Instead of publishing another interview, I wanted to shake things up a bit. For those of you that don’t know, my wife and I lived and worked in Playa Negra, Costa Rica for the entire month of February. We stayed in the house pictured below, traveled the country, went to the beach everyday, and had friends visit. It was an incredible experience that we never imagined we could pull off. I wanted to share 7 things we learned and hope this inspires others to combine work and traveling the world!
I wanted to focus on 7 things that I learned about traveling and working at the same time.
- Finding the right place is key – When staying in a place for a month, it is imperative to find a place that is conducive for you to both live and work. We focused in on a few “must haves” for where we stayed. The internet NEEDED to be good. We focused on reading reviews to make sure guests mentioned fast WiFi. Also, we focused on places with reviews that mentioned people had worked from there for an extended period of time previously. Next, we wanted a place with multiple rooms. It was important for us to have separation of space when working remotely from the house house. Plus we wanted to have the option of friends being able to visit. We wanted a place that had a stocked kitchen. With staying over a longer period of time, we couldn’t afford to eat out regularly. We also needed a washer/dryer to be able to manage laundry over the course of the month. Finally, we wanted a place that had a lot of activities nearby. We wanted to be by a beach, so we narrowed down our search to be on the coastline. Airbnb allows you to search by number of rooms, bathrooms, if the house has an office/WiFi, total price, length of time, etc. This helps narrow down the options by the priorities you want to have for a house to find the right place for you.
- We spent less money than our last 9 day trip – I know this is hard to believe, but we actually spent less money on one month in Costa Rica than our last 9 day trip. A huge factor of this is that many Airbnbs’ offer a 30% nightly discount for booking for more than 28 days. This allowed us to find the perfect place that came out to around $75 per night for our month. When you are staying long term at a place, it helps blend the cost of cleaning fee, taxes, and services fee throughout the time. If you are moving between different places, you get those fees over and over again. Since we had a place with a kitchen and a grill, we were able to do larger grocery shops and eat in for most meals. This saved a significant amount of money from always eating out especially when you feel like you don’t have enough time to spend time grocery shopping or cooking during a shorter trip. Finally, when you are traveling over a longer period of time, it allows you to not feel like you need to being doing something every second of your vacation. It gave us more time to explore the area we were in. Instead of always doing planned excursions, we were able to find fun things to do for free in the area. This allowed us to create routines like coffee on the roof every morning, going to the beach everyday after work, etc.
- The timezone is important – We all work better at different times of the day. Some are morning people and others are night owls. For me personally, I work best in the mornings. The nice thing about Costa Rica is that it is Central Standard Time, which is only a one hour difference from my usual timezone. I actually liked this difference because I was able to knock out work earlier while still matching with the typical EST working overlap. While going through the process, I realized how important it is to have specific overlap where you know that you are working during the same time as co-workers and clients. At the same time, it made me think about what timezones I could work in. While I’d love to travel longer term in Europe, I think I would struggle with the timezone being 5-6 hours ahead where most of the work would be in the afternoon/evening there. At the end of the day, this will be different for every person, but you need to know what set-up will work best for you.
- Changing location does not change the work – I did not know what to expect, but I think I thought work would be less stressful being in a new and beautiful location. However, while the location changed, the stress of work did not change. I was dealing with the same work and the same problems. It is a good reminder that the grass always seems greener on the other side. Just because you change your location or maybe even change your job, it does not mean it will take away your typical stresses of a full-time job.
- Disconnecting from work was easier – While the work was the same, I was able to disconnect from work so much easier being in a different location. I made my goal to go in the water every day and I actually achieved that except for 2 days that we visited the mountains. I was intentional about leaving my phone and going to the beach every day after work. I realized how important it is to create more boundaries when working from home. It is up to me to decide whether to keep or stop working when at home after a day of work. I want to be more intentional of separating work and personal time moving forward.
- Anyone with a hybrid work situation can do this – I know that there are people that cannot do this. There are professions like doctors, hospitality workers, etc., that need to be in-person. However, in today’s workforce, more jobs are working to a remote or part-remote set-up than ever before. As long as you have a laptop and WiFi, many people can work in the same fashion whether they are in New York or Costa Rica. It was easier for me working for myself, but my wife was also able to get approval from her company beforehand. The biggest part is planning. Figure out how much you can spend, where you want to go, and how you can sustain your workload in a different place. If you can understand your needs, you just need to find a location and price that fits into that. Also, even if you have a boss, if you have a well thought out plan of how you can still work efficiently remote, then you put yourself in a better situation to get your request approved.
- We will 100% do this again – We cannot wait to figure out where we are going next. This was a great learning experience to figure out what we liked and didn’t like. This will definitely lead to planning where the next journey is. If anyone has any questions or wants to discuss this more, feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com!
Hi, did you need to apply for any visas when staying for only a month since you are working? I am from the UK and trying to have a similar experience to you and your spouse although I am finding it hard to gain clarity on the laws regarding visas and tax.
Thanks so much for reaching out! So exciting that you are looking to go on a similar experience. We did not need a visa for working remotely for a month. My understanding is that you only need a working visa if you are staying somewhere for more than 90 days. That is where it gets complicated where you need to figure out taxes between the UK and Costa Rica (plus get visa approval beforehand). I’d recommend keeping it under 90 days, then you just have a similar set-up as if you were working remotely in the UK. Hope this is helpful and let me know if you have other questions!