8 (Amazing) Reasons to Teach English in Costa Rica

If you’ve ever envisioned yourself teaching English in a tropical paradise where the living is easy and the weather is great all year ’round: look no further. Costa Rica is one of the top up-and-coming places to teach English abroad, and for good reason.

Well, actually, for many good reasons.

The truth is that Costa Rica used to be one of Latin America’s best kept secrets. It was wild, yet safe, comfortable, yet there were few tourists. Combine that with fun-loving locals and beach-weather all year around (and not to mention, you know, the beach!), Costa Rica was, and still is, a traveler’s paradise.

The tourism “boom” has passed, and now the tour companies and resorts are here to stay. Which means that there is an ever-growing demand for TEFL-certified English teachers.

For new teachers who want to get their feet wet in TEFL (while also living in a Latin American tropical paradise) consider putting Costa Rica at the top of your list.

Here are eight reasons why you should teach English in Costa Rica:

1) It’s cheap.

reasons teach english costa rica

The cost of living in Costa Rica averages under $500 per month, and even that is on the higher side of things. Rent, food, and basic needs are cheap here. Sure, you wont be paid a high salary teaching English in Costa Rica, but you will always break even with a little bit left over, even without budgeting your money. Want to know how much you expect to make in Costa Rica? Check that out here.

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teaching english in mexico

2) You can learn Spanish.

And frankly, you should learn Spanish. When considering the total number of Spanish speakers, it’s the second most spoken language in the world. Second to English? Nope. Second to Mandarin Chinese by total number of speakers. That means that there are more people in the world who can speak Spanish than can speak English. It’s also the second most popular language in The United States.

3) Costa Rica has year-round great weather.

Do you want to know what the average temperature is in Costa Rica in January? 85 degrees (F). So while the United States is buckling up for snow-plows, snow-drifts, and snow-days, Central America is at perfect beach weather. No need to haul your winter clothes and boots down here, your beachwear will be just fine when you’re not in the classroom.

4) It’s safe.

costa rica beach

Central America may still conjure up images of it’s tempestuous past, but those days are long gone. While you should still keep your wits about you when you’re out late at night, you can rest assured that the headlines of the past don’t read accurate to what it is today. Did you know Costa Rica hasn’t had a military since 1949? You won’t see soldiers with guns anywhere here.

5) You can learn to surf.

teach english in costa rica

Because, you know, there’s a beach. And not just any beach, Costa Rica is home to some of the best beaches in Central America and it’s one of the top places to learn to surf in the region. (Not to mention you can choose to surf on the Pacific OR Atlantic Oceans). A lesson can run you about $20 per hour, but to rent a surf board costs under $10 per day. If surfing isn’t your thing you can still hang out on the beach, get a tan, and enjoy late night bonfires with the fun and friendly locals.

6) You can explore the rainforest.

reasons teach english in costa rica

Okay, so you aren’t a beach person. (Which I don’t really believe…but okay!) If the beach doesn’t have your fancy for whatever reason, then you can visit the Costa Rica rainforest and discover all of the flora and fauna that inhabit it. Sloths, monkeys, toucans, and even jaguars are known to prowl the jungle. Keen on a bit more of an adrenaline adventure? Try zip-lining. There’s even a kilometer-long track in Selvatura Park, Monteverde.

See how Costa Rica compares to 60 popular countries for teaching English abroad with our free Country Comparison Chart!

Compare salaries, cost of living, benefits, contract length and more for 60 of the most popular countries to teach English abroad.

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teaching english in mexico

7) The food is delicious.

Okay, so you can’t be trekking through the rainforest or chilling at a surf camp during the school week. (Unless you live nearby, which is entirely possible.) No matter where you are in Costa Rica, something you won’t be able to escape from is the food. And that’s a good thing! Try your hand at some of our favorites like gallo pinto, ceviche, and the sweet and satisfying Churchill.

8) You will have the opportunity to earn money on the side.

teach english in costa rica

While you are teaching English in Costa Rica, you probably won’t be making as much money as you would in another country, like Korea for instance. But there are many opportunities for private tutoring, especially in the capital of San Jose. Many professionals and university students are eager to have native tutors, and there is an increasing demand for after-school lessons for children. You can expect to make $20-$30 USD per hour for these private lessons.

Are you convinced? 

If you want to teach English in Costa Rica, you will need to have the following qualifications:

The most important qualification is definitely the TEFL certification. This certificate is the most sought after qualification at language institutes and public schools in Costa Rica.

A university degree such as a BA or BS is also important, and can be used to help secure a higher salary. Often times the degree subject is not as important, but a degree in English or Literature can definitely be an advantage.

Teaching experience is not required, but anything you do have will certainly make you a more desirable candidate.

For more info, read our Ultimate Guide to Teaching English in Central America here.

Teaching English in Costa Rica won’t make you rich. But it could give you the adventure of your lifetime. It’s definitely not a conventional choice for teaching English abroad, but it’s a great choice for new college graduates that love a laid-back culture and getting lost in nature.

Think you would like to spend your vacations discovering the rainforest or learning to surf at a nearby camp? Consider teaching English in Costa Rica!

Words by Dara Denney.