Why Costa Rica is the Best Country for Teaching Abroad Over 40

With stunning landscapes, a stable economy, and welcoming, happy locals, would Costa Rica be the perfect destination for your second act? With a massive demand for English teachers and a low cost of living, teaching English abroad in Costa Rica provides a viable way for those over 40 to experience life abroad. What’s more, you don’t need a degree or prior teaching experience. 

Costa Rica is the Best Country for English Teachers Working Abroad over 40 Years Old

What is the Best Country for Teaching English Abroad if I am over 40?

Costa Rica is an excellent choice for teaching English abroad if you’re over 40. With its welcoming culture and demand for educators, it offers a great work-life balance and stunning natural surroundings, making it a preferred destination for many older teachers.

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Read on for reasons why you may want to embrace “pura vida” and teach English abroad in this vibrant Central American nation.  

1. You Don’t Want to Worry About Finding a Great English Teaching Job

With a strong economy and a large English-learning population, teaching opportunities in Costa Rica are plentiful. For the past two years, International TEFL Academy (ITA)’s TEFL certification course in Costa Rica has had a 100% job placement rate for graduates – with 80% of graduates securing jobs within two weeks. 

And if you’re over 40? Even better, says Patrick Brunelle, one of the directors at ITA Costa Rica. Local students and language school directors in Costa Rica highly value the personal and professional experience that folks in their 40s and beyond bring to the table. 

“It’s a percentage that’s probably hard to believe, but it’s true,” he said. “We have a 100% job placement rate and we have employers that are calling us all the time for our teachers. I would say you have an advantage if you’re over 40 to find a job in Costa Rica. It opens a lot more doors, particularly as it pertains to private schools. We have a lot of retirees.”

ITA graduate Danielle Stephenson agrees. “I am in the latter season of my life and have decided to spend this season here in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is offering me a new career path and a beautiful place to live. The possibilities of teaching English are endless. In-person, virtual, business, and specialty lessons.”

older ESL teachers in Costa Rica

2. You Want to be Closer to Home (If You Are American) 

One of the hardest parts of teaching English abroad can be leaving loved ones, who might include adult children or aging parents. With flight times from Miami to Costa Rica clocking in at under three hours, travel to and from the U.S. and Canada is accessible and affordable, and you can skip the jet lag. 

You won’t need to miss that wedding you’ve been looking forward to – and you can expect friends and family to jump at the chance to visit the country Travel + Leisure says has “something for everyone.”


3. You Want to Learn and Improve Your Spanish 

If you’ve always wanted to learn or improve your Spanish, Costa Rica may be the perfect fit for you. Ticos, as the locals are affectionately called, are known for their warmth and hospitality. You can expect encouragement as you grow your skills during everyday interactions and a welcoming social environment where you can immerse yourself further in the language. 

ITA graduate Crispin finds Costa Ricans (famously known as Ticos) easy to connect with socially and feels they’re genuinely interested in the foreigners who live and work in the nation. 

“All sorts of sports and social clubs are easily found, and I play football and go cycling with groups of both Ticos and expats,” he said. “The people here readily welcome visitors into their social and family groups, and my friends and I have already been to lots of parties and other social occasions with Ticos.”

Markets are one of the benefits of Teaching English in Costa Rica


4. You Love Nature and Wildlife

While only accounting for 0.03% of the earth’s surface, Costa Rica contains nearly 6% of the world’s biodiversity. From beaches, waterfalls, and hot springs, to stunning volcanoes surrounded by lush rainforests, Costa Rica boasts diverse and spectacular landscapes that are ideal if you love outdoor recreation. 

And one of the best parts? As such a small country, nearly every region can be reached in three hours or less. 

Explore while teaching English in Costa Rica

5. You Want to Experience Life in One of the Happiest, Most Sustainable Countries

Check out any list of the world’s happiest countries – and you’ll likely find Costa Rica at or near the top – including taking the #1 spot on the Happy Planet Index

At a World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, former Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado Quesada shared some of the country’s special sauce: “Seventy years ago, Costa Rica did away with the army. This allows for many things. Eight percent of our GDP is invested in education because we don’t have to spend on the army. Our strength is human talent, human wellbeing.”

From free healthcare for citizens and free university-level education to the protection of more than 25% of Costa Rican land in national parks, with more than 98% of electricity coming from renewable sources – there are a lot of reasons to like what Costa Rica is working to achieve. 

“They are doing something pretty special here – they’re trying to change the world,” said Brunelle. “Costa Rica is one of those magical spots that has just figured out how to live.”

Makes sense why the unofficial motto of the nation is “Pura Vida” – this is living! 

Living in Costa Rica as an English Teacher6. You’re Looking for *Perfect* Weather

Costa Rican weather might best be described as “comfortable,” with most homes not requiring air conditioning or heating. 

While living in the nation, you’ll get to skip winter. Costa Rica enjoys temperatures between 70 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, though it may be hotter on the beaches. 


7. You Want to Experience Life Abroad on a Reasonable Budget

From rent and medical care to transportation and groceries, the cost of living in Costa Rica is significantly less than in nations like the U.S., Canada, and most European nations. While you probably get rich teaching English in Costa, you can certainly make enough to live comfortably and to enjoy all that Costa Rica has to offer. A typical first-time English teacher typically pays the equivalent of $250 a month in rent and eats well on $10 a day or even less.  Bus rides to the beach and movie tickets are $3.  And, any disposable dollars that you have will go that much further and have that much more purchasing power in Costa Rica than in the U.S. or Europe.

how to teach English in Costa Rica over the age of 40

8. You Want to Connect with the Local Community & Make a Difference

If you live in Costa Rica or have perhaps retired there, teaching English in Costa Rica provides a great way to connect with the local community, meet people, and make a difference.  Whether you just want to tutor kids in the neighborhood or work full-time at a language school teaching business professionals, you can take great satisfaction in helping your students achieve their personal, educational, and professional goals.  For many, learning English provides a pathway to great educational and professional opportunities that can have a meaningful impact on their lives.

How Can You Teach English in Costa Rica?

You don’t need a college degree or prior teaching experience to teach English in Costa Rica. Taking an accredited TEFL certification course will provide you with the training, qualification, and job search guidance you need to get a great teaching job in Costa Rica. 

Read more: Costa Rica TEFL Country Profile

Taking an accredited TEFL certification course, ITA offers a four-week TEFL certification course at our Costa Rica TEFL training center located just outside of the capital of San Jose. We encourage you to speak to one of our advisors to see if the course might be the right fit for you. 


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