Getting domestic help in Costa Rica is easy and affordable.
Many ex-pats living in Costa Rica are eager to hire a domestic employee to help them take care of their homes and families.
The good news is that domestic help in Costa Rica is affordable and easy to find – you just need to know how to go about it to find the right person and how to manage the employer-employee relationship.
If you’re elderly and retiring in Costa Rica having domestic help can be a great source of support around the house. From cooking and cleaning to just having the support of a companion around, a housekeeper may be just the ticket to making life run smoothly so that you can enjoy your retirement in this beautiful country.
If you have children, your housekeeper will likely serve as a nanny and a cook too. That’s great for those busy family mornings of getting out the door, for when you just want to pop out to the grocery store and leave the kiddos at home, or if you and your partner are just in need of a date night.
Perhaps you’re not interested in having a cleaning lady or nanny, but your new home has beautiful gardens that need to be tended to on a regular basis. Gardeners, like housekeepers, are easy to hire in Costa Rica and also affordable.
From nannies to cleaning ladies, gardeners, cooks, and chauffeurs or security guards, the domestic help you need in Costa Rica is readily available and your payroll won’t be nearly as high as it would be back in the States.
How to find domestic help in Costa Rica
Your best bet when looking for domestic assistance in Costa Rica is to ask for referrals. It’s always great when you can hire someone who is known and trusted by someone else.
Ask around with your new friends at your local ex-pat group, ask your sport fishing or golf buddies, ask the other parents are your children’s new school or ask your neighbor. You can also ask your realtor team at Palms realty for recommendations.
It’s not uncommon for people to have domestic help in Costa Rica and sometimes their housekeeper or nanny has a cousin or a friend who is looking for work.
If asking around isn’t helping you get any good candidates, you can place an ad or look for employees online.
There are a few options:
Search “empleada domestica Costa Rica” and you’ll find several groups. You can also try searching groups for the town you live in. For example, if you live in or near Jaco Beach, Herradura or Playa Hermosa, you can search for ex-pat and classified ad groups in Jaco, which is the biggest town in the area.
Encuentra 24 Costa Rica
A marketplace website similar to Craig’s List, you can find domestic help (select Publicar Anuncio and create your ad), pets, cars, electronics, and more on Encuentra 24 Costa Rica.
HomeServices Costa Rica
Home Services Costa Rica is a domestic service agency that will help you find someone for occasional assistance by the hour or they can help you contract someone full time.
Their employees are contracted and insured, vetted, and paid the salary that is legally required by Costa Rica’s labor laws.
If you choose to contract a full-time employee through HomeServices, they can do the pre-screening, interviews, and background checks, taking over the tedious part of hiring someone. Finally, they can advise you about labor laws in Costa Rica.
If you don’t speak fluent Spanish, it’s a good idea to get someone who is bilingual to help you create your ad and also to help translate when you’re in the hiring process.
When in the hiring process, I always pre-screen candidates via WhatsApp (a commonly used messenger application here in Latin America that is free to use). Through WhatsApp, I can have a “conversation” with the applicant, ask preliminary questions, obtain images of their identification documents, letters of recommendation, and more.
If they pass the preliminary screening via text message, I then schedule a phone call with them or a video call via WhatsApp. Finally, if they’ve passed those first two interviews, I schedule an interview with them in person.
What to look for when hiring domestic workers in Costa Rica
When hiring someone to come into your home and care for it and your family, it’s important to make sure you find someone who is trustworthy. Therefore, proper identification, letters of recommendation, and a letter of good conduct (obtained by the local police department) is important to obtain.
Most applicants will have these things in hand, as it is normal practice in Costa Rica for potential employers to request them.
If you’re not hiring a Costa Rican citizen with a national cedula, someone from outside the country will need to present either proof of residency in Costa Rica or a letter of permission to work (permiso de trabajo) from the immigration office.
Hiring someone who is not legally able to work in Costa Rica could end up putting you at a legal disadvantage, so it’s best to avoid that.
Always check the references that your applicants present. Call the phone numbers and speak to the ex-employers.
Also, ask for social media accounts and check those, as well. You can tell a lot about a person by their social media posts and pictures.
What you need to know about labor laws and domestic employment in Costa Rica.
In Costa Rica, there is a minimum wage that is set according to the type of work in question. You can go to the Ministerio de Trabajo website to learn more about the minimum wage for domestic workers in Costa Rica- there is a specific category for that.
If your housekeeper lives in (dormir adentro) their room and board will be counted as part of their salary (pago en especia).
The reason this is important is that it will come into consideration when you pay your employee’s alguinaldo benefits each year and when, or if, you need to pay them their due liquidation amount upon their resignation or termination of employment.
All Costa Rica employees have certain rights that come with employment. These rights include:
- Minimum wage (Decreto de Salario Minimo) according to their type of work. This amount is revised every six months and published in the official newspaper “La Gaceta.”
- A standard workweek of 48 hours. For domestic workers, this is usually Monday through Friday at eight hours per day and a half-day on Saturday. You can work this out as you please with your new employee.
- Officially recognized legal holidays. These are expected to be paid as part of your employee’s salary or paid double if your employee is required to work.
- Alguinaldo or 13th-month pay or Christmas bonus to be paid every December
- Paid vacation equal to two weeks for full-time employees
- The right to be advised with sufficient notice of termination (preaviso) – the amount of notice depends on the amount of time the employee has worked for you. It can range from one week to one month.
- The right to severance pay (cesantia) if they are being laid off, not fired with reason
- Maternity leave and lactation breaks upon return
- Social security (caja) for public medical services and paid sick leave or maternity leave
To learn more about these rights or to calculate your new employee’s salary and benefits, visit the Ministerio de Trabajo website.
If you’d like a great source of information in English on Costa Rica labor laws, you can visit Costa Rica Law.
When you live Costa Rica having domestic help is an added bonus that we might never have considered when living in the States.
From nannies to elder caregivers to gardeners or chefs, living in paradise means domestic life can be far more leisurely than in other parts of the world. And why not? You deserve it!